Communication and Culture | Culture, Identity, and the Rhetoric of Place (Topic: The Rhetoric of Architecture)
C425 | 27659 | Smith, C.

MW, 2:30 PM-3:45 PM, 800 E. 3rd St. – room 203

Fulfills College A&H Requirement
Carries College Intensive Writing Credit

Instructor: Cynthia D. Smith
Office: Mottier Hall 212
Phone: 855-5307

“When something is built, the process documents underlying
structures of work, technology, and economics. It also serves as a
metaphor, suggesting and justifying social categories, values, and
relations”  (Gwendolyn Wright, Moralism & the Modern Home, p.1)

Course Overview & Learning Goals

This class provides an introduction to the study of the built
environment from a rhetorical perspective. It does so based on the
foundational assumption that the built environment is rhetorically
constructed and is therefore both revelatory of and influential on
the social values and issues of the past, present, and future.
Taking a rhetorical approach to architecture provides a materially-
focused way to understand our society, to assess its values and
behaviors, and to evaluate the implications of those values and
behaviors for human beings. Even more specifically, architecture and
its corresponding discourses function to shape certain kinds of
citizens. In other words, Architecture both addresses and shapes its
audiences; it “produces” people. We will see that the shaping
process of architectural rhetoric operates along a continuum between
the overt and intentional to the inadvertent and unforeseen. The
course explores the persuasive dimensions of places and spaces
people build and that simultaneously shape those people. It examines
how buildings, theme parks, monuments, housing developments,
museums, and shopping malls are the product of strategic
communication choices designed to influence how we think and behave.

At the end of this course you should be able to:
1. Pull from a variety of course readings the tools to create your
own rhetorical method for analyzing an architectural text, craft
that analysis, and share your findings with the class

2. Recognize that architecture is an inherently rhetorical process;
that the built environment is the product of human choices,
persuasive efforts, socioeconomic forces, and media coverage

3. Understand the ways in which a building can respond or fail to
respond to its rhetorical situation

4. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the most frequently used
contemporary critical approaches to the study of architecture as

5. Recognize the structural and symbolic components of particular
forms of architecture, and understand how those components operate
to shape culture, to influence human thought and behavior, and to
constitute particular types of citizens

6. Analyze the rhetoric of particular architectural forms,
discussing the implications for human beings and democratic
citizenship of those forms