Communication and Culture | Persuasion
C324 | 6079 | Heusel, J.

MW, 2:30 PM-3:45 PM, TE F256

Fulfills College A&H Requirement

Instructor: Jennifer Heusel
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 216
Phone: 8556405

All who have and do persuade people of things do so by molding a
false argument. — Gorgias

Acclaimed and criticized for his persuasive prowess, the ancient
Greek sophist Gorgias understood that public address involved
persuasion. He also understood that individual responsibility is
necessary in any rhetorical act. Often persuasion is thought of as
an authority figure convincing an audience to believe a stated
position, but responsibility in persuasive discourse is not limited
to the actions and utterances of a speaker. Gorgias taught his
students not only to be responsible rhetors (speakers) but also
critical audience members. Persuasion, then, is not merely a process
of deception through fancy speak and propaganda. Individuals are
simultaneously victims, perpetrators, AND benefactors of persuasion
in many types of discourse. In this class, we will acknowledge and
account for these positions in order to learn how to identify,
critique, and use persuasion effectively and responsibly.

The semester is divided into three parts. The first part establishes
what it means to practice rhetorical criticism and what is involved
in persuasive communication at an interpersonal level. Part Two
takes the elements of persuasion and applies them to various forms
of public address (product packaging, film, government documents,
journalism, etc.). Titled “Persuasive Functions: The Hyphenated
American at Times of War,” Part Two cumulates in a group
presentation where each group analyzes the persuasive qualities of
significant and historical primary documents and argues a position
about the responsible use of persuasion at times of war. Finally,
the third part asks you to create a persuasive project that relates
to your imagined profession. As a self-directed student project, you
are given the freedom to define and execute what you believe is the
most appropriate and persuasive line on your future résumé.
Obviously, you will need to persuasively defend your decisions to
your colleagues and the instructor.