Introduction to Rhetoric and Public Culture
C501–Introduction to Rhetoric and Public Culture is designed as a first course in rhetoric for graduate students interested in exploring the relationship between discourse – identified broadly as language, gesture and image -- and the public culture(s) in which collective, social and political interaction takes place. The course begins by asking: What can a rhetoric be in “late” or “post” modernity? Or, to put it a bit differently: What does (or might) it mean to think/act rhetorically in contemporary times? To address these questions the course explore two separate but related (and often commingled) conceptions of rhetoric as (a) practical reasoning and (b) the constitution and performance of self and society. In each instance we will examine the connections between premodern and late or postmodern rhetorical theory as they implicate and are implicated by the overlapping problematics of contemporary social and political theory, including textuality; agency; identity, subjectivity and the body; power and ideology; memory and judgment; and so on. In class discussions we will be particularly interested in the remediation of rhetorical practices vis a vis such problematics as they migrate across changing technologies of expression and interaction. So, for example, we might ask how the shift from an oral to a print culture (or from a televisual to a hypermediated culture) affects the role or practice of invention and style or the importance and centrality of memory in the crafting of individual and collective identity, our conception of “publics,” etc. Alternately we might ask how the conventions of prevailing rhetorical practices limit and constrain the possibilities for both employing new technologies and/or the enactment and construction of new and different identities or social imaginaries. By the end of the term students should have a clear sense for the range of possibilities and problems connected with the rhetorical performance and transformation of contemporary public culture.
Aristotle: A Theory of Civic Discourse. Trans. George A. Kennedy. New York: Oxford UP, 1991.
Hariman, Robert. Political Style: The Artistry of Power. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
Isocrates I (The Oratory of Classical Greece, Vol. 4). Trans. David C. Mirhandy and Yun Lee Too. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2000.
Lucaites, John Louis, et al. Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader. New York: Guilford Press, 1999.
Plato, Gorgias and Phaedrus [Note any translation is fine as long as it employs the Stephanus numbering system.
Selzer, Jack, and Sharon Crowley. Rhetorical Bodies. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.
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