COURSE DESCRIPTION AND OBJECTIVES
Official Description: An introduction to major contemporary theories of rhetoric, focusing in particular on semiotic and postmodern rhetorical theories. Students will apply these theories to the design and analysis of print and online texts composed in multiple modes (e.g., using sound, images, writing, hypertext) and media.
This course is designed to introduce you to major contemporary theories of rhetoric and composition as well as to the application of these theories in the classroom, the workplace, and the public sphere. In 15 weeks, we cannot possibly cover all the “current” questions of our vast disciplines, but I have structured the course around groups of recurring questions in “rhet/comp,” particularly those that are dominating our conversations because they ask the discipline to revisit questions we’ve been asking for more than 50 years.
Building on the readings you completed in ENGW 3336, Theories of Rhetoric and Composition, we will explore how earlier theories of rhetoric continue to influence modern-day studies. We will also consider the ways in which recent theories have (or have not) broken from or challenged the past. We will read widely from theorists and researchers of the past century. In addition, you will read deeply on a particular research question of your choice to produce a substantive research paper at the conclusion of the semester—one that should be guided by a question that matters to you either personally or professionally. Here are just a few of the questions that I’d like us to wrestle with in the coming weeks:
- Is there a “new” rhetoric? Is it “modern”? What makes it “new” or “modern” or both?
- Is uncertainty a necessity when working with contemporary (rhetoric and composition) theories?
- What challenges do contemporary (rhetoric and composition) theories face?
- What is the relationship between theory and practice?
- What is the relationship between rhetoric and composition? Where do literacy studies belong?
- What are, or should be, the questions driving contemporary theories?
- What, or who, should be the focus of our questions?
We will also complete a variety of writing tasks throughout the semester, and as you’ll notice below, a substantial amount of this writing will come in our Daily Grind work, interactive exchanges I call Trading 8s, which are geared to help you reflect and respond to our course readings. These low-stakes writing combined with longer projects mean that by the end of the semester, you should be able to:
- describe key theories and theorists in contemporary rhetoric, composition, and literacy studies;
- conduct empirically-based research that acknowledges and explicates the nuances of complex theories and pedagogies; and
- compose arguments that persuasively articulate your positions on theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical issues related to rhetoric and composition.
ENGW 4341 is designed to be a “senior seminar” for English Writing and Rhetoric majors, which means that your reading, thinking, talking, and writing should be on par with the work typically expected of new graduate students. Hence, it is essential that you keep up with our reading schedule. You must be reading and thinking about our reading assignments to participate fully in the Trading 8s. I recognize and understand that, the reading schedule is quite rigorous in the first weeks of the semester. Our pace will be rapid because I’ve built-in time for writing, thinking, and wrestling with issues related to your individual research project in the final weeks. Our seminar course won’t succeed unless you come to class ready and willing to discuss (and argue about) what you’ve read. Bring your questions, ideas, and concerns. Something will always be better than nothing. I expect every member of the class to say something substantive during every class period. Most of our class sessions will be conducted in discussion/workshop format, and many of these workshops cannot be “re-created” outside of class, so regular attendance and active participation are essential to your success. Active participation may also include successful completion of reading quizzes, which will be used to assess your preparedness for a class meeting.
Trading 8s Exchanges, 300 points
4 Leader Posts @ 25 points each
4 Follower Posts @ 25 points each
4 Recorder Posts @ 10 points each
Reading Quizzes, 12 @ 5 points each for 60 points total
NOTE: You will not be assigned separate days for Recorder entries. Instead, you will share the information you collect on a day when you are serving as a Leader and/or Follower. I made this adjustment for our course because, unlike the lower-division classes, my upper-level students did not find their colleagues’ notes useful. You can share your Recorder notes via your personal Google Drive folder (for my viewing only).
Short Paper, 130 points
Research Proposal, Approved or Not Approved
Annotated Bibliography, 200 points
Final Research Project, 250 points
Self-Assessment Cover Letter, 120 points
You should have purchased a copy of Professing the New Rhetorics: A Sourcebook, which we’ll be reading in throughout the semester. In addition to this book, we’ll be reading articles available to you through the SEU Library and/or via our Blackboard site. Below is a list of the reading assignments we’ll complete this semester. Readings from our required text include only page numbers. For other articles, when available, you’ll find a link for the article. If you click on this link from a computer on campus, you’ll automatically be redirected to the appropriate database. If you access these links off campus, you may need to complete a few extra steps. I encourage you to download these articles and to print out hard copies of each one. I can help you save trees by printing out efficient versions (which I’ll show in class). You may also wish to read them online, but know, in advance, that you’ll need to “show” how you read materials during class discussions, so be prepared with notes and references from each reading assignment.
Enos, Theresa. “Professing the New Rhetorics: Prologue.” Rhetoric Review 9.1 (1990): 5-35. Web. 7 Jan. 2013.
Trimbur, John. “Changing the Question: Should Writing Be Studied?” Composition Studies 31.1 (2003): 15-24. Web. 7 Jan. 2013.
Russell, David. “Activity Theory and Its Implications for Writing Instruction.” Reconceiving Writing, Rethinking Writing Instruction. Ed. Joseph Petraglia. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995. 51-78.
Taczak, Kara. “The Question of Transfer.“ Composition Forum 26 (2012): n. pag. Web. 7 Jan. 2013.
Adler-Kassner, Linda, John Mejewski, and Damian Koshnick. “The Value of Troublesome Knowledge: Transfer and Threshold Concepts in Writing and History.” Composition Forum 26 (2012): n. pag. Web. 7 Jan. 2013.
Downs, Douglas and Elizabeth Wardle. “Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions: (Re)Envisioning ‘First-Year Composition’ as ‘Introduction to Writing Studies’.” College Composition and Communication 58.4 (2007): 552-582. Web. 7 Jan. 2013.
Grobman, Laurie. “The Student Scholar: Renegotiating Authorship and Authority.” College Composition and Communication 61.1 (2009): W175-W196.
Hirsch, E. D. “Cultural Literacy.” 364-373.
Bizzell, Patricia. “Arguing about Literacy.” 446-460.
Fishman, Andrea. “Becoming Literate: A Lesson from the Amish.”
Daniell, Beth. “Narratives of Literacy: Connecting Composition to Culture.” College Composition and Communication 50.3 (1999): 393-410. Web. 7 Jan. 2013.
Lunsford, Andrea and Lisa Ede. “On Distinctions between Classical and Modern Rhetoric.” 397-411.
Ehninger, Douglas. “On Systems of Rhetoric.” 319-330.
Burke, Kenneth. “Definition of Man.” 40-62.
Weaver, Richard. “The Cultural Role of Rhetoric.” 75-89.
Perelman, Chaim. “The New Rhetoric: A Theory of Practical Reasoning.” 145-178.
Fisher, Walter R. “Narration as a Human Communication Paradigm: The Case of Public Moral Argument.” 374-396.
Corder, Jim W. “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love.” 412-428.
Brent, Doug. “Rogerian Rhetoric.”
Brent, Doug. “Rogerian Rhetoric: An Alternative to Traditional Rhetoric.” Argument Revisited, Argument Redefined: Negotiating Meaning in the Composition Classroom. Eds. Barabara Emmel, Paula Resch, and Beborah Tenny. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996. 73-96. Web. 7 Jan. 2013.
Ohmann, Richard. “In Lieu of a New Rhetoric.” 298-306.