Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reading for Tuesday, Feb. 5th

JL Austin, "How to Do Things with Words," Chapter 1, in the reader.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Syllabus, or Probable Order of Readings

These texts we will definitely be reading. I think.

1. Anonymous, “Dissoi Logoi”
2. JL Austin, excerpt from How To Do Things With Words (Chapter 1)
3. Nicholson Baker, “Changes of Mind” and maybe Ginsberg's "Howl"
4. Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author”
5. Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style
6. William Burroughs, "Les Voleurs" + "Immortality"
7. Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies in Their Nonmoral Sense”
8. Lohren Green, Poetical Dictionary
9. Marshall McLuhan, Medium is the Massage
10. Plato, Phaedrus

These texts we may read but in any case I suggest you read them because they're excellent:

11. Allen Ginsberg, "Howl"
12. Michel de Certeau, "Walking in the City" + " General Introduction" (from The Practice of Everyday Life)
13. Roland Barthes, excerpts from Mythologies
14. Fallacies
15. FĂ©lix Guattari, "So What" (from Chaosophy)
16. Roland Barthes, excerpt from The Pleasure of the Text (last page)
17. Vladimir Nabokov, excerpt from Ada, or Ardor
18. Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, "A Conversation: What is it? What is it for?" (from Dialogues II)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

For Tuesday, 1/29

Read the "Dissoi Logoi" in the reader. Not being able to get the reader in time is not an excuse. Copy Central is fast. And you can find it in the library—this is UC Berkeley, after all.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Introduction to the Class

Rhetoric is strange. Unlike philosophy, rhetoric eschews the search for universal truths. And yet the rhetorician does not dismiss propriety. On the contrary, the rhetorician relentlessly seeks it, always trying to say the right thing at the right time. Picture a lawyer: he or she must heed a complex confluence of factors before speaking—the law as it reads, legal precedent, available evidence, the make up of the jury, the disposition of the judge, public opinion, etc. The lawyer does not enjoy the luxury of the philosopher; the lawyer cannot meditate in solitude discovering eternal truths. The lawyer, the rhetorician, must reckon a truth that is local, that changes as the world changes.

This is the art and logic of rhetoric, the art and logic of circumstantial propriety, of knowing the right thing to say and do in this or that circumstance. In this class, we will read a wide variety of texts—from Plato and Nietzsche to Barthes and McLuhan—, exploring what it entails to be a rhetorician, what it entails to make sense of a world, of texts, without stable truths but nevertheless with local laws. We will look at how texts function, how arguments are created, how meaning comes to the fore, and what it entails to read all of these things at once.

Required reading:
A robust reader available at Copy Central on Bancroft
Plato, Phaedrus (please use the version translated by WC Helmbold and WG Rabinowitz)
Lohren Green, Poetical Dictionary (buy from bookstore now; very hard to find elsewhere)
Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage (version doesn't matter)
Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style (version doesn't matter)

Requirements and Grading
  • We expect that you’ll not only do all the reading but think about it.
  • There will be a mid-term essay; this will account for 30% of your final grade.
  • There will be a final essay; this will account for 40% of your final grade.
  • The remaining 30% of your final grade will be based on class participation. This means attending lectures and sections, doing the weekly writing assignments, and actively participating in section discussions.
  • We understand that it is not always possible to attend class. So you may officially miss three classes. For every class you miss after that, your grade will be lowered 1/3.
  • If you miss class, you may not come to office hours to discover what you missed.
  • Weekly reading and assignments will be given in class. You are responsible for knowing what the assignment is. We highly recommend you exchange phone numbers with someone in the class so, in the chance you should be absent, you’ll know what you missed and what to do.