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.
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.