Course Offerings

Fall 2019:

Public Memory in Communication & Culture / Rhetoric & Public Memory (NOT Intensive Writing this semester. Class meets TR 11:15-12:30)

ENG R 355

Memory Syllabus F17 (there will be changes!)

This course takes a rhetorical perspective on the contested nature of public memory in the United States. We will examine what public memory is, how it is perpetuated in societies, how and why it is configured to privilege some historical interpretations over others, and how it is modified over time. Ultimately, this course asks the related questions: How do our public memories shape us as American citizens? How do those memories shape our relationship to ourselves, to others, to the state, the nation, and the world? What are the implications of the personae shaped for us through public memory? We will be especially interested in examining how rhetorics of public memory incline (or disincline) people toward particular kinds of public action. This semester we will examine various media of memory such as museums, popular film, memorials, living history museums, children’s toys and collectibles, television, tourist souvenirs, and more.

After taking this class you will be able to:

  1. Understand the processes of public memory creation in the United States
  2. Understand and evaluate public memory’s strategic operation within the ideological frame of American culture
  3. Be able to articulate the interconnection between public memory and physical spaces/locations, whether landscapes, memorial sites, museums, or other features of the built environment
  4. Evaluate approaches to public memory by scholars in communication and other disciplines, recognizing the connection between public memory and rhetoric
  5. Create your own interpretation/argument about public memory rhetorically constructs American citizens, and to what ends
  6. Apply your understanding of the rhetorical functions of public memory to your own original analyses of public memory representations in American life

Public Oral Communication, COLL P155 (Fall 2018)

SP 18 P155 Syllabus as an example.

Coming in Spring 2020:

Culture, Identity, and the Rhetoric of Place
ENG R 398

1. R398 Architecture S18 syl

This class provides an introduction to the study of the built environment from a rhetorical perspective. It does so based on the assumption that the built environment is rhetorically constructed and therefore both reveals and influences the social values and issues of the past, present, and future. Taking a rhetorical approach to architecture provides a materially-focused way to understand our society, to assess its values and behaviors, and to evaluate the implications of those values and behaviors for human beings. Even more specifically, architecture and its corresponding discourses function to shape certain kinds of citizens. In other words, architecture both addresses and shapes its audiences; it “produces” people. We will see that the shaping process of architectural rhetoric operates along a continuum between the overt and intentional to the inadvertent and unforeseen. The course explores the persuasive dimensions of places and spaces people build and that simultaneously shape those people. It examines how structures like buildings, theme parks, and housing developments are the product of strategic communication choices designed to influence how we think and behave.This is also an Intensive Writing course, which means you’ll be writing 5,000 words and revising some of your writing this semester. At the end of this course you will be able to:

  1. Recognize that architecture is an inherently rhetorical process; that the built environment is the product of human choices, persuasive efforts, socioeconomic forces, and media coverage
  2. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the most frequently used critical approaches to the study of architecture as rhetoric
  3. Recognize the structural and symbolic components of particular forms of architecture, and understand how those components operate to shape culture, to influence human thought and behavior, and to constitute particular types of citizens
  4. Gain a working knowledge of information sources relevant to the study of architecture (including primary sources, historical documents, archives and special collections, and online databases), thoughtfully incorporating the evidence from those sources into your final course paper
  5. Pull from a variety of course readings the tools to create your own rhetorical method for analyzing an architectural text, craft that analysis, and share your findings with the class
  6. Analyze the rhetoric of particular architectural forms, discussing the implications for human beings and democratic citizenship of those forms

Rhetorical Criticism

ENG R 305

R305 S18 syllabus

R305 is a course in the practical art of rhetorical criticism. It focuses on the application of a variety of critical tools to communication artifacts. Those tools will help us discover how persuasive messages are formulated, why they work the way they do, whose interests are being served in their production, and what the implications are for human beings of “buying in” to what we’re being sold. While rhetorical criticism originates in the study of speeches, in this class you will have the opportunity to examine many different kinds of communication artifacts including television, speeches films, photographs, museum exhibits, and much more. R305 enables you to write about the kinds of artifacts that interest you, with guidance from me. Rhetorical criticism can be a life-changing experience. Through it, we can better understand the strategies and motives of the myriad of communicative texts we experience every day.

During the semester we will work together to meet a number of learning objectives. At the end of R305 you will:

  1. Be able to offer a working definition of “rhetoric” and “rhetorical criticism”
  2. Demonstrate improved clarity in your writing and ability to support an argument with examples and evidence
  3. Understand the connection between critical approaches and artifacts
  4. Apply your knowledge of these critical theories and methods to your own original analyses of specific artifacts
  5. Analyze and articulate the various implications for human beings of participating in the rhetoric of various artifacts