Friday, October 15, 2010

My Spring Course in Classical Rhetoric

Semester: Spring 2011

Name: Stevens Amidon

Course: ENG W462 C682 Intro to Classical Rhetoric

Days/Time: Mondays 4:30-7:15

Prerequisite: ENG W233 or equivalent and junior or senior standing


Many of the strategies and processes we engage in when we write are based on practices developed by classical rhetoricians—Aristotle, Isocrates, Cicero, and Quintilian. These ancient rhetoricians, faced with the challenge of teaching citizens how to participate in the civic forums and legislative bodies that emerged in ancient Greece and Rome, developed theories which still speak to citizens of today’s global culture with its vast, electronic forums. Yet these rhetoricians were more than simply philosophers or theorists. At its most basic, rhetoric was a practical art, an art of composition, and of critical analysis.

In this course we will follow the course charted by these classical thinkers. We will explore rhetorical concepts such as kairos, stasis theory, topics and commonplaces, logos, ethos, pathos, arrangement, style, memory and delivery. However, we will do more than simply memorize terms and learn theories. In every case we will engage in activities which require us to practice critical analysis and composition in light of these theories. In most writing classrooms these “activities” are minor work, which fill the gap between major writing assignments. In this class we place less emphasis on the academic “paper,” the final product of rhetorical activity, and more emphasis on these activities for their own sake. This emphasis on constant activity and practice will help writers and thinkers of all abilities—from the struggling undergraduate to the skilled graduate student working on her thesis—to improve their skills of analysis and composition.

Evaluation Methods

Evaluation of in-class activities, midterm essay exam, final essay exam, short paper (for graduate students), and daily responses.

Required Texts
Crowley, Sharon & Hawhee, Debra. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students.
Primary texts made available by the instructor


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