English 283.03         Rhetorical Theory and Applications
Dr. Janice Neuleib

TR 3:35-5:00 STV 221B                                                                          Illinois State University
Spring 2003       E-mail:  jneuleib@ilstu.edu          Tel. # 309-438-7858       Office: STV 406
Office Hours:    M-R 11, and by appointment.
 


TEXT:  Packet # 122 at PIP Printing, Bone Student Center.
 

Also Needed: An active ilstu.edu e-mail account (Free. See ISU web site or call 438-HELP.)
 
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF COURSE:
We will investigate the nature of rhetoric in texts about rhetoric and in the rhetorical texts that surround us, both in written texts and in the world around us. We will be reading, discussing, and writing about these texts. We will treat many kinds of texts as rhetorical, and we will expand the definition of text as we move through our activities and discussions.
   investigate historical and contemporary definitions and theories of rhetoric.
  study recurring problems in rhetoric (i.e. professional and workplace discourses, academic methodologies, language and knowledge-making approaches, ethics, etc.).
  read, write, listen, research, and speak with a deeper awareness of rhetorical strategies and historical controversies related to rhetoric.
   learn how the study of rhetoric can contribute to public discourse and policy.
 
MAJOR ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING PERCENTAGES (further explanations will follow):
 
 Responses to Readings:
Responses to Readings are due four times during the semester.  You will respond to the readings we discuss in class, to the rhetoric you see in the world around you, and to your own understanding of rhetoric as the semester progresses.  These responses will include in-class writing and other activities.  They will be due at the end of three or four week intervals: Feb. 6, Mar. 6, Apr. 3, & Apr. 24.

Midterm Exam

The exam will be a take-home test aimed at helping you to integrate the work that you have done up to the middle of the course. Mar. 6
 
Rhetorical Analysis of Controversy:
 
Choose a significant, specific controversy that interests you and read a total of 2-4 essays/arguments representing the various sides in the controversy, and write an analysis of the rhetorical strategies used by the stakeholders (and/or the writers) in the selected essays/columns/letters, etc. This project is due in components (proposal in Mar. 6 response, draft one and peer responses to proposal and your responses to others' proposals in Apr. 3 response, responses to others' first drafts in Apr. 24 response, and final draft on May 1). Peer responses play an important part of the evaluation.

All writing is public and to be read by part or all of the class.

Here are some ideas, though it is preferable that you come up with your own:

Analyze the rhetoric of the debates over going to war in Iraq or over going to war in WW II or in some other historic situation
Analyze the rhetoric of academic issues such as testing or grading.
Analyze the rhetoric of a web presence such as Salon or the various news sources on line
 

Good places to look for substantial opinion pieces: The Chronicle of Higher Education, English Journal ("One Person's Opinion"); The Nation, Vital Speeches, The New York Times op/ed page (available online), Commentary, National Review, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic Monthly, The Utne Reader, Tikkun, Harpers Magazine, Society, Dissent, and the NCTE web site. There are many, many more. You may want to use a journal that plays a central role in the field you plan to enter. Many of these are archived online either through our library and/or through a good search engine such as google.com.
We will practice this kind of analysis in class, and we will be reading a number of rhetorical analyses in preparation for this project. In addition, we will discuss possible controversies in class---all long before this project is due. When handing in this analysis, include all drafts, peer responses, self-responses, etc.

Your responses to others are a significant part of this project.
 

Sample Response
23 January 2003

The editorial by Epstein "Am I Anti-Gay" presented me with a dilemma that has long perplexed me. Where are the limits of freedom of the press? What is appropriate? What does the audience get to define? The supreme court justice in the James Joyce Ulysses case that he "knew pornography when he saw it." Can we say the same about conservative anti-gay materials? Do we know them when we see them and therefore have the right to reject them out of hand? What good does such rejection do?

Another aspect of Epstein's editorial that made me uncomfortable was the letters and emails that he received. The original ad was in the back of the magazine in paid-for ads.  Yet several of the letters and emails accused Epstein of having written an anti-gay essay. Do we all tend to suspect anyone that we have heard something bad about of being guilty without evidence? Do we always jump to conclusions? I was quite interested to see an article in the New York Times that noted that the North Koreans were merely prodding the US and the west to begin reshipping oil supplies that had been cut for economical reasons. That's why the nuclear rumblings, just to get the oil flowing again. Why have the media been hyping the North Koreans as warriors when they really want only to heat their kitchen? Or was the NYT wrong too? How can one know for sure?
 
 

283.03 Midterm Exam Questions
Take Home, due March 6
J. Neuleib

 
1. Crowley & Hawhee begin their text by noting the differences between modern thought and classical rhetoric (p. 70 ff.).  Using the differences outlined on these first two pages, compare how an ancient rhetorician and a modern scientific thinker might differ on a given subject, say the need for population control or environmental safety. Discuss these differences, noting how modern audiences might, or might not, differ in their responses to these thinkers.

2. In the chapter on kairos, the issue of power arises (p. 92).  Who gets to speak?  Choose an essay that you find interesting and/or persuasive.  Then show how power is used in the essay. What authority does the author have? Why is the author published, noted, admired? By whom, that is, who is the audience for the essay?

3. Go back to a paper you have written for a class here at ISU, or even a high school paper.  Discuss how stasis theory applies to that paper?  Especially, how did you formulate the questions that the paper asked and answered?  Were they the right questions? Would you change them, and the paper, if you had it to do over?

4. Once again, find an essay or a printed speech that you find compelling, interesting, and/or challenging. Discuss the concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos as they apply to the text you have chosen.  Explain how these concepts work in the essay for you as responding reader (taste).