This course examines the emergence of rhetoric in Antiquity, traces the impact of classical rhetoric up through the Middle Ages, and investigates the development of a “new rhetoric” beginning in the early 20th century. A substantial amount of the course is devoted to questions such as: What is the relationship between oral, written, and multimodal discourse? What impact did the spread of literacy have on ancient cultures? What are the effects of language technologies in society? What is the relationship between rhetoric and religion? What are the goals of “new rhetoric?” As these questions imply, this course is not simply about reading canonical rhetorical theory; it is also about reading these texts as rhetorical acts. We will read selections from Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates, Cicero, Quintilian, Augustine, Nietzsche, I. A. Richards, Kenneth Burke, and more.

In addition, this course requires a substantial amount of reading on a regular basis. Students will regularly compose written responses to the readings and will be expected to come to class ready to defend their interpretations and positions.