Fall 2015 Courses

WR 12100: Writing and Rhetoric Tutorial

"Critical Reading and Writing"
Prof. Nicole MacLaughlin and Prof. Mer Kaplan
WR 12100-01, 02, 03, 04, and 06 / Days and Times TBD

The Tutorial is one-credit hour elective course which provides individualized reading and writing instruction to students as they transition to college-level writing. In this course, students learn to use a step-based approach to the writing process, to write well-organized, clear essays, and to comprehend and critically analyze the high-level, challenging material assigned in their courses. Through building relationships with instructors and tutors around their writing, students also learn to better manage the writing process and communicate effectively about their work.

Students’ work in the Tutorial centers on their assigned writing and reading across the curriculum. Students must be recommended for this course by an adviser or instructor, and the course will be enrolled according to student need. Instruction sessions are scheduled individually to accommodate students’ other commitments, and they normally commence during the third week of the semester.

WR 13100: Writing and Rhetoric

"Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Jessica Kim
WR 13100-01 / MWF 8:20-9:10

Being verbal creatures, we inhabit a world of language. It thus behooves us to pay attention to how we employ language to communicate to one another. In this course, we will study and wield the elements of strong argumentation for the goal of mastering the components of persuasive writing. The power to convey ideas in a clear, meaningful, and compelling way will prove a lasting and necessary skill for multiple contexts in life, starting with the academic classroom. Whether one continues on to graduate study, business, politics, communications, teaching, the arts, or any other field of human endeavor, the foundations of good writing and rhetoric will sustain one’s ability to navigate the complex permutations of our social world as a literate person. Using the long-studied rules of rhetoric, we will practice, as students of language and its relationship to thought, the power of expressing our ideas effectively in a world in need of our unique intellectual contributions in all its diverse spheres.

"Rhetoric, Ethics, and Cultural Community"
Prof. Elizabeth Capdevielle
WR 13100-04 / MWF 10:30-11:20

This writing studio course includes guided discussions, intensive workshops, extensive drafting processes, and one-on-one conferences with the professor, all designed to help students sharpen their rhetorical skills and put them to good use in university-level academic writing. Student professionalism is essential in this fun, challenging, and highly focused collaborative environment, as we study the messages that shape our culture today. Assignments and discussions address a wide variety of topics, from politics to commercial advertising to science. Each student completes a major research paper project, developing an original question on a topic that suits his or her own interests and values, while becoming comfortable using an academic research library. Along with taking a leadership role in discussion, each student also practices public speaking by presenting original research in a formal talk. We complete the course with final reflections on rhetoric and ethics in our cultural communities.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Rhetorics of Poverty in the United States"
Prof. Amy Jonason
WR 13100-05, MWF 11:30-12:20 

This course will explore various arguments about the causes, consequences, and solutions for poverty in the United States. Who is poor in America, and why? What should be done about it? And, perhaps most challenging of all, how can people from opposite ends of the political spectrum discuss these questions with civility? We will examine how social scientists, journalists, politicians and advocates frame the problem of poverty, paying attention to the rhetorical techniques they employ to shape public opinion and policy, and investigating the validity of their claims. Through personal reflection, dialogue with your classmates, and a semester research paper, you will be challenged to evaluate your own assumptions about poverty and argue for innovative policy solutions.

"Writing and Rhetoric: The Writing and Rhetoric of Sustainability"
Prof. Katie Osborn
WR 13100-06 / MWF 12:50-1:40

This course is an introduction to college-level writing, rhetoric, and research skills through an exploration of one of today’s most pressing issues: environmental sustainability. While learning best practices of academic writing, students will also become familiar with central topics in sustainability and climate change. They will also learn the skills and dispositions that advocates for sustainability rely on. The primary text is Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Sii," which will be supplemented with short readings, film documentaries and (because discourse on sustainability is always changing) briefings on new developments in the field over the course of the semester. In order to grow in their writing and rhetoric skills, students will also present on topics to each other, and the class will host speakers and attend field trips to get to know the unique sustainability needs and opportunities in the Notre Dame and South Bend communities.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Understanding Media, Arguing Persuasively, and Communicating Ethically"
Prof. Hannah Zdansky
WR 13100-07 / MWF 2:00-2:50

This course will introduce you to the study and practice of rhetoric in the context of both the university and the world beyond it. In the university, just as in society at large, every issue of importance, every significant question, is explored, advocated for, and debated using rhetoric. The ongoing conversation of the university, which engages rich questions of art, ethics, culture, politics, religion, and science, depends on thoughtful scholars acquiring the skills to make solid and charitable arguments—to provide good reasons—and offering those arguments in the search for deeper, more meaningful, and ethically-rooted knowledge. Because this course seeks to demonstrate the real significance of rhetoric in the public sphere, the texts we read will focus on persisting social and environmental issues, problems of poverty and violence, and the ideal of peace. By the semester’s end, you will have learned the basics of rhetoric and will have employed them in the analysis and articulation of important social and ethical concerns, preparing you not only for meaningful success as a student at this university, but also—and most importantly—as a human being.

"Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. James Cotton
WR 13100-08 / MWF 2:00-2:50

Rhetoric matters, and in this class you’ll see how rhetoric has the power to get us talking, spur us to action, direct the course of history, change lives, and transform the world. Focusing on the 2016 presidential campaign, we’ll study rhetoric in ‘real time’ as we engage with the candidates’ political arguments from multiple perspectives. As we sharpen our awareness of the power of rhetoric through various media, we’ll improve our own academic writing and finish the semester with a final research paper.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Environmental Ethics"
Prof. Robinson Murphy
WR 13100-09 / MWF 3:30-4:20

By describing a world without wildlife in her book Silent Spring (1962), marine biologist Rachel Carson altered the way Americans understood their impact on the landscape. Like Carson, in our class we will come to understand academic writing as the foundation of responsible public discourse. For Carson, changing the perceptions of her contemporaries was possible only by transmitting her knowledge in engaging and accessible language. For our own writing, we will likewise work to communicate in language appropriate to our intended audience, as well as learn how to frame an argument, conduct research, provide evidence, and consider alternative viewpoints. By developing these skills, we will come to more robustly understand and communicate issues of immediate ethical significance, such as climate change, species extinction, and how to serve the needs of the present without compromising future generations.

"Writing and Rhetoric--Theory, Practice, and Ethics"
Prof. Matthew Capdevielle
WR 13100-10 / TR 9:30-10:45

What is the difference between manipulating and convincing someone? Is there anyone with whom we share no common ground? To what degree are we bound to respond to others? These are ethical questions: by their very nature they entail a consideration of our relations with others. And our relations with others take shape in language. This studio/workshop course seeks to explore the ethical issues of reasoned dialogue with special emphasis on persuasion. It is a course in argument as a way of reasoning with others by advancing claims and supporting them with evidence. Through a series of papers and seminar discussions, we will work to see how academic argument is more than just staking out a position and supporting it; argument involves understanding the different ways that issues may be viewed by members of different audiences and communities. In order to gain this perspective, we will work, as Aristotle tells us, to "see the available means of persuasion" in any given situation. This is the art of rhetoric.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Rhetoric and Persuasion from Classical to Modern Times"
Prof. Thomas Clemmons
WR 13100-11 / TR 12:30-1:45

This course instructs students in the discipline of rhetoric through the identification, assessment, and construction of arguments. We will consider rhetorical methods of persuasion, modes of effective expression, and strategies of composition. Students will use rhetorical analysis to assess the deployment of arguments in a range of genres. We will identify common rhetorical structures and examine methods of persuasion. Students will work with an eye to producing effective and attentive writing. Over the semester, students will develop a sophisticated and integrated rhetorical apparatus through a range of compositions from grant applications to research projects. Authors and texts considered will include Aesop’s Fables, Aristotle, Augustine, Cicero, Joan Didion, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Tim O’Brien.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Writing for the Meaningful Life"
Prof. Damian Zurro
WR 13100-12 / 2:00-3:15

There has been much recent discussion in the U.S. about the purpose and value of a college education. At times contentious, this conversation often comes down to a crucial question: what is college for? In this course, at the beginning of your college careers, we will take on that question and apply a variety of rhetorical tools that we will learn together to answer it. Through a range of activities and assignments, we will cultivate the kind of critical thinking and writing ability that can help you get the most out of your undergraduate education, prepare you for a variety of professional domains, and--most importantly--contemplate meaning as you move into your adult lives.

"Writing and Rhetoric: The Ethical Writer"
Prof. John Duffy
WR 13100-13 / TR 2:00-3:15

We tend to think of writing as an activity that involves communicating information, or making an argument, or expressing a creative impulse. But writing is equally an activity that involves ethical choices that arise from the relationship of writer and reader. Every time we write for another person, we propose a relationship with other people, our readers. And in proposing such relationships we inevitably address the questions moral philosophers regard as ethical: what kind of person do I want to be? How should I treat others? How should I live my life? For writers, these questions become: what kind of writer do I wish to be? What are my obligations to my readers? What effects will my words have upon others? In this course, we will examine the ethics of rhetoric, or what it means to be, as the old Roman teacher Quintilian expressed it, a good person, well spoken. In the course of our inquiries, we will read widely, write frequently, and enjoy the pleasures of learning in one another's company.

"Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Ala Fink
WR 13100-14 / TR 3:30-4:45

Every argument has at least two perspectives. In this class, you will learn how thoughtfully to engage with arguments that contradict your own, and respond to them in a rational and persuasive manner. You will read essays, articles, and short pieces of fiction, as well as listen to speeches, in order to evaluate the ways in which an argument is or is not coherent and/or convincing. The overall goals of this class are to get you to think about some technical aspects of arguments, to help you develop your own writing skills through various readings, and writing assignments, to learn how to write a research paper, and to discover the importance of revision in your own writing.

"Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Justin Saxby
WR 13100-15 / TR 3:30-4:45

Very few cultural practices have as great an influence on the world we find ourselves in as written texts do, especially written arguments. One purpose of this course is to learn how to read arguments in a way that pays attention to how they help create the world around us. The other purpose of this course is to understand how reading and writing enable us to become the people we are, or want to be. We will not approach the course readings not only to understand what the authors are trying to do, but also how they do it and whether they are successful. We will then practice employing the methods we find useful and interesting in our own written arguments. At the end of the course, each of us will come away with methods of writing that we can use ourselves. Students will leave this course, in other words, with a toolkit of their own for self- and world-building.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Ways of Seeing and the Rhetoric of Identity"
Prof. Elizabeth Evans
WR 13100-16 / TR 5:05-6:20

This course investigates the rhetoric of identity while developing skills required across disciplines (namely the ability to locate, understand, and respond to diverse texts, to consider multiple points of view, and to develop your own ideas in conversation with those of others). Together we’ll examine a range of ideas and perspectives about race, gender, class, nationality, and language. Our course texts will include personal narratives, advertisements, scholarly essays, and news stories. Students will write in a variety of modes, as well, including analytical and research-based essays and personal stories informed by an ethnographic eye/I. All assignments will emphasize the writing process through peer workshops, individual student-instructor meetings, presentations, and discussion. The small class size allows for, and demands, vigorous participation and a shared commitment to inclusive and open-minded inquiry.

WR 13200: Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric

"Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric: The Farm in the Community"
Prof. Elizabeth Capdevielle"
WR 13200-01 / MWF 12:50-1:40

In this sustainability-focused Writing & Rhetoric course, you can spend some time outside and discover a positive movement expanding in our city and the farms that surround it. You’ll also get to know our community through service. Students gain hands-on experience not only with the healthy work of growing food, but also with the arguments about food and farming that motivate our decisions. Many affluent consumers already value fresh, local food, but other consumers are often cut off from choosing fresh food due to cost, time constraints, and simple accessibility. How can we help? Collaborating with community partners and fellow students, you will put your rhetoric and writing skills to work in the community, helping with outreach and educational materials that extend the urban community’s access to sustainably grown food, while helping to keep ethical farming economically sustainable for local growers. In your own research project, you'll study how sustainability relates to other community needs and concerns.

"Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric: Public Art and Peace in the Community"
Prof. Elizabeth Capdevielle"
WR 13200-02 / MWF 2:00-2:50

This Writing & Rhetoric course incorporates experiential learning and service to the South Bend community in a focused study of street art projects organized by a local artist and community organizer, with the aim of creating networks and reducing violence. In this class, you'll study the ways community groups and neighborhoods define themselves and how they interact with each other in a variety of discourses, including images, spaces, and written documents. As you analyze the power of rhetoric in communities, you'll also put your own rhetorical powers to work by helping to create street art, utilizing discourses that shape our community life, and working with local residents to promote and organize a future art project. Through rhetorical actions, we can do our part to help overcome some of the disconnects and misunderstandings that lead to conflict in our community. In your own research project, you'll study how communities work and how they may work better.

"Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Ed Kelly
WR 13200-03 / TR 11:00-12:15

I ask students to build community both within and without the classroom, to be responsible for one another and for the community members whom they serve. In class--through reading, writing, and discussion--we’ll focus on issues related to social justice (particularly criminal justice) and on the skills needed to construct rhetorically strong arguments. Outside class, students can choose to serve at either the Juvenile Justice Center, working with temporarily incarcerated youths, or the Dismas House, a venue committed to helping formerly incarcerated people to re-enter society. Each requires about a two-and one-half hour time commitment one night a week for ten to twelve weeks. In addition to argumentative essays, I require students to write two critical reflections on their service experience. Interested in exploring and serving the common good? Sign up.

WR 13300: Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Eric Lewis
WR 13300-01 / MWF 8:20-9:10 

Despite the hard distinction frequently drawn between logical and illogical arguments, every argument relies at its core on the illogical, such as the assumptions from which an argument begins and the very form in which it is made, whether an essay, a music video, or a protest. There are generic conventions, with which an argument must conform in order to reach its intended audience. There is the voice in which one argues, which may engage or alienate an audience before one even puts forward one’s logic.

In this course, we will turn to these frequently overlooked behind-the-scenes aspects of argumentation and bring them to the fore. How do these illogical aspects of argumentation impinge on the composition of arguments, logical and otherwise? How do these aspects relate to an argument’s persuasiveness and “rightness”? What ramifications do these illogical arguments have outside the purview of argumentation—that is, socially, politically, and personally?

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Marjorie Housley
WR 13300-02 / MWF 9:25-10:15 

What is gender? Representations of gender abound in society, varying widely from one source to the next: in news and politics; in film, television, and music; in marketing and advertising; in our everyday lives. This course will scrutinize a variety of texts to allow you to think critically about the various ways that gender is thought about, represented, and constructed. Assignments will focus on academic discourse and ethical argumentation—that is, you will examine the ways in which you and others think and write about gender. Both readings and assignments will take a variety of forms: while critical essays will form the backbone of the course, we will not limit our texts to the written word. We will consider the ways gender is constructed across media; how genre and medium inform how an argument is made; and how medium influences the construction of rhetoric.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: The Rhetoric of Identity in Everyday Discourse"
Prof. Danielle Green
WR 13300-03 / MWF 10:30-11:20 

Whenever we write, or express ourselves through various media, we produce an identity—a narrative self—which simultaneously informs and is informed by the world around us. In this course, we will investigate the ways in which we communicate, produce, and interpret identity through rhetorical practices. We will consider the ways that we read and what assumptions we bring to a text (whether it be written, verbal, or visual). We will also develop ways of thinking about our own rhetorical situations as writers, how we construct or approach arguments, and the audience(s) we would like to impact. Our assignments and class discussions will be a forum in which to consider various points of view, especially those that differ from our own, in light of the rhetorical and argumentative practices we see in everyday discourse.

"Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Jacob Schepers
WR 13300-05 / MWF 12:50-1:40 

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan once claimed that "Failure in perception occurs precisely in giving attention to the program 'content' of our media while ignoring the form." More succinctly, he believed, "The medium is the message." This course will tackle the implications behind this "failure" of perception. At the same time, it will equip students with critical tact to increase their awareness of how they engage with different forms of multimedia rhetoric both as consumers and as producers.

Over the semester, we will develop a better understanding of rhetorical basics, and we will ask ourselves in what ways our rhetorical situation has changed and/or remained the same in a digital world. We will analyze the choices and ethical responsibilities involved in creating an argument – such as voice, purpose, audience, and evidence – and we will put these considerations into practice in the forms of an audio narrative, a persuasion essay, a research paper, a media analysis, and a final portfolio, along with ongoing Sakai posts responding to class discussion and assigned readings.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: The Rhetoric(s) of Laughter in the 21st Century"
Prof. Erin McLaughlin
WR 13300-09 / TR 11:00-12:15 

This course is an introduction to writing, rhetoric, and research. Though each of these terms can be defined in numerous ways, we will focus most carefully on writing as a process of constructing meaning with symbols, rhetoric as the craft of using those symbols to achieve an argumentative purpose, and research as a process of investigation and analysis. While these concepts have long been cornerstones of liberal arts education, digital culture and media continue to transform the ways we experience writing, rhetoric, and research in the 21st Century. This course will explore these intersections between rhetorical theory and contemporary media, with particular attention toward the role of humor in public argument. While satire and comedy continue to be championed as important forms of non-violent rhetoric, instances such as the January 2015 shootings at the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo reveal the underlying seriousness and risk involved with deploying humor as argument. Such cases reveal, too, the import of medium to message and the role that social media continues to play in shaping, circulating, and archiving public debate. Throughout the term, students will analyze and produce arguments across a variety of media platforms, including audio, video, blogs, photography, posters, infographics, and traditional print.

"Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Melissa Mayus
WR 13300-10 / TR 11:00-12:15 

Course description coming soon.

"Aristotelian Arguments in a Digital Age"
Prof. Patrick Clauss
WR 13300-11 / TR 12:30-1:45 

Two thousand years ago, someone wanting to share a message--to influence others--had a rather limited set of options: That person could write a letter, shout in a public place, or perhaps send up smoke signals. Today, communicators have an unprecedented number of options, including television, radio, cell phones, YouTube, Twitter . . . the list goes on. Available media have exploded in recent years. However, have the fundamental components of the messages themselves also changed? What about ethical argument methods and structures--have they changed, too? Finally, what might we learn about digital arguments, for instance, from Aristotle’s classic On Rhetoric? Such questions will guide our work this semester as we investigate the ways humans use (and misuse) symbols, like language, to influence others in the 21st century.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: The Rhetoric(s) of Laughter in the 21st Century"
Prof. Erin McLaughlin
WR 13300-12 / TR 12:30-1:45 

This course is an introduction to writing, rhetoric, and research. Though each of these terms can be defined in numerous ways, we will focus most carefully on writing as a process of constructing meaning with symbols, rhetoric as the craft of using those symbols to achieve an argumentative purpose, and research as a process of investigation and analysis. While these concepts have long been cornerstones of liberal arts education, digital culture and media continue to transform the ways we experience writing, rhetoric, and research in the 21st Century. This course will explore these intersections between rhetorical theory and contemporary media, with particular attention toward the role of humor in public argument. While satire and comedy continue to be championed as important forms of non-violent rhetoric, instances such as the January 2015 shootings at the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo reveal the underlying seriousness and risk involved with deploying humor as argument. Such cases reveal, too, the import of medium to message and the role that social media continues to play in shaping, circulating, and archiving public debate. Throughout the term, students will analyze and produce arguments across a variety of media platforms, including audio, video, blogs, photography, posters, infographics, and traditional print.

"Aristotelian Arguments in a Digital Age"
Prof. Patrick Clauss
WR 13300-13 / TR 2:00-3:15 

Two thousand years ago, someone wanting to share a message--to influence others--had a rather limited set of options: That person could write a letter, shout in a public place, or perhaps send up smoke signals. Today, communicators have an unprecedented number of options, including television, radio, cell phones, YouTube, Twitter . . . the list goes on. Available media have exploded in recent years. However, have the fundamental components of the messages themselves also changed? What about ethical argument methods and structures--have they changed, too? Finally, what might we learn about digital arguments, for instance, from Aristotle’s classic On Rhetoric? Such questions will guide our work this semester as we investigate the ways humans use (and misuse) symbols, like language, to influence others in the 21st century.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: The Rhetoric(s) of Laughter in the 21st Century"
Prof. Erin McLaughlin
WR 13300-14 / TR 2:00-3:15 

This course is an introduction to writing, rhetoric, and research. Though each of these terms can be defined in numerous ways, we will focus most carefully on writing as a process of constructing meaning with symbols, rhetoric as the craft of using those symbols to achieve an argumentative purpose, and research as a process of investigation and analysis. While these concepts have long been cornerstones of liberal arts education, digital culture and media continue to transform the ways we experience writing, rhetoric, and research in the 21st Century. This course will explore these intersections between rhetorical theory and contemporary media, with particular attention toward the role of humor in public argument. While satire and comedy continue to be championed as important forms of non-violent rhetoric, instances such as the January 2015 shootings at the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo reveal the underlying seriousness and risk involved with deploying humor as argument. Such cases reveal, too, the import of medium to message and the role that social media continues to play in shaping, circulating, and archiving public debate. Throughout the term, students will analyze and produce arguments across a variety of media platforms, including audio, video, blogs, photography, posters, infographics, and traditional print.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: Arguing and Ethics in the Multiverse"
Prof. Cait Stevenson
WR 13300-15 / TR 3:30-4:45 

From the academic essay to the 140-character snark, making an effective argument means understanding the expectations of the audience and working them to our advantage. This course will look at how we use language and other tools to win over others to our point of view. We will ask what is at stake personally, politically, and morally in the implicit and explicit rules of winning arguments in different media—as well as in the assumption that there must always be a winner. Be ready to write, talk, picture, and listen your way to more effective communication and persuasion on and off the Internet.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: Schools and Society"
Prof. Kara Donnelly
WR 13300-16 / TR 3:30-4:45 

The goal of this course is to learn to argue persuasively in an academic setting. In particular, we will focus on developing research topics and questions; collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing evidence from primary and secondary sources; organizing arguments around a single compelling claim or thesis; and expressing arguments in both traditional written essays and multimodal formats. Our readings, course discussions, and assignments will focus on the interactions between students, schools, and society. This will enable you to bring your experience together with the arguments and evidence of others, from your classmates to world-class education experts, to reflect on the relationship between education, identity, and the broader society.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Caitlin Smith
WR 13300-17 / TR 5:05-6:20 

Kenneth Burke defines the rhetorical function of language as "a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols." Simply put, rhetoric is persuasive: effective rhetoric moves people to action, changes their minds, and influences the way they see the world. But does rhetoric have a moral dimension? Is it possible to use rhetoric both effectively and ethically? In this class, we will analyze many forms of text, from classical dialogues to social media and advertising. We will learn to identify and construct rhetoric in a wide range of contexts. Our driving questions are: What makes an argument work? What makes an argument 'good' or 'bad'? And what does it mean to argue well?