Spring 2016 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 05 / 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: Practicing the Art of Persuasive Writing"
Prof. Jessica Kim
WR 13100-02 / MWF 9:25-10:15

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.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Rhetoric, Ethics, and Cultural Community"
Prof. Elizabeth Capdevielle
WR 13100-03 / 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: The Open Society and its Enemies"
Prof. Erik Larsen
WR 13100-04 / MWF 11:30-12:20

Creating a truly "open society" has been the goal of modern Western nations for centuries. American identity is founded on a dream of increasing equality, inclusion, and social mobility, but in 2015 we find ourselves locked in debates about what groups have and should gain access to the open society. Entire political campaigns are waged over the question of who counts as an "outsider" and what to do about their presence. In this class we will analyze contemporary arguments about immigration, religion, race, and terrorism to explore assumptions about social inclusion in various "open" institutions. Through instruction in principles of argumentation, students will formulate convincing and informed views on these topics while learning to write effective college-level essays.

"Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Maryam Zomorodian
WR 13100-05 / MWF 8:20-9:10

This course aims to help students learn how to write for an academic audience. You will interact with and think critically about texts, conduct scholarly research, and use evidence and rhetorical strategies to construct clear and persuasive arguments. You will strive to improve your writing by means of collaboration, reflection, and revision. In addition to analyzing the written word, we will also examine visual media, including photography (at the Snite Museum of Art) and documentary film. To enhance our discussion of audience awareness and to develop methods of effective communication, we will attend a performance by Actors from the London Stage (AFTLS) at the Debartolo Performing Arts Center; we will also participate in an AFTLS workshop—led by one of the actors—that will focus on connecting with one’s audience through speech, movement, and gesture.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Rhetoric, Ethics, and Cultural Community"
Prof. Elizabeth Capdevielle
WR 13100-06 / MWF 12:50-1:40

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"
Prof. James Cotton
WR 13100-07 / 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: Theory, Practice, and Ethics"
Prof. Matthew Capdevielle
WR 13100-08 / 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: The Rhetoric of Higher Education"
Prof. Damian Zurro
WR 13100-09 / TR 11:00-12:15

Discussion and debate abound 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, 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 studies, prepare you for a variety of professional domains, and--most importantly--reflect deeply on the purpose of your time at college.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Rhetoric and Persuasion from Classical to Modern Times"
Prof. Thomas Clemmons
WR 13100-10 / 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 culminating in a research project. Authors and texts considered will include Aesop’s Fables, Aristotle, Augustine, Cicero, Joan Didion, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thucydides, and Tim O’Brien.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Ways of Seeing and the Rhetoric of Identity"
Prof. Elizabeth Evans
WR 13100-11 / TR 2:00-3:15

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.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Rhetorics of Poverty in the United States"
Prof. Amy Jonason
WR 13100-12 / MWF 3:30-4:20

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: Ways of Seeing and the Rhetoric of Identity"
Prof. Elizabeth Evans
WR 13100-13 / TR 3:30-4:45

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.

"Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Ala Fink
WR 13100-15 / MWF 11:30-12:20

There is more than one way to think about an argument. In this class, you will learn how thoughtfully to engage with arguments that contradict your own and to respond to them in a rational and persuasive manner. We will read essays, articles, and short pieces of fiction, as well as listen to speeches, in order to learn how to evaluate whether an argument is coherent or convincing. The overall goals of this class are to learn about and understand some technical aspects of argumentation, to refine your own writing skills through various readings and writing assignments, to learn how to write a college-level research paper, and to discover the importance of revision in your own writing.

"Writing and Rhetoric: Writing Race, Gender and Sexuality"
Prof. Robinson Murphy
WR 13100-16 / MWF 2:00-2:50

How do race, gender and sexuality intersect? This course will explore the rhetoric of race and sexuality alongside questions of gender and class through many different types of “text,” including music, television, film, internet videos, as well as more conventional print media. This diverse array of texts reflects the complexity of the relationship between racial identity, gender, and sexuality, and will help students to fashion a more well-rounded critical-thinking apparatus. In addition to immersing themselves in rich narratives and corresponding social issues, students can expect to learn how to frame an argument, conduct research, provide evidence, and consider alternative viewpoints. Students will thus gain preparation not only for constructing formidable intersectional arguments on race, gender, and sexuality, but also tools for analyzing challenges they will encounter in their future academic work, civic engagement, and beyond.

"Writing and Rhetoric: It's Not Polite to Argue--But that's How You Make the World"
Prof. Justin Saxby
WR 13100-17 / TR 3:30-4:45

"It's not polite to argue." So the saying goes. But few cultural practices have as great an influence on the world we find ourselves in as argumentation does. One purpose of this course is to learn how arguments help create the world around us. A second purpose is to learn how we can use argumentation to become the people we are, or want to be. A third purpose is to learn how we can use argumentation to re-make the world around us into something fairer, more truthful, and more beautiful. Or more polite.

Our course material will consist, in the broadest sense, of the world around us--architecture, literature, television, film, music and visual art--as well as ourselves. We will seek out and engage the arguments in all of these in order to understand what is being argued, how it is being argued, and whether the argument is persuasive. We will then practice employing the methods we find useful and interesting by creating our own arguments. At the end of the course, each of us will come away with methods of argumentation that we can use ourselves. Each of us will leave this course, in other words, with a toolkit of their own for self- and world-building.

WR 13200: Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric

"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.

WR 13300: Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: The Rhetoric of Identity (Gender, Race, and Sexuality)"
Prof. Danielle Green
WR 13300-02 / MWF 9:25-10:15 

Representations of identity abound in the world around us, varying widely from source to source. In this course we will examine a range of perspectives on gender, race, and sexuality in order to think critically about the rhetoric of identity in contemporary society. Together, we will investigate how identity is represented, produced, and constructed through various rhetorical practices and forms in order to analyze, engage with, and write about these representations. The first half of the course will focus on developing critical thinking skills through a variety of readings, preparing us to approach other types of texts ethically and responsibly. The second half of the course will focus on using those critical thinking skills to analyze the texts we encounter in everyday discourse: in news and politics, film and television, music and dance, literature and popular discourse, etc.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: (il)Logical Argument"
Prof. Eric Lewis
WR 13300-03 / MWF 10:30-11:20 

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. There are also the unspoken premises which logically derive from an argument and may inadvertently contradict it.
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: Ethical Discourses across Media"
Prof. Kasey Swanke
WR 13300-05 / MWF 12:50-1:40 

Albus Dumbledore remarked that "words are our most inexhaustible source of magic--capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it." Every day we encounter words and arguments, some of which are injurious to discourse and some of which promote peace, fairness, and dialogue. Focusing on issues of contemporary and ethical significance, we will learn how to use words (as well as images, sounds, and other forms of media) to persuade others in ways that serve ourselves and our audiences.​

The content of this course prepares you for writing successfully in your current and future courses at Notre Dame. Each class that you take here will introduce you to specific conversations regarding topics of moral, political, scientific, and intellectual significance. Most often, these conversations are not simple, but instead quite complicated. Thinking about them often requires qualifications, trade-offs, and excruciating honesty. Navigating and responding to them well requires a keen understanding of argumentation and presentation tactics. While ​we develop a diverse rhetorical toolkit and strategies for successful writing, our ​multimedia ​focus lends us a distinct advantage: you will sharpen​ these important skills within the context of a variety of rhetorical ​modes spanning memes, campaign ads, and scholarly journal articles, to name just a few. 

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Marjorie Housley
WR 13300-06 / TR 2:00-3:15 

What is gender? Representations of gender abound in society--in news and politics; in film, television, and music; in marketing and advertising; in our everyday lives--and the medium and audience often radically changes the way gender is discussed. 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, you will analyze (music videos, advertisements, etc.) and create (multimedia presentations, etc.) other kinds of texts as well. 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"
Prof. Michael Westrate
WR 13300-07 / TR 12:30-1:45 

You came to Notre Dame for various reasons, but one of them was probably that you believed this university would give you a world-class education. Part of such an education is to help you become more effective at whatever you do, both here and beyond. That is what rhetoric is all about, the reason why it has been taught since the ancient world. 2,500 years ago, Aristotle defined rhetoric as “the art of finding the best available means of persuasion in any situation.” What situations? Any and all of them. When you want your roommate to come and eat dinner with you, you need effective rhetoric. When you call your folks to ask for money, you need effective rhetoric. When you do any university assignment, you need effective rhetoric. When you blog, post, text, or tweet—or write professional emails, letters, publications, grant applications, and research projects, you need effective rhetoric. When I am trying to convince Notre Dame first-year students that this class is useful, I need effective rhetoric. Did I make my point? Have I convinced you that effective rhetoric might be useful in your daily life, your education, and your future career? The preceding was an example of rhetoric. If your answers to the questions above were “yes,” then it was effective rhetoric. Join this class to learn how to do it well.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Melissa Mayus
WR 13300-08 / TR 11:00-12:15 

The influence of rhetoric is both an inescapable part of our lives and also a powerful tool for persuasive and ethical argument. With this in mind, our class will equip students to recognize and analyze rhetorical devices in arguments, construct specific forms of persuasive arguments, compose an extended, researched, and rhetorically sound argument, and use both oral and written communication skills in a wide range of media to express thoughtful arguments. Acquiring these skills allows students to succeed in the classroom throughout their college careers, and also prepares them to engage the world around them as thoughtful, ethical, and informed citizens.

"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 & Rhetoric: The Rhetoric(s) of Laughter in the 21st Century"
Prof. Erin McLaughlin
WR 13300-11 / 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.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Patrick Clauss
WR 13300-12 / TR 2:00-3:15 

In The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton observes that "a danger of travel is that we may see things at the wrong time, before we have had an opportunity to build up the necessary receptivity, so that new information is as useless and fugitive as necklace beads without a connecting chain.” de Botton’s point, it seems, applies not only to travel in the literal sense, physically going from one location to another, but also travel in a metaphoric sense, the kind of travel a scholar might undertake while moving through a complex research and writing process.

How might one build up such a necessary receptivity, ensuring that new information and new experiences are not "useless and fugitive . . . without a connecting chain"? The study of rhetoric offers answers: Rhetoric—understood here as the science of argumentation (privileging logos) and the art of persuasion (privileging ethos and pathos)—trains one to be a skilled researcher, speaker, and writer. Additionally, situated within the broader liberal arts tradition, the study of rhetoric also trains one in ways of knowing, of being receptive to how seemingly disparate information, old and new, fits together. Thus, in this section of Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric, specifically designed for AnBryce Scholars, we will travel together, literally and metaphorically. As we do, we will cultivate our receptivity to the rhetorical worlds around us. Ultimately, our goal is to become accomplished and cosmopolitan arguers. Consistent with the missions of the University Writing Program and the AnBryce Scholars Program, we will research, speak, and write with integrity, compassion, and wisdom (or, as the Greek rhetorician Aristotle would put it, with arete, eunoia, and phronesis). 

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: Arguing and Ethics in the Multiverse"
Prof. Caitlin Stevenson
WR 13300-13 / 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"
Prof. Melissa Mayus
WR 13300-15 / TR 9:30-10:45 

The influence of rhetoric is both an inescapable part of our lives and also a powerful tool for persuasive and ethical argument. With this in mind, our class will equip students to recognize and analyze rhetorical devices in arguments, construct specific forms of persuasive arguments, compose an extended, researched, and rhetorically sound argument, and use both oral and written communication skills in a wide range of media to express thoughtful arguments. Acquiring these skills allows students to succeed in the classroom throughout their college careers, and also prepares them to engage the world around them as thoughtful, ethical, and informed citizens.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric: Defense Against the Dark Arts (of Persuasion)"
Prof. Caitlin Smith
WR 13300-16 / TR 5:05-6:20 

In popular usage, rhetoric is frequently treated with suspicion. It's "empty rhetoric"—subtle lies designed to misdirect, deceive, and manipulate. Or it's "powerful rhetoric"—appeals so powerful they overpower reason and critical thinking, a form of mild mind control. In fact, criticisms of rhetoric date back to Socrates' dispute with Gorgias, in which both sides compared rhetoric to hypnotism, brute force, and magic. Simply put, rhetoric is power: it moves people to action, changes their minds, and influences the way they see the world.

The goal of this class is twofold. First, we will learn to identify the way rhetoric works in a multimedia society, "arming" ourselves against the increasingly subtle persuasions we encounter every day. Second, we will learn to construct our own arguments and deploy them in a broad range of contexts. Crucially, we will consider whether rhetoric is "mere" power, or whether it has an ethical dimension. Our driving questions are: What makes an argument work? What makes an argument 'good' or 'bad'? And what does it mean to argue well?