Fall 2014 Courses

WR 13100: Writing and Rhetoric

"Reading Power: Authority, Community, and the Rhetoric of Spectatorship"
Prof. Katie Osborn
WR 13100-02 / MWF 8:20

This course is an introduction to college-level writing, rhetoric, research, and reading skills, with a heavy emphasis on peer editing. Students will develop their own authority as writers through close readings and re-readings of exciting and challenging texts by Martin Luther King Jr., Annie Dillard, David Foster Wallace, and Paulo Freire, among others. In this class, we will focus on the act of reading and writing in two senses: as spectatorship and as engagement. Both can be ways of engaging critically with both texts and the world. Once we begin reading in this manner, we will also be able to explore how symbols are connected to particular communities, ideologies, opinions, and systems of power that deserve examination. Throughout the semester students will grow in their reading and writing power through engagement with traditional texts, multimedia, and, most importantly, their own compositions.

"Communicating Across the Disciplines: Writing and Rhetoric in an Academic Context"
Prof. Joe Brutto
WR 13100-04, MWF 10:30-11:20 

No matter what major you choose or career path you pursue, you encounter arguments in a variety of forms. In addition, you make arguments of your own and respond to the arguments of others, often in writing. This course is designed to introduce you to the basic principles of argumentation with a specific focus on arguing and responding to arguments in an academic context. We will study different types of arguments (definition, causal, proposal, and evaluation) and compose our own versions of these arguments. You will also be instructed in the particular conventions of academic writing, learning how academic writing differs from other types of writing (e.g., a high school essay, blog post, newspaper editorial, etc.) Upon completion of the course, you will have a better understanding of what an argument is, how to evaluate it, and how to propose an argument and respond to the arguments of others in writing. These skills benefit all Notre Dame students.

"Rhetoric, Ethics, and Cultural Community"
Prof. Elizabeth Capdevielle
WR 13100-05 / MWF 10:30-11:20; WR 13100-07

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.

"The Art of Unveiling Argument"
Prof. Mimi Ensley
WR 13100-09 / MWF 12:50-1:40

E.B. White once said that “writing is both mask and unveiling.” In this class, we will explore various masks we wear as writers and arguers. Simultaneously, we will unveil the complex rhetorical moves made within our writing and the writing of others. To do so, this class is centered around four masks, or personas, writers can adopt: the communicator, the critic, the researcher, and the storyteller. These personas are not the only ones a writer might use, nor are they mutually exclusive — a critical piece might involve a degree of storytelling; a researched article will likely be (and should be) persuasive as well. But by recognizing some of the various masks we as writers put on, we can better understand our own positions and the positions others. Students will write formal essays and more exploratory informal papers while wearing each of the four masks listed above. We will also ‘unveil’ — through class discussion and writing assignments — the rhetorical moves writers make while donning these masks. The course concludes with a portfolio assignment, unveiling for the instructor your own personal development as a writer and a critical thinker.

"Shaping Academic Dialogue"
Prof. John Conlan
WR 13100-11 / MWF 2:00-2:50

Writing an essay is about finding your voice. When students take on the task of writing well-researched and well-argued papers, it is always essential to know the best ways to find a coherent and convincing position. This goes for all areas of research: from macroeconomics to systematic theology—a good piece of writing will always be a memorable and an enriching experience. As students who will grow to develop an effective personal style of argumentation, the experience of academic writing and rhetoric is one of exploration, and this course is designed to provide students with the fundamentals of how to construct a sophisticated piece of composition. The course will focus on rhetoric as the key component of the academic essay. As such, students will explore and make use of various approaches to writing, and will gain a knowledge of the factors that make up a well-rounded and persuasive written argument.

"On Effective Argument and Persuasion"
Prof. Michael Francis
WR 13100-13 / TR 9:30-10:45

What steps might I take to ensure that I communicate my point of view on a particular issue as persuasively as possible? What skills and commitments are required in order appropriately and effectively to understand and engage with the perspectives articulated by others? These are the questions at stake in the primary focus of this course, the theory and practice of argument: the task of making a claim, supporting it, and communicating the whole successfully in a particular context to specific people. Defined this way, argument is the cornerstone of academic writing, and is essential to serious discourse in most fields of enquiry. In this course, accordingly, we will divide our attention between, first, analysis of texts (ancient and modern; and occasionally other media), as we consider what it means to read discerningly, and, second, writing exercises and projects, as we develop our own skills as writers. Throughout the course, we will reflect on the ethical implications of the way we engage the arguments of others and respond with our own.

"Writing and Rhetoric—Theory, Practice, and Ethics"
Prof. Matthew Capdevielle
WR 13100-15 / 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.

"Identity, Community, and Ethical Argumentation"
Prof. Elizabeth Evans
WR 13100-17 / TR 11:00 AM-12:15

This course investigates issues of identity and community 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 gender, race, class, nationality, and language, which shape individuals and communities of all types and sizes, from online fan clubs to the University of Notre Dame student body to large-scale social structures. Our course texts will include photographs, commercials, scholarly essays, and news stories. Students will write in a variety of modes, as well, including analytical and research-based essays and a group-authored video. 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 & Rhetoric"
Prof. Mer Kaplan
WR 13100-19 / TR 12:30-1:45

This class is designed to help you acquire and practice the research and writing skills that will be most helpful to you in college and beyond. Our primary watchword for the course will be inquiry – asking questions, conducting research, keeping an open and questioning mind with respect to the varied issues that we will investigate and discuss. By exploring a range of questions at issue for our community, we will strive to examine and (re)define our own beliefs in a reasonable, intelligent manner. This type of earnest inquiry is the foundation of ethical argumentation. Regular class discussions and workshops are essential to the writing process since they provide the opportunity to hear diverse opinions and, therefore, push us to rigorously investigate and honestly articulate our own thoughts. Finally, we will go beyond structuring well-argued essays and consider such stylistic issues as voice and audience, enhancing the rhetorical capabilities of our writing. I hope that this class will enable and inspire us all to become strong thinkers, speakers, readers, and writers.

"Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Finola Prendergast
WR 13100-20 / TR 12:30-1:45

In Writing and Rhetoric, you will learn to construct a written argument, a claim or series of claims supported by evidence. To persuade, however, an argument needs more than true claims and legitimate evidence. It needs also to be understandable and compelling. In other words, a reader must be able to determine what claims your argument is making and find your presentation engaging enough to merit further thought. In Writing and Rhetoric, then, you will learn to convey your claims clearly and precisely, so that every member of your intended audience will understand your meaning; you will also learn to convey your claims attractively, so that every member of your intended audience will care to understand your meaning. You will learn these things both through hands-on practice (composing a number of arguments for different audiences) and observation (analyzing the arguments of others). The class will focus in particular on academic argument, to prepare you for the work you will do throughout your time at Notre Dame.

"Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Ethan Guagliardo
WR 13100-21 / TR 2:00-3:15

This course teaches the skills you must learn to become a successful writer of academic prose at the University of Notre Dame. This means becoming a clear and graceful stylist, as well as learning how to make persuasive arguments and using evidence.

"See, Think, Write, Speak: The Medium and the Message"
Prof. Deborah Forteza
WR 13100-23 / TR 3:30-4:45

Rhetoric is everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, TV, newspapers, magazines, the internet…all of these are constantly sending messages and ideas that sometimes are analyzed and sometimes merely absorbed. They shape us, and we shape them. Do we analyze the messages of media around us? How are they trying to persuade us? How does the medium used affect the message conveyed? How do we respond to these messages? This course focuses on the relationship between media, writing, thinking, and argumentation. We will discuss how to analyze arguments and ideas in texts (primarily written and visual rhetoric) and how to write about them critically and clearly. Students will not only learn how to analyze and construct arguments clearly and persuasively, but also, how to write ethically both in informal writing and in academic papers.

WR 13200: Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric

"Community Writing & Rhetoric: The Farm in the Community"
Prof.  Elizabeth Capdevielle
WR 13200-01 / MWF 2:00-2:50

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.

"Bridging the Gap: Community, Social Justice, and Service"
Prof. Ed Kelly
WR 13200-02 / 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.

"Food, Nature, and the Community"
Prof. Courtney Wiersema
WR 13200-02 / TR 2:00-3:15

What should we eat, and how should we produce it? Students in this course will attempt to answer these questions by thinking and writing about the ethics of food production. We will study several contemporary “food fights,” including debates over the ethics of meat consumption, the use of genetically modified crops, and the treatment of agricultural workers. We will use these debates to explore the principles of effective argumentation. Students will learn how to make claims, support those claims with evidence, and tailor their writing to particular rhetorical situations. Students will then use these skills to draft essays and a research paper that shed light upon our contemporary food system. We will ground our discussion of food production in the real world. As part of this course, students will volunteer two hours per week at one of four local organizations: Bertrand Farm, Prairie Winds Nature Farm, Kankakee Wetlands Urban Garden, and Monroe Park Grocery Co-op. As students serve the community, they will not only develop firsthand knowledge of the challenges of producing food, but they will also come to understand the important role that writing and rhetoric play in eliminating food-related injustices.

"The Stories We Tell"
Prof. Jillian Snyder
WR 13200-02 / TR 3:30-4:45

Our stories are reflected in our arguments, in both the methods of persuasion and their effects on people around us. This class will analyze these methods in order to adapt them for our own. Our course will consist of two parts: We will first listen to the stories others tell, examining arguments about the arts as a source of urban renewal, particularly in South Bend. In addition, by partnering with a community organization, we will hear from the people of South Bend, building relationships of mutuality in which we learn from one another. Second, as we listen to the stories of others and investigate their implicit arguments, we will create our own arguments and thus tell our own stories. In the research we perform, the structures we analyze, and the styles we adopt, we will learn to make deliberate rhetorical choices that better reflect our stories and our world.

WR 13300: Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric

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

This course encourages students to think critically about how identity is constructed and performed through our writing practices. We will explore methods of argumentation between various real and digital worlds. We will consider the ways that multimodal methods of writing work to construct identity and how these constructions and performances in turn affect the communities in which we participate. Along with submitting a portfolio of multimodal essays, each student will create a fictionalised Facebook persona who engages with the rest of the class in a closed Facebook group. A key goal of the course will be to draw complex and interesting conclusions about the ways that varying writing practices affect whether or not a community believes a particular person to be ethical, responsible, respectful and/or respected. Students will analyze how ethical and rhetorical norms of reading and writing in digital spaces compare and contrast with those found in everyday communities. Ultimately, the goal is to help students become critical and ethically responsible participants in the discourses which will shape their academic, professional, and personal domains.

"Times They Are A-Changing: Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Tyler Gardner
WR 13300-02 / MWF 9:25-10:15 

Riffing on Bob Dylan’s 1964 protest ballad, this course is designed to help students understand how rhetorical forces change the times and shape our world. Over the course of the semester we will explore how ideas are communicated to an audience, paying close attention to how argument methods and structures change or remain the same across media. Together we will examine essays, speeches, sermons, songs, visual art, photography, documentaries, film, and various forms of social media, analyzing how arguments have been made throughout history and across multiple mediums. As we think critically about the rhetorical tactics and strategies embedded in these multimedia forms of communication, the course will not only encourage class participants to consider how the principles and practices of rhetoric influence a constantly changing world, but also challenge students to produce writing that is ethically responsible and effective for its purpose, audience, and context. 

"Meaning Making and Everyday (Digital) Life"
Prof. Ryne Clos
WR 13300-03 / MWF 10:30-11:20 

We will investigate both writing and rhetoric, understood here as the making of meaning in order to construct convincing arguments. We will examine these ideas utilizing a variety of media, such as essays and academic papers but also images, films, video games, television, and twitter. Our overriding goal will always be to understand the rhetorical moves made by each of these texts as a way of coming to terms with their various arguments. We will also repeatedly practice the craft of meaning-making ourselves, again utilizing various media for doing so. We will learn to forge good arguments, perform efficient research, and communicate in a variety of forms. The two broad topics for our exploration of these themes will be food and mass consumption and gender and body image, particularly as these two relate to our twenty-first century lives full of digital and internet technologies.

"Our Rhetorical Situation"
Prof. Craig Kinnear
WR 13300-04 / MWF 11:30-12:20 

All communication, Lloyd Bitzer has argued, takes place in a rhetorical situation, or the “context of persons, events, objects, relations, and an exigence which strongly invites utterances.” Put simply, we communicate in the real world. To understand why people make certain claims and marshal certain kinds of evidence to support those claims, scholars must evaluate rhetoric within its context—within its rhetorical situation. What is our rhetorical situation? In 2014, what kinds of claims do we encounter in our daily lives, and why? While these questions might seem academic or impractical, coming to grips with your rhetorical situation might be the most important thing you can do to prepare for your life ahead of you. We live at a moment in which new technologies are disrupting—and possibly undermining—longstanding traditions guiding the relationship between claims and evidence. You will confront this brave new world when you leave Notre Dame. How will you live as informed, ethical people in such an unstable rhetorical situation? 

"Answering the Only Question That Matters"
Prof. Kevin Gallin
WR 13300-05 / MWF 12:50-1:40 

Why? Why do we think the things we think, and why do we write the things we write? In this class, we will investigate and interrogate what we read and what we write, all within the context of the society in which we live. We will develop the critical skills needed to assess the arguments made, both explicitly and implicitly, by the media that bombards us every day, and harness those skills to craft persuasive, engaging, and ethical responses in multiple forms. By analyzing various forms of text, including but not limited to film, television, websites, advertisements, internet memes, etc. along with traditional prose such as speeches, essays, articles, and other academic forms of discourse, we will uncover how the authors of these texts communicate their ideas effectively (or ineffectively) and why; using their methods and developing our own, we will grow as efficient writers and communicators through composition, revision, and peer assessment, always keeping in mind the multiple answers to the simple question--why? 

"A Way With Words: Media, Rhetoric and Research"
Prof. Rich Fahey
WR 13300-06 / MWF 3:30-4:20 

This course is designed to help students develop skillful argumentation through spoken and written media. Emphasis will be placed on how to identify and craft arguments within a host of various media. (We will look at everything from essays, songs, poems, and political speeches to movies, memes and Youtube clips.) Although grammar and writing mechanics must not be ignored, this course will tend toward a greater focus on the art of argumentation, especially the persuasive power of rhetorical style and the effective use of evidence. Students will hone their command of English and develop effective research practices, in addition to recognizing and analyzing rhetorical moves. By the end of the course, students will have acquired two important rhetorical skills (namely, writing and presenting arguments) crucial to success at Notre Dame and virtually every professional occupation. 

"Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Jeff Bain-Conkin
WR 13300-08 / TR 9:30-10:45 

Because researching and composing arguments is increasingly linked to technological tools, multimedia sections of Writing and Rhetoric teach students how to make the most of a wide array of resources. From standard tools, such as Microsoft Word, to more powerful Web sites and software, students in multimedia sections use composition technology to its fullest while exploring the unique opportunities and challenges of composing in the 21st century. While students do not need any prior technological skills, they should be ready to learn many of these skills over the course of the semester. Students should have access to computers and the Interweb. 

"Screen Literacies and (Re)Mediated Identities"
Prof. Erin McLaughlin
WR 13300-09, TR 11:00-12:15 / WR 13300-11, TR 12:30-1:45 / WR 13300-13, 2:00-3:15 

Historically, literacy--the meaning-making practices of a literate culture--have strong ties to identity, citizenship, and community participation; but digital culture continues to shape the ways in which we project our identities and interact with one another, with profound ramifications for private, academic, corporate, and civic sectors. With these shifts in mind, we will spend the term examining what it means to negotiate identity in digital culture, grounding this exploration in rhetorical principles that will advance your ability to think critically about your competing and interacting identities, both online and off. We will examine a variety of controversies related to digital media, with particular emphasis this term on the role of screens, screen literacies, and interfaces in our lives. Major projects include an audio essay, film/photography analysis, research paper, and visual essay.

"Aristotelian Arguments in a Digital Age"
Prof. Patrick Clauss
WR 13300-10, TR 12:30-1:45 / WR 13300-12, 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.