Spring 2014 Writing and Rhetoric Courses, WR 13100

Please note: WR 13200: Community-Based Writing course descriptions are available here. Also, WR 13300: Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric course descriptions are here.

"Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Jill Wharton
WR 13100-02 / MWF 9:25-10:15 

Course description coming soon.

"Rhetoric, Ethics, and Cultural Community"
Prof. Elizabeth Capdevielle
WR 13100-03, MWF 10:30-11:20; WR 13100-04, MWF 11:30-12:20; WR 13100-06, MWF 2:00-2:50 

This writing studio course is primarily a series of guided discussions, intensive workshops, extensive drafting processes, and one-on-one conferences, all designed to help students sharpen their rhetorical skills and put them to good use in university-level academic writing. We study the messages that shape our culture, with writing assignments and discussions based on a wide variety of topics from politics to commercial advertising to science, and even a little satire on the side. Students complete a major research paper project, developing original questions on topics that suit their own interests and values while becoming comfortable using an academic research library. Along with taking leadership roles in discussion, students also practice public speaking by presenting their research in a formal talk. We complete the course with final reflections on rhetoric and ethics.

"Rhetoric and Popular Culture"
Prof. Garrett Jansen
WR 13100-05 / MWF 12:50-1:40

This course asks students to think critically about the rhetoric of both pop culture-- its words, sounds, and images-- and the arguments surrounding it. Is pop culture merely entertainment, or does it have greater value (artistic, intellectual, political)? How do we distinguish between a masterpiece and a guilty pleasure? What do the movies and music we love, hate, or ignore say about us? If “taste” is purely subjective, why do we argue about art so often? Every artwork occurs in a specific cultural-historical context. Thus, we will explore the ways in which pop culture shapes, reflects, and interacts with various communities and individuals. Through a variety of readings, class discussions, and writing assignments, students will learn how to construct an effective argument with attention to its genre and audience.

"Argument in Theory and Practice"
Prof. Hailey LaVoy
WR 13100-07 / MWF 3:00-4:20 

In our media and national conversations we often see rhetoric used effectively but unethically—promoting violence, fear, greed, elitism, apathy, and contempt—and ultimately leading to gridlock. In this course, we will examine rhetoric as argumentation, considering the arguments we consume from a variety of media on a daily basis: films, advertisements, visual arts, speeches, op-eds, photography, interviews, and essays. You will learn not only how to critique your own arguments, but also how to analyze and evaluate others’ rhetoric—whether political, ethical, academic, literary, personal, or professional. As a result, you will be prepared for the higher-level conversations which happen not only here at the university, but which form a part of your everyday life. You will develop these skills primarily through drafting, revising, and polishing your own written arguments, as well as by participating in class discussion and analysis of others’ arguments.

"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.

"Identity, Community, and Ethical Argumentation"
Prof. Elizabeth Evans
WR 13100-09 / TR 11:00 AM-12:15

This course engages with issues of identity and community while developing skills required across disciplines (namely the ability to understand and respond to diverse texts, to develop and defend your own ideas, to find, summarize, analyze, and synthesize information from multiple texts, and to integrate sources with your own thinking). 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. In a substantial research project, students will investigate a particular issue or problem regarding identity or community that is of particular interest to them. The emphasis throughout the semester will be on using the tools of rhetoric in order to (1) better understand multiple perspectives on an issue and its representation and (2) make your own thoughtful, clear, ethical, and persuasive arguments about significant contemporary issues.

"The Rhetoric of Nature"
Prof. Aleksandra Hernandez
WR 13100-10 / TR 12:30-1:45

This course explores the idea that the way we communicate can powerfully alter our perceptions of and interactions with nature and the environment. What role does rhetoric play in shaping how we think about the natural world? To what extent can we say that conflicting representations of nature are motivated by different social, economic, and political views and values? In asking these kinds of questions, students will be introduced to a series of analytical, research, and composition methods that will inform how they think, read, and write about the environment. Through a variety of readings, informal writing responses, group workshops, and formal writing assignments, students will develop the necessary conceptual tools for addressing questions about their relationship to the natural world.

"Practices and Theories of Ethical Persuasion"
Prof. Lauren Whitnah
WR 13100-11 / TR 2:00-3:15 

This introduction to writing and rhetoric is designed to facilitate your growth as ethical readers, writers, and thinkers. Aristotle defined the study of rhetoric as “the art of finding the best available means of persuasion in any situation,” and we will examine several of those means over the course of the semester. Since good writing stems from good reading, we will read and evaluate different kinds of texts, learning how to analyze their major claims. We will use what we learn from careful reading to inform our practice of writing scholarly essays which advance original claims, engage clearly, ethically, and thoughtfully with the ideas of other writers, using the tools of careful, critical analysis to do so. By the end of the course, students will be able to analyze written arguments for their rhetorical and critical content; to deploy persuasive strategies in their own writing; to engage with other views in their work creatively and ethically; and to craft original, thoughtful prose.

"Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric: The Trivium as Foundation of the Liberal Arts"
Prof. Joshua Robinson
WR 13100-12 / TR 2:00-3:15 

In this class we will endeavor to become better writers and readers, and thereby better thinkers. This involves serious attention to all three parts of what the medievals called the Trivium, the three-fold “way” of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Accordingly, in this class we will study the rules and conventions of forming proper English sentences, and we will practise writing such sentences ourselves. Though without studying formal logic, will study and practice the art of argumentation, including some attention to common fallacies (bad forms of argument). And we will study rhetoric, the crowning glory of grammar and logic, the art of being not only grammatical and logical but also persuasive, through attention to audience and tone, through elegant sentences, through rhetorical figures, through artful arrangement of sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into longer discourse. In our pursuit of these three intertwined arts we will read, discuss, and analyse texts, and we will practice writing in a variety of genres, included a researched argument.

"Literacy, Culture, Power"
Prof. Cesar Soto
WR 13100-13 / TR 3:30-4:45 

What is literacy? What is rhetoric? Both terms are often misread and/or narrowly defined. Literacy is often taken to mean the capacity to decode letters, words, and sentences (reading). Rhetoric is often regarded as that characteristic thing that politicians do: “Her speech was all rhetoric,” meaning that political speeches are empty and ornamental, with no concrete action entailed. But does literacy simply refer to the proficient use of alphabetic script and does rhetoric mean the mere manipulation of words for opportunistic ends? In this course, we will consider multiple forms of literacy—digital, cultural, academic, ideological, etc—by engaging it through a rhetorical approach. Aristotle defined rhetoric as “the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available means of persuasion.” Thus, we will analyze the various methods each text uses to persuade its audience of its claims and explore literacy in relation to power, status, orality, and the production of culture.

"Rhetoric and Current Social Issues"
Prof. Emily Hershman
WR 13100-14 / TR 3:30-4:45 

This course will engage with key components of rhetoric (argument, purpose, audience) through the lens of current issues. Even as we explore how to construct claims and gather evidence for academic purposes, we will evaluate how the principles of ethical argument can be applied to social problems. In what ways can rhetoric act as a tool to illuminate debates about diverse topics such as bioethics, social media, sports culture, popular culture, and the value of a liberal arts education? Furthermore, how can rhetoric be applied to life in and outside the classroom in the Notre Dame community? We will address this questions through a range of course readings, writing assignments, and class discussion.