Spring 2015 Courses

WR 13100: Writing and Rhetoric

"Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Ethan Guagliardo
WR 13100-02 / MWF 10:30-11:20

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.

"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.

"Rhetoric, Ethics, and Cultural Community"
Prof. Elizabeth Capdevielle
WR 13100-04, MWF 11:30-12:20 

Please see WR 13100-03, above, for this section's course description.

"Rhetoric, Ethics, and Cultural Community"
Prof. Elizabeth Capdevielle
WR 13100-06 / MWF 2:00-2:50

Please see WR 13100-03, above, for this section's course description.

"Shaping Academic Dialogue"
Prof. John Conlan
WR 13100-07 / 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.

"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 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 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.

"Arguing with the Great Ideas"
Prof. Damian Zurro
WR 13100-10 / TR 11:00-12:15

The university thrives on introducing students to some of the great thinkers who have influenced global civilizations. Where better to get started in this endeavor than a writing and rhetoric class? By engaging with these thinkers and their ideas, you will acquire the skills necessary to understand and compose the types of arguments necessary for success in your other college courses, your future careers, and your lives as citizens. In this course, we will journey beneath the surface to help you comprehend a variety of rhetorical tools and how to use them in the most compelling and ethical manner. Through reading, discussion, and writing we will enter some important conversations, cultivate an appreciation for well-formed arguments, and build an intellectual community together.

"Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Sarah Baechle
WR 13100-11 / TR 2:00-3:15

Course description coming soon.

"Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Sarah Baechle
WR 13100-13 / TR 3:30-4:45

Please see WR 13100-11, above, for this section's course description.

"On Effective Argument and Persuasion"
Prof. Michael Francis
WR 13100-14 / 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.

"Communicating Across the Disciplines: Writing and Rhetoric in an Academic Context"
Prof. Joe Brutto
WR 13100-15, MWF 11:30-12:20 

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.

"Thinking, Writing, and Research: The Art of Argumentation and the Production of Meaningful, Ethical Discourse"
Prof. Hannah Zdansky
WR 13100-16, 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 current social issues, problems of 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.

WR 13200: Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric

"Food, Nature, and the Community"
Prof. Courtney Wiersema"
WR 13200-02 / TR 3:30-4:45

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 at the 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 13200-03 / TR 2:00-3:15

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.

"Beyond The Classroom: Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Tyler Gardner
WR 13200-04 / MWF 9:25-10:15 

This is a service-learning course dedicated to bridging the gap between university education and the outside world. This course will include the best elements of traditional and multimedia writing and rhetoric courses, but will give students an opportunity to reach beyond the classroom to consider the principles of writing and rhetoric within the context of service in the South Bend community. Inside class, 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 and throughout history. We will examine essays, speeches, sermons, songs, visual art, photography, documentaries, film, and various forms of social media to explore the role of rhetoric in community formation and social transformation. Outside of class, we will partner with a local community organization and extend our study of writing and rhetoric to live questions of authority, values, education, and poverty. This will require a commitment of about two hours a week for several weeks of the semester—it will likely be some of the most impactful time that you spend this term. Experiences in and outside of the classroom will challenge students to confront the intricacies of the world they live in and produce writing that is both ethically responsible and effective for its purpose, audience, and context. 

WR 13300: Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric

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

In this class we will think critically about the construction and performance of identities within various digital worlds against those forms of identity which we encounter in our everyday physical environments. The main goal of this course is to explore the possible ways that identities can be constructed and performed through writing practices. By the end of the semester, you will also be able to make arguments which address the idea that varying writing practices can represent us either as ethical or unethical, responsible or irresponsible, respected or disrespected, and/or respectful or disrespectful citizens. In short, students will learn to think, read, discuss, and write critically about multimodal arguments in order to consider how the ethical and rhetorical norms of reading and writing in digital spaces compare with those found in everyday communities. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage students to become critical and ethically responsible participants in the discourses which will shape their academic, professional, and personal lives.

"Our Rhetorical Situation"
Prof. Craig Kinnear
WR 13300-02 / MWF 9:25-10:15 

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? 

"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.

"Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric"
Prof. Jeff Bain-Conkin
WR 13300-04 / MWF 9:25-10:15 

Because researching and composing arguments is increasingly linked to technological tools, this section of Writing and Rhetoric encourages students to communicate through digital media as well as analyze the multimodal rhetoric of the twenty-first century. Students will learn literacies of scholarly and cultural sources, the research process in a digital environment, and compose their own arguments in a variety of media. The major assignments will be an audio podcast, a rhetorical analysis, a visual essay, and a research paper. 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. 

"The Medium is the Message"
Prof. Mimi Ensley
WR 13300-05 / MWF 12:50-1:40

In this class, we take Marshall McLuhan’s phrase — “the medium is the message” — as our starting point. How do the media we use shape the way we read, write, and interpret “messages,” or arguments? Over the course of the semester, we will use and analyze several types of media, including traditional written texts, photography, film and television, and social media technologies. Our main goal is to learn the skills necessary to produce well-reasoned arguments in any media setting. The course concludes with a multi-media final portfolio, showcasing the projects you have created during the class.

"Answering the Only Question That Matters"
Prof. Kevin Gallin
WR 13300-06 / 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? 

"Identities in Motion"
Prof. Mer Kaplan
WR 13300-07 / TR 12:30-1:45

This class is designed to help you acquire and practice the reasoning, writing, and research skills that will be most helpful to you in college and beyond. Our thematic focus will be on issues pertaining to the formation and performance of identity; we will be particularly mindful of how identity is (re)created in such forms as the written and spoken word, still images, and feature films. Moreover, we will embrace a variety of media to express our own ideas and arguments, so come prepared to write, speak, collage, and, in general, create. Major class projects include an audio or visual narrative, a visual analysis, a movie review, a research essay, and a TED talk.

"Identities in Motion"
Prof. Mer Kaplan
WR 13300-08 / TR 9:30-10:45

Please see WR 13300-07, above, for this section's course description.

"Screen Literacies and (Re)Mediated Identities"
Prof. Erin McLaughlin
WR 13300-09 / TR 11:00-12:15 

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

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.

"Screen Literacies and (Re)Mediated Identities"
Prof. Erin McLaughlin
WR 13300-11 / TR 12:30-1:45 

Please see WR 13300-09, above, for this section's course description.

"Effective Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Mike Westrate
WR 13300-12 / TR 2:00-3:15 

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. 

"Medium & Message: Rhetoric across Media"
Prof. Deborah Forteza
WR 13300-13 / 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.

"Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric"
Prof. Jeff Bain-Conkin
WR 13300-14 / TR 9:30-10:45 

Please see WR 13300-04, above, for this section's course description.

"A Way With Words: Media, Rhetoric and Research"
Prof. Rich Fahey
WR 13300-15 / 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.