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to Classical Rhetoric:
(Classical Techniques/Contemporary Arguments)
Fall 2015

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Scott Whiddon

SECTION: WRC 2354-01
OFFICE: Haupt Humanities 12

TIME: 9:30-10:45am
TELEPHONE: 233-8298

ROOM: Beck 3050
E-MAIL: swhiddon@transy.edu

OFFICE HOURS: Monday/10-noon (by appointment only)
Friday 10-noon (by appointment only).

NOTE: My office hours are also dedicated to writing center work, working with
advisees, helping interns, etc. While drop-ins are welcome, I urge you to schedule
appointments at least 2 days in advance.

REQUIRED TEXTS: Well use links from our course blog (as well as posted PDFs) to
access both classical and contemporary texts. You are required to bring either a
print or digital (not phone-based something readable!) version of each days
reading to class. It is also up to you to find ways of annotating such digital/web-
based texts.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class is intended to offer 1) an introduction to
classical rhetorical techniques via close reading of primary and secondary texts and
2) a chance to develop your skills in rhetorical analysis through careful reading,
writing/revising, and in-class, guided discussion.

Of the many definitions of the word rhetoric, the one most applicable to this
particular course is the art of persuasion, and Aristotle defines rhetoric as the art
of discovering the means of persuasion available for any occasion. For the 1st half of
the term, we will read about principles of persuasion developed by ancient Greeks
and Romans such as Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. As argued by philosophers such as
Heidegger, Aristotles Rhetoric is perhaps the earliest work of hermeneutics a
consideration of audience response in interpretation; it predates the aesthetic
tradition (one of the prime concerns of literary studies) and provides grounding for
reader-response theory (which considers the subjective nature of audience-
interaction as well as cultural context).

We will also read a variety of contemporary texts and examine how classically
oriented methods of persuasion are used (for better or worse). As participants, you
will compose two formal papers grounded in classical rhetorical analysis. Paper 1,
due near mid-term, will be a 3-5 page essay that analyzes the rhetorical strategies of
an op-ed piece from the New York Times (all students have free access to the NYT via

the library). Paper 2 will be a longer, more detailed analysis of a written or visual
text (7-9 pages). Detailed instructions for each assignment will be available soon.

You will also give a 15-minute formal presentation at the end of the term (based on
your 2nd paper) so that you can gain experience in sharing your work before an

You will also give a 10-12 minute collaborative presentation (activity-focused) on
one of the logical fallacies during the 1st half of the term.

Collaborative/Fallacy Presentation: 15%
Terms and Concepts Exam: 15%
Paper 1 (drafts/revisions/final product): 20%
Paper 2 (drafts/revisions/final product): 20%
Paper 2 Presentation: 15%
Quizzes/In-Class Assignments/Class Participation: 15%

Failure to satisfactorily complete any one of the requirements will result in an F
for the course. For example: an F for class participation means an F for the
course, regardless of how well you complete the other requirements. Also, please
note that a C grade connotes satisfactory work and is the average grade for a class
of this type/level. A and B grades connote honors-level work.

ATTENDANCE/LATE WORK POLICIES: Because the class runs largely by
discussion, attendance is mandatory. Missing two classes will result in a lowering of
the participation grade. Missing three or more will result in a lowering of the final
grade. If you know you will be absent on a day that a major assignment is due
(especially for university-approved events), please make arrangements with me in
advance. I urge you to exchange email addresses with a few classmates early in the
term so that if you are absent, you can get notes and stay up to speed with due dates,
changes in schedule, etc. You are responsible for all materials covered in class
regardless of your absence. I do not give make-up quizzes, nor do I allow
students to make up in-class writing assignments. I do not appreciate late work.

However, I do understand that occasionally problems occur. You have the option of
turning ONE major written assignment if you contact me at least 24 hours before the
essay is due via email. We will establish a new, non-negotiable due date then.
However, once a major assignment is two class periods late, you will earn a zero.

PEER REVIEW: In order for this class to be effective, it is important that every
member of the class participate in peer review workshops. At points in the
semester (see schedule), class participants will exchange drafts-in-progress of major
work in order to help develop well-supported, reasoned, persuasive arguments.
This participation involves reading and responding in an honest, engaged, and
serious manner to your peers writings. With that in mind, I will assess workshop

participation based on your interaction with your peers drafts as well as your
preparedness. Well also use peer review workshops as a time to talk a bit about
writing in different academic disciplines.

ON ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Academic integrity is central to the mission of this
institution. Without honest effort, a learning community has no substance or
validity. All students are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic
honesty. No excuses will be accepted for plagiarism, cheating, or any other act,
which suggests that students have not fulfilled their academic responsibilities in this
course. See the TU website for university policies on academic integrity.

AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT: Qualified students with disabilities
needing appropriate academic adjustments should contact me as soon as possible to
ensure that their needs are met in a timely manner. For questions or concerns call
the Universitys Services Coordinator of Disability Services at 233-8215.


Tentative Schedule
Please keep track of the following dates; note that this schedule is subject to change.
You are required to keep up with changes, regardless of your presence or absence in

Sept 8: Syllabus/Meet participants/What is Rhetoric? exercise. Assign Rideau

essay. Assign Presentation 1/group sign up sheet.
Sept 10: Go over requirements for Paper 1. In-class exercise: reading a text


Sunday, Sept 13: Transylvania University Convocation, 7pm. Haggin.

Sept 15: Gorgias, Against the Sophists + Presentation 1: Hasty generalization
Sept 17: Isocrates, selected readings + Presentation 2: Post hoc ergo propter hoc

Sept 22: Plato, The Crito + Presentation 3: Non sequitor
Sept 24: In-class workshop to help with Paper 1: Bring source text to class.

Presentation 4: Argument ad hominem

Sept 29: Aristotle, selections from Rhetoric + Presentation 5: Argument ad populum.
Oct 1: Aristotle, day 2. Case study #1: Letter from Birmingham Jail and readings

from Cicero, TBA + Presentation 6 (Begging the Question)

Note: There will be a required WRC information/professionalization event on
either Sept 29 or Oct 8. More details soon.

Oct 6: Case Study #2 (syllogisms and enthymemes): Jefferson, The Declaration of

Independence; Stanton, Womens Declaration of Citizenship; Douglass,

Independence Day Speech at Rochester, 1852 + Presentation 7 (Appeal to

Oct 8: SW away from campus for conference

Oct 13: In-class workshop/Paper 1
Wednesday, Oct 14: Required Creative Engagements Event (Genaro Ky Li Smith

Oct 15: Midterm Exam (in class)

Oct 20: Fall Break
Oct 22: Paper 1 due; Discuss requirements for Proposal, Paper 2, + Presentation 2.

Assign student sample readings.

Oct 27: Discuss student sample readings in class (proposals/projects). Brainstorm
topics in small groups. Assign Case Study Readings.
Oct 29: Case Study 3, Day One. Readings TBA.

Oct 27: Case Study 3, Day Two. Readings TBA.
Oct 29: Proposals Due/Discuss proposals in-class.

Nov 3: Case Study 4, Day One. Screen The Farm: Life Behind Bars at Angola.
Nov 5: Case Study, 4, Day Two. Readings TBA.

Nov 10: Case Study 4, Day Three. Readings TBA.
Nov 12: Source Workshop/In-Class

Nov 17: Peer review Paper 2 (intro/thesis/forecasting statement); talk about

presentation requirements
Nov 19: Required conference

Nov 24: Required conference
Nov 26: Thanksgiving

Dec 1: TBA day/In case of weather
Dec 3: Final peer review session/full draft

Dec 8: Presentations/Round 1
Dec 10: Presentations/Round 2/Final Essays due by class time

Reading Day: Presentations/Round 3

A final note: This course can be viewed as a gateway to the WRC program here at
Transylvania as well as a foundation for professionalization in the fields of
rhetorical theory, communication studies, and composition theory/pedagogy. For
example, the presentations at the end of the term are modeled after the types of

activities that go on at a typical academic conference. By the end of the term, youll
have practiced some important professional/academic skills.

Furthermore, this course is connected to the overall goals of liberal education. Even
if you never write a rhetorical analysis ever again after this term, the
reading/viewing/writing/speaking skills that well develop as a group are critical in
terms of what might be called informed citizenship. Our case studies are meant to
help develop our understanding of the classical texts/terms/techniques from earlier
in the course. The course is designed so you have multiple opportunities to