103A: Introduction to Rhetorical Theory
In ancient Greece, rhetoric was, at its simplest, the art of speaking effectively. It was allied, very unsteadily, sometimes with deception ("sophistry") and sometimes with the pursuit of truth ("philosophy"). In order to understand what rhetoric meant and how it worked, we will survey ancient Greek and Roman theories of rhetoric starting with pre-Socratic sophistic texts, followed by in-depth study of Plato and Aristotle. Aware of Platonic and Aristotelian influences, we will continue our survey of rhetorical theory with works of Cicero, Longinus, and Augustine. We will find that classical rhetoric takes on greater complexity and range than a mere outline of principles of effective speaking--it is a connecting thread for political theory, philosophy, art and literature. Our survey of classical rhetoric will be interspersed with philosophers and critics who "go back to the Greeks," including Barthes, Nietzsche, and Derrida. We will see how "modern" critical vantages are indebted to the intellectual debates of the ancient world and to classical rhetoric in particular.
The course will involve several short quizzes, two papers, and a final exam.
. Plato. 978-0199540327
. Plato. 978-0872202207
. Aristotle. 978-0195305098
On Great Writing
. Longinus. 978-0872200814
A course reader