103B | CCN: 22165

Approaches and Paradigms in the History of Rhetorical Theory II

Instructor: Samera Esmeir,

4 Units

Three hours of lecture and one hour of discussion per week. Prerequisites: 10 or consent of instructor. Formerly 101. A broad consideration of the historical relationship between philosophy, literature, and rhetoric, with special emphasis on selected themes within the early modern and modern periods.

This course surveys some key theoretical texts from the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries that shed light on how meaning is both produced and interrogated in modernity. One of the key accomplishments of the modern era is the development of critical stances that question the appearance, objectivity and naturalness of texts and acts. These stances also reveal the power operations of texts and things. We examine the making of these stances: how they came to being, their practices, their attention to power, and their intellectual and political consequences. What are the modes of thinking, reading and interpretation that have been consequently introduced? And what should constitute our objects of inquiry in the search for understanding: where should we look and what should we study? We begin with Marx’s critique of ideology, and end with the approaches of science studies that question the meta-narrative of modernity, and its divisions between the realm of humans and the realm of things and nature. Other theorists will help us to consider the relationship between discourse and power, modes of reading, the persistence of the singular, psychoanalysis, subjugation and deconstruction.