R1B - 003 | CCN: 45263

The Craft of Writing - Rhetoric and the American Racial State

Instructor: Michael McGee & Michelle Kim

4 Units

 In this course, we will examine what American rhetoric concerning nation and identity reveals about race and its role in American social life. This course approaches rhetoric as a practice that is always linked to the social ordering of society. We will focus on the ways the subject of race is addressed in political and cultural rhetoric, beginning with the Founding Fathers and ending with our contemporary moment. Reading texts ranging from “The Declaration of Independence” to Dear White People, we will give attention to the ways race is discussed with language that is often evasive, awkward, erratic, and sometimes unfounded. Our analysis of primary and secondary texts will engage questions of national identity and will elucidate the hierarchies and tensions that have persisted even as American society has changed. We will consider questions such as: what kinds of problems does the presence of race create in rhetoric about American national identity? Also, what can a study of rhetoric teach us about the roots of America’s peculiar problem with race? What can such a study teach us about how to address this problem effectively?

The purpose of this course to build upon the critical thinking, reading, and writing skills learned in R1A and to develop students’ fluency writing longer and more complex papers. The goal is for each student to experience how writing extends thought and to better learn how to discern the thought behind texts that are both written and rhetorical. One of the central emphases in this course is the frequent practice of reading, writing, re-writing, and re-reading. Students will be exposed to a range of different source materials and will be directed on how to effectively incorporate sources into their writing. Additionally, much attention will be given to the development of research skills, workshopping student writing, and revision. By the end of the term, students should be proficient in the fundamentals of writing a research paper.