R1A-005 | CCN: 42709

The Craft of Writing

Rhetoric, the Ancient Past, and the Modern World

Instructor: Madeleine Pruitt & Victor Vargas

4 Units

The study and representation of ancient cultures has a deep, and even popular, appeal for many modern societies. The popularity of King Tut museum exhibits and Universal Pictures' "The Mummy" film series speaks to this widespread appeal. In this course, we will explore the nature of the modern interest in ancient cultures and its relation to notions of identity, culture and society. Special emphasis will be given to the history, art, literature, and material culture in the ancient past of the Middle East as a stage for considering rhetoric from the past in the present. Sparked by a broad exploration of the different facets of ancient civilization, and our means of accessing knowledge of it, students will have an opportunity to engage thoughtfully with specific topics of individual interest. One might explore the rhetoric of power and architecture; the rhetoric of the ancient past drawn upon in modern politics; archaeology and the interpretation of modern identity; the literary basis and implications of statements in the public sphere that evoke or draw upon the ancient, etc. Topic selections will be somewhat flexible and fairly interdisciplinary, guided by the course structure, and can involve other areas of the world.

The purpose of this course is to strengthen critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. The emphasis will be on writing in response to thoughtful reading. We will cover techniques in each of these areas, with the opportunity for each student to focus on particular areas of need or interest. The goal of the course is to prepare each student for excellent written presentation of critically considered sources—whether written, material, or conceptual—in higher education research and beyond.