Advanced Topics in the Rhetoric of Political Theory
158 | CCN: 34429
Instructor: Nate Atkinson
T/TH 8:00 – 9:30 AM, Dwinelle 215 ///
The public is a foundational concept for rhetoric and political theory, yet it resists definition. Instead, the concept of the public persists as problematic, recurring as a felt difficulty for those seeking to understand the conditions of political activity and the role of rhetorical action therein.
In this course, we will engage with this problematic as addressed in key texts from rhetoric and political theory. Through these readings, we will develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding the term “public,” both as a standalone unit, (“the public”), and as a modifier, (“public opinion,” the “public good,” etc.). Our initial readings will include selections from Dewey and Lippman, Arendt, and Habermas. Next, we will build on these foundational theories of the public and public formation to explore current controversies over the viability of a contemporary public sphere. Theorists in this section of the course will include Michael Warner, Nancy Fraser, and Seyla Benhabib. Throughout the semester, students will be encouraged to apply the readings to their lived experiences as members of a public, and to work through those insights in writing and in class discussion.