• Approaches and Paradigms in the History of Rhetorical Theory – Powers of Persuasion: Ancient Rhetoric Theory

    103A 001 | CCN: 22815

    Powers of Persuasion: Ancient Rhetoric Theory

    Instructor: Ramona Naddaff

    Location: Requested General Assignment

    Date / Time: Tu/Th 2:00pm - 3:29pm

    4 Units

    In Ancient Greece and Rome, the practice and theory of rhetoric was a source of constant debate and inquiry. The very question, “What is rhetoric?”, prompted consternation and confusion, dialogue and dissent. Who were the ancient rhetoricians and how did they define the way they used words and argument? What relationships, both positive and negative, did rhetoric forge with philosophy, poetry, historiography, politics and the law? Was rhetoric a skill that could be taught to everyone? This course will begin by investigating the origins of rhetoric in Ancient Greece and will follow its transformation in fifth- and fourth-century Athens through close study of texts by Gorgias, Thucydides, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, among others. We will then turn our attention to the art of rhetoric in Ancient Rome at the end of the Republic through close readings of works by Cicero and Tacitus. Throughout the semester, we will focus on how authors delineated the psychological, political, and philosophical power and effects of rhetorical speech as well as on how this special speech transformed perceptions, interpretations, and actions. Students can expect a series of contemporary readings that raise questions and problems first posed and problematized the Ancients. The course will include multiple short writing assignments, a midterm, and a final essay. Special attention will be paid to developing your own rhetorical skills, both in writing and in speech.