History of Rhetorical Theory
103A 001 | CCN: 23535
Instructor: Ramona Naddaff
Date / Time: Tu/Th 3:30pm - 4:59pm
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 follow its transformation in fifth- and fourth-century Athens through close study of the texts of Thucydides, Gorgias, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle, among others. We will then turn our attention to the art of rhetoric in Ancient Rome from the end of the Republic to Christian late Antiquity through close readings of works by Cicero, Longinus and Augustine. 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. When possible, ancient rhetorical theory will be brought to bear on contemporary texts and events.