Summer Session 2020
Rhetoric 150 Rhetoric of Contemporary Politics (4 units) – Anooj Kansara
Session D, M/W/F 1:00pm-3:30pm
From conspiracy theories and climate change denial, to ‘fake news’ and targeted
disinformation campaigns on social media, controversies about matters of fact animate
politics today. Yet debunking and fact-checking alone do not seem adequate to the task.
This course explores the idea that ours is a ‘post-truth politics’.
Together we will examine lying, skepticism, paranoia, mistrust, and expertise in politics
today and the recent past. Alongside scholarly texts and essays, we will read and watch
films on conspiracy narratives, analyze their rhetorical strategies, and evaluate the
efficacy of attempts to debunk them. We will also investigate the rhetoric of climate-
change denial as well as activist campaigns in opposition. The next approach of the
course is to explore the effects different media forms have on ‘post-truth politics’; to that
end, students will write about an episode of a Twitter controversy, discuss impeachment
hearings as covered by different news channels, research political candidates’ social
media campaigns, and assess efforts to regulate platforms like Facebook to protect
against disinformation. We will then draw on cases from different countries to develop a
comparative approach to these problems. In addition to these activities and leading a
seminar discussion, students will develop a final paper on a topic of their own choosing
addressing our shared questions, which are:
What is novel, historically, about today’s ‘post-truth politics’?
How might we understand conspiracy narratives and their persistence as a way of
making sense of the world?
What is the positioning of the truth-claims of science and other expert discourses
in politics today?
By the end of the term, students will have deepened their analytic, interpretive, and
critical thinking and writing skills essential not only for a broad range of majors in the
social sciences and humanities, but also for navigating the political terrain of today.
Rhetoric 114 Rhetoric of New Media (4 units) – Ryan Ikeda
Session D, T/W/Th 10:00am-2:30pm
This course explores the effects of digital technology on human expression.
Our first approach examines our daily encounters with born-digital artifacts, such as memes, GIFs,
tweets, snaps, emoji, and new media works of art. Our second approach investigates hidden,
physical infrastructure that make new media possible, for example, the undersea fiber optic cable
network or cloud storage facilities that connect, protect, and enable digital culture. Lastly, we will
read essays on digital culture written by a few of its leading thinkers.
Rhetoric of New Media directs our reading, writing, speaking, and thinking practices toward the
analysis of digital culture through a series of projects—a presentation, a seminar discussion, and an
essay—through the following questions:
What aspects of digital culture do I find most compelling?
How does digital technology change the way I know myself?
In what ways do new media change the pace and scale of my social interaction?
At the end of the semester, students will have cultivated a strong foundation for the analytical and
theoretical study of new media applicable across disciplines, including but not limited to CS, EECS,
Cognitive Science, MCB, Rhetoric, Film/Media, Media Studies, English, Philosophy, and many
other majors and minors.
Rhetoric 116 Rhetoric, Culture, and Society (4 units) – Tim Wyman-McCarthy
Session D, M/W/F 10:00am-12:30pm
The Bard, like Elvis, can leave the building but not our lives. Though Shakespeare lived over 400
years ago, his plays continue to resonate today across the globe. In addition to direct adaptations to
stage and screen, ‘our’ Shakespeare comes to us in an assortment of guises: the plots of The Lion King
and 10 Things I Hate About You, the language of Deadwood or quotations in Mad Men, and even the
characters in video games. In this course we will explore some of the subtle and not-so-subtle
manifestations of Shakespeare lurking on the cultural landscape today.
Through readings, in-class activities, group presentations, and a final essay, Rhetoric 116 will help
you develop your interpretive and critical thinking skills. Working together, we will ask:
How do modern and contemporary artists honor or subvert Shakespeare’s works?
Why has Shakespeare managed to hang on to more than his share of fifteen minutes of fame
while others have failed?
What do adaptations of Shakespeare’s works tell us about our contemporary social, cultural,
and political preoccupations?
By the end of the semester, you will have acquired tools for the critical analysis of culture and
society relevant to a range of disciplines, including but not limited to English, History, Philosophy,
Film/Media, Rhetoric, Performance Studies, and many others.
Rhetoric 2 The Fundamentals of Public Speaking (4 units) – Michael Dalebout
Session D, M/W/F 10:00am-12:30pm
This course is a workshop in which students cultivate their own speaking style while developing strengths in skillful communication with diverse audiences in a variety of situations through multiple media. During the six-week term, students will engage in activities designed to foster their skills in written self-presentation, online visual and audio performance, and face-to-face encounters with individuals and groups. To promote the students’ exploration of themselves as public figures, we will explore the views of others who have considered the question of public speech, and who have engaged in public performance in a variety of contexts. The goal of this course is that students who begin with solid English reading and speaking comprehension skills will complete the course with 1) an enhanced capacity to successfully represent themselves and their perspectives in a variety of social circumstances, and 2) a refined sensitivity to how their self-presentation affects the lives of those around them.