Major in Rhetoric

The Department of Rhetoric at Berkeley trains its majors in the history of rhetorical theory and practice, grounded in argumentation and in the analysis of the symbolic and institutional dimensions of discourse. Rhetoric’s inherent multi-disciplinary subject matter makes it an ideal major for students seeking to obtain the sort of liberal arts education that will prepare them for the diversity of careers requiring advanced critical thinking and communications skills, such as law, business, civil service, education, medicine, science, and more. 


Download the Rhetoric Major Map

Declaring the Major

The Rhetoric major may be declared after completion of either Rhetoric 10 or 20 with a letter grade of C or better, and once you’ve completed at least 30 units. 

To declare, submit the Rhetoric Application to Declare and the College of Letters and Science Major Declaration forms.

Return you application to the Undergraduate Major Advisor for final approval and processing of your declaration paperwork.

Major Requirements

**Please be advised that this is only a list of the requirements for the major.  In addition to major requirements, all students must complete the General Education requirements that the College of Letters & Science mandates.  Please check your Academic Progress Report in CalCentral or plan to meet with an L&S advisor in order to clarify your General Education requirements.**


(Grade of C or better in 10 or 20 required to declare the major, however both courses are required to complete the major.)
  •   Rhetoric 10
  •   Rhetoric 20

Major Requirements

Overall grade point average of C required to graduate, all courses must be taken for a grade.
Required of all majors (32 units):
  •  Rhetoric 103A
  •  Rhetoric 103B
  • 3 upper division courses in the specified area of concentration: 1) History & Theory of Rhetoric, 2) Public Discourse, 3) Narrative & Image.
  • 2 upper division electives from outside the area of concentration (1 course from each of the other areas).
  • 1 upper division course (4 units, letter graded), related to the chosen area of concentration, from another department.
 This course must be approved by the Undergraduate Major Advisor.

Special & Individual Topics (optional)

  •  189, Special Topics
  •  190AB, Honors Thesis — Seniors with 3.5 UCB / 3.7 Rhetoric GPA only
  •  197, External Internship (3 units, P/NP) — Student Initiated
  •  198, Supervised Group Study (3 units, P/NP) — Student initiated
  •  199, Supervised Independent Study (1-3 units, P/NP)

Rhetoric Concentrations

History and Theory of Rhetoric

Focuses on understanding the development of Rhetorical theory and practice from its genesis in the classical period to its situation in the present. Students will consider how the discipline of Rhetoric has both shaped and itself been shaped by social, political, technological and intellectuals developments over the course of two millenia. Individual courses will enable close study of Rhetoric’s influence and adaptation, both in theory and practice, in specific contexts throughout its history.

RHETOR 104 Rhetorical Theory and Practice in Historical Eras

RHETOR 105T Rhetoric of Religious Discourse

RHETOR 106 Rhetoric of Historical Discourse

RHETOR 107 Rhetoric of Scientific Discourse

RHETOR 108 Rhetoric of Philosophical Discourse

RHETOR 109 Aesthetics and Rhetoric

RHETOR 110 Advanced Argumentative Writing

RHETOR 111 Reception of Antiquity

RHETOR 112 Rhetoric of Narrative Genres in Nonliterate Societies

RHETOR 113 Rhetoric of Ethics

RHETOR 114 Rhetoric of New Media

RHETOR 115 Technology and Culture

RHETOR 116 Rhetoric, Culture and Society

RHETOR 117 Language, Truth and Dialogue

RHETOR 118 Undergraduate Seminar on the Theory and Practice of Reading and Interpretation

RHETOR 119 Rhetorical Places

RHETOR 120 Rhetoric of the Self

Public Discourse

Focuses on understanding Rhetoric in its symbolic and institutional dimensions, with special emphasis on legal and political forums. Students consider the discourse of law, politics, and society both in theory and in practice, in an attempt to understand the rhetorical nature of public judgment, action, justice, and legitimacy. Individual courses will enable close study of specific problems, concerns, vocabularies, modes of interpretation and strategies of argumentation arising in public forums of the past and present.

RHETOR 150 Rhetoric of Contemporary Politics

RHETOR 151 Rhetoric of Contact and Conquest

RHETOR 152 Rhetoric of Constitutional Discourse

RHETOR 152AC Race and Order in the New Republic

RHETOR 153 American Political Rhetoric

RHETOR 155 Discourses of Colonialism and Postcoloniality

RHETOR 156 Rhetoric of the Political Novel 

RHETOR 157A Rhetoric of Modern Political Theory

RHETOR 157B Rhetoric of Contemporary Political Theory 

RHETOR 158 Advanced Problems in the Rhetoric of Political Theory

RHETOR 159A Great Theorists in the Rhetoric of Political and Legal Theory

RHETOR 159B Great Themes in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Political and Legal Theory

RHETOR 160 Introduction to the Rhetoric of Legal Discourse

RHETOR 162AC  Rhetoric of American Culture

RHETOR 163 Law, Language, and Literature

RHETOR 164 Rhetoric of Legal Theory

RHETOR 165 Rhetoric of Legal Philosophy

RHETOR 166 Rhetoric in Law and Politics

RHETOR 167 Advanced Themes in Legal Theory, Philosophy, Argumentation

RHETOR 168 Advanced Topics in Contemporary Law and Legal Discourse

RHETOR 169 Discourse of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

RHETOR 170 Rhetoric of Social Science

RHETOR 171 The Problem of Mass Culture and the Rhetoric of Social Theory 

RHETOR 172 Rhetoric of Social Theory

RHETOR 176 Rhetoric of Material Culture

RHETOR 182 Rhetorics of Sexual Exchange and Sexual Difference

Narrative and Image

Focuses upon understanding the function of rhetoric in literary, cinematic and visual texts, with emphasis on the role of figure and image in the representation of reality. Students consider the production and reception of narrative ‘literature’–oral epic, folktale, lyric poem, novel, etc.–and film, in an attempt to understand the boundaries of the aesthetic text as a rhetorical analysis of particular literary and visual genres arising in a variety of cultures and historical epochs.

RHETOR 121 Rhetoric of Fiction 

RHETOR 122 Rhetoric of Drama

RHETOR 123 Rhetoric of Performance

RHETOR 124 Rhetoric of Poetry

RHETOR 127 Novel, Society, and Politics

RHETOR 128T The Rhetoric and Politics of Interviews

RHETOR 129 Rhetoric of Autobiography

RHETOR 129AC Autobiography and American Individualism

RHETOR 130 Novel into Film

RHETOR 131T Genre in Film and Literature

RHETOR 132T Auteur in Film

RHETOR 133T Theories of Film

RHETOR 134 National Cinema 

RHETOR 135T Selected Topics in Film

RHETOR 136 Art and Authorship

RHETOR 137 Rhetoric of the Image

RHETOR 138 Television Criticism

RHETOR 139 Rhetoric of Visual Witnessing

RHETOR 145 Science, Narrative, and Image

Honors Thesis in Rhetoric

To apply, students must complete Rhetoric 10, 20, and either 103A or 103B, maintain a minimum 3.7 Rhetoric GPA and a 3.5 overall UCB GPA to undertake the two semester Honors Thesis series, Rhetoric H190A-H190B, under the supervision of a selected Rhetoric faculty member. Four units of credit (two units each semester) for the H190AB sequence may be applied toward graduation as upper division units. Honors candidates who complete the 4-unit course with a letter grade of A- or better, have at least a 3.7 GPA in all rhetoric courses, and an overall UCB GPA of at least 3.5, will receive a BA with honors in the major. Seniors eligible to enroll in the honors program must make arrangements with a faculty member willing to direct their honors thesis in the semester before they enroll in H190A. See the Undergraduate Advisor for Honors information and application.