In(ter)vention and the Rhetorical Tradition
Rhetoric 103A explores what is called rhetorical tradition from its Western historical origins in Greece and Rome. The rhetorical tradition refers to the multiple and divergent ways that people throughout time have thought about the effects of language, both in theory and practice. Rhetorical study and practice today continues the tradition’s interest in varied, artful acts of invention and intervention that shape our worlds—for better and worse.
This course locates that tradition’s origins not in a specific time period, but in human practices of active reflection upon language’s possibilities and effects. To catalyze such reflection, we will study the theories and experiments of rhetors situated in the hurly burly Mediterranean cultures of 8th century BC to the 5th century AD, for whom discovering artful forms of oral and written expression was both necessary and urgent.
Students will read epics, lyric poetry, tragedy, dialogues, treatises, polemics and apologies, martyr texts, and sermons. We will consider how such forms address questions about memory, psychic and political life, the relationship of truth and persuasion, and the limits of language in making sense of the world.
Lecture: T/Th, 2-3:30pm in Mulford 159
Disc 101, F 10-11am
Disc 102, F 11-12pm
Disc 103, F 12-1
Disc 104, F 1-2