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English 519, Fall 1996


New Mexico State University

  • INSTRUCTOR: David Fleming, PhD
  • CLASS MEETINGS: Thursdays, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m., EN 124
  • OFFICE: EN 218
  • OFFICE HOURS: TTh, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m., & by appt.
  • PHONE: 646-3931 (English Dept.), 646-2239 (my office & voice mail), 521-8664 (home)
  • EMAIL: (email)

  • Description | Texts | Assignments | Calendar

    Course Description

    This course is a graduate-level survey of 20th Century rhetorical theory.  The course has three primary goals: one, to increase your familiarity with the key figures, texts, and terms of the period; two, to provide space and time for the exploration of certain constitutive problems in modern rhetorical theory (for example, its relation to its classical past, its relations with its disciplinary neighbors -- linguistics, philosophy, literary criticism, composition, political science, etc. -- and its undetermined epistemic status: is it a critical vocabulary? a productive art? a science? an everyday practice?); and three, to prompt individual inquiry into specific problems and issues in contemporary rhetorical theory.

    We'll proceed in the following way.  Our central work will be discussion of assigned and supplementary readings.  Each week, you will be responsible for two things: reading and talking about the 'core' assigned reading(s) of that week and reading and talking about one or more supplementary readings for which you will have individual responsibility.  These supplementary readings (biography, background, criticism, application, etc.) will be assigned the week before the meeting when they will be discussed.  For your reading, you will be asked to prepare approximately five minutes of summary/commentary for the rest of the class.  (You may use written notes to help you, but the remarks will be oral.)  This procedure should help structure our conversations, ensure widespread participation, and expand the knowledge base we use to understand the core readings.  For some of the core readings, I may also ask for summaries/commentaries.  These summaries should not be seen as a substitute for lively discussion and debate, only a way to better stage discussion and debate.

    In addition to core and supplementary readings, each student will be responsible for giving a formal lecture on a book not assigned to the whole class.  I will suggest books for this assignment, but feel free to propose something not on my list.  This lectures will be in the neighborhood of 30-45 minutes long each and will be dispersed throughout the semester.

    Aside from these reading, discussion, and lecture responsibilities, you are also required to write and deliver a 20-minute formal (conference-type) presentation on a relevant topic of your own choosing.  These presentations will be given to the class on November 14 and 21.  Work towards these presentations will include a 1-page proposal due on or about October 17.  Tentatively, there will be a take-home written exam due during final exam week (Dec. 12).  In the exam, I will probably ask you to choose 2 of 4 questions about which you will write 500-750 words (about 2-3 pp DS) for each.

    I want this to be a class built around lively, wide-ranging, thought-provoking conversational.  At the same time, I want to provide opportunities for all of us to practice academic, scholarly, and professional skills useful in our lives, particularly the skills of summarizing, synthesizing, analyzing, and contributing to intellectual inquiry.

    Regular and punctual attendance on everyone’s part is crucial.


    Readings in the class will come from the following required texts:
  • Theresa Enos & Stuart Brown (Eds.). (1994). Professing the New Rhetorics: A Sourcebook. Prentice-Hall. [PNR]
  • John Nelson, Allan Megill, & Donald McCloskey (Eds.). (1987). The Rhetoric of the Human Sciences: Language and Argument in Scholarship and Public Affairs. Wisconsin. [RHS]
  • Jacques Derrida. (1982). Margins of Philosophy. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago. [MP]
  • Wayne C. Booth. (1974). Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent. Chicago. [MD]
  • Russell B. Goodman (Ed.). (1995). Pragmatism: A Contemporary Reader. Routledge. [Pr]
  • Edwin Black. (1978). Rhetorical Criticism: A Study in Method. Wisconsin. [RC]
  • Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, & Robert Trapp. (1991). Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric. 2nd ed. Waveland. [CPR]
  • These texts are on sale in the campus bookstore.  In addition, there will be several additional pieces that I will either photocopy and distribute in class or put on reserve in the library.

    Assignments & Grading

    Grades will be computed using the following formula:
  • Discussion & summaries   35%
  • Lecture responsibility   15%
  • Paper/presentation   35%
  • Final exam   15%
  • Final Grade   = 100%

  • Calendar

    Week 01 Th Aug. 22 Introduction to class and one another
    Week 02 Th Aug. 29 Classical rhetoric and its demise (a 2,300 yr. dash from 5th C., BCE, to the end of 19th C., CE).
    Week 03 Th Sept. 05 Language & inquiry in American philosophy and educational theory at the turn of the 20th C.
        READ: Peirce, James, Dewey in Pr
    Week 04 Th Sept. 12 Early 20th C. European linguistics and literary criticism
        READ: Saussure, Richards, Bakhtin in PNR
    Week 05 Th Sept. 19 Mid-century American rhetoric & poetics
        READ: Burke, Weaver, McKeon in PNR
    Week 06 Th Sept. 26 1958: New theories of argument, part 1
        READ: Toulmin in PNR
    Week 07 Th Oct. 03 1958: New theories of argument, part 2
        READ: Perelman in PNR
    Week 08 Th Oct. 10 Post-WWII Speech Communication in the U.S.
        READ: Bryant, Scott, Fisher in PNR; Black in RC
    Week 09 Th Oct. 17 French post-structuralism of the 1960s
        READ: Derrida in MP; Foucault, Barthes in PNR
        DUE: one-page proposal for presentation
    Week 10 Th Oct. 24 Rhetoric, reason, and the academy at the end of the 1960s
        READ: Booth in MD
    Week 11 Th Oct. 31 Anglo-American neo-pragmatism in the 1980s
        READ: Rorty, Putnam, Fish in Pr
    Week 12 Th Nov. 07 1980s to the present: the “rhetoric of inquiry” movement
        READ: Leff et al. in RHS
    Week 13 Th Nov. 14 Presentations
    Week 14 Th Nov. 21 Presentations
    Week 15 Th Nov. 28 Thanksgiving
    Week 16 Th Dec. 05 Some contemporary positions
        READ: Eagleton, Hirsch, Habermas, Berlin, others in PNR
    Week 17 Th Dec 12 Final exam due