English 447/547, Spring 1997
New Mexico State University
INSTRUCTOR: David Fleming, PhD
CLASS MEETINGS: TTh, 8:55 - 10:10 a.m., EN 107,
OFFICE: EN 218
OFFICE HOURS: TTh, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m., & by appt.
PHONE: 646-3931 (English Dept.), 646-2239 (office/voice mail), 521-8664
Objectives | Assignments
| Texts | Grades | Calendar
In classical rhetoric, "invention" (Gk. heuresis, L. inventio) was the
first division or "canon" of the rhetorical art. It comprised systematic
guidelines to help speakers find and elaborate language in response to
the forensic, legislative, and ceremonial occasions of political life.
Cicero defined invention as the "discovery of valid or seemingly valid
arguments to render one’s cause probable"* (De Inventione, I.vii).
Elsewhere, he situates it in relation to the other four canons: "[S]ince
all the business and art of an orator is divided into five parts, he ought
first to find out what he should say; next, to dispose and arrange his
matter, not only in a certain order, but with a sort of power and judgment;
then to clothe and deck his thoughts with language; then to secure them
in his memory; and, lastly, to deliver them with dignity and grace" De
Oratore, I.xxxi. In the oft-told story of the post-classical demise
of rhetoric, invention so conceived was eventually eclipsed by one or more
of the other divisions (arrangement, style, memory, and delivery); the
art thus became trivialized because, without a theory of invention, it
concerned only words and gestures. So, for example, in literary studies,
"rhetoric" came to mean stylistic studies of written, poetic discourse.
In a more recent version of the story of rhetoric, however, "invention"
? in all of its classical richness ? has been rediscovered. Young
and Liu refer to various post-WWII developments as having established invention
"as the central theoretical issue of rhetoric and composition and its study
as one of the most fertile and dynamic areas in discourse studies" (xiii).
Contemporary approaches to discursive production, however, often bear little
resemblance to the "invention" of classical rhetoric.
This course is both a survey of the history of rhetorical invention
from classical to modern times and an introduction to the myriad
contemporary approaches taken to this topic. Our focus will thus
be historical and theoretical although we will pay some attention to two
"applications" of theory: the design of research studies intended to elucidate
aspects of rhetorical invention and the design of pedagogical programs
aimed at helping people invent discourse in more efficient and effective
ways. The course is divided into two sections. In the first,
we'll conduct an absurdly fast-paced historical survey, reading and talking
about rhetorical invention in oral cultures, classical antiquity, the middle
ages, early modern Europe, and the period from about 1750 to 1950.
Most of our energy here will be devoted to two books: Cicero’s De Inventione
and Sharon Crowley’s The Methodical Memory. The last half of the
course will be devoted to a "sampler" of contemporary approaches to invention
(neo-classical, neo-romantic, social constructivist, cognitive, and others);
here we’ll spend the bulk of our time looking at the rise of cognitive
approaches to invention and the various responses they have occasioned.
Although lots of our time will be spent reading other people’s ideas
about invention, the course should also serve as a stage for the development
of your own theories. We will try, therefore, to focus as much of
our energy as we can on problems that weave in and out of the texts we'll
be reading (e.g., the susceptibility of invention to analysis, the teachability
of invention, the respective merits of "objective" versus "subjective"
approaches, etc.), problems that demand fresh inquiry. I see the
course as providing a foundation for historical study, empirical research,
theoretical work, and pedagogical application.
We'll proceed in the following way. As far as the readings are concerned,
you are expected to read all assigned texts thoughtfully, by the date due,
and with an eye towards intellectual engagement in class. You will
write a minimum of ten 1-2 page (single-spaced) responses (summary, critique,
analysis, or elaboration) on assigned readings (turned in or emailed to
me before class on the day that reading is to be discussed). You
may choose which readings you write responses to. Finally, you are
expected to contribute actively to class discussions. There will
be a take-home, open-book essay exam at the end of the historical unit
and due on or about Thursday, Feb. 27. You will have approximately
one week to write the essay, which should be in the neighborhood of 6-8
pages, typed, DS. In addition, there will be several short exercises,
especially during the second part of the semester. These will consist
of mini case studies of invention and will likely require that you collect
a small amount of data for analysis. For example, during our readings
on problem-solving approaches to invention, you will be asked to collect
a short think-aloud protocol of someone composing a short text. What
do you learn from such data? What do you miss? Finally, there
will be an end-of-semester research paper involving either an empirical
or theoretical question. This will be somewhere in the neighborhood
of 8-12 pp., typed, DS. Class discussions will often revolve around
your ideas for this paper; and there will be due dates for various intermediate
versions (proposal, draft, etc.).
Readings in the class will come from the following texts:
Lord, A. (1960). The Singer of Tales. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Cicero. (1949). De Inventione; De Optimo Genere Oratorum; Topica.
Trans. H. M. Hubbell. Cambridge University Press [Loeb Classical Library].
Crowley, S. (1990). The Methodical Memory: Invention in Current-Traditional
Rhetoric. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.
LeFevre, K. B. (1987). Invention as a Social Act. Carbondale, IL:
Southern Illinois University Press.
Turner, M. (1991). Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of
Cognitive Science. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Simon, H. A. (1996). The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd ed. Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press.
Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1987). The Psychology of Written
Composition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. *
Billig, M. (1996). Arguing and Thinking: A Rhetorical Approach to Social
Psychology, new ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Young, R. E., & Liu, Y. (Eds.) (1994). Landmark Essays on Rhetorical
Invention in Writing. Davis, CA: Hermagoras Press. *
Texts indicated with an asterisk (*) are optional; the rest are required.
In addition, there will be supplementary articles and chapters that I will
either photocopy and distribute in class or put on reserve in the library.
I use letter grades on papers but translate these to numbers for computing
your final grade (e.g., A-=91.7; B+=88.3, etc.). Final grades will
be computed using the following formula:
Summaries (@2.5% ea. X 10) 25%
Essay exam 25%
Case studies (@5% ea. X 3) 15%
Research paper 35%
Final Grade = 100%
Week 01 Th Jan 16 Introduction to class and one another
Unit I: Invention as Historical Construct
Week 02 Tu Jan 21 The oral tradition
Th Jan 23 READ: Lord
Week 03 Tu Jan 28 The classical art
Th Jan 30 READ: Cicero
Week 04 Tu Feb 04 READ: Cicero
Th Feb 06 Medieval theories
Week 05 Tu Feb 11 Early Modern theories
READ: Ramus, Bacon, Descartes
Th Feb 13 Romantic theories
Week 06 Tu Feb 18 18th-20th Centuries
Th Feb 20 READ: Crowley
Week 07 Tu Feb 25 READ: Crowley
Th Feb 27 take-home essay exam due
Week 08 Mar 03 - 07 Spring Break
Unit II: Contemporary Approaches
Week 09 Tu Mar 11 neo-classical
READ: Booth, Bitzer
Th Mar 13 No class: CCCC
Week 10 Tu Mar 18 READ: Vatz, Consigny, Kinneavy
Th Mar 20 Structural
READ: Burke, Young/Becker/Pike
Week 11 Tu Mar 25 Neo-romantic
READ: Miller, Coles, Elbow
Th Mar 27 Social constructivist
paper proposal due
Week 12 Tu Apr 01 Psychological: conceptual schemata
Th Apr 03 READ: Turner
Week 13 Tu Apr 08 Psychological: heuristic search
Th Apr 10 READ: Flower & Hayes
Week 14 Tu Apr 15 Psychological: developmental issues
READ: Bereiter & Scardamalia
Th Apr 17 READ: Bereiter & Scardamalia
Th Apr 24 Social psychological
Week 15 Tu Apr 22 READ: Billig
Week 16 Tu Apr 29 Situated action
READ: Lave, Suchman, response
Th May 01 ideological
READ: Bizzell, Berlin, Bartholomae
Week 17 Tu May 06 mediated action
READ: Wertsch, Wood
Th May 08 final paper due; course evaluations