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English 704, Fall 2004

Intellectual Sources of Contemporary Composition Theory, I

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • INSTRUCTOR: David Fleming
  • CLASS MEETINGS: TR 11:00 - 12:15, 7105  H. C. White Hall
  • OFFICE: 6187D  H. C. White Hall
  • OFFICE HOURS: W 1:00 - 2:30; F 11:00 - 12:00; & gladly by appt.
  • PHONE: 263-3367 (o)
  • EMAIL:

  •  Description | Assignments | Texts | Calendar | Bibliography | Map of the Aegean | Timeline | Greek Alphabet | Rhetoric Links on the WWW


    English 704 is a graduate-level survey of classical rhetoric – the art of public discourse that developed in Greek and Roman antiquity and exerted such enormous influence on later European political, cultural, and educational theory and practice.  The course's center of gravity will be the writings of three teachers – Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle – who were all active in 4th C. BCE Athens and concerned, though in very different ways, with the role of verbal discourse in the motivation, formation, and maintenance of human belief, knowledge, action, character, and community.  But we'll spend a good bit of time rummaging through both pre- and post-4th C. BCE material as well, looking at the archaic and early classical contexts that formed the background for the Athenian "disciplining" of rhetoric and the subsequent institutionalization of that discipline during the Hellenistic and Roman eras.  Our time frame will be roughly 750 BCE to 400 CE.

    We should begin by noting that the term "classical rhetoric" is problematic.  For one thing, it suggests a singularity that the diverse and often incompatible texts and theories considered here will belie.  It also implies valorization: this is not just any art of discourse – it's the "classical," the canonical or best, art of discourse (though we'll quickly discover that many of these materials are better approached from a critical rather than an honorific point of view).  In addition, the term "classical rhetoric" suggests a certain historical specificity, something requiring patient and expert reconstruction of "foreign" languages and long-vanished worlds; and yet a hallmark of modern composition studies has been its unabashed appropriation of classical rhetoric.  Finally, the term implies disciplinary autonomy, even though its contemporary study clearly involves negotiating, transcending, even eschewing such traditional academic disciplines as classics, history, political philosophy, literary criticism, education, linguistics, and logic.  Given all that, perhaps the course should be thought of less as a focused survey of "classical rhetoric" for historical purposes than as a wide-ranging investigation of "ancient rhetorics" for contemporary ones.

    The best approach is probably to be flexible: to try to master the "tradition" even as we attend to the diversity of its sources; to give credit to the value of that tradition even as we acknowledge its limitations; to be sensitive to the historical embeddedness of ancient thought even as we keep an eye on contemporary relevance; and to blur disciplinary boundaries when they become obstacles to our understanding, even as we protect the quasi-autonomy of "our" field.

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    Work in the course will include:

    Reading and discussion.  Expectations for reading – both close and wide – will be high.  I will provide some lecture and some guidance for discussion, but most of the work here will be yours.  Please come to every class meeting with good questions and comments about the readings and try to respond thoughtfully to the questions and comments of others.

    Book report.  You will be required to read at least one "outside" book and report on it to the class in a 30 minute presentation.  The course bibliography includes many possible texts for this assignment, and I am open to nominations of your own; in addition, in the calendar below, I have recommended (and underlined) possible dates and titles for these reports.

    Research paper.  As a final project for the course, you may do one of three things: 1) write a traditional seminar paper concerning some specific problem or difficulty in classical rhetoric, the goal of which is to demonstrate progress in your understanding of that problem, even if that progress is manifest only by your increased awareness of the problem's complexity; 2) write an encyclopedia-style article on a relatively broad topic in classical rhetoric, e.g., enthymeme, style, ethos, with the goal of providing a generally accessible, relatively comprehensive survey of important work on a key topic or theme; 3) apply what you learn about classical rhetoric in a non-traditional way: for example, by designing a syllabus for an undergraduate course in classical rhetoric or building a web site that performs some intellectual or practical service for students of classical rhetoric.  There will be periodic due dates during the semester for intermediate products from this project, e.g., a written proposal, a preliminary bibliography, a progress report, etc.  All final projects should be around 15-20 pp, typed, DS, or the equivalent, and will be due during exam week.

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    3.  TEXTS.

    Readings in the class will come from the following texts, all available for purchase at University Book Store on State Street.
    In addition, there are books, articles, and chapters on reserve in College Library, in the English Department 7th floor library, and online through the library’s electronic reserves collection.  Readings in the calendar are labeled with the following codes:
    P = for purchase at University & Underground Book Stores
    R = on reserve in College Library Reserve Collection (1st Floor)
    E = on electronic reserve at College Library
    D = in the 7th floor English Dept. library (photocopies on shelf devoted to 704)
    I have also tried to indicate below which readings are the key readings for the day in question (these are in bold) and which are secondary or supplemental (all the rest for that day, listed in descending order of importance for our purposes).
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    4.  CALENDAR.

    Unit I: Archaic Greece (c. 750-480 BCE)

    Week 01 Th Sep 02 Introduction: Rhetoric; Society; & Education in Archaic Greece

    Kennedy (1999) ch. 1 (P R)

    Marrou (1956) Part One ch. I (R D)

    Walker (1996) (E D)
    Week 02 Tu Sep 07 "The Embassy to Achilles"

    Homer The Iliad Bk. IX (P R)

    Homer The Iliad Intro.; Bks I; II; VI (P R)

    Karp (1977) (R E D); Wilkerson (1982) (R E D)

    Th Sep 09 Orality and Literacy in Archaic Greece

    Havelock (1963) Part I (P R)

    book report: Lord Singer of Tales
    Week 03 Tu Sep 14 Orality and Literacy in Archaic Greece

    Cole (1991) chs. 1-2 (P R)

    Connors 1986) (E D); Thomas & Webb (1994) (R D); Ong (1982) ch. 2 (D)

    Marrou (1956), Part One, ch. IV (R, D)

    book report: Walker Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity; or Enos Greek Rhetoric Before Aristotle
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    Unit II: Classical Greece (c. 480-399 BCE): Rhetors & Sophists

    Th Sep 16 Fifth C. Political Discourse: The Mytilene Debate

    Thucydides History 3.1-50 (R D)

    Leff (1996b) (R E D); Yunis (1996) ch. IV (D)

    book report: Loraux Invention of Athens
    Week 04 Tu Sep 21 The Athenian Democracy

    Hansen (1999) (P R)

    book report: Farrar Origins of Democratic Thinking

    Th Sep 23 Class conflict in classical Athens

    Ober (1996) chs. 3 & 7 (E D)

    book report: Ober Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens
    Week 05 Tu Sep 28 The sophists

    Protagoras in Dillon (P) pp. 1-42

    Kennedy (1999) chs. 2-3 (P R)

    Schiappa (1994) & Poulakos (1994) (R E D)

    Billig (1996) (E D)

    Th Sep 30 The sophists cont'd

    Gorgias in Dillon (P) pp. 43-97

    Cole (1991) chs. 5-6 (P R)

    book report: Guthrie (1971) Kerferd (1981) or De Romilly (1992) on the sophists
    Week 06 Tu Oct 05 The sophists cont'd

    Antiphon in Dillon (P) pp. 133-202

    the Dissoi Logoi in Dillon (P) pp. 318-333

    Grimaldi (1996) (R E D)

    Th Oct 07 The sophists & feminism

    Jarratt (1998) (P R)
    Week 07 Tu Oct 12 Women in classical Greece

    Glenn (1997) (R E D)

    book report: Pomeroy Goddesses Whores Wives and Slaves
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    Unit III: Classical Greece (399-323 BCE): The Philosophers

    Th Oct 14 Plato

    Plato Gorgias (P R)

    Kennedy (1999) (P R) ch. 4 pp. 53-66

    Black (1958) (R E D); Schiappa (1991) (R E D)
    Week 08 Tu Oct 19 Plato cont'd

    Plato Gorgias (P R)

    Kastely (1991) (E D)

    Th Oct 21 Plato cont'd

    Plato Phaedrus (P R)

    Kennedy (1999) (P R) ch. 4 pp. 66-74

    book report: Schiappa Beginnings of Rhetorical Theory
    Week 09 Tu Oct 26 Plato cont'd

    Plato Phaedrus (P R)

    Havelock (1963) Part Two (P R)

    Cole (1991) chs 7-8 (P R)

    book report: Harris Ancient Literacy

    Th Oct 28 Race in classical rhetoric

    Bernal Black Athena (R D), Intro. (pp. 1-23) & ch. 1

    book report: Black Athena Revisited
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    Week 10 Tu Nov 02 No class (don't forget to vote!)

    Th Nov 04 Isocrates

    Isocrates Against the Sophists  (P R)

    Jaeger (1990) (R E D)
    Week 11 Tu Nov 09 Isocrates cont'd

    Isocrates Antidosis  (P R)

    Gillis (1969) (E D)

    Marrou (1956) Part One chs. VI-VII (R)

    book report: Haskins Logos and Power in Isocrates and Aristotle or Poulakos Speaking for the Polis

    Th Nov 11 Aristotle: proofs

    Aristotle Rhetoric I.1-3 (P R)

    Kennedy (1999) (P R) ch. 4 pp. 74-97

    Solmsen (1974) (R E D); Lord (1981) (R E D)

    Walzer Tiffany & Gross (2000) (R E D)
    Week 12 Tu Nov 16 Aristotle: enthymeme

    Aristotle Rhetoric I.1-3 (P R)

    McBurney (1936) (R E D); Bitzer (1959) (R E D); Conley (1984) (E D)

    Gage (1984); Walker (1994); Burnyeat (1996)

    book report: Atwill Rhetoric Reclaimed: Aristotle and the Liberal Arts Tradition

    Tu Nov 18 Aristotle: topoi

    Aristotle Rhetoric I.4-II.28 (P R)

    Huseman (1965) (R E D); Grimaldi (1958) (R E D)

    Conley (1978) (D)

    book report: Garver Aristotle's Rhetoric: An Art of Character
    Week 13 Tu Nov 23 Aristotle: style

    Aristotle Rhetoric III

    Kirby (1997) (D)

    book report: Finley Ancient Slavery
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    Th Nov 25 Thanksgiving: no class

    Unit IV: Hellenistic and Roman Rhetorics (323 BCE – 410 CE)

    Week 14 Tu Nov 30 Hellenistic Rhetorics: stasis, style

    Dieter (1950) (R E D)

    browse Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric

    Th Dec 02 Hellenistic Rhetorics, cont'd: pedagogy

    Fleming "Progymnasmata" (handout)

    Aphthonius in Nadeau (1952) (E D)

    Marrou (1956) Part Two chs. I-XII (R) (esp. ch. X)
    Week 15 Tu Dec 07 Cicero

    Cicero On the Ideal Orator (P R) 

    Kennedy (1999) (P R) ch. 5

    book report: Kennedy Art of Persuasion in Rome or Clark Rhetoric in Greco-Roman Education

    Th Dec 09 Cicero cont'd

    Cicero On the Ideal Orator (P R)
    Week 16 Tu Dec 14 Quintilian

    Quintilian (1987) (P R)

    Marrou (1956) Part Three chs. I-VII (R) (esp. ch. VI)

    Kennedy (1999) (P R) chs. 6-9

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