48C:222: Seminar in Communication:

Rhetorical Theory and Criticism

Spring 2003

Lang 345

Tu eve: 6:00-8:50

Dr. Catherine H. Palczewski

Lang 341

office hours:

Tues and Thurs: 11-12

After February 5, additional times on Wednesday will be added.

I also am available for quick questions at the following times (when other students have scheduled regular meetings with me):

Tues: 3:00-4:00

Weds: 11:00-12:00

If none of these times work, please contact me to set up a meeting.

James L. Golden Award opportunity: This award is a $1000.00 case prize for an outstanding undergraduate and graduate research paper in the history, theory or criticism of rhetoric. The award will be presented at the National Communication Association convention, November 19-23, 2003.

  • Entries must be received by JUNE 6, 2003.
  • Send four (4) copies of the essay. The author identification page should be detachable (this means your name should not be part of the running-head either).
  • Essays must be supported by a letter of nomination from a faculty member.
  • address submissions to: J. Michael Sproule, Director, School of Communication Studies, 302 West Hall., Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403-0237

Essays will be evaluated for their contribution to our understanding of rhetorical process and outcomes, for excellence of conception and grounding, for weight of argument, strength of evidence, and eloquence of expression.

Description: The purpose of this seminar is to immerse you in rhetorical theories and introduce you to the way in which those theories can be expanded and applied to criticism. Accordingly, each week, we will be reading a selection of primary documents, and then examining essays that apply those theories to the criticism of a text, or engage with and expand upon the theories more generally.

The theories represented in this syllabus may not represent the most prominent or cutting edge. Instead, they were selected with your interests in mind. Nor are they arranged chronologically. Instead, an attempt has been made to present the theories in such an order that they talk to one another.

A guiding assumption of this course is that rhetorical criticism is not composed of a single method. Theories do not create a blueprint that can be applied to any text. Instead, texts and theories interact with one another, as they enable us to better understand the complexities of human communicative interaction. As the Critical Questions textbook explains, theories are best understood as "heuristic vocabularies" that enable us to see and hear more clearly the variety of things a text may be trying to communicate.

Thus, the goal of this course is not to teach you a universal, or universalizable, approach to the study of human communication. Human communicative practices are as diverse as human beings. Instead, this seminar hopes to teach you the craft of theory reading and critical application. No act of criticism will be like any other act of criticism. (In contrast, the steps one might go through in a survey study do tend to be relatively similar). Instead, one takes an approach to criticism where one engages with a text &endash; in its own terms, not in terms imposed by the critic.

The course opens with a general introduction to rhetorical theory and criticism. Theoretically, we Burke's notion of human beings as primarily symbol using (making and misusing) creatures. Critically, you will be introduced tot he basics of descriptive analysis.

The remainder of the course will cover core areas in criticism and theory. Each unit typically will include three types of essays: 1) a primary theory text, 2) an elaboration of the theory, and 3) application of the theory to criticism.


1) Familiarize one's self with rhetorical theory, the debates within it, and its critical application.

2) Develop a more precise vocabulary with which to describe the functions and forms of communication.

3) Learn how to summarize vast theoretical tracts in order to develop a heuristic vocabulary with which to analyze texts.

4) Complete a thesis chapter or a presentation or publication quality paper. Accordingly, extensive time should be spent on the research and writing process.

Required texts:

Nothstine, William L., Carole Blair, and Gary A. Copeland. Critical Questions: Invention, Creativity, and the Criticism of Discourse and Media. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994. (available at UBS)

Reading packet (available at print services in the library).

Assignments: (You can earn up to 100 points in this course. Points are indicated in parenthesis next to the title of the assignment.) All assignments assume you are studying a fixed, verbal, single text produced and delivered by an identifiable rhetor. However, if you would like to analyze some other type of communicative act, please feel free to talk to me. Most of the theories discussed in class assume a verbal text. However, similar techniques can be applied to more ephemeral, visual, or collective texts.

The assignments outlined below constitute a "progressive paper." This means each paper you complete is folded into the next paper after receiving editing from me as well as from one of your peers. The first paper becomes the introduction for the 2nd, the 2nd becomes the intro for the 3rd and 4th, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th papers are combined to become the foundation for the final paper, to which you will add an additional level of criticism as well as a conclusion. Page limits include the folded in papers. You will need to learn appropriate citation format (APA or MLA), and will be expected to complete extensive revision and editing of your work as the paper progresses. If a paper has numerous typographical, citation, or grammatical errors, I will return it ungraded.

Page limits on all assignments will be rigorously enforced. Spend time finding ways to write more concisely and clearly. If I find your paper long-winded, and you go over the page limit, I will quit reading. (If however, you are brilliant and keep me captivated, I may not notice). And, given the expectations of each of the assignments, you probably will need to use the number of pages required. If, however, you are exceptionally concise, then I may not notice of you fall short.

I also suggest, if this project is to become part of your thesis, that you use thesis format for all assignments, meaning wider left margin, no right justification, single spaced block quotations, and appropriate sub-headings. If you do not yet have a thesis book, one may be picked up from the graduate college. (A slight page limit modification will be made in these instances (basically, one extra page for every 5 required).

A bibliography is to be turned in with every assignment. It will not count against your page limits.

Paper 1) Text Selection: (5) [5 pages]. Write a 5 page justification for studying your text. The justification should include:

A) an introduction that situates the topic within a larger context,

B) background on when, where and to whom the text was delivered,

C) a description of the rhetor,

D) a description of the text,

E) a description of reactions to the text (this may include an assessment of the text's effects),

F) a review of relevant scholarly literature on the text,

G) an explanation on why the text is rhetorically interesting, and

H) a preview paragraph that outlines your research questions (this paragraph will transform into your thesis paragraph).

I suggest you find a text that is approximately 10-20 pages long. Bring enough clean copies of your text to class so that all class members can have their own copy. Due: January 28.

Paper 2) Descriptive analysis of the text: (10) [10 pages]. Conduct a detailed criticism of the text using the methods outlined during the first class period. This paper expands upon the short description of the text provided in subpoints B, C and D from above. Attach an outline of answers to questions concerning the rhetorical situation and an outline of the seven elements of the speech. Remember, your answers to these questions form the background work to writing the paper. The outline of answers should NOT be the outline of the paper. Link for outline. Due: February 18.

Paper 3) Literature review: (10) [15 pages]. This paper should provide a summary of the theoretical concepts to be used in your analysis, as well as a review of others' exploration and application of the theory. This section also should include a summary of others' analyses of your text (if any) and lay out how your analysis expands upon or differs from theirs. When folding in the previous papers, my guess is that you will organize the paper as follows: intro, literature review, descriptive analysis. Feel free to use readings not yet discussed in class if they are appropriate to your text. You will be expected to conduct additional research on the theory and, in all cases rely on primary texts for significant quotations. I want to read YOUR summary of the theory. (Footnotes indicating others agree with your analysis are fine, but do not substitute them for your own work). A comprehensive literature review of communication books and journals is expected. For a general discussion of what a literature review should do, follow this link to literature review guidelines. Due: March 11.

Paper 4) Developed criticism: (15) [20 pages]. This paper should take the heuristic vocabulary developed in paper 3 to rewrite the initial analysis in paper 2. Develop and expand upon (or change) your initial insights given the new terministic screens offered by your reading of theory. Due: April 10 by 5pm (drop off in the main office mailbox, after getting the office staff to date and time the paper).

Paper 5) Final paper: (25) [25 pages]. Using the work done in earlier papers, write a final criticism of your text. The final paper should include additional research and may include additional arguments. Due: 5-6:50 p.m. Tuesday, May 6

6) Peer editing: (10) We will use peer editing as a way to improve the papers. When peer editing, you are expected to provide both stylistic and substantive suggestions. Use the sample editing marks provided on the 1st day of class. Throughout the semester, you will have 5 opportunities to edit each others' work.

A. Papers 1, 2, and 3: For the 1st three assignments, bring two (2) copies to class: one to turn in to me, and another to share with a peer editor. For each paper, your peer editor will change so that you may get as much diverse advice as possible. Peer editors should return the paper within one week of receiving it (edits for paper 1 due February 4, paper 2 February 25, paper 3 March 25). Peer editors should make a copy of the edited paper to turn into me on the same day they return it to the author. Remember to sign the paper you edit so you can get credit for the work.

B. Papers 4 and 5: With the 4th and 5th papers, peer editing will happen in class or prior to turning the paper in. Please check the syllabus for in-class peer editing days, and bring a copy of your paper to class on those days for feedback. When this occurs, the editor should sign the paper. When the final version of the paper is turned in, the author should include all copies of peer edited papers. For a single class period, multiple people should edit the paper.

7) Presentation: (5). During the final exam period (5-6:50 p.m. Tuesday, May 6), we will have a formal presentation of all the papers. These presentations will be modeled after conference presentations of papers. Students will have eight (8) minutes to present their papers. (Most conference presentations last 10 minutes). Depending on class size, the length of the presentation may be lengthened. The presentation should provide sufficient background on the text and outline the core argument made in the paper. The student should also provide evidence to support the main argument.

More helpful hints:

1) Do NOT simply read your paper for your presentation. The presentation should be formal and professional, but not scripted. I suggest you speak from a detailed outline (remember to include quotations from the text in the outline to illustrate the points you want to make). Please bring two copies of the outline: one to speak from and one for me. DO practice the presentation to make sure your outline fits within the time limits. Time limits will be enforced.

2) Presume the audience is not familiar with your paper, but is educated about rhetorical criticism. Thus, your presentation should include: a description of the speech, a description of historical context, and illustrative quotations from the text. Your presentation does NOT need to include detailed definitions of common rhetorical terms (i.e. rhetorical situation, persona, metaphor). However, do provide sufficient theoretical explanation of more complicated concepts so that the audience can follow your analysis.

3) Do not try to present all the arguments in your paper. You will not be able to cover everything in just 8 minutes. Instead, give a brief overview of all your arguments, and then pick one or two on which to focus the presentation.

8) Discussion: (20) Being a good participant does not mean that you always have the answer; it can also mean that you know when to ask the right questions and when to recognize that the answers have already been offered by the class but need to be synthesized. Discussion is a central component of this class insofar as each person's analysis of the text can be enhanced by others' insights. For a detailed description of the criteria used in the assessment of discussion, see my website at http://www.uni.edu/palczews/discussion.htm. For discussion, I am adding an additional level of assessment to the grid I normally use. For each week, I would like each student to prepare a discussion log, no more than 1 single space typed page for each half, due the next class period. The log should have 2 halves:

A. Pre-class: a description of how you prepared to contribute to discussion (key concepts outlined, examples developed, questions formulated.);

B. Post-class: A self-assessment of your contribution to class using the five elements outlined in the discussion link. You should attach a grade to your participation for the class period in question.

You do NOT need to use all the space. Think of the first half as preparation for discussion, and the second half as a chance to make an argument about 1) how well you did, and/or 2) how you can improve.

General Information: see my website, at www.uni.edu/palczews/general.htm. This site includes my late policy, the university accommodation policy, as well as paper format descriptions.

Syllabus: (This syllabus is subject to change, although that rarely happens.) If changes happen, they will be in hot pink.

Special note: During weeks 2-5, I have another commitment (Vagina Monologues). Accordingly, I have asked Dr. John Fritch to guest lecture one of the days. The other days I would like to reschedule, depending on your schedules. If necessary, I am more than willing to split the class in two, and meet at two different times. Accordingly, please bring your schedules to class on January 14, so we can see what we can work out. Thanks for your understanding.


Week 1: January 14: Burke and beginnings

Burke, Kenneth. "Definition of Man." In Language as Symbolic Action. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966. 3-24.

Condit, Celeste Michelle. "Post-Burke: Transcending the Sub-stance of Dramatism." Quarterly Journal of Speech 78 (1992): 349-355.

Burke, Kenneth. "Dramatism." In International Journal of the Social Sciences, Vol.7. Ed. David L. Sills. New York: The Macmillian Company, 1968. 445-452.

Burke, Kenneth. "Introduction: The Five Key Terms of Dramatism" and "Container and Thing Contained." A Grammar of Motives. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969. xv-20.

Burke, Kenneth. "Terministic Screens." In Language as Symbolic Action. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966. 44-62.

Critical Questions, chapter 1


Week 2: January 21 (still tuesday night) (V): Rhetorical History and Narrative (Fritch guest lecture)

***NOTE: readings for weeks 2 and 3 were switched

Plato. "Gorgias" (trans. W.D. Woodhead) and "Phaerus" (trans. R. Hackforth). The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1961.

Fisher, Walter R. "Narration as a Human Communication Paradigm: The Case of Public Moral Argument. Communication Monographs 51 (March 1, 1984): 1-22.


Week 3: January 28 (still tues night) Burke applied

Burke, Kenneth. Attitudes Toward History. Boston: Beacon Press, 1959. 34-44.

Burke, Kenneth. Permanence and Change, 3rd edition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. 89-96.

Condit, Celeste. "Framing Kenneth Burke: Sad Tragedy or Comic Dance?" Quarterly Journal of Speech 80 (February 1994): 77-82.

Dow, Bonnie J. "AIDS, Perspective by Incongruity, and Gay Identity in Larry Kramer's '1,112 and Counting'." Communication Studies 45 (Fall-Winter 1994): 225-240.

Palczewski, Catherine H. "Comic Heroism and the Scope of Fire." Submitted to Communication Studies, December 2001. Revised and resubmitted June 2002. LINK

Christiansen, Adrienne E. and Jeremy J. Hanson. "Comedy as Cure for Tragedy: ACT UP and the Rhetoric of AIDS." Quarterly Journal of Speech 82 (May 1996): 157-170.

Paper 1 (introduction) due.


Week 4: February 5, Wednesday, 1-4pm, Lang 3rd floor lounge (V): Key Concepts in Rhetoric and Responses to Them

Black, Edwin. "The Second Persona." Quarterly Journal of Speech 56 (1970): 109-119.

Wander, Philip. "The Third Persona: An I deological Turn in Rhetorical Theory." Central States Speech Journal 35 (Winter 1984): 197-216.

Bitzer, Lloyd F. "The Rhetorical Situation." Philosophy & Rhetoric 1 (1968): 1-14. Rpt. in Philosophy & Rhetoric supplemental issue (1992): 1-14

Biesecker, Barbara A. "Rethinking the Rhetorical Situation from within the Thematic of Difference. Philosophy & Rhetoric 22 (1989) 110-130.

Critical Questions, chapter 2


Week 5: February 12, Wednesday, 1-4pm, Lang 3rd floor lounge (V dress rehearsal) Personal Testimony

MacKinnon, Catharine A. "Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State: An Agenda for Theory." Signs 7 (Spring 1982): 515-544.

Elshtain, Jean Bethke. "Feminist Discourse and Its Discontents: Language, Power, and Meaning." Signs 7 (Spring 1982): 603-621.

Kauffman, Linda S. "The Long Goodbye." In American Feminist Thought at Century's End. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1993. 258-277.

Alcoff, Linda and Laura Gray. "Survivor Discourse: Transgression or Recuperation?" Signs 18 (Winter 1993): 260-290.


Week 6: February 18: Literatures and Rhetorics

****Note, we are back to meeting on tuesdays, as regularly scheduled, in Lang 345.

Wichelns, Herbert A. "The Literary Criticism of Oratory." Studies in Rhetoric and Public Speaking in Honor of James Albert Winans. New York: The Century Co, 1925. Rpt. in Methods of Rhetorical Criticism. Ed. Bernard L. Brock and Robert L. Scott. 2nd ed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1980.

Benson, Thomas W. "Rhetoric and Autobiography: The Case of Malcolm X." Quarterly Journal of Speech 60 (1, February 1974): 1-13.

James, Lawrence B. "The Influence of Black Orality on Contemporary Black Poetry and its Implications for Performance." Southern Speech Communication Journal 45 (Spring 1980): 249-267.

Madison, D. Soyini. "'That Was My Occupation': Oral Narrative, Performance, and Black Feminist Thought." Text and Performance Quarterly 13 (July 1993): 213-232.

Miller, Lynn C. "'Polymorphous Perversity' in Women's Performance Art: The Case of Holly Hughes." Text and Performance Quarterly 15 (1995): 44-58.

Paper 2 (descriptive analysis) due


Week 7: February 25: Visual Rhetoric

Langer, Susanne K. Philosophy in a New Key, 3rd ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957. 79-102.

Biesecker, Barbara A. "Remembering World War II: The Rhetoric and Politics of National Commemoration at the turn of the 21st Century." Quarterly Journal of Speech 88 (November 2002): 393-409.

DeLuca, Kevin Michael. "Unruly Arguments: The Body Rhetoric of Earthfirst!, Act Up, and Queer Nation." Argumentation and Advocacy 36 (Summer 1999): 9-21.

Fabj, Valeria. "Motherhood as Political Voice: The Rhetoric of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo." Communication Studies 44 (Spring 1993): 1-18.

Critical Questions, chapter 15


Week 8: March 4: Confrontational Rhetoric

Scott, Robert L. and Donald K. Smith. "The Rhetoric of Confrontation." Quarterly Journal of Speech LV (February 1969): 1-8.

Gregg, Richard B. The Ego-function of the Rhetoric of Protest. Philosophy & Rhetoric 4 (Spring 1971): 71-91.

Windt, Theodore Otto, Jr. "The Diatribe: Last Resort for Protest." Quarterly Journal of Speech 58 (February 1972): 1-14.

Critical Questions, chapter 3


Week 9: March 11: Ideographs

McGee, Michael Calvin. "The 'Ideograph': A Link Between Rhetoric and Ideology. Quarterly Journal of Speech 66 (February 1980): 1-16.

Condit, Celeste Michelle, and John Louis Lucaites. "The Rhetoric of Equality and the Expatriation of African-Americans, 1776-1826." Communication Studies 42 (Spring 1991): 1-21.

Edwards, Janis L., and Carol K. Winkler. "Representative Form and the Visual Ideograph: The Iwo Jima Image in Editorial Cartoons." Quarterly Journal of Speech 83 (August 1997): 289-310.

Delgado, Fernando Pedro. "Chicano Movement Rhetoric: An Ideographic Interpretation." Communication Quarterly 43 (Fall 1995): 446-454.

Critical Questions, chapter 9

Paper 3 (literature review) due


Week 10: March 18: Spring break


Week 11: March 25: Performance and Performativity

Conquergood, Dwight. "Review Essay: Ethnography, Rhetoric, and Performance." Quarterly Journal of Speech 78 (February 1992): 80-97.

Hopkins, Mary Frances. "The Performance Turn--and Toss." Quarterly Journal of Speech 81 (May 1995): 228-236.

Lockford, Lesa. "Social Drama in the Spectacle of Femininity: The Performance of Weight Loss in the Weight Watcher's Program." Women's Studies in Communication 19 (Fall 1996): 291-312.

Butler, Judith. "Critically Queer." Bodies that Matter. New York: Routledge, 1993. 223-242.

Hasian, Marouf, Jr. "Jurisprudence as Performance: John Brown's Enactment of Natural Law at Harper's Ferry." Quarterly Journal of Speech 86 (May 2000): 190-214.

Capo, Kay Ellen and Darlene M. Hantzis. "(En)Gendered (and Engendering) Subjects: Writing, Reading, Performing, and Theorizing Feminist Criticism." Text and Performance Quarterly 11 (1991): 249-266.


Week 12: April 1: Feminist Rhetoric(s)

Condit, Celeste Michelle. "Opposites in an Oppositional Practice: Rhetorical Criticism and Feminism." In Transforming Visions. Ed. Sheryl Perlmutter Bowen and Nancy Wyatt. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc., 1993. 205-230.

Condit, Celeste M. "Gender Diversity: A Theory of Communication for the Postmodern Era." In Communication: Views from the Helm for the 21st Century. Ed. Judith Trent. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1998. 177-183.

Foss, Sonja K. and Cindy L. Griffin. "Beyond Persuasion: A Proposal for an Invitational Rhetoric." Communication Monographs 62 (March 1995): 2-18.

Dow, Bonnie J. "Feminism, Difference(s), and Rhetorical Studies." Communication Studies 46 (Spring-Summer 1995): 106-117.

Shome, Raka. "Postcolonial Interventions in the Rhetorical Canon: An 'Other' View." Communication Theory 6 (February 1996): 40-59.

Critical Questions, chapter 5


Week 13: April 8: (NDT): in class editing of paper 4


April 10, 5pm, Paper 4 (developed criticism) due


Week 14: April 15: Feminine style

Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs. Man Canot Speak for Her, vol. 1. New York: Praeger, 1989. 1-16.

Biesecker, Barbara. "Coming to Terms with Recent Attempts to Write Women into the History of Rhetoric." Philosophy & Rhetoric 25 (1992): 140-161.

Campbell, Karyn Kohrs. "Biesecker Cannot Speak for Her Either." Philosophy & Rhetoric 26 (1993): 153-159.

Biesecker, Barbara. "Negotiating Our Tradition: Reflecting Again (Without Aplogies) on the Feminization of Rhetoric." Philosophy & Rhetoric 26 (1993): 236-241.

Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs. "The Discursive Performance of Femininity: Hating Hillary." Rhetoric and Public Affairs 1 (Spring 1998), 1-19.

Dow, Bonnie J., and Mari Boor Tonn. "'Feminine style' and Political Judgment in the Rhetoric of Ann Richards." Quarterly Journal of Speech 79 (August 1993): 286-302.


Week 15: April 22: The Public Sphere

Habermas, Jürgen. "The Public Sphere." In Jürgen Habermas on Society and Politics: A Reader. Ed. Steven Seidman. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989. 231-236.

Fraser, Nancy. "Rethinking the Public Sphere." In Habermas and the Public Sphere. Ed. Craig Calhoun. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992. 109-142.

Habermas, Jürgen. "Further Reflections on the Public Sphere." In Habermas and the Public Sphere. Ed. Craig Calhoun. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992. 421-461.

Asen, Robert. "Seeking the 'Counter' in Counterpublics." Communication Theory 10 (2000): 424-446.

Distribute paper 5 for out of class editing


Week 16: April 29: in-class editing (or discussion)

Goodnight, G. Thomas. "The Personal, Technical, and Public Spheres of Argument: A Speculative Inquiry into the Art of Public Deliberation." Argumentation & Advocacy 18 (Spring 1982): 214-227.

Fabj, Valeria and Matthew J. Sobnosky. "AIDS Activism and the Rejuvenation of the Public Sphere." Argumentation & Advocacy 31 (Spring 1995): 163-184.

Olson, Kathryn M., and Goodnight, G. Thomas. "Entanglements of Consumption, Cruelty, Privacy, and Fashion: The Social Controversy over Fur." Quarterly Journal of Speech 80 (August 1994): 249-276.

Critical Questions, chapter 10

Return paper 5


Week 17: May 6, 5-6:50 p.m. Tuesday: final exam meeting

final papers due

final presentations