ENGL 521: Cultural Rhetorics
Kennepeum (Welcome) to Cultural Rhetorics.
Rhetoric, as we will discuss, is described in broad terms as the creation and analysis of an act of communication or the transmission of emotion and thought to persuade others. Classical rhetoric is usually thought of as the art of persuasion, and most often is studied in terms of speech or writing. Jay Dolmage sees rhetoric as the strategic study of the circulation of power through communication. Ralph Cintron writes, “ For Aristotle, teckhne, ‘art’ or ‘craft,’ was associated with a ‘reasoned habit of mind in making something.’” Similarly, Malea Powell argues that we must move from a narrow definition of rhetoric to include “things” and their makings. I understand “things” to mean anything from a speech to an essay to a beaded object to a memorial. In this class, our particular focus on cultural rhetorics means exploring the intersections of rhetorics, cultures .We do so based on the space from which we operate and the ways in which we negotiate and make meanings in this space and how this space has the power to shape our perceptions. We will read about and examine the
relationships of rhetoric to race, ethnicity, cultures, gender, class, abilities and so on to understand rhetoric’s relationship to these constructions and how they intersect and relate to one another. We will explore categories of writing, texts, digital rhetorics, performance, popular culture, material rhetorics, visual rhetorics, race and ethnicity. Each of you will observe and find examples to help our understanding and lead a class. Our reading will cast a broad and deep net, and you will be expected to do some independent reading to share that with the class through posting your responses, offering in class discussions, and making connections to our common readings. Our class discussions will, I hope, be engaging and challenging as we read, write, talk, imagine and create. While you may not always “agree” with what the authors are offering, it is expected that you critically engage with the materials.