Course Information


  • Number: ENG 686
  • Title: Directed Reading: History & Theory of Rhetoric
  • Term: Spring 2016


Course Description

This course is intended as a fast-paced introduction to the rhetorical tradition, both in terms of the past canon and regarding the present extrapolation, amendation, and revision of that canon. The course offers readings in primary sources of the tradition before moving into critical works from recent rhetorical scholarship.


These are the assignments that will make up your grade in this class.

Assignment Values

Assignment Due Date Value
Book Review 2016-02-17 15%
Proposal & Outline 2016-03-23 20%
Final Seminar Essay 2016-04-27 65%

Assignment Descriptions

Book Review (3-4 pages)

Book review can be on any recent work in rhetorical criticism (or any canonical work relevant to project). A few to consider:

Proposal & Outline (2-3 pages)

Should be attached to the topic of the final seminar paper. Write a 200 word conference proposal for your paper; a list of ~10 sources you’d use; and a proposed outline for the final paper.

Final Seminar Essay (20-25 pages)


  • The Rhetorical Tradition, Ed. Bizzell & Herzberg, 2nd Edition.
  • Susan Jarratt, Rereading the Sophists
  • Gerald Vizenor, Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance
  • Richard Doyle, Darwin’s Pharmacy
  • Ian Bogost, Persuasive Games
  • Diane Davis, Inessential Solidarity


Week 1

Wed 01/20

  • Gorgias, Encomium of Helen
  • Anonymous, Dissoi Logoi
  • Aspasia, fragments
  • Isocrates, Against the Sophists
  • Isocrates, Antidosis

Week 2

Wed 01/27

  • Plato, Gorgias
  • Plato, Phaedrus

Week 3

Wed 02/03

  • Aristotle, From On Rhetoric

Week 4

Wed 02/10

  • Cicero, From Orator, From De Oratore
  • Quintillian, From Institutes of Oratory

Week 5

Wed 02/17

  • Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book IV
  • Boethius, An Overview of the Structure of Rhetoric
  • Anonymous, The Principles of Letter Writing
  • Geoffrey of Vinsauf, From Poetria Nova
  • Robert of Basevorn, From Forms of Preaching
  • Christine de Pizan, From The Book of the City of Ladies
  • Christine de Pizan, From The Treasure of the City of Ladies
  • Book Review Due

Week 6

Wed 02/24

  • Desiderius Erasmus, From Copia
  • Desiderius Erasmus, From Ecclesiastes
  • Baldesar Castiglione, From The Book of the Courtier
  • Peter Ramus, From Arguments in Rhetoric Against Quintilian

Week 7

Wed 03/02

  • Thomas Wilson, From The Arte of Rhetorique
  • Francis Bacon, From The Advancement of Learning
  • Francis Bacon, From Novum Organum
  • Margaret Fell, Women’s Speaking Justified, Proved, and Allowed by the Scriptures
  • Madeleine de Scudéry, Of Conversation
  • Madeleine de Scudéry, Of speaking too much, or too little. And how we ought to speak
  • Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, From The Poet’s Answer to the Most Illustrious Sister Filotea de la Cruz

Week 8

Wed 03/09

  • John Locke, From An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • David Hume, Of the Standard of Taste
  • Mary Astell, From A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, Part II
  • Giambattista Vico, From On the Study of Methods of Our Time
  • Thomas Sheridan, A Course on Elocution, Lecture VI
  • Gilbert Austin, From Chironomia
  • George Campbell, From The Philosophy of Rhetoric

Week 9

Wed 03/16

No Class

Spring Break

Week 10

Wed 03/23

  • I.A. Richards, From The Philosophy of Rhetoric
  • Kenneth Burke, From A Grammar of Motives
  • Kenneth Burke, From A Rhetoric of Motives
  • Kenneth Burke, From Language as Symbolic Action
  • Wayne Booth, From Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent
  • Annotated Bibliography Due

Week 11

Wed 03/30

  • Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrects-Tyteca, From The New Rhetoric
  • Chaim Perelman, From The Realm of Rhetoric
  • Chaim Perelman, From The New Rhetoric: A Theory of Practical Reasoning
  • Stephen Toulmin, From The Uses of Argument
  • Stephen Toulmin, From Logic and the Criticism of Arguments

Week 12

Wed 04/06

  • Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense
  • Hélène Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa
  • Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément, A Woman Mistress
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., From *The Signifying Monkey and the Language of Signifyin(g)
  • Gloria Anzaldúa, From Borderlands / La frontera
  • Stanely Fish, Rhetoric

Week 13

Wed 04/13

  • Susan Jarratt, Rereading the Sophists

Week 14

Wed 04/20

  • Gerald Vizenor, Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance

Week 15

Wed 04/27

  • Richard Doyle, Darwin’s Pharmacy

Week 16

Wed 05/04

  • Diane Davis, Inessential Solidarity
  • Seminar Paper Due