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Course Summary

Course Description

The Rhetoric, Persuasion and Literature concentration prepares students for careers as innovative leaders in public discourse, writing, reporting, politics, and law. It teaches the art of effective communication at the highest levels possible.

Career Possibilities

  • Writer
  • Communications Specialist
  • Director of Grants
  • Journalist
  • Speechwriter
  • Book Publishing Editor

Major Foundation Requirements

AH300 / Multimodal Rhetorical Argument: The Rhetoric of Uncertainty

Can one obtain absolute certainty on any given subject? Engaging in various rhetorical tasks that work both to create and to communicate knowledge, learn to speak with authority on the topic of uncertainty. By examining readings from critics such as Lyotard, Faigley and Baudrillard, as well as selections of contemporary literature, film and TV, strive to understand better what Lyotard calls the postmodern condition. Students actively engage through argument, research presentations and experience projects, using at least three different modes of communication (such as poetry, prose, oral presentation, art, dance, music, and film).

AH301 / Legal and Moral Systems of the Ancient World

Delve into the origins of legal and ethical systems: the Code of Hammurabi, the Noahide Laws, the Old Testament, the Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu, Egyptian Ma'at, and the Tang Code. Study contracts, torts, civil law, criminal law, enforcers, and penalties. Assignments also cover ethics and morality in commerce, personal life and kinship.

AH302 / Art for Political and Social Change

Explore acts of creative expression as they are used to foment unrest, question authority, re-contextualize social and political systems, and upset the status quo. Global examples are drawn primarily from poetry, painting, music, and sculpture, from North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Concentration Core Requirements

AH370 / Creative Writing Across Genres

Express thoughts, emotions and stories in writing. This is a writer's workshop with a heavy workload of writing assignments. Practice writing from four genres, including short stories, poetry, essays, reviews, plays, advertising copy, op-eds, and magazine articles. Topics include the importance of — and strategies for — editing, craft, art, inspiration, and modeling.

AH372 / Persuasion and the Nonfiction Essay

Develop writing skills while reading and writing nonfiction essays such as those published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic and The New York Times Magazine. Activities emphasize the effective use of persuasion based on the works of Gopnik, Gladwell and others.

AH471 / Persuasion, Public Presentations and Debates

Prepare for public speaking and persuasive discourse at the highest levels. An advanced follow-up to ArtsHum 300, this course covers the role and limits of public debates in an open society and rules of respectful engagement. Examine various venues, contexts, styles, and forms of public discourse. Expect to create a new presentation every week.

Concentration Electives

AH371 / Colonial Impact on Indigenous Literatures of Africa

How have colonialists viewed Africa, and how have Africans viewed themselves? Examine trends that show how the collective consciousness of society evolves under the impact of colonialism over time, and the lasting impact after. Study literature by, about, and for Africa and the African continent, including short stories, novels, essays, literary nonfiction, griots, and epics from pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial periods. Featured authors include Camus, Ibsen, Dinesen, Coetzee, Achebe, Beah, and Atta.

AH373 / Women Writers

Explore the particular problems facing women writers from th+D80e 19th and 20th centuries as both observers and influencers, and how they dealt with them. How have societal critiques changed over time in light of gains in basic human rights? How have narratives changed when the context shifted from the struggle for political power, to legal protection, to corporate equality? Authors include Jane Austen, the Brontës, Virginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Willa Cather, Gertrude Stein, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Alice Kessler-Harris, Cheryl Sandberg, Naomi Klein, and Joan Didion. Assignments include essays exploring the differing rhetorical styles and techniques employed by these writers.

AH470 / Historical Uses of Poetry for Political Change

Poetry has historically been associated with persuasion and "changing men's minds." Plato thought poems should be banned because their eloquence can make lies seem like the truth. Shelley considered poets to be "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." Focus on the power of poetry to persuade, to argue and to re-contextualize societal problems for political change.

AH472 / The Business of Publishing

Understand the book, magazine, newspaper, e-book, app, and online publishing industries from the perspective of both the industry and the writer. Topics include submissions, targeting publishers and markets, the editorial process, talent acquisition, economics and business models, copyrights, and royalties. Acquire practical advice on how to get published, and prepare and submit one article for publication at a major outlet during the semester.

AH473 / Identifying the Profound

What makes a work of fiction revelatory? How can narrative challenge fundamental conceptions of society, the self, values and relations? Analyze the social functions of the imagination, the relationship between literature and knowledge, fiction as a lens with which to better see true reality, and the novel as a way to enhance emotional understanding of people and situations. Read one novel per week from writers including Vladimir Nabokov, Jerzy Kosi?ski, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, J.M. Coetzee, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, Samuel Beckett, Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Jamaica Kincaid, Jonathan Franzen, Evelyn Waugh, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Rudyard Kipling, Salman Rushdie, and Toni Morrison.

AH571 / Advanced Multimodal Rhetoric

Create multimodal projects emphasizing the many forms of expression that are used to convey meaning, move emotions and create a persuasive argument. Merge modalities of communication to achieve maximal impact. Explore the emotional highs of Opera to Tony Robbins Seminars to see how to use narrative, music, setting, voice, and spectacle to deliver a powerful message. Activities include poetry, fiction and nonfiction writing, as well as music, plays, oral presentation, art, dance, film, painting, sculpture, and mixed media modes.

AH572 / The Russian Writers, Identity and Human Nature

Study the primary Russian novelists of the last 150 years — Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Pushkin, and the short stories and plays of Chekhov — and what they can teach about human nature based on contemporary conceptions of the self and identity. Analyze their conclusions about human nature and cross-reference to contemporary theories in psychological science [Recommended: ArtsHum 351]

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