COMM 170: Rhetoric and Public Issues

This course explores basic theoretical concepts in rhetoric and their uses in analyzing, evaluating, and producing the language, images, places, stories, and emotions of public life. Rhetoric is an ancient art, and this course will explore how classical Greek concepts and controversies about argument and style in public discourse have laid the groundwork for the way we understand political rhetoric today. Rhetorical education has long been understood as crucial to citizenship, not only because of the skills it offers in advocacy but also because of the way it enables critical analysis of political communication.

Rhetoric and Public Issues is the core course in the Rhetorical Studies concentration of Communication Studies. Attention is devoted to interpreting the persuasive function of texts and their relation to modern forms of life. Thus, in addition to its principal focus on theoretical concepts in rhetoric, it is an entry point to the culture of inquiry, argument, and contemporary public participation that constitutes rhetorical studies.

Required Texts:

  • Hauser, Introduction to Rhetorical Theory, 2nd edition, 2002, ISBN 978-1577662211
  • Keith and Lundberg, The Essential Guide to Rhetoric, 2008, ISBN 978-0312472399
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition, 2009, ISBN 978-1603290241

Contact the Friday Center at with any questions or for more information.

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