History of Rhetoric

Course Description

Focuses on the teachings of the major figures of ancient rhetoric, such as the sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian. Students will study the classical texts that form the basis of modern rhetoric studies. The course also surveys major shifts through Medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment rhetoric.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss and analyze seminal texts in Rhetoric.
  • Analyze and distinguish among ancient views on rhetoric and the uses of language.
  • Apply ancient theory to understanding the persuasive effect of texts.
  • Apply theory toward creation of pedagogical materials for use in teaching in the field of Rhetoric and Composition Studies.
  • Evaluate scholarly texts, indicating possible areas of further inquiry.
  • Construct a niche or position and enter scholarly discourse through composing of an argumentative paper with a strong claim.
  • Produce a critical survey of the changing views of rhetoric over time, linking them to broader philosophical movements.


Minimum course requirements to meet the goals and measure students’ competencies include: 1. Completion of assigned reading; 2. In-class discussion; 3. Completion of short essay assignments; 4.Participation in class activities; 5. Writing several short, essay-style research papers.

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