Rhetoric and Race

R342 — Fall 2018

Robert E. Terrill
Woodburn Hall 106
Days and Times
1:00P-2:15P TR
Course Description

Topic: “Rhetoric and Race"

People in America talk about race. Sometimes, we talk about race as if it doesn't exist, sometimes we talk as if it shouldn't exist, and sometimes we talk as if race is the single most significant aspect of our daily lives. Rarely, though, do we recognize that it is through our talk about race that race becomes meaningful. Whenever we talk about race, and whatever we say about it, race is invented in and through our words. We talk race into being, and it is race in the form of a discursive concept, as a rhetorical invention, that so profoundly impacts our culture.

This course will examine the relationship between rhetoric and race, exploring the possibilities and implications entailed by an understanding of race as a rhetorical phenomenon. We will follow a generally chronological outline, beginning in the 1960s and continuing into the present day. We'll begin with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., exploring similarities and differences in their rhetoric to develop a tentative interpretive framework that we will then utilize and modify as we read subsequent course materials. Primarily, our readings will focus on examples of public address -- speeches, statements, pamphlets, and essays -- through which our ways of talking about race in America have been formed.

Together with the primary materials we will read selections from a range of theoretical works on race and rhetoric to help us develop a vocabulary through which we can begin to understand and assess these works.

Some of the materials, movements, organizations, and concepts that we may study, in addition to key works by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., would include: The Signifying Monkey by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Here I Stand by Paul Robeson, Jim Crow, the Black Panthers, Black Feminism, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, "White Privilege and Male Privilege" by Peggy McIntosh, Intersectionality, Affirmative Action, the Great Society, the War on Drugs, The Afro-American Jeremiad by David Howard-Pitney, Race Matters by Cornel West, Barack Obama, and Black Lives Matter.

This class fulfills the College of Arts and Sciences CASE Intensive Writing requirement. As such, it requires: that students write a minimum of 5000 words, in addition to any exams, journals, or online posts; that students be held to high standards regarding matters of grammar and mechanics; that the instructor provide feedback on student writing; and that students revise one paper in light of the instructor's feedback.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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