Rhetoric and Race

R342 — Spring 2018

Ballantine Hall 231
Days and Times
4:00-5:15 TR
Course Description

People in America talk about race. Sometimes, we talk about race as if it doesnt exist, sometimes we talk as if it shouldnt 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 process. We will follow a generally chronological outline, with the intention of providing historical context for contemporary racial discourse. Primarily, our readings will focus on historical examples public address -- speeches, statements, pamphlets, and essays -- through which our current 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. A partial list of the materials that we will read either in whole or in part would include: The Confessions of Nat Turner; David Walkers Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World; White Privilege and Male Privilege, by Peggy McIntosh; The Signifying Monkey, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Aint I a Woman, by Sojourner Truth; Here I Stand, by Paul Robeson, Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington, The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois, Why We Cant Wait, by Martin Luther King, Jr., and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. This class is 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 instructors feedback. Instructor: Robert Terrill

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