History of Rhetoric 2

Ransom & Mitchell (art.ransommitchell.com)

Ransom & Mitchell (art.ransommitchell.com)



Rhetoric evolves in response to both time and place. Indeed, we could go so far as to say that each time and place has its own unique rhetoric(s). The period from the dawn of the Enlightenment to the present, which is the focus of this course, has been no different. Over time and across space, we see rhetorics emerge and evolve, each building from, with, and against those before and around it. Importantly, the history of rhetoric can be read as the accumulation of rhetorics each apart from and a part of the rest.

One might gather, then, that the history of rhetoric is simply a series of annotations, which means “to put a note to.” Each attempt to develop or define a rhetoric necessarily includes all other attempts. It is for this reason that the chief labor of the course will be collaborative annotation. Together as a class, we will annotate each and every reading (all readings being made available online as pdfs). Each week, using hypothes.is, students will contribute annotations that create linkages between and among readings, that engage and build from the annotations of others, and that recontextualize the readings in our contemporary scene.

There will also be written reading responses throughout the semester that mine these annotations for their contents. A student’s final paper works on this same logic of accumulation—building from their annotations and reading responses as well as the reading responses and annotations of others. In exploring the rhetorical tradition this course will necessarily compose its own.