RHET 101: Introduction to Writing and Rhetoric

Course content
The first of a three-course sequence, Rhetoric 101 Introductory Rhetoric introduces students to reading, summarizing, and composing strategies as well as rhetorical concepts necessary for college and beyond. Knowledge and practice with rhetoric is foundational to this course because writers work best if they grasp the contexts, purposes, and audiences of their writing. Assignments in this course are sequentially designed to give students practice understanding how texts affect readers, thus providing students opportunities to compose effective and purposeful texts themselves. Required course: student must achieve a grade of “C” or above to meet this requirement.  Required unless entering with an Advanced Placement score of 4-5 or departmental approval of transfer credit.  Scheduled: Fall/Spring, yearly. Meets: Rh

To pass RHET 101, students must complete all required assignments as stated on the course syllabus. Students will be expected to participate in workshopping and conferencing activities.

RHET 102: Rhetoric and Research Writing

Course content
The second course of the rhetoric sequence, RHET 102: Rhetoric and Research Writing, introduces students to research and information literacy strategies while reinforcing and expanding on the rhetorical concepts introduced in RHET 101; in addition to reading and responding to linguistic-centered text (such as words written in an article or book), RHET 102 introduces students to multimodal reading and composing strategies, emphasizing that writing (especially the writing we engage with in the current digital age) means attending to visual, aural, spatial, gestural, and algorithmically-arranged design, just as much as alphabetic text. The coursework culminates to a final portfolio that includes an analysis essay, an annotated bibliography, a substantial research project, and a reflective essay. Required course: student must achieve a grade of “C” or above to meet this requirement. PRQ (Pre-requisites): Grade of “C” or above in RHET 101 or departmental approval of transfer credit. Scheduled: Fall/Spring, yearly. Meets: Rh

To pass RHET 102, students must complete all required assignments as stated on the course syllabus. Students will be expected to participate in workshopping and conferencing activities.

RHET 351: Applied Rhetoric

Course content
RHET 351 Applied Rhetoric is the third course of the rhetoric sequence. Students demonstrate their skills in rhetoric by applying rhetorical principles of argument to a focused topic, which varies by section. RHET 351 builds on RHET 102 by assigning rhetorical analyses, research reviews, and a research project; however, these assignments are completed in the context of the section’s focus and with an emphasis on both oral and written arguments. Required course. PRQ: Grade of “C” or above in RHET 102 or equivalent and 45 hours of college course work. Transfer credit will not be accepted to meet the RHET 351 requirement. Scheduled: fall and spring, yearly. Meets: Rh.

To pass RHET 351, students must complete all required assignments as stated on the course syllabus. Students will be expected to participate in workshopping and conferencing activities.

Note: Beginning in Fall 2022, some Rockford University departments will begin offering Writing-Intensive (WI) courses that are accepted as upper-level writing courses for graduation; students who take these WI courses will not be required to take RHET 351 as well. Check with your department chair to see if your department offers a course that has been formally approved as a WI course.

Section description
The course and section descriptions are posted/published in the course schedule. A sampling of offerings follows:

“Environmental Rhetoric”: This course offers students an opportunity to study rhetoric on a variety of topics related to the environment, including conservation, animal rights, environmental justice, and the local foods movement. Readings for the class will range broadly from creative non-fiction and advertisements to film and poetry. With a grounding in these texts, students will then move on to develop their own research projects related to environmental rhetoric. This section of Rhet 351 should be a good match for students in the sciences and those concerned with the challenging environmental issues that we are faced with today. This course includes a CBL component.

“Rhetoric of Professional Communication”: This course addresses the high-stakes world of professional communication by giving students practice in many professional genres, both written (in emails, memos, reports, and resumes) and spoken (in presentations). Our work in these genres will be shaped by an emphasis on design (including the effective use of colors, fonts, and other visual elements), both in print and online. We’ll approach these genres through the lens of rhetoric, the classical art of communicating effectively through attention to purpose, audience, context, and genre. Students will compose rhetorical analyses, redesign flyers, research effective professional communication strategies, and work with a group to create documents for a local nonprofit organization.

“Dystopia: The Rhetoric of Dark Futures”: The twentieth-century has produced many dreadful visions of the future. These visions, whether dystopian or apocalyptic, create a powerful discourse of dehumanization brought about by loss of privacy, restricted civil rights, uncontrolled technology, human bio-engineering, and in some cases, nuclear or environmental annihilation. This course examines the genre of dystopia with a view to understanding its rhetoric, common traits, ideological modes, and historical specificity, including the new culture of “alternative facts”. Although the term “dystopia” predates 1900, dystopia became a recognizable literary and cultural genre during the twentieth century and has not lost its hold on our imagination in the twenty-first, as evidenced by recent films, novels, and animation. This rhetorical discourse consists of cautionary tales, social and political criticism, and thought experiments about scary futures that tell us more about the conditions in which they are made than about any anticipated future. While hopefully not prophetic, the rhetoric of dystopia deserves our attention as a primary register of current social fears and anxieties.

“Gender and Rhetoric”: This course offers students an opportunity to study Rhetoric on a variety of topics related to gender, including gendered media, gender in the workplace, gendered communication, and gender in the socialization process. The course will also examine the role of Rhetoric in the development of women’s and men’s movements in the United States. Readings for the class will range broadly from speeches and advertisements to essays and film. With a grounding in these texts, students will then move on to develop their own research projects related to Gender and Rhetoric. This course includes a CBL component.

“The Rhetoric of Sports”: Consider: Michael Jordan’s tongue; Monica Seles’s grunt; John Madden’s bus; Tiger Woods’s apology. The evolution of sports rhetoric over the past two decades, with 24 hour cable and Internet coverage, permeates a good deal of the current cultural lexicon. Whether or not one considers him/herself a sports fan, the aforementioned names invoke some mix of verbal and visual cues. This class, within the context of classic rhetorical theory, and along with an anthology of Sports writing from the past century, will examine the visual and verbal arguments present throughout the 20th century as Sports solidified its hold on American culture. Students will read, analyze, the write on the arguments inherent in selected examples of sports writing and iconic sports images throughout the 20th century; in so doing, the class will consider the language of the sports themselves, including terminology, slang, and phrases employed both on and off the field; we will also consider the larger implications of the evolution of sports to broader issues of American identity as it pertains to issues of morality, gender, race, and class.

“Rhetoric of Change”: Leaders strive to think locally and globally about the world, and they take action to change it. “Change” is one of the most popular campaign pitches for politicians. In this course, we will approach the rhetorical persuasiveness of such calls to action. Eric Fromm distinguishes the rebel from the revolutionary precisely to the degree to which the rebel has an agenda that can be understood as a cogent rhetorical argument. Calls for change can come in many forms, including films, essays, slogans, Op-Ed pieces, and protest art. While working with primary sources from the Library of Congress and also various secondary sources, we will apply classical rhetorical theory to study various calls to action. Students will collaborate on a presentation wherein they use primary sources from the Library of Congress to investigate targeted texts about civil rights. The final project includes an extended research essay that analyzes rhetorical arguments used in achieving a particular societal change in recent history. If they prefer, students may demonstrate their abilities to effectively wield rhetorical strategies in other ways. They may put forth an argument for how a particular change occurred, or they may produce an extended, researched argument that calls for societal transformation.

“The Rhetoric of Social Media”: This course focuses on social media’s ethical role in our relationships, identities, and politics. Throughout the semester, we will take a sustained look at a range of topics related to social media, including cyber-bullying and trolling, the spread of misinformation and propaganda, mental health, corporate surveillance, and the blurring of personal/professional identities. Students will use rhetorical knowledge to analyze and compose using their own social media accounts, to create a redesigned mock-up of an existing platform, and to compose a research-based project on a social media issue of their choice. While the class includes a number of writing assignments, students will also have the opportunity to compose digitally using different media forms (e.g., images, sound, videos). No particular technological proficiency is required for the class, but students should express a willingness to experiment, play, and compose with new and unfamiliar technologies.

Scarborough Hall
5050 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108

Kyle Stedman, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of English