Rhetoric, RHET: 10:003:080 3:30-5:20 (MW), 212 EPB Spring 2013, Department of Rhetoric, University of Iowa
Instructor: Chelsea Burk Office Hours: 1:50-3:20 p.m. MW, 70 EPB and by appointment. Department Goals Rhetoric is the study and art of persuasion: understanding how we are influenced by texts around us, and knowing how to compose successful writing and presentations ourselves. In Rhetoric, we consider just about everything a “rhetorical act” that attempts to persuade a specific audience to think or feel a certain way: speeches and essays for sure, but also ads, films, products, art, graffiti, and even spaces. Our curriculum focuses on controversies, and I will lead you through a sequence that asks you to analyze and describe the argumentation and persuasiveness of different perspectives on the same topic, and eventually advocate positions of your own in a way that skillfully takes into account the interests and concerns of your audience. A controversy is not just a single yes/no issue: there are always complex points to evaluate, and our job in this course is to find those nuances. So why do we expect you to study Rhetoric at The University of Iowa? Because we want you to learn how to think at an advanced level suitable for university education. We want you to learn how to contribute more usefully to discussions and social debates. We want you to create the best essays and presentations you can in college and beyond. Your future professors expect you to master Rhetoric as a foundation for college-level learning, writing, and presenting in your chosen field of study, whether it is Engineering or English. Critical thinking, sound argumentation, and effective writing and presentation processes are essential to academic success in any discipline or field.
Course Topics & Goals In this course, we will approach the art of rhetoric by working with four main skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. We will practice critical thinking and analysis, learning to ask ourselves not only what is being said, but how it is said. In addition to analyzing the arguments of others, you will practice constructing your own arguments. To begin the semester, we will read Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book-length work of non-fiction exploring the controversy surrounding HeLa cells (used for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, in vitro fertilization, gene mapping, etc.). These cells were unwittingly removed from Henrietta Lacks, an impoverished African American woman, in 1951, to the financial boon of the scientific and medical community internationally. Next, we will cross genre boundaries and dive into the world of graphic novels with Persepolis, an autobiography by Marjane Satrapi. Persepolis describes Satrapi’s turbulent childhood in war-torn Iran. Finally, we will end the semester with Barbara Ehrenreich’s ever-relevant journalistic endeavor, Nickel and Dimed, which follows Ehrenreich as she goes undercover, working low-wage jobs to illuminate the daily challenges with which many Americans struggle. We will use these texts to map multiple perspectives on controversial issues that span gender, race, class, legal, national, and ethical issues; explore the myriad ways in which rhetors form arguments on macro and micro levels; and, finally, analyze how rhetors incorporate visual texts (photographs, advertisements, films, illustrations) into their arguments.
Course Texts & Materials Required texts or materials (available at the University Bookstore):
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
Other assigned texts may be accessed on the course ICON site (Must have funds for printing these materials)
A sturdy two-pocket folder or binder (to keep all assignments in throughout the semester)
Grading Assignments and Activities: Your grade will depend substantially on two major writing and two major speaking assignments. In addition, you will receive credit for informal speaking, writing, reading, and listening: smaller written assignments, extemporaneous speeches, weekly reading responses, peer response to workshops, etc. Your active, thoughtful and informed participation in class will also count as a significant part of your final grade and will be evaluated daily. I will grade your participation both at midterm and the end of the semester. Each time, you will be required to submit a participation self-evaluation to me, which I will take into careful consideration as I evaluate your participation grade. Grade Distribution: Essay 1--due Friday, Feb. 22 15% Speech 1--due the week of March 11 15% Essay 2--due Friday, April 19 20% Speech 2--due the week of May 6 20% Participation 15% Informal Assignments and Reading Responses 15% Total: 100%
You may access your grades on ICON at any time during the semester, and you are always welcome to schedule a meeting with me to discuss them in more detail.
Your final grade will be determined on the University’s A-F grade scale.
There is no final examination in this course.
24/7 Policy: When I turn back assignments, you may have questions about your grade, the comments, or the content of the paper or speech. I employ a 24/7 policy in resolving such questions. Please set up an appointment to speak with me at least 24 hours after and no more than one week after your grade has been issued. Be aware that the 24/7 period begins when I hand back the assignment, regardless of whether you are present in class that day to pick it up.
Attendance & Participation: Attendance is required and is therefore not rewarded. Points may be deducted for absences or lack of participation in class. Students are expected to attend every meeting (unless you have an excused absence). As noted above, your active, thoughtful and informed participation is worth 15% of your final grade. Successful participation in the course will require considerable time, thought, and energy both during class and in outside preparation. Each student will be expected to make an active, informed, thoughtful contribution to each session. You will need to demonstrate that you have read the assigned readings completely, with a sufficient level of engagement to help further discussion. This does not mean just summarizing the point of the reading to demonstrate basic understanding; you should use your understanding of the reading as a starting point, proceeding to make an inference of your own, to agree or disagree, or to bring up a relevant point or example that pushes the discussion forward. Show that you are listening carefully and thoughtfully to the contributions of your classmates, and incorporate their thoughts into your own response whenever possible. In class discussions, weekly reading responses, and peer workshops, your comments should further the conversation, advance or clarify your point of view, or encourage others to respond. Rather than each student making statements directed at the instructor, our discussions should involve a web of interactions amongst peers; the conversation will be more interesting and more fruitful if it involves every member of the class. Excused Absences and Late Work: According to University policy, absences from class are excused in the following circumstances:
Illness or injury.
Mandatory religious obligations – must be documented and arranged in advance.
Authorized University activities – must be documented and arranged in advance.
If you have a conscientious objection to course material covered that day, you may chose not to come, and may be asked to complete an alternate assignment or activity. See UI Operations Manual III.15.2f). Must be arranged in advance: I always give warning for content or activities that might fall under this category.
Late work is acceptable only by arrangement with me, and it may not always be logistically possible for you to make up a public oral presentation even if an absence is excused. I will try to accommodate you but if class is unable to accommodate an audience for your speech, you may not be able to meet the requirement for public presentation of the speech. Work missed during excused absences (those caused by documented illnesses, family emergencies, religious obligations, or authorized University activities) can be made up; if possible, contact me in advance to make arrangements regarding such absences. In all cases, I require documentation. I may ask you to complete the Registrar's “Explanatory Statement for Absence from Class” form, which is available at http://www.registrar.uiowa.edu/Student/Forms forStudents/tabid79/Default.aspx. Students are responsible for providing documentation for excused absences, and for finding out about work missed during absences.
I generally do not accept unexcused late assignments. You may be penalized for work missed during unexcused absences, including participation in discussion and other class activities. For late assignments related to unexcused absences, credit will be deducted from the grade for each day the work is late. A pattern of arriving late to class or missing deadlines is also likely to hurt your participation grade.
Course Policies 1. Electronic Communication: I encourage you to email me your questions and concerns, using your university email address. Messages from gmail or other accounts may be ignored. I will do my best to respond in a timely manner, and will let you know in advance anytime I expect to be inaccessible by email. Although I will likely reply sooner, please allow at least 48 hours for me to respond to student emails. If you are emailing me to discuss a grade, please wait to email me until 24 hours after the assignment has been returned to you.
You are responsible for knowing about any and all official correspondence sent to your @uiowa.edu address.
Please also check the course’s ICON homepage regularly; I will use this space to post a week-by-week reminder of assignments, deadlines and readings. As the course progresses we may find that some readings, assignments, or discussions take either more or less time than projected on the syllabus. Because of this, it will be important for you to check ICON at least weekly in order to catch any updates, extensions or other changes.
2. Workload Expectations: 2 hours of preparation per semester hour on the course, per week, is the rule of thumb. For each semester hour credit in this course, students should expect to spend two hours per week preparing for class sessions. (This is a four-credit-hour course, so standard out-of-class preparation per week is eight hours.)
3. Working with Other Students’ Writing and Speaking: The Rhetoric department is dedicated to process pedagogy, which the Rhetoric Handbook* defines as “a belief that good composition of a speech or written argument is the result of a complex process of preparation, collaboration, feedback, and revision” (5). For each major assignment, responding to your peers’ writing and speaking contributes to your overall grade. You will respond in class workshops to various stages of each major assignment: proposing a topic, outlining, writing rough drafts, and crafting polished drafts. I require you to employ constructive criticism, pushing your peers to clarify ideas, consider relevant questions, and reflect upon the rhetorical strategies they employ. I expect your comments to be courteous but honest, engaged, in-depth, and thorough. We will discuss how to provide constructive criticism in more depth throughout the semester. * http://clas.uiowa.edu/rhetoric/for-instructors/handbook
4. Classroom Expectations: In addition to the various aspects of active participation outlined above, I expect students to cultivate a positive personal ethos for themselves as members of the class. The study of Rhetoric centers around the ways different messages can be communicated. This means that our course is a good time to think about what sort of message you communicate about yourself as a student. You make statements and “arguments” about yourself not only through the work you turn in, but how you function in the classroom. Make positive statements about yourself through the ways you collaborate with others, the ways you speak and listen, and even factors like a good attitude, promptness, and positive, attentive body language.
Students are expected to show respect and courtesy at all times, toward both classmates and the instructor.
Respecting diversity is integral to any classroom environment. As a controversy-based curriculum, in Rhetoric we regularly engage with texts that provoke, promote, and provide differences of opinion. In class discussion, I expect you to respectfully address different approaches and ideas in both your comments and responses to me and to one another. See the “Diversity and Inclusion” section at the end of the syllabus for further clarification of this University policy.
Listen carefully when someone else is speaking. While students can be understandably eager to make their comments, we will continue each discussion for as long as it takes to give everyone his or her say. Therefore, there will be no need to be disrespectful by talking over one another. Likewise, please refrain from distracting me by speaking while I am giving instructions.
During class sessions all electronic devices, including cell phones, are to be silenced and put away. Furthermore, laptops should not be in use except with permission, for a specific assignment. Using electronic devices demonstrates a lack of engagement, and therefore participation, in class discussion and activities. Using an unapproved electronic device during class time will negatively impact your participation grade and excessive usage may result in removal from the day’s class.
Finally: The last few minutes of class are a time to bring discussions to a conclusion, issue reminders about assignments, or discuss other important information. Your full attention is required at this time, just as it is during the middle of the class period. I will be careful to end class in a timely fashion, and I will always allow you sufficient time to gather your belongings before leaving. In return, please respect our scheduled class time and refrain from packing up bags, etc. while class is still in session.
Adds/Drops & TransfersAll section changes are handled on-line, unless you are told you MUST have an Add/drop slip by your advisor. Add/drop slips are valid only if signed by the DEO of the Rhetoric Department: I have no authority to sign them. No Adds are permitted after the first Friday of the Fall semester and after the first Monday of the Spring semester. Transfer students are placed in this course based on your transcript. If you have questions, contact the Rhetoric Office.
Calendar of Course Assignments and Exams This is a tentative calendar and is subject to change. Updates will be posted to ICON and shared in class. You are responsible for tracking course activities, readings, and assignments as the semester progresses.
Reading Responses: To guide your reading, hone your critical writing skills, and enrich our class discussions, you will be expected to write and submit weekly reading responses.
Important Assignment Due Dates:
Essay 1: February 22th Speech 1: the week of March 11th Essay 2: April 19th Speech 2: the week of May 6th
UI Policies and Procedures Administrative Home The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the administrative home for Rhetoric. Different colleges may have different policies. See the CLAS Academic Handbook. Diversity & InclusionThe University of Iowa prohibits discrimination in employment or in its educational programs and activities on the basis of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference. No acts of discrimination will be tolerated in this class.Understanding Sexual Harassment Sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University and threatens the wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff. We share a responsibility to uphold this mission and to contribute to a safe environment that enhances learning. Incidents of sexual harassment should be reported immediately. See www.uiowa.edu/~eod/policies/sexual-harassment-guide/index.html for assistance, definitions, and the full University policy. Accommodations for Disabilities A student seeking academic accommodations must register with Student Disability Services and meet with me privately to make particular arrangements. http://www.uiowa.edu/~sds/ Electronic Communication Students are responsible for all official correspondences sent to their standard University of Iowa e-mail address (@uiowa.edu). Students should check their account frequently. Academic Fraud Any instance of a student falsely presenting work that is not their own (e.g. plagiarism, cheating) is academic fraud and taken seriously by the College. The instructor reports any suspicion of fraud to the department and follows procedures outlined in the CLAS Academic Handbook. Consequences may include failure of the assignment or course, suspension, or expulsion. Making a Suggestion or a Complaint We may not always see eye to eye. If there is a problem, please speak to me first. Often we can resolve the issue without need for further action. I may consult with the course supervisor for advice. If matters are still unresolved, feel free to speak with Carol Severino (firstname.lastname@example.org), the department officer charged with dealing with student concerns. If she cannot resolve the issue, then it goes to Steve Duck, the DEO. Complaints must be made within six months of the incident. See the CLAS Academic Handbook. Reacting Safely to Severe Storms In severe weather, the class members should seek shelter in the lowest, innermost part of the building, away from windows. The class will continue if possible when the event is over. (Operations Manual, IV. 16.14) Sign up for http://hawkalert.uiowa.edu/