Rhetoric

Rhetoric and Civic Engagement concerns the ways that public discourse is used to persuade and influence others. Faculty and students in this area explore a wide array of communication practices, ranging from political speeches to social movements.



areas of study:


complete course descriptions (pdf)

  • courses include:

  • SPCM201- Rhetoric in Western Thought. F, S
    Major concepts of western rhetoric from Greece to modern times and their relationship to present-day approaches to communication.
  • SPCM207- Public Argumentation. F, S, SS
    (Prerequisite: SPCM200) Key communication principles for democracy, including issue analysis, evidence, reasoning, decision-making, debate, dialogue, and deliberation.
  • SPCM231- Oral Reading. F, S
    Analysis and reading of rhetorical and poetic writing leading to understanding, appreciation, and expressive communication.
  • SPCM300- Advanced Public Speaking. F, S, SS
    (Prerequisite: SPCM200, SPCM207) Advanced technique in public speaking; emphasis on argument construction and refutation, style, and manuscript delivery.
  • SPCM311- Historical Speeches on American Issues. F
    Significant speeches and speakers as they reflected and affected American issues from colonial period through early 20th century.
  • SPCM349- Freedom of Speech. F
    Historical and philosophical precedents to freedom of speech; development to free speech principles in the U.S.; ethical obligations of speakers.
  • SPCM401- Rhetoric in Contemporary Social Movements. F
    Case studies of campaigns and social movements; genesis, leadership, and use of traditional and electronically mediated rhetoric to achieve objectives.
  • SPCM407- Public Deliberation. F, S
    (Prerequisite: SPCM200; SPCM207) Principles and practice of communication in contemporary public policy decision-making, emphasizing oral performance and local civic engagement.
  • SPCM408-Applied Deliberative Techniques. F, S
    (Prerequisite: Written consent of instructor) Skills development and direct experience in convening, facilitating, and reporting public forums tied to Center for Public Deliberation activities.
  • SPCM411- Contemporary Speeches on American Issues. S
    Significant speeches and speakers as they reflect and affect issues, 1930 to present.
  • SPCM412- Evaluating Contemporary Rhetoric. S
    Exploration and evaluation of contemporary persuasive communication in order to understand and assess a variety of forms of messages and symbols.
  • SPCM415- Rhetoric and Civility. F
    (Prerequisite: SPCM201; SPCM207) Relationship between rhetoric and civility historically and in contemporary times.
  • SPCM420- Political Communication. F
    Rhetoric of political campaigns.
  • SPCM431- Communication, Language, and Thought. S
    Influence of rhetoric, ranging from spoken language to electronically mediated communication, on human understanding and Western thought.
  • SPCM436- Conflict Management and Communication. S.
    Theories and principles of communication in conflict management; application to conflict resolution situations.
  • SPCM437- Studies in Persuasion. S
    Rhetorical and behavioral theories of persuasion applied to persuasive practice in public and interpersonal arenas of social influence.
  • SPCM504- Rhetoric of Everyday Life. S
    (Prerequisite: Graduate standing or either SPCM 311 or SPCM412 and 12 additional 300-400 SPCM credits) Contemporary theories of rhetoric and of everyday life.
  • SPCM511- Topics in Public Address. F
    (Prerequisite: Graduate standing or either SPCM311 or SPCM411 with 12 additional 300 and 400 level credits in Communication Studies, History, or English) Theoretical and methodological issues in public address research; analysis of public discourse of selected movements or periods in U.S. history.
  • SPCM520- Rhetoric and Public Affairs. F.
    (Prerequisite: Graduate standing or 15 additional 300-400 level credits in Communication Studies) Rhetoric’s role in contemporary politics and civil society.
  • SPCM523 - Feminist Theories of Discourse. S
    (Prerequisite: Graduate standing or SPCM 335 or WS200 and 12 additional 300-400 level credits in Communication Studies) Exploration and evaluation of contemporary feminist theories of rhetoric and discourse.
  • SPCM540/ETST540 - Rhetoric, Race, and Identity. F
    (Prerequisite: Graduate status or SPCM412 and 12 additional 300-400 SPCM credits) Credits not allowed for both. Critical race theory and its relevance to rhetorical studies.
  • SPCM601-History of Rhetorical Theory. F
    (Prerequisite: 15 300-400 level credits in Communication Studies and/or English) Rhetorical theories and theorists from the classical period to the present.
  • SPCM612-Rhetorical Criticism. F
    (Prerequisite: 15 300-400 level credits in Communication Studies and/or Journalism) Traditional and contemporary methods for analyzing persuasive discourse.