Course Instructor Days Times Room
ENGL3600W KING, JOSHUA TR 2 :00 PM 0061


Words are power. Words order meals and airstrikes. Words set rules for games, scenes for plays, and tones for conversations; words join together and put asunder. In this course, we will explore rhetoric and power by critiquing and creating powerful texts and reading conversations between various theorists of power and discourse.

The course is structured as a series of dialogues between thinkers like Michel Foucault and Vaclav Havel, Plato and Aristotle, Richard Lanham and Peter Elbow, and Theodor Adorno and Ryan Holiday (who wrote Trust Me, I’m Lying about exploiting controversy for attention). After a few weeks spent reading discussing the unit’s dialogue on rhetoric and power, students will design and iterate powerful texts of their own: Socratic dialogues, attention-getting multimodal texts, and shadowy misinformation campaigns.

Students will learn advanced revision and proofreading techniques, produce rhetorically sophisticated texts over a series of drafts, and work together with peers and the instructor to develop personally-relevant writing processes and environments.

In this course, students will

  • Experiment with exerting rhetorical power
  • Consider and address a wide variety of audiences
  • Read and discuss diverse theories of rhetoric
  • Observe and analyze rhetorical power being exerted in the world
  • Devise their own definitions of rhetorical power
  • Use research to deepen and complicate their writing
  • Engage in extensive revision processes
  • Read and workshop other students’ work
  • Create multimodal and interactive texts
  • Learn and apply various proofreading and stylistic techniques