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CL4050 Rhetoric

Spiegel Rhetoric

Module Co-ordinator: Dr. Martine Cuypers
Duration of Course: All Year
Contact Hours: 44 (1 x 2-hr class p.w.)
Weighting: 20 ECTS
Assessment: 2 x 3hr end-of-year examinations.

Overview & Aims:

This module provides a critical overview of the historical development of rhetorical theory and rhetoric as an academic discipline, and of its primary application, oratory. More broadly, it analyzes the power of words in social performance and rules for effective communication in public and private contexts – from literary production to public speeches to informal codes. Apart from contemporary approaches to verbal communication such as sociolinguistics, we shall investigate classical rhetorical techniques and terminology, including criteria for artful arrangement of words, sound effects, figurative language and concepts such as allusiveness, acceptability, accommodation, politeness, and humour. Some of the questions raised are: What is the relation between spoken and literary language? What is the relation between rhetoric, philosophy and politics? What is the relation between rhetoric and literary criticism? To what extent can techniques be transferred from one linguistic and cultural system to another.

Prescribed texts:

This module covers a broad range of primary texts. Texts to be studied and translations to be used for each seminar are specified in the module handbook.

Introductory Reading:

  • Worthington, I., ed. (2007) A Companion to Greek Rhetoric. Oxford/Malden.
  • Dominik, W., and Hall, J., eds. (2006) A Companion to Roman Rhetoric. Oxford/Malden.
  • Gunderson, E., ed. (2009) The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Rhetoric. Cambridge.
  • Habinek, T.N. (2004) Ancient Rhetoric and Oratory. Malden.
  • Kennedy, G.A. (1994) A New History of Classical Rhetoric. Princeton.
  • Kennedy, G.A. (2007) Aristotle, On Rhetoric: a theory of civic discourse, translated with introduction, notes and appendices, 2nd edition. Oxford/New York.

Learning Outcomes:

On successful conclusion of this module, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • Knowledge of the main lines of development of rhetorical theories and practices in antiquity
  • Familiarity with the primary sources and ability to analyse them in context
  • Ability to recognise and analyse techniques in literary texts and oral communication
  • Familiarity with technical terms
  • Critical thinking in oral presentations, discussions and written assignments

Last updated 18 August 2016