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Rhetoric of Fiction

English 471: Rhetoric of Fiction

Chapman University, Fall 2019

Instructor: Morgan Read-Davidson

Meeting Time: T/Th 11:30-12:45p

Meeting Place: Beckman 201

Instructor’s Email:

Office: DeMille Hall 133

Phone: 714-532-7706 (email is better)

Office Hours: MW 10-12p

*I highly recommend making an appointment ahead of time, even if it’s only 10 minutes ahead. That ensures that I’m not getting coffee, visiting the library, sitting out on the plaza, etc.*

Catalog Description

Although focused on literary production, this course will confine that focus to rhetorical effects of authorial decisions about form, genre and style. The course will engage students in a brief overview of the historical relationships between literary and rhetorical theory (including major critical frames) in order to see where and how rhetorical analyses can provide competing or “completing” interpretations. Subject matter will range from ancient epic to graphic novel. 3 credits.

Course Objectives

Supported BA in English learning outcomes

  • Students will develop their skill in crafting a compelling thesis-driven essay, with substantiating evidence.
  • Students will develop their skill in finding, analyzing, and utilizing secondary sources (including appropriate methods of citation).
  • Students will develop their skill in writing grammatically, coherently, and persuasively.
  • Students will develop their ability to explain and apply significant theoretical and critical approaches in the field of English studies.

Course-specific learning outcomes

Students will be able to write persuasively

  • about the relationship of the “aesthetic” to other subjects of knowledge
  • about how critical literary frames constrain and/or enable texts
  • while composing rhetorical analyses of literary texts in the forms of academic discourse
  • with an understanding of the role of literature in shaping social values

Course Format

As an advanced undergraduate course, this class presumes a foundational knowledge in literary and rhetorical criticism. Our goal should be to immerse ourselves into the texts—both literary and critical—and effectively join a critical discourse. You will be challenged to apply your current knowledge of literary theory and criticism, of rhetorical theory and criticism, and to also subvert that existing knowledge in order to formulate persuasive analysis of the texts that add to the “ongoing conversation.” For this to occur, there needs to be wide-ranging, meaningful dialogue in the classroom.

The critical texts are dense, and the literary texts may be different from what you are used to reading…but I’ve attempted to make the reading load manageable. To ensure an enjoyable and successful course, everyone needs to complete (and annotate) all of the assigned reading prior to each class session. The course format will be based on discussion: small group discussion to get the conversation started, large group discussion to bring our various ideas and perspectives together, and a smattering of lectures to provide context to some of the more difficult theory.

In our digital age, we cannot ignore the ways in which discourse is mediated by various forms and writing environments, particularly the online public sphere. To this end, writing will be “public”—meaning your classmates will be able to read and gain insight from your work—through individual blogs accessed from our class page. Weekly short response writing for the theory will help get the ideas started, culminating in two significant essays at the middle and end of the term.

The following categories spell out how the course will work:

Required Texts

Technology Requirements

Grade Breakdown

Areas of Evaluation

Classroom Environment

University Policies and Procedures

Course Calendar

Class Blogs