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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Syllabus for my Berkeley Rhet Summer Intensive "What Is Compelling?"

Rhetoric 10: The Rhetoric of Argument 
"What Is Compelling? Argument, Reconciliation, Obligation"

Summer 2016, Session A, 2.30-5pm., Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 88 Dwinelle

Instructor, Dale Carrico:;;
Course Blog:

Participation/Attendance/In-Class Activities, 20%; Reading Notebook, 20%; Precis, 2-3pp., 10%; Mid-Term Exam, 25%; Final Paper, 5-6pp., 25%. (Rough Basis for Final Grade, subject to contingencies)

Course Description

This course provides students with tools they can use to make better, more compelling, arguments and also to read arguments in better, more critical, ways. We will draw the tools for our argumentative toolboxes from the long history of rhetoric, from sophistical dissoi logoi, to the Aristotelian appeals, to Quintilian's four master tropes, to the rich archive of formal and informal fallacies, to argument modeled on litigation via Toulmin's schema, to argument modeled on mediation via Rogerian synthesis, to the pragmatism of the ends of argument. All the while we are workshopping these technical skills we will also be reading and discussing a range of texts that tackle questions of the reach and forms of violence and nonviolence in historical struggle and in everyday life. These texts will likewise draw from a long history, from Immanuel Kant, Martin Luther King, Jr., Frantz Fanon and Hannah Arendt to Arundhati Roy, Judith Butler, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. We will also talk through a play by Euripides, an essay by Nietzsche, a novel by Octavia Butler, a film by Cronenberg… The crucial thing to understand about the course is that we will not be taking on two separate projects, one practical and another theoretical. This course proposes that there is an indispensable relation between the traditional focus of rhetoric as instruction in the art of making compelling arguments and the theoretical preoccupation of many rhetoricians with questions of what violence or compulsion ultimately consists. It is commonplace to see Persuasion offered up as an alternative to the violent adjudication of disputes or hear Argument idealized as a space "outside" of violence. But the truth is that many arguments rely on the acceptance of a violent status quo or depend on conventional assumptions that deny marginal testimonies to violation. Also, many arguments stealthily threaten violence while at once congratulating themselves on their peacefulness. Ultimately, the course proposes that it is rhetoric's definitive concern with the traffic between the literal and figurative dimensions of language and its situated understanding of truth-telling that connects the work of rhetoric with a project of reconciliation that resists violence even as we cannot help but risk it.

A Provisional Schedule of Meetings

Week One

May 24 SKILL SET: Key Definitions
[1] Rhetoric is the facilitation of efficacious discourse as well as an ongoing inquiry into the terms on the basis of which discourse comes to seem efficacious or not.
[2] A text is an event experienced as arising from intention, offered up to the hearing of an audience, and obligating a responsiveness equal to it.
[3] An argument is a claim supported by reasons and/or evidence.
Introductions: Rhetoric as occasional, interested, figurative; The literal as conventional, the figurative as deviant.
May 25 SKILL SET: Reading Critically/Writing Critically; Audience/Intentions -- Audiences: Sympathetic, Unsympathetic, Apathetic; Intentions: Interrogation, Conviction, Persuasion, Reconciliation
Euripides: Hecuba
May 26 SKILL SET: Ethos, Pathos, Logos; Writing A Precis
Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose

Week Two

May 31 SKILL SET: Four Habits of Argumentative Writing: 1. Formulate a Strong Thesis, 2. Define Your Terms, 3, Substantiate/Contextualize, 4, Anticipate Objections; Performativity
Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
June 1 SKILL SET: The Toulmin Schema
William May, "Rising to the Occasion of Our Death" (In-Class Handout)
June 2 SKILL SET: Rogerian Rhetoric
Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
Precis should be posted to the blog by midnight, Saturday, June 4 

Week Three

June 7 SKILL SET: Debate
Randal Amster, Anarchism and Nonviolence: Time for a "Complementarity of Tactics"
Arundhati Roy, War Is Peace
George Ciccariello-Maher, Planet of Slums, Age of Riots 
Mike Davis, Slum Ecology
Chris Hedges, Evidence of Things Not Seen
June 8 SKILL SET: Propositional Analysis; Enthymemes, Syllogisms, Formal Fallacies, Informal Fallacies
June 9 SKILL SET: Literal/Figurative Language; Figures, Tropes, Schemes; Four Master Tropes
Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense; Workshopping

Week Four

June 14 Mid-Term Examination
June 15 Screening and Discussion of the Film, "A History of Violence," dir. Cronenberg
June 16 Correspondence of Tolstoy and Gandhi
Interview with Amitabh Pal
Louise Gray, Telegraph, Gene Sharp: How to Start a Revolution
Nick Cohen, Guardian, The Phantom Menace of Militant Atheism
Edward Oakes, First Things, Atheism and Violence

Week Five

June 21 Frantz Fanon, Concerning Violence from The Wretched of the Earth
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, The Case for Reparations
Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, The Role of Highways in American Poverty
Richard Rothstein, Economic Policy Institute, From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Fruits of Government Sponsored Segregation
June 22 Hannah Arendt, Reflections On Violence, Preface from Between Past and Future, and "Must Eichmann Hang?" (In-Class Handout)
June 23 Workshopping Final Paper: Producing a Strong Thesis; Anticipating Objections; Providing Textual Support

Week Six

June 28 Octavia Butler, Kindred (Purchase in time for class.)
June 29 Judith Butler, from Chapter One of Undoing Gender, "Beside Oneself," pp. 17-26, roughly, and the concluding chapter of Precarious Life, pp. 128-151.
June 30 Concluding Remarks. Final Paper Due


jimf said...

> "What Is Compelling? Argument, Reconciliation, Obligation"

A.k.a. "The Zetetic Elench".


Dale Carrico said...

Perhaps I will reply later -- glanding softnow at the mo.