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Sunday, June 06, 2021

Syllabus for My Berkeley Summer Intensive This Year, Intro to Critique


RHETORIC 116, Introduction to Critique and Critical Theory

Summer, 2021, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric

Instructor: Dale Carrico,; 

Course Blog:

1-3.45 pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, July 6 through August 13, in Session D (Remote Instruction)

Rough Basis for Grade: Attendance/Participation, 20%; Reading Responses, 15%; Co-Facilitation/In-Class Presentation, 15%; Final Paper/Project, 5-6pp., 50%.


Course Catalog Description

Analysis of rhetorical practice in the context of social and cultural change with particular reference to the historical transition from pre-industrial to industrial society in the west.


Class Description

What does it mean to think critically and why is this valuable? It is commonplace to equate “being critical” of an argument, a form, or a person with being dismissive of them. But what if being critical is a way of engaging with ideas and understanding people more deeply, more responsibly, or more creatively? What is the purpose of critique and do critics have a crucial function in a society or a crisis? What is the formal discipline of "Critical Theory" and why is so much scholarly work shaped by its preoccupations and terms? In this course we will explore histories and practices of critique and criticism. We will draw from the tradition of rhetoric to elaborate and to workshop practical skills in logical argument, textual interpretation, conflict resolution, and public debate. We will consider the ways critique has operated across the humanities and social sciences historically, as well as the ways critique continues to be mobilized in politics, art making, social resistance, personal and public life.



Week One, Declarations

Tuesday, July 6           Introduction to Course Themes and Personal Introductions.

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. Rhetoric is concerned with the occasional, interested, and figurative dimensions of discourse.

[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. 

[4] Critique is the systematic examination, elaboration, and evaluation of discourse.

Wednesday, July 11 U.S.Declaration of Independence ; Declaration of Rights and Sentiments of the Seneca Falls Convention                      

SKILL SET: Textual Materiality, Performativity, Citationality

Thursday, July 12, Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience; John Perry Barlow, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

SKILL SET: Audiences (Sympathetic, Unsympathetic, Apathetic) and Intentions (Interrogation, Conviction, Persuasion, Reconciliation)


Week Two, Nietzsche: Ancients and Moderns

Tuesday, July 13 Bernard de Bovier de Fontenelle, Digression on the Ancients and the Moderns (handout); Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism       

SKILL SET: Ancients and Moderns, Aristotelian Rhetoric: Forensic, Legislative, Epideictic

Wednesday, July 14    W.E.B. DuBois, Of Our Spiritual Strivings; Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View                         

SKILL SET: Aristotelian rhetoric: Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Thursday, July 15 Frederich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense

SKILL SET: The literal as conventional, the figurative as deviant; Figures, Tropes, Schemes; Four Master Tropes 


Week Three: Fetishisms: Marx and Freud

Tuesday, July 20 Karl Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (selections)

SKILL SET: Four Habits of Argumentative Writing: 1. Formulate a Strong Thesis, 2. Define Your Terms, 3, Substantiate/Contextualize, 4, Anticipate Objections

Wednesday, July 21 Roland Barthes, Mythologies (selections); Naomi Klein, No Logo (selection)     

Thursday, July 22 Sigmund Freud, Fetishism

SKILL SET: The Toulmin Schema


Week Four, Intersectional Feminism

Tuesday, July 27 William Burroughs, Immortality; Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto         

SKILL SET: Logoi Dissoi

Wednesday, July 28 The Combahee River Collective Statement; Audre Lorde, Age,Rage, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference   

SKILL SET: Rogerian Rhetoric

Thursday, July 29 Sandy Stone, The Empire Strikes Back; Alison Kafer, “Imagined Futures” from Feminist Queer Crip


Week Five, Environmental Justice

Tuesday, August 3 Aldo Leopold, Thinking Like A Mountain ; John Bellamy Foster, The Four Laws of Ecology and the Four Anti-Ecological Laws of Capitalism ; Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Introduction)             

Wednesday, August 4 Hazel Johnson, A Personal Story; Robert Bullard, Environment and Morality: Confronting Environmental Racism

SKILL SET: Keywords/Alternate Final Project

Thursday, August 5 Workshopping Final Projects


Week Six, Abolition Democracy

Tuesday, August 10 Angela Y. Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? (selections)              

Wednesday, August 11 Mariame Kaba, Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police; Josie Duffy Rice, Mariame Kaba, Reina Sultan, “What Does Accountability Look Like Without Punishment? ; Judith Butler, “The Force of Nonviolence,” Gifford Lecture (video)

Thursday, August 12  Conclusions, Submission of Final Work, Bacchanal