Spring 2015 Rhetoric 102 Course Descriptions


All Rhetoric 102 sections are designed primarily to teach students to use language clearly and effectively in order to analyze texts, to argue logically, and to use research methods and materials, and all sections require that students write a minimum of 7500 words in essays, including two research papers. However, professors use a variety of readings and thematic focuses to accomplish these goals. We offer below course descriptions to the various sections of Rhetoric 102 available this semester so as to give students extra information as they choose a section in which to enroll. Students are not in any way obliged to remain with their Rhetoric 101 professor; instead they should select a section of Rhetoric 102 that piques their interest. All sections of Rhetoric 102 are limited to a fourteen-student maximum enrollment.

RHETORIC 102 02  TR  10:00-11:20 AM PROF. GRUDER-PONI


The experience of being an outsider can be a powerful spur to reflection.  The authors we will read this semester are all, by choice or by necessity, outsiders who try to understand a distant (or not so distant) past, or a faraway place, and their essays are the result of that effort.  Some of the essays are personal: the authors come to terms, at a distance of years, with their family (Annie Dillard, Franz Kafka), education (Samuel Johnson, George Orwell), or their country's past (Konstanty Gebert, John Richard Dennett).  Other essays are more investigative: the authors reconstruct a complicated situation, often in wartime, using partial and incomplete evidence (Errol Morris, Dennett, and Orwell again).  The assignments will give students the opportunity to write about similar topics - family history, local history, schooling, travel, true crime - from the perspective of an outsider.  Special attention will be paid to the ways in which authors distance themselves from their own past, and how students can use the same techniques to look at familiar topics - one's education, family, hometown - with fresh eyes.

RHETORIC 102 04 MWF 9:30-10:20 AM PROF. KALE
RHETORIC 102 05 MWF 10:30-11:20 AM  PROF. KALE
RHETORIC 102 06 MWF 12:30-1:20  PROF. KALE


Rhetoric 102 builds upon the key elements of the writing process that you learned in Rhetoric 101: critical thinking (invention), drafting (arrangement), and editing (style). Rhetoric 102 will also introduce you to research strategies and the fundamentals of employing primary and secondary sources in your papers to advance a thesis: locating sources, summarizing information and ideas, incorporating sources in your essay, citing sources in parenthetical notes, and documenting sources in a bibliography.

The reading and writing assignments in this section of Rhetoric 102 all, in some way, have to do with the idea of "going viral." We will consider the rhetoric of contagion in a variety of contexts both literal (ex: the recent Ebola outbreak) and figurative (ex: the Ice Bucket Challenge). This is a reading-, research-, and writing-intensive course.  Over the course of the semester you will be graded on a body of work totaling more than 7500 words.  In addition to writing two research papers, you will complete several shorter assignments and take an in-class essay test, an in-class editing test, and two final exams.  Students interested in Biology and/or media are especially encouraged to choose this section.

RHETORIC 102 07 TR 10:00-11:20 AM PROF. ROBBINS
RHETORIC 102 08 TR 12:30-1:50 AM  PROF. ROBBINS

This course, like all Rhetoric courses, is based on a faculty resolution that states, "All Hampden-Sydney graduates will write competently."  This statement implies that students will know how to research topics and present their ideas and evidence persuasively and clearly.  Because fiction can offer insights into our society, we will use a collection of short fiction from contemporary writers to find topics for research.  There are six short research papers required on a variety of topics, and a longer one at the end of the semester.  All the papers show that the student constructed clear arguments and gathered evidence to support it.

*must also enroll in WCUL 102 PROF. WOLYNIAK

These paired sections of Western Culture 102 with Professor Wolyniak and Rhetoric 102 with Professor Varholy are designed to give students the training in analysis of primary sources, academic research, and oral and written communication that they will need throughout the rest of their Hampden-Sydney careers.  Using church vs. state, individual rights vs. group rights, and "the pursuit of happiness" as recurring themes, students will examine and critically analyze texts from the time period of 900-1800 C.E..  Assignments will include a semester-long research project on a topic from this era of the student's choosing.  Linking these sections allows us to coordinate assignments for both courses, to have conversations back and forth across the classes, and to plan joint events.
*Students MUST sign up for both classes simultaneously to be enrolled.

RHETORIC 102 10 TR 10:00-11:20 AM PROF. WEESE


In this section of Rhetoric 102, we'll explore the creation of Arthur Conan Doyle's consulting detective Sherlock Holmes in the Victorian era and the enduring fascination with this fictional character in twentieth- and twenty-first century culture. In additional to undertaking research on Doyle's life and his thinking about his character, we'll read and write essays about some of the Holmes tales and probably one novel such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, and we'll explore various adaptations of Holmes's character, such as the very recent PBS television series, Sherlock. In the process, students will learn to produce sound, reasonable arguments well-supported by evidence (just like Sherlock Holmes!), will learn how to undertake academic research at the College level, and will learn how to incorporate source material in essays to support their own arguments. Finally, students will improve their writing style by practicing both various ways to produce clear, concise, well-honed prose and various ways to guide readers through their logical arguments using strategies of cohesion.

RHETORIC 102 11 MWF 12:30-1:20 PM PROF. FEDORS


"You come too," ends one of Robert Frost's most enduring poems. In addition to being an acclaimed popular poet, Frost has won the hearts of friends and readers as a farmer, teacher, naturalist, philosopher, gifted conversationalist, and champion of the individual. In this section of RHET 102, you will study the rhetorical power of Frost's poetry while being introduced to qualitative research methods and the forms, conventions, and style of academic writing. As part of this training, you will receive extensive practice in how to locate, evaluate, summarize, use, and document research material. Writing assignments will break down the process of developing a research paper into its component parts so that you can master each and reflect on their interrelation, leading up to a substantial essay due at semester's end. While featuring higher-level writing assignments than RHET 101, RHET 102 will only reinforce 101's emphasis on the importance of correct grammar and clear, cogent argumentation to competent writing.

RHETORIC 102 13 TR 10:00-11:20 AM PROF. FENIMORE

Over the course of the semester, we will examine the public conversation about race relations that occurred from 1942-1964. Among the speeches we will examine include President Truman's historical address to the NAACP, oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, John Lewis' speech at the March on Washington and Fannie Lou Hamer's testimony before the Credentials Committee. We will consider the intrinsic and extrinsic elements of the texts: the rhetorical situation, the historical context, constraints, use of language, appeals, argument, and the audience. Because rhetoric is a force that does something, we will also delve into the effects of the speeches. Our goal is to extend and refine your research, writing, editing, and revising skills so that you can construct a well-reasoned argument.

RHETORIC 102 14 TR 12:30-1:50 PM PROF. FRANK

The Rhetoric 102 course focuses on improving one's written style, making cogent arguments, and honing one's skills in documenting research sources. Each Rhetoric 102 student writes two research papers of at least 1500 words plus shorter essays that will total a minimum of 7500 words. The theme for this section will be "Remembering the Holocaust."  Students will read and analyze various formats in which individuals recall the slaughter of almost 12 million people by Nazi Germany. These memories will include autobiographical accounts, films, museums, photographs, drawings, and cartoons. While the artifacts we will examine are about the Holocaust, our focus will be on how rhetors preserve this knowledge for future generations. For the sake of all who perished, let us never forget!



The objective of this course is to teach you on hand of Ernest Hemingway's short stories how to read and write critically and analytically. The themes that will be emphasized are masculinity, death, the tragic hero, and disillusionment.  

RHETORIC 102 16 MWF 9:30-10:20 AM PROF. NACE
RHETORIC 102 17 MWF 1:30-2:20 PM PROF. NACE


One of the most difficult tasks for any writer is to find an adequate way to express the information that our five senses take in. The unique way that we transform our sense impressions into written expressions proves to be a crucial stage in developing what we call style. This course will offer an approach to style that begins by giving attention to the sensuous dimensions of words themselves, primarily in order to understand how our eyes, ears, tongues, noses, and fingers can bring about, organize, and appeal to certain states of mind. In other words, we will think hard about the language through which we describe how we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel the world around us. Among the issues to be discussed are how we describe color and use it as a way to understand emotion (what it means to be "blue" or "see red"), how the language of one sense can explain a phenomenon to another (loud colors, clear sounds, bitter cold), and how the way that we sense the world is often deeply connected to the way we attempt to make sense of it. We will look at how we can understand sense impressions and describe them through the somewhat unfaithful medium of language, which aims itself sometimes at the ear, sometimes at the eye. While examining literary and scientific writing on the senses, we will move from being green novices toward becoming seasoned writers.