Spring 2016 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 course focuses on works of fiction and nonfiction that foreground relationships between fathers and sons. Related topics to be considered will include the role of the family, versions of heroism, fatherlessness, and the search for one's place in the larger community. Students will write two in-class essays, two research papers, and a number of shorter assignments.

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 PM PROF. KALE 

Short Stories

A man makes a new friend who likes to burn down barns. A tree is haunted by the ghost of a runaway slave. A man is born old and ages backward toward babyhood. A family adapts to life on Mars. A selection of strange, sad, and spectacular short stories will make up our class text for this section of Rhetoric 102.

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: asking questions, locating sources, summarizing information and ideas, incorporating sources in your essay, citing sources in parenthetical notes, and documenting sources in a bibliography.  

In this section of 102 we will spend the semester reading and writing about short stories. You will learn to analyze a text, devising an original interpretation of a story supported by textual evidence. You will also learn how to join the ongoing "conversation" about a work, situating your argument within the existing scholarship on your chosen story or stories. Our ultimate goal is to increase our appreciation and enjoyment of the short stories we read together, to use them as a starting point for thought-provoking discussions, to make persuasive arguments about the story's significance, and to share our findings with a community of readers and scholars outside our classroom walls.    

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 a minimum of two research papers, you will complete several shorter assignments, an annotated bibliography, an in-class essay test, several in-class editing tests, and two final exams. You can expect to work hard, but you can also expect to have fun; after all, the short story is a genre developed in response to the public's demand for entertainment.

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

RHETORIC 102 09 TR 2:00-3:20 PM PROF. DAVIS
RHETORIC 102 10 TR 12:30-1:50 PM PROF. DAVIS


On the left is an x-ray of the Solenoglypha Polipodida, a vertebrate that lives mostly in the water where it swims like an eel, but that uses its legs when it hunts on the land at night. Below is a picture of a female deep sea anglerfish. The male, which is much smaller, chomps onto the female and then slowly fuses into her, losing his eyes, his internal organs, and his skin until he completely vanishes.  While one of them is real, the other is a hoax. How can you tell which is which? What criteria do you use to separate them?

When we write, we want our readers to accept our arguments as true, or at least plausible. But what makes something-an argument, a photograph, a YouTube video-believable? To approach this question, we will explore the line between the believable and the unbelievable that is flaunted by scientific and cultural hoaxes, focusing on the strategies used to make something convincing. Beginning our investigation of hoaxes with Lawrence Weschler's Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, we will pay special attention to the development of a persuasive rhetorical style that enables you to engage and convince your readers.

RHETORIC 102 11 TR 12:30-1:50 PM PROF. ALLEN

The Pursuit of Happiness

What does it mean to be happy? This course will approach the question from a variety of angles: we will consider philosophical attempts to define happiness; we will look at studies of whether money makes people happy; we will evaluate attempts to measure "Gross National Happiness"; we will read excerpts from religious classics from around the world; and we will consider whether happiness is, perhaps, overrated. 

This course might not make you happier, but it will at least make you a better writer. Over the course of the semester you will write three longer papers (including two research papers) and several shorter papers. You will acquire the tools to develop original arguments, to support your arguments with evidence, to cite your sources properly, and to express your ideas with clarity and grace. We will focus especially on the revision process. Before each major assignment is due, there will be an in-class workshop for discussing drafts by your peers, and you will also meet one-on-one with the instructor to discuss your paper-in-progress.   

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

The Poetry of Robert Frost

"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 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 grammatical knowledge and clear, logical argumentation to competent writing. You will also devote time to the improvement of your writing style beyond mere competence.

RHETORIC 102 13 TR 10:00-11:20 AM PROF. NACE
RHETORIC 102 17  TR 12:30-1:50 PM PROF. NACE 

The Culture of Sampling

The purpose of Rhetoric 102 is to move our attention from the grammatical structures emphasized in 101 to the issue of how to manage information stylistically within these structures. The questions and issues behind our citational and stylistic practices are not unlike those that dominate current trends of sampling or "appropriation" in music, visual art, and literature. One needs only consider our time spent dragging, clicking, copying, and pasting in order to recognize that we have, all of us, become constant remixers of information in our daily lives. This course will help us refine our techniques of locating, sourcing, managing, incorporating, and citing information while considering the larger culture of sampling in which we participate. As creatures of the post-sampling era, we are familiar with the ways that sources from the past are coöpted, cut and collaged, mashed, mixed, and modernized, abstracted, assembled, and archived. So as we learn to properly quote and cite movable text for our own purposes, we will spend class time considering the aim and art of sampling in popular culture. In our essays and readings we will examine scandals of sampling (including famous cases of plagiarism and copyright violation), consider the individuality reflected in the ways we each navigate this information, and perhaps come to terms with the idea that this individuality can be understood as a form of style and even intellectual property. 


Stephen King Short Stories

Stephen King is perhaps the most recognizable name in popular fiction today; he has sold more books than any other living writer; his books have been made into numerous films, and the only time one of his novels went out of print is when he insisted that Rage be taken out of circulation (we'll discuss why). King is an excellent speaker who is in high demand; he has numerous honorary degrees and he maintains a high-traffic website. In many ways, he represents turn-of-the-century popular culture. This course examines a number of King's short stories in an attempt to answer the following questions and others: What is the appeal of the horror genre and of popular fiction in general? Is there a relationship between popular fiction and sociocultural anxieties? Can studying fiction help us to understand something about ourselves, as individuals and/or as a society?

The objective of this course is to teach you how to read and write critically and analytically, using King's short stories as the basis of your papers. Students will be expected to complete two substantial research projects plus other, shorter writing assignments.

RHETORIC 102 16 MWF 9:30-10:20 AM PROF. NOWLIN

Monsters and Aliens

Our section of Rhetoric 102 takes as its theme the broad topic of "Monsters and Aliens." We will discuss how various representations of monsters and aliens in pop culture-including film, television, fiction, graphic novels, video games, and other media-work as metaphors or allegories for addressing important cultural issues and ideas. Why do we continue to tell stories about monsters and aliens? What imaginative and intellectual "work" do they do? What exactly makes something "monstrous" or "alien" anyway? We'll examine both contemporary and historical examples of how telling stories about monsters or aliens provides a way of thinking about culture and society. Our class will build on the skills you began to develop in Rhetoric 101, helping you to write effective argumentative and analytic essays with a clear sense of purpose, argument, and design. We will focus in particular on the areas of research and style, studying ways of bringing your own thoughts and writing into a larger conversation, and learning strategies for making decisions about style to make your own prose more powerful and effective. Your culminating writing projects for our course will involve developing a researched, interpretive argument about how a particular representation of the monstrous or the alien functions as an imaginative metaphor for thinking about our world and ourselves.