Rhetoric Program

Students Present on Men's StudiesStudents Present on Men's Studies
David Bushhouse '19
This spring, a group of Wellness Advocates travelled to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor to the 25th Annual Conference of the American Men's Studies Association. Full Story...


Students Author New York Times ArticleStudents Author New York Times Article
In the New York Times Trevor Starnes ’17 and Chris Ross ’18 discussed the importance of respectful civil discourse and the value of a college education that emphasizes character development alongside intellectual growth. Full Story...


There is a reason Hampden-Sydney men are confident and articulate. Hampden-Sydney's current Rhetoric Program, established over thirty years ago, is based on a 1978 faculty resolution that states: All Hampden-Sydney graduates will write and speak competently. Consisting of course work and examinations that focus on argumentative and analytical writing and presentational speaking, the program is designed to assure that all graduates can express themselves clearly, cogently, and grammatically. Instructors of Rhetoric 100, 101, and 102, supported by the Writing Center, emphasize the process of writing as well as the finished product. Instructors of Rhetoric 210 and 310 prepare students for public speaking in the classroom, community, and workplace. Students in these elective courses are supported by the Speaking Center

The Rhetoric Curriculum
Most first-year students will enroll in Rhetoric 101, in which students learn to write expository and argumentative essays and to edit their work effectively, and then in Rhetoric 102, in which students hone their writing skills, learn to write researched essays, and work intensively on "rhetorical grammar" so that they can communicate their ideas in effective prose. Students who need preparation for the regular sequence of Rhetoric courses are enrolled in Rhetoric 100, a course that also focuses on argumentative writing and that helps students learn to write prose free from what the college identifies as major sentence-level errors. Many students also elect to take Rhetoric 210: Introduction to Public Speaking, and some go on to study Advanced Public Speaking in Rhetoric 310. The Rhetoric Minor has become the most popular minor at Hampden-Sydney College. All rhetoric classes have a 14-student maximum enrollment so that professors have sufficient time to read and grade their students' essays carefully and so that they have time to meet with their students in individual conferences.

The Value of the Rhetoric Program
As persuasive communicators, Hampden-Sydney graduates regularly tell us that in competitive situations - in professional and graduate schools, as well as in the job market-they have had a considerable advantage over other candidates because the rhetoric program gave them the ability to think clearly, write concisely, and speak cogently and persuasively - skills that employers and graduate schools consistently demand and reward.

Hampden-Sydney's Rhetoric Program was recently featured in Inside Higher Ed: "Teaching for Better Writers."