Spring 2017 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 of the various sections of Rhetoric 102 available this semester 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 01, MW 2:30 - 3:50 PM, PROF. GRUDER-PONI
RHETORIC 102 02, TR 10:00 - 11:20 AM, PROF. GRUDER-PONI
RHETORIC 102 03, TR 12:30 - 1:50 PM, 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. VARELA

How is music described in literature?  Can music be understood metaphorically?  How might we read music as a text?  How are the life stories of musicians depicted, both fictionally and (auto)biographically?  Do we romanticize the musician and the making of music or music itself?  What do literary depictions of music or musicians contribute to our understanding of the ways people relate to one another and their world?  When do relationships rattle, when do relationships hum, and how does music figure into these interactions?This course will present short stories as well as excerpts from novels and autobiographies that deal with the meaning of music and music making as these relate to the core themes of relationships, exchanges, and interactions between people, institutions, and society at large.  Moving from classical music to contemporary hip-hop, the seminar will cover a variety of musical and literary genres and periods as we explore and analyze a variety of texts and media.

The objective of this course is to build upon the skills developed in RHET 101, helping you to read and write critically and analytically, and develop a clear sense of purpose, argument and style. Students will be expected to complete two substantial research projects in addition to other, shorter writing assignments.

RHETORIC 102 05, MWF 10:30 - 11:20 AM, PROF. KALE
RHETORIC 102 14, MWF 11:30 - 12:20 PM, PROF. KALE

Stranger Things

The theme of this section of Rhetoric 102 will be the idea of the uncanny. We will seek to explicate texts that resist explication and to figure out why we find these narratives so captivating. You will learn to analyze a text, devising an original interpretation supported by evidence. You will also learn how to join the ongoing "conversation" about a work, situating your argument within the existing scholarship on your chosen topic.

Rhetoric 102 builds upon the key elements of the writing process that you learned in previous Rhetoric courses: 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.

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 essay test, several editing tests, and two final exams. You can expect to work hard, but you can also expect to have fun-and maybe to be a little creeped out.*

* Please note that some course texts may include language and violent situations that some students could find traumatic; discussions may consider the concept of "trauma" itself. One assignment will ask that you consider, with some critical distance, a childhood fear. 

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. 

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 MW 12:30 - 1:50 PM PROF. TOTH
RHETORIC 102 10 MW 2:00 - 3:30PM PROF. TOTH

If words are weapons, the study of rhetoric teaches us how to wield our weapons responsibly and effectively. In this section of Rhetoric 102 we will focus on argument composition, research, and the qualities of good writing. Students will learn to incorporate complex reasoning and external sources in their papers. We will also spend time analyzing the language use and rhetorical moves of other writers, always with the goal of improving our own writing. The goal of the course is for students to produce argumentative essays that demonstrate clear thinking, logical organizational skills, sufficient support, and proficient language use. 

RHETORIC 102 11, MWF 1:30 - 2:20 PM, PROF. PERRY

Writing Life

In this section of Rhetoric 102 we will take a close look at what it is to write about a life - both one's own life and that of another.  To do this we will look at three memoirs, using books by Janisse Ray, Tracy K. Smith and James Galvin- which function either as traditional memoir (life-writing) or third-person biography/memoir.  We will also read plenty of additional essays and excerpts.  All of the reading (and thinking in class) will also take into account the importance of place when writing about these lives of ours.  In developing rhetorical and analytical skills, the class will write critically about the readings as well as writing some about our own lives and those close to us.

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

The Hollywood Western

This section of Rhetoric 102 will focus thematically on the film genre of the Western in American studio cinema. By starting with black-and-white Western films from the early twentieth century and ending with contemporary versions of Westerns, we will discuss the conventions of this film genre and how those conventions are challenged or revised over time. We will also investigate the relationship of the Western to national identity and mythmaking, analyzing how this type of movie influences ideas about violence, gender, race, the environment, and citizenship. 

Much like a film must meet certain expectations to be considered a Western, a paper must meet certain expectations to be considered an academic research essay. In addition to completing other assignments, you will write two research essays that craft analytical arguments about some element of a Western film, and you will develop your arguments in conversation with other, scholarly opinions. Classical Hollywood cinema developed editing strategies for making films as coherent and clear as possible while still allowing for unique storytelling, and you will develop stylistic strategies for writing efficiently and lucidly while still cultivating your individual voice. 

*Please note that this class will require you to learn some basic terminology of film analysis, and you may be asked to attend film screenings outside of class. 

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