Sunday, January 3, 2010

How This Course Came To Be

Work with schools, teachers' reference room : ...Image by New York Public Library via Flickr

As a person who has taught various courses in rhetorical analysis and criticism over by 35 years as an educator, I am always interested in teaching myself new things. I regularly teach a course in presidential campaign rhetoric, I often teach a course in the rhetorical approaches of Ivan Illich, I have several times taught a course in the rhetoric of television evangelism, during the Clinton impeachment days I taught a course in the rhetoric of impeachment, and I have a number of times taught a popular course entitled the rhetoric of Reggae music.

All of these interests have one thing in common besides rhetoric. I am struck by the power and force of these rhetorical genres, yet I do not immediately understand how and why they operate. Whether it is trying to understand why people send billions to television evangelists, why voters endorse one message over another or why a certain Reggae song has a profound effect on audiences, I sense that there is something that merits and deserves a deeper analysis in order to understand the discourse better. My desire to learn is stimulated and I take it from there.

I have been aware for quite some time that African American rhetoric is exciting, thrilling and often quite different from the normal discourse of white folks. I sensed this, but I desired to investigate it on a deeper level in order to understand why and how. Through the support of my colleagues and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Vermont I was encouraged to design and implement this course.

In the Spring of 2010 I will be offering it for the first time. Although I have done considerable research and self-education on this subject, I fully intend to be learning along with my students as we embark on this journey into a fascinating rhetorical landscape that has considerable ability to help us understand the world we live in and where it came from.

I invite you to come along with us.

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