Faculty of Arts


From Rhetorics to Writing

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for ENGLISH 350.


This course is an advanced inquiry into the history, theory and practice of rhetoric and argument, with a focus on questions of interpretation, culture and language. We explore writing and literacy through critical discussions of language, text and discourse in selected texts by modern semioticians and critical theorists and rhetorical theorists from Aristotle to Chaim Perelman. We explore questions of writing and rhetoric: What is an author? Where is meaning? How is it constructed in argument? Does writing encode identity? Whose? Can writing resist dominant rhetoric? How is literacy an evolving set of technologies?  

A major concern of the course is the writer’s development of a sense of the situation within which s/he produces a text: insofar as we are concerned with engaging with others in a public dialogue, a sense of how the public is formed and how it may be addressed effectively is of primary importance. In consequence, a good deal of our time is spent working with arguments developed by a number of modern theorists of the public sphere and its ramifications for writing. Readings include Plato’s Phaedrus and much of Aristotle’s Rhetoric, but mainly involves contemporary discussion by theorists and thinkers such as Walther Ong, Stanley Fish, Toulmin, Derrida, Habermas, Warner, Pratt, Anzaldua and Abembe. The course centres on writing theory, then, but there is a practical dimension: students investigate their present writing practices and consider possible future challenges.

Aims and outcomes:

Focusing on theory and practice, this course is designed to help students think about, work with and gain competence in academic and post-university writing and argument.

Availability 2018

Not taught in 2018


Coordinator(s)  Roger Nicholson


An anthology of course readings will be made available through UBS.


Coursework only


ENGLISH 350: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage II in English, or approval of Academic Head or nominee



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