In this course we will examine theories of reasoned-based argumentation in the oral mode, and then incorporate those theories into the practice of making effective speeches that advocate for particular positions on arguable issues of public concern. We will analyze and critique oral arguments as they function in the realm of public debate. We will develop in-class assessment criteria for effective oral advocacy, and students will be asked to use those criteria to evaluate themselves and their peers.
Oral Controversy and Advocacy asks students to practice and evaluate effective oral argumentation in controversial matters of public concern with attention to fundamental theories of ethics and rhetoric. For our purposes, oral advocacy is an act of inquiry and a search for shared understanding. This means you have to listen as carefully as you speak. Students will develop practices of listening, speaking, responding, discussing, and researching to enhance their invention of arguments and their positions as informed advocates in a discourse community of thinkers and inquirers. Further, students will cultivate habits of noting, examining, and responding to the various and multiple reasonable and unreasonable positions one can take on controversial matters. To discern what divides “reasonable” and “unreasonable” will be our ongoing challenge.
Prereq: WR 122 or equivalent; not open to freshmen.
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
Theory/Rhetoric courses teach media theory, the major modes and schools of criticism and theory, and theories and techniques of reasoning, rational discourse, and argumentation.
The interdisciplinary minor in Writing, Public Speaking, and Critical Reasoning offers students a coherent program of courses that strengthen students' abilities to write well, to speak effectively in public, and to think critically. This minor is built on courses in English, Writing, and Philosophy and is taught by professors from English, Philosophy, and the Honors College.