Rhetoric has been characterized as a power to lead the soul, the universal form of communication, the art of persuasion, the way we reason and deliberate with one another in conditions of uncertainty, the discourse of democracy, the ability to find and create arguments, the art of style, and as the metaphorical work of language. Rhetoric has also been understood, in its educational role, as a project of developing the essential communicative capabilities of human beings. For over two millennia, rhetoric has played this central role in the liberal arts. In this course, we will explore the history of rhetoric, with a focus on the way rhetoric has described essential rhetorical capabilities and the best ways of cultivating and strengthening them. Readings will range from Plato and Aristotle all the way to contemporary cognitive science and writing studies.