Given the role that rhetoric plays in public debate and civic life, this course and your assignments will be focused on the 2008 presidential elections. You will need to choose one of the major-party presidential candidates whose rhetoric you will follow throughout the semester. You also need to choose an area of focus for that candidate. For eg, if you choose McCain you need to narrow your research to one of the major issues that presidential candidates discuss. Consider:
- The Economy
- Environment/Climate Change
- National/Homeland Security
- Health Care
- Foreign Policy
- Hot Button Issues: abortion, civil rights, faith, gay marriage
So, for example, you will spend the semester exploring Obama's rhetoric surrounding immigration or McCain's rhetoric surrounding Iraq. We will try to organize so that half the class studies Obama and the other half studies McCain. So as not to entirely shun 3rd party candidates and non-presidential elections, I will include these folks as in-class examples.
ALL of your papers and presentations (except for the group work assignment) will focus on this candidate and his/her rhetoric so make sure it's something you are somewhat invested in.
The major assignments are as follows:
- Issue Papers: These papers are very short analysis papers (1 page, double-spaced). You will be choosing a text to analyze, and will explore how the various rhetorical principles are at work within your text.
Remember, you are to analyze your candidate's rhetoric NOT rhetoric about the candidate.
- Rhetorical Criticism: This 5-7pg paper is an integrated rhetorical analysis that will analyze the rhetorical strategies found in 3-5 different news sources that discuss your issue.
- Rhetorical Performance : This project asks you to create an ad campaign for your candidate and issue.
- Group Work Final Project: Since we will have four weeks of class AFTER the elections, the final group projects will explore how they believe the rhetoric surrounding their candidate helped them win or caused them to lose. Particular attention should be given to how the major media outlets portrayed the candidate during the fall campaign. Groups will be formed based on who you studied during the semester.