Class Description

This seminar explores the impact of feminism on the field of rhetoric by examining two primary areas:  historiography and argumentation. It is a common argument that women’s voices have been silenced in the Western rhetorical tradition.  In order to explore this claim, we will first examine the traces of women in the history of rhetoric. We will then examine the recent move to write women back into the history of rhetoric and will question the implications of this historical revision. Along with the absence of women in the rhetorical tradition, some feminist rhetoricians propose that there is an inherent patriarchal bias in rhetorical theory whereby persuasion is seen as something an active rhetor does to a passive audience.  We will explore this claim by examining modern feminist rhetorical theory that works to challenge and revise this supposed bias.

Throughout our discussions, we will be attuned to the following questions:

  1. What are the perils and possibilities of recovering women's voices in the rhetorical tradition?
  2. What are the perils and possibilities of striving for and/or enacting a feminist rhetoric? 


Reading Materials



Students with Disabilities: I am committed to providing assistance to help you be successful in this course. Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. Please visit the Disability Resource Center (DRC) during the first two weeks of every semester to seek information or to qualify for accommodations. All accommodations MUST be approved through the DRC (Admin Annex Bldg, Rooms 205). Call 509 335 3417 to make an appointment with a disability counselor.

Academic Honesty: All students are expected to act in accordance with the WSU policies on Academic Honesty found in the Student Handbook. These policies include falsification of information, fabrication of information, plagiarism, multiple submissions, and various others. Information about these policies can be found in the Handbook. These policies will be discussed in class and students will be asked to acknowledge that discussion and a basic understanding of the policies. For additional information on the plagiarism, WSU has a great new site at http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/plagiarism/main.html

Attendance: This is a graduate class, thus I don't need to tell you that attendance is expected. But...for the record: I will forgive three missed classes, but beyond that your participation grade will suffer. Additionally, please, if you're sick, do us a favor and stay home.

Late work: Acceptance of late work is unusual and must be discussed in conference with the teacher. Late work will receive a lowered grade if turned in within one week of the original due date. Work turned in later than one week past the original due date will be given an automatic grade of F.

Technology: It hurts my soul that I even have to say this, but here goes--if you bring a laptop to class please only use it for note taking purposes. IM-ing, checking email, web surfing, etc, are incredibly disrespectful of our time together. Also, no cell phones (thus no texting). If you need to keep it on for any reason, please let me know.

Grading: Final grades will be based on the three major assignments as well as participation. The breakdown is as follows: 1) Crit (15%), 2) Rhetorical Figure (30%), 3) Seminar Paper (40%), 4) Participation (15%). Participation is based on your level of attentiveness in and preparedness for class, your participation in class discussion, attendance, and your respect for others (do not be a discussion hog--let others talk too!).


Finding Me

Instructor: Professor Kristin L. Arola
Office Hours: MW 2-3 or by appt
Office: Avery 309
Phone: 335-8742
Email: arola (at) wsu (dot) edu