Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination | Spring 1999
I. Course Description

This speaking-, reading-, and writing-intensive course aims to expose students to the ongoing intellectual debates in both the fields of History and English studies about language and rhetoric in relation to historical narratives. The object to be investigated is rhetorics of history, with "objectivity" being one rhetoric among others.

This cross-disciplinary course requires that students critically attend to contending theories of rhetoric and language use--for example, semiotics, structuralism, poststructuralism, Marxism, and feminism--particularly for their impact on reading, writing, and theorizing history. Students will be asked to reflect on the knowledge-power strategies of various rhetorics of disciplinary inquiry.

A major line of inquiry in the course will be to investigate historical formations of "nation" in relation to the knowledge-production practices of the social and human sciences, for example, the "explanatory" use of national boundaries and classification schemes . One such social-discursive division under critique will be the one constituted between "western" and "non-western." Other related topics will include time and historical periodization; representations of self and "Other" in history; gender and history; and social transformation and productive agency.

II. Course Requirements

  1. Weekly summaries/analyses/responses to course readings for a total of 14 one-page, single-spaced position papers designed to facilitate participation in the week's discussion. These responses should be made available to other students via e-mail 24 hours prior to class meetings. Those unable to meet this requirement must provide photocopies of their position papers for students and course instructors at the beginning of class time.

  2. Weekly on-line responses to points and issues discussed in class members' position papers for a total of 10 one-page correspondences spaced over the course of the semester. Dialogic interaction with other students is strongly recommended.

  3. Small groups will lead weekly discussions over assigned readings. Groups should provide handouts for class members to facilitate discussion and participation.

  4. A memo-proposal describing the final research project, with two-page working bibliography attached. Due March 05.

  5. A final research paper making use of cross-disciplinary research and frameworks from the course. Undergraduate students will write a final paper (8 to 10 pages), with the course instructors and class members serving as the audience. Graduate students will write final papers of 15-20 pages directed toward a professional audience other than the course instructors. The projects might represent articles written for specific journals, or theses or dissertations or proposals for graduate projects, written specifically for committees in the appropriate disciplines. These papers will be histories or analyses/interpretations of histories. Students are required to present their paper in the 7th Biannual conference of "Rhetoric and the Historical Imagination," Saturday, April 27, 1996.

  6. A writing portfolio consisting of course and self evaluations, weekly position papers, e-mail correspondences, group presentation handouts, proposal and bibliography, and the final research paper. Students who do not submit a portfolio will not receive a passing grade. Due April 30.

    *Students registered for this course are strongly encouraged to participate in departmental seminars and other public presentations scheduled for the Spring semester.

III. Grades

Students will be evaluated by attendance and participation in the course as well as by the quality of their written work. Students who miss more than two class sessions may not pass the course. Percentages will be assigned on this basis:

  1. Weekly position papers and e-mail correspondences: 35% (Position papers will be accepted only from students in attendance at the class session.)
  2. Group presentations: 20%
  3. Proposal and bibliography: 10%
  4. Research paper and conference presentation: 35%

IV. Required Readings
To see a list of required reading materials for this course please download the corresponding word file.
copyright 2004 Mohamad Tavakoli Targhi