Monday, November 3, 2008

Election 2008

Please post a brief comment analyzing one rhetorical moment from the election of the next American president. For example, you could take a moment from the concession or victory speeches. You can consider any aspect of the rhetorical performance: word choice, delivery, body language, etc. Two or three sentences is fine. To post, hit "comments" in the small type after this post. Click the circle for "Name" and write your name in--you do not need to be signed in or have an url. Please post your comment by Friday 5pm.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Presidential Debate September 26th

The first presidential debate will occur on Friday, September 26th. Candidates John McCain and Barack Obama will answer questions about foreign policy and national security. It will be broadcast in California at 9pm on all the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) as well as PBS, CNN, and other news networks. Please watch at least 20 minutes either on tv, youtube, or through online news services, and post a comment of at least 2-3 sentences analyzing an interesting rhetorical moment from the debate. You might want to use "Rhetorical Questions" (Monday's reading)as a model for rhetorically analyzing the candidates'--and the moderator's performances during the debate.

To post a comment hit "comments" below this post. You do not have to sign in to post a comment. Just hit "Name" and write your name (you don't need to include an url). Or you can click on "anonymous," but if you do, be sure to sign your name so that you get credit!

Please post your comment by Sunday at 5pm.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Welcome to Soap Operas and Soap Boxes: The Rhetoric of Performance

John McCain, Barack Obama, and the stars of Desperate Housewives have something in common: their careers are based on performance. Similarly to how an actor plays a fictional character, a political candidate publicly performs a carefully constructed identity to appeal to voters. We, too, are performers. We act differently when we are with our parents, in our dorms, or in the classroom. And as writers, we utilize a persona, a "self" that varies from the persona we use when engaging with our families or friends. In this course, we will analyze the ways the rhetoric of performance works to construct identity from small screen soaps to the political soap box.

How is identity a social, political, and cultural performance? How do different situations call for particular styles of rhetorical performance? How do we evaluate and analyze different types of performances, including artistic and political performances, as well as the performances of everyday life? To answer these questions, we will examine in-depth performative rhetoric in, for example, the classic film All About Eve, television "reality" soaps, and, beyond artistic performances, the performative rhetoric used in political speeches and debates during the 2008 presidential election. The course will culminate in your own rhetorical performance: a research-based-argument that analyzes a form of performance or a particular performance.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trailer Of The Movie : World Trade Center

Melodrama or Tragedy?

Watch the trailer for World Trade Center (2006). How does this clip tell a narrative about September 11th? Using James Peck's "September 11th: A National Tragedy?" as a reference, do you think this movie depicts the 9/11 terrorist attacks as melodrama or tragedy? Or do you disagree with Peck's definitions of the genres/ modes of tragedy and melodrama?

Post a comment responding to this movie trailer. You can use these questions as a guide, or you can bring up your own point that you think will add to the discussion. To add your comment, click on the link for "comments." Remember to sign your name!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Eminem - Stan (with Dido)

Eminem's "Stan"--Melodrama?

Watch the video and read the lyrics for "Stan" by Eminem (with Dido). Would you consider "Stan" to be an example of melodrama, or to have melodramatic characteristics? Why or why not? What is the song's argument--what point or points do you think this video makes? How does the video make these points? What rhetorical strategies does the video employ? Think carefully about visual and aural as well as textual rhetoric, and write a comment that addresses one or some of these questions.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Welcome to PWR!

Welcome to PWR!

Joy! Rage! Horror! The Rhetoric of Melodrama
Winter 2008

Course Description

Melodrama plays a visible role in American popular culture—from made-for-television movies, to country music and rock ballads, soap operas, action flicks, and legal dramas. The emotional, narrative, and rhetorical excess that characterizes melodrama extends beyond entertainment. Rhetorical excess is everywhere—even in political persuasion, including comparisons of political leaders to Hitler or Stalin, and the use of personal narrative to make political arguments. In this course, we will analyze the role of melodrama in American popular culture and media, and the types of claims that the rhetoric of excess makes.

Students will develop the skills to read, write, and think critically in a multimedia context. We'll begin the course by analyzing the conventions of fictional melodrama in television, film, and music. After identifying characteristics of melodrama, we will move on to more subtle uses of melodrama to make socio-political arguments in, for example, journalism and political campaigns. Essays on cultural theory and popular culture will suggest methods for making our own analyses.

Course requirements include active participation and regular writing. There will be three major writing assignments: a rhetorical analysis, a contextual analysis, and a final research paper. Students will also be expected to participate in a class blog and to deliver a research presentation to the class.