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.