Soap Operas and Soap Boxes: The Rhetoric of Performance
Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Al Franken all moved from the entertainment industry into politics. Jerry Springer left a career in politics for television. These shifts are not shocking; after all, both careers are based on performance. Even though we may not be politicians or actors, 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 Sunset Boulevard, television "reality" soaps, and, beyond artistic performances, the performative rhetoric used in political speeches and ad campaigns. The course will culminate in your own rhetorical performance: a research-based-argument that analyzes a form of performance or a particular performance.