Featured Rhetoric Courses for Spring 2014

First Year Seminar: Sidewalk Rhetoric  RHET 195-01

Discourse and dissent is alive and well on the sidewalks of San Francisco, where street artists, stencilers, plankers, flash-mobbers, occupiers, and crawlers articulate complex messages of dissent. Often funny, sometimes poignant, usually temporary and anonymous, their messages have, whatever the form, rhetorical merit.  They confront. They provoke. They are created by famous anons like Bansky, commercial artists and social campaigners like Shepard Fairey, by the disenfranchised, and regular folk. In this course, students will engage these visual and performative arguments, making arguments about their arguments, while learning about one of the hippest cities in the world.

First Year Seminar: Writing About Human Rights  RHET 195-02

What does it mean to have rights? Do all humans share equal access to these rights? And, if they do, then why do we see human rights violations go unpunished throughout the world, including in our own country? In this class we will explore the sometimes broad and overwhelming topic of Human Rights through the different forms of media available. Based on timeliness and interest, the course will explore Human Rights issues in areas such as: Criminal Justice, Employment, Education, Gender equity, Healthcare, Hunger, and Immigration. This class requires all involved to be learners, teachers and individuals willing to voice concerns and create awareness. How you choose to vocalize will be up to you.

First Year Seminar: Jewish American Experience in Literature as in Life ENG 195-02


This course will examine Jewish American literature, from iconic novels by masters such as Saul Bellow and Phillip Roth to short stories classics by Bernard Malamud and Tillie Olsen, to works by distinguished contemporary authors such as Allegra Goodman, Michael Chabon, and Jonathan Lethem. By contrast, we will read select works by mainstream or ethnic writers who also inhabit two worlds--whether by culture or religion--such as Gish Jen, Julia Alvarez, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. We will inquire as to whether a uniquely Jewish sensibility stands apart from other American literary/cultural traditions or if Jewish writers/performing artists (e.g. from comedy and music) represent a leading edge of humanistic discourse. 
Like many hyphenated Americans, Jews inhabit two worlds, both secular and sacred, assimilated or marginalized. They represent the archetype of the “Other”, so much a symbol of the contemporary struggle for identity that the outcomes range from alienation to affirmation. Like all humans, Jews confront the moral struggle as to how a “good” person should live, especially in a compromised American society that often disdains goodness. Fulfills Core C1


Writing for International Studies  RHET 212-01

Are you interested in global issues? Do you want to delve deeper into international topics? Does going on virtual travels to other cultures and communities interest you?  Have you explored any of the many cultures that make up San Francisco?  If this sounds like something you would like to do, you can! All while meeting core writing credits by taking RHET212 Writing for International Studies! Prerequisites: A grade of C- or better in RHET 110, RHET 125, 130, 195 or transfer credit in college-level composition with a grade of C- or higher. Fulfills Core A2. 

Theories and Methods of Argument  RHET 304-01 

Many professional vocations and academic disciplines depend on argumentation as feature of their work in public policy, community engagement, and social critique.  This course focuses on the growing and often troubling practice of argument in the past half century by exploring the different forms and contexts for public argument including political campaigns, cultural criticism, and social advocacy.  Class meetings and projects will foster opportunities for lively discussions on the different ways in which individuals and institutions argue about issues that matter to us today. Prerequisites: A grade of C- or better in RHET 110, RHET 125, 130, 195 or transfer credit in college-level composition with a grade of C- or higher. Fulfills Core A2. 

Conflict Resolution  RHET 330-01

Ever wonder why there are so many conflicts in the world? Want to learn how to constructively deal with the conflicts in which you, yourself, are involved? This course will attempt to understand the role of communication in resolving and transforming conflict. You will understand theories of and research on conflict and you will be able to apply the fundamental concepts of the field to interpersonal, intragroup, intergroup and international conflict. You will be able to assess and improve your own ways of responding to conflict through the study and practice of the various processes of conflict intervention. This theoretical and practical elective is geared for students from all disciplines including, but not limited to, Communication Studies, Psychology, Business, Politics, and Pre-Law.  This course will be taught by Dr. Marc Martin from our Rhetoric Department. Professor Martin is a Harvard Law School trained mediator and negotiator with more than 25 years experience as a professional mediator working on cases that span the conflict spectrum from landlord/tenant and roommate to organizational and family disputes. He has conducted training workshops both nationally and internationally and he has taught Mediation and Conflict Resolution classes  at San Francisco State University for the past 15 years.

Seminar for Transfer Students:  Rhetoric, Race and Ethnicity in American Popular Culture RHET 295-01
When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, many believed that we had entered an idyllic“post race” society. This, however, has not been the case, as countless comedy routines and political advertisements remind us on a daily basis. From professional sports to the VMA awards, race makes itself known, creating statements that are well worth examining in a classroom setting. That is why this course examines the way that race gets performed in American popular culture. The course combines the study of literary texts by authors like Toni Morrison, Sherman Alexie and Junot Diaz with poems, speeches, films, video memes and rap music in order to study the way that language, drama, and visual arts can enable historically marginalized individuals to articulate traumatic experiences, protest unjust conditions, and reshape others' perceptions. Throughout the quarter, students will trace both how racial injustices and stereotypes are (unwittingly) instantiated through American history, culture, and institutions, as well as explore how concepts of race and ethnicity get redressed in popular culture, particularly in popular music and social media. We will also look at various hot button issues currently at play in society, including (but not limited to) new immigration laws, freedom of speech, affirmative action, hate crimes, and pervasive media stereotypes. In addition to our texts, students will have the opportunity to attend several local theater and dance company performances with the goal of seeing how community art can become a powerful tool of intervention. 

Seminar for Transfer Students: Immigration Rhetoric: Our Love/Hate Relationship with Immigrants and Immigration  RHET 295-02, 295-04

This course will focus on the following question: In the United States, why do we have a love/hate relationship with immigrants? Exploring various written and visual texts, students will analyze the rhetoric of immigration to uncover the spectrum of attitudes towards immigrants. Attention will be given to the various waves of immigration with an historical awareness of the need for immigrants as well as the needs of immigrants. Assignments will include critical reading and discussion as a precursor to academic writing. Discerning the powerful nuances of rhetoric, students will compose rhetorical analyses of written and visual sources. Inspired by personal and/or academic interests relative to the immigrant experience, students will complete a university level research project synthesizing multiple sources. We will view and critique feature and documentary films. Local field trips will complement reading and discussion. 

Seminar for Transfer Students: Nature's Rhetoric  RHET 295-03

Many artists, from poets to essayists to painters, have chosen to devote much of their life’s work reflecting on and arguing for the importance of nature. Reading writers like John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, and analyzing images in advertising and fine art, we will explore the way humans have interpreted their "natural" environment, recreating nature for the purpose of making some argument about it. We will explore the following types of questions: What is nature or environmental writing/art? What rhetorical decisions do nature writers make? How do these stylistic and thematic choices affect readers? How can student writers employ these strategies in their own “nature writing”? We will not only attempt to answer these questions in the classroom, but explore the outdoors as well, getting out into the field to become better observers of ourselves as part of the natural world.