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"All living things are critics." -- Kenneth Burke

Course schedule
(subject to change, so don't print out once and treat as gospel; refer back regularly)

Class session
Texts, Readings, Resources

Week 1: Jan. 9

Introductions, getting to know each other, setting up the course

The purposes of rhetorical criticism

Read by Wednesday: Foss, Chapter 1

Read for Friday: Foss, Chapter 2

Week 2: Jan. 16

The purposes of theory, theoretical approaches

  • Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, “Cultural Challenges to Rhetorical Criticism,” Rhetoric Review 25 (2006): 358-361.
    • BC leading discussion
  • Karma R. Chávez, “Beyond Inclusion: Rethinking Rhetoric’s Historical Narrative,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 101 (2015): 162-172.
    • Steven and Zoe leading discussion
  • William Keith, “On the Origins of Speech as a Discipline: James A. Winans and Public Speaking as Practical Democracy,” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 38 (July 2008): 239-258.
    • Caty and Michael
  • Mark Lawrence McPhail, “From Complicity to Coherence: Rereading the Rhetoric of Afrocentricity,” Western Journal of Communication 62 (1998): 114-140.
    • Hemil and Malena
  • Herbert A. Wichelns, “The Literary Criticism of Oratory,” in Readings in Rhetorical Criticism, ed. Carl R. Burgchardt (State College, PA: Strata, 2010), 3-27.
    • Heath and Ellie
  • Ernest J. Wrage, “Public Address: A Study in Social and Intellectual History,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 33 (1947): 451-457.
    • Ram and Morgan

NO CLASS MONDAY: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Read for Wednesday: Be ready to discuss our readings; leaders will submit takeaways and residuals.

Read for Friday: Foss, Chapter 3

Access all readings here: cubanxgiants.berry.edu/304/readings

Samples of good takeaways/residuals (borrowed from Sports Communication) here: ONE | TWO

And Dr. Carroll's memo to Sports Communication writers

Week 3: Jan. 23

Getting started with theoretical approaches

First approach: Neo-Aristotelian Critique

Steve Jobs at Stanford: Commencement, 2005

Second approach: Cluster Criticism

  • Edwin Black, “The Meaning of Criticism,” in Rhetorical Criticism: A Study in Method, 2nd ed. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978), 1-9; and “The Practice of Rhetorical Criticism,” in Rhetorical Criticism: A Study in Method, 2nd ed. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978), 10-35.
    • BC leading discussion
  • Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, “Object and Method in Rhetorical Criticism: From Wichelns to Leff and McGee,” Western Journal of Speech Communication 54 (1990): 290- 316.
    • Hemil and Caty and Zoe leading discussion
  • Stephen E. Lucas, “The Schism in Rhetorical Scholarship,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 67 (1981): 1-20.
    • Morgan, Malena, Steven leading discussion
  • Raymie McKerrow, “’Research in Rhetoric’ Revisited,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 101 (2015): 151-16.
    • Ram, Ellie, Heath leading discussion
  • Catherine Helen Palczewski, “What Is ‘Good Criticism?’ A Conversation in Progress,” Communication Studies 54 (2003): 385-391.
    • Zoe and Michael leading discussion

Read for Friday: Foss, Chapter 4

Read for Wednesday: Be ready to lead discussion on your assigned reading; leaders will submit takeaways and residuals, typed up and printed out.

Access all readings here: cubanxgiants.berry.edu/304/readings

"I take calculated risks, but I'm bad at math." -- Zoe Wooten

"If it makes a good story, I want the story." -- Ram Maderos

Week 4: Jan. 30

Purposes of criticism (Foss) & Second Approach: Cluster Criticism

Dr. Carroll on Black and Campbell

  • Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, “Cultural Challenges to Rhetorical Criticism,” Rhetoric Review vol. 25, no. 4 (2006), 258-361.
    • BC leading discussion
  • Forbes Hill, “Conventional Wisdom—Traditional Form—The President’s Message of November 3, 1969,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 58 (December 1972): 373-386.
  • Robert P. Newman, “Under the Veneer: Nixon’s Vietnam Speech of November 3, 1969,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 56 (April 1970): 168-178.
  • Hermann G. Stelzner, “The Quest Story and Nixon’s November 3, 1969 Address,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 57 (April 1971): 163-172.

For Wednesday: Read Wayne Booth, "What's Supposed to be Going on Here?"

Due Friday: Research project proposal. What should it look like? Here's an example
UPDATED DUE DATE: Monday, Feb. 6

No additional readings this week; the listing at left is for our reference.

Week 5: Feb. 6

Fantasy-Theme Criticism (Ch. 5)

NO CLASS FRIDAY: Dr. Carroll at Duke University

For Wednesday: Read Foss, Chapter 5


Week 6: Feb. 13

Monday: Applying Fantasy-Theme Criticism

Wednesday, Friday: Feminist Criticism (Ch. 6)

Additional (optional) readings:

  • Karrin V. Anderson, “’Rhymes with Blunt’: Pornification and U.S. Political Culture,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14 (2011): 327-368.
  • Jeffrey A. Bennett, “’Born This Way’: Queer Vernacular and the Politics of Origins,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 11 (2014): 211-230.
  • Carole Blair, Julie Brown, and Leslie A. Baxter, “Disciplining the Feminine,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 80 (1994): 383-409.
  • Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, “’Conventional Wisdom—Traditional Form’: A Rejoinder,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 58 (December 1972): 451-454.
  • KC Councilor, “Drawing the Body In: A Comic Essay on Trans Mobility and Materiality,” Women’s Studies in Communication 41 (2018): 441-453.
  • Bonnie J. Dow and Mari Boor Tonn, “’Feminine Style’ and Political Judgment in the Rhetoric of Ann Richards,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 79 (1993): 286-302.
  • Forbes Hill, “Reply to Professor Campbell,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 58 (December 1972): 454-460.
  • Joshua Gunn and John Louis Lucaites, “The Contest of Faculties: On Discerning the Politics of Social Engagement in the Academy,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 96 (November 2010): 404-412.
  • Meg Tully, “’Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Don’t Rape’: Subverting Postfeminist Logics on Inside Amy Schumer,” Women’s Studies in Communication 40 (2017): 339-358.

For Monday: Read Trump's Jan. 6 address; also available: a timeline of the events of Jan. 6 from Poynter

Due Monday: Research project proposal re-submits.

For Wednesday: Read Foss, Chapter 6

Due Friday: Literature review

Week 7: Feb. 20

Generic (or genre) approaches. Close textual analysis. Public address scholarship.

  • Maegan Parker Brooks, “Oppositional Ethos: Fannie Lou Hamer and the Vernacular Persona,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14 (2011): 511-548.
  • Peter Ehrenhaus, “Why We Fought: Holocaust Memory in Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan,” Critical Studies in Media Communication 18 (2001): 321-337.
  • Cara A. Finnegan, “Recognizing Lincoln: Image Vernaculars in Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 8 (2005): 31-58.
  • Michael C. Leff and Gerald P. Mohrmann, “Lincoln at Cooper Union: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Text,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 60 (1974): 346-358.
  • Robert E. Terrill, “Unity and Duality in Barack Obama’s ‘A More Perfect Union,’” Quarterly Journal of Speech 95 (2009): 363-386.
  • David Zarefsky, “Making the Case for War: Colin Powell at the United Nations,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 10 (2007): 275-302.

Read for Monday: Meg Tully

Inside Amy Schumer, two artifacts:

Due Wednesday: Read Foss, Chapter 7 (quiz probable; come prepared)

Read for Friday: Banksy at Disneyland, Foss, pages 229-236

Week 8: Feb. 27

Ideological approaches. More on genre.

  • Vanessa B. Beasley, “The Rhetoric of Ideological Consensus in the United States: American Principles and American Pose in Presidential Inaugurals,” Communication Monographs 68 (2001): 169-183.
  • Dana L. Cloud, “The Rhetoric of <Family Values>: Scapegoating, Utopia, and the Privatization of Social Responsibility,” Western Journal of Communication 62 (1998): 387-419.
  • Joshua Gunn, “The Rhetoric of Exorcism: George W. Bush and the Return of Political Demonology,” Western Journal of Communication 68 (Winter 2004): 1-23.
  • Kyle R. King, “Three Waves of Gay Male Athlete Coming Out Narratives,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 103 (2017): 372-394.
  • Todd F. McDorman, “Controlling Death: Bio-Power and the Right-to-Die Controversy,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 2 (2005): 257-279.
  • Michael Calvin McGee, “The ‘Ideograph’: A Link between Rhetoric and Ideology,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 66 (1980): 1-16.
  • Raymie E. McKerrow, “Critical Rhetoric: Theory and Praxis,” Communication Monographs 56 (1989): 91-11.
  • Kent A. Ono and John M. Sloop, “Commitment to Telos—A Sustained Critical
  • Rhetoric,” Communication Monographs 59 (1992): 48-60.
  • Allison M. Prasch and Julia Scatliff O’Grady, “Saluting the ‘Skutnik’: Special Guests, the First Lady’s Box, and the Generic Evolution of the State of the Union Address,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 20 (2017): 571-604.
  • Steven Schwarze, “Environmental Melodrama,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 92 (August 2006): 239-261.
  • Philip Wander, “The Ideological Turn in Modern Criticism,” Central States Speech Journal 34 (1983): 1-18.


Due Monday: Read Foss, Chapter 8

Be sure to avail yourself of the many resources Berry has arrayed for you to improve your writing, including:

  • The Academic Success Center and its writing tutors
  • Subject-specific tutors (shout out to Morgan)
  • Your professor's office hours
  • A writer's handbook
  • Your classmates

Read for Wednesday: Condit's "Pathos in Criticism"

Week 9: March 13

Metaphor and Metaphoric Criticism

  • J. David Cisneros, “Contaminated Communities: The Metaphor of ‘Immigrant as Pollutant’ in Media Representations of Immigration,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 11 (Winter 2008): 569-601.
  • Thomas B. Farrell and G. Thomas Goodnight, “Accidental Rhetoric: The Root Metaphors of Three Mile Island,” Communication Monographs 48 (December 1981): 271-300.
  • Megan Foley, “From Infantile Citizens to Infantile Institutions: The Metaphoric Transformation of Political Economy in the 2008 Housing Market Crisis,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 98 (2012): 386-410.
  • Robert L. Ivie, “Metaphor and the Rhetorical Invention of Cold War ‘Idealists,’” Communication Monographs 54 (1987): 165-182.
  • Riikka Kuusisto, “Heroic Tale, Game, and Business Deal? Western Metaphors in Action in Kosovo,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 88 (2002): 50-68.
  • Michael Osborn, “Archetypal Metaphor in Rhetoric: The Light-Dark Family,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 53 (1967): 115-126.

Read for Monday: Foss, Chapter 9

Read for Wednesday: Metaphor in Obama biography OR seminal methods article from 1967 (class will divide up)

Due Friday: Main body of the paper (context and analysis)

Week 10: March 20

Narrative and Mythic criticism

  • Denise M. Bostdorff and Daniel J. O’Rourke, “Religion, Sport, and the Return of the Prodigal Son: The Postsecular Rhetoric of LeBron James’s 2014 ‘I’m Coming Home’ Open Letter,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 21 (2018): 1-38.
  • Michael L. Butterworth, “George W. Bush as the ‘Man in the Arena’: Baseball, Public Memory, and the Rhetorical Redemption of a President,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 22 (2019): 1-31.
  • William F. Lewis, “Telling America’s Story: Narrative Form and the Reagan Presidency,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 73 (1987): 280-302.
  • Thomas Rosteck and Thomas S. Frentz, “Myth and Multiple Readings in Environmental Rhetoric: The Case of An Inconvenient Truth,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 95 (February 2009): 1-19.
  • Robert C. Rowland and John M. Jones, “Recasting the American Dream and American Politics: Barack Obama’s Keynote Address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 93 (November 2007): 425-448.
  • Janice Hocker Rushing, “Evolution of ‘The New Frontier’ in Alien and Aliens: Patriarchal Co-Optation of the Feminine Archetype,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 75 (1989): 1-24.

Read for Monday: Foss, Chapter 10

Read for Wednesday:Religion, Sport, and the Return of the Prodigal Son: The Postsecular Rhetoric of LeBron James’s 2014 ‘I’m Coming Home’ Open Letter

Due Friday: Smooth draft of paper (complete) for workshopping

Week 11: March 27

Pentadic Criticism

  • Barry Brummett, “Burke’s Representative Anecdote as a Method in Media Criticism,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 1 (1984): 161-176.
  • Cheree Carlson, “’You Know It When You See It’: The Rhetorical Hierarchy of Race and Gender in Rhinelander v. Rhinelander,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 85 (1999): 111-128.
  • David A. Ling, “A Pentadic Analysis of Senator Edward Kennedy’s Address to the People of Massachusetts, July 25, 1969,” Central States Speech Journal 21 (1970): 81-86.
  • Daniel A. Grano and Kenneth S. Zagacki, “Cleansing the Superdome: The Paradox of Purity and Post-Katrina Guilt,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 97 (May 2011): 201-223.
  • Robert L. Ivie, “The Rhetoric of Bush’s ‘War on Evil,’” KB Journal 1 (Fall 2004): http://kbjournal.org/ivie_Bush.
  • Brian L. Ott and Eric Aoki, “The Politics of Negotiating Public Tragedy: Media Framing of the Matthew Shepherd Murder,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 5 (2002): 483- 505.
  • Mari Boor Tonn, Valerie A. Endress, and John N. Diamond, “Hunting and Heritage on Trial: A Dramatistic Debate over Tragedy, Tradition, and Territory,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 79 (1993): 165-181.

Read for Monday: Foss, Chapter 11

Read for Wednesday: "The Rhetoric of Bush's 'War on Evil'"

Due Friday: Peer review reports and annotated manuscripts

>>The rubric I will use for the peer review and drafts
>>The writer's report you will use to organize your feedback for your writing partner

Week 12: April 3

Generative Criticism

Peer reviews

B.L. Ware and Wil A. Linkugel, “They Spoke in Defense of Themselves: On the Generic Criticism of Apologia,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 59 (1973): 273-283.

Public Memory

NO CLASS Friday: Good Friday

Read for Monday: Foss, Chapter 12

Read for Wednesday: Ware and Linkugel article

Due Friday: Final, finished rhetorical criticism papers

>>The rubric I will use for final papers

Week 13: April 10

Critical Rhetorics of Race

  • Kristen Hoerl, “Selective Amnesia and Racial Transcendence in News Coverage of President Obama’s Inauguration,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 98 (May 2012): 178-202.
  • Lisa A. Flores, “Between Abundance and Marginalization: The Imperative of Racial Rhetorical Criticism,” Review of Communication 16 (2016): 4-24.
  • Thomas K. Nakayama and Robert L. Krizek, “Whiteness: A Strategic Rhetoric,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 81 (1995): 291-309.
  • Mark Orbe, “#AllLivesMatter as Post-Racial Rhetorical Strategy,” Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric 5 (2015): 90-98.
  • Darrel Enck-Wanzer, “ Trashing the System: Social Movement, Intersectional Rhetoric, and Collective Agency in the Young Lords Organization’s Garbage Offensive,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 92 (2006): 174-201.
  • Eric K. Watts, “Border Patrolling and ‘Passing’ in Eminem’s 8 Mile,” Critical Studies in Media Communication 22 (August 2005): 187-206.

Read for Wednesday:#AllLivesMatter as Post-Racial Rhetorical Strategy




Week 14: April 17

Project presentations


Week 15: April 24

Wrapping up and finishing out




Take-home final exam
(submit hard copy to Dr. Carroll in either Laughlin 100 or Laughlin 101)


pepp patty

keep your eyes on the prize!


Course Description: Students will analyze how persuasion occurs in public discourse by studying foundational rhetorical theories and methods of rhetorical criticism.  Through reading and writing criticism, students will evaluate the interplay of audience, situation, and rhetor; the rhetor’s choice to persuade in a particular manner; and how public discourse influences audiences. 

Course Purpose & Objectives: By successful completion of this course, students will: 

  • explore, cultivate, and demonstrate critical knowledge about human rhetoric in a wide variety of circumstances
  • develop a new awareness about the depth, complexity, and richness of texts and visual artifacts as rhetoric
  • write more clearly, speak more ably, and analyze, interpret, and evaluate messages more soundly
  • explore and analyze the ways in which communication technologies impact and generate rhetorical texts
  • engage in textual analysis of written, visual/aural, and embodied forms of communication
  • learn how to approach a message from multiple critical perspectives

Purpose: The course is intended to provide students with a grounding in the qualitative research method of rhetorical criticism and with practice using many of this method’s theoretical approaches. Rhetorical criticism aims to accomplish systematic investigation, analysis, and explanation of symbolic acts and artifacts to better understand rhetorical processes. Rhetorical critics are interested in discovering what a text or artifact teaches about the nature of rhetoric.

What you will need (required)

Textbook: Sonja Foss, Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice (5th ed.) (Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press)

What you may want (recommended, not required)

  • Carl R. Burgchardt and Hillary A. Jones, eds., Readings in Rhetorical Criticism, 5th ed. (Strata)
  • James Jasinski, ed., Sourcebook on Rhetoric (Sage)
  • Jim A. Kuypers, ed., Rhetorical Criticism: Perspectives in Action (Strata)
  • John Louis Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, and Sally Caudill, Contemporary
  • Rhetorical Theory: A Reader (Guilford)
Catherine Palczewski, Richard Ice, and John Fritch, Rhetoric in Civic Life, 2nd ed. (Strata)

Stuff you need to know:

Professor: Dr. Brian Carroll
Office: Laughlin Hall 100
Office phone: 368.6944
E-mail: bc@berry.edu
Home page: cubanxgiants.berry.edu
Blog: WanderingRocks.wordpress.com

Office hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 1-5pm; Wednesdays 3-5pm, by appointment, or just drop by


  • Attendance: Be here every day on time, just as you would for a job, surgery or even a haircut. Everyone gets one unexcused absence or late arrival, maybe two, with no questions asked. Stuff happens. After that, unexcused and/or unexplained absences and/or lateness will result in point deductions from the "professionalism and participation" portion of your grade -- one point for each unexcused absence and/or late arrival. What is excused is at the instructor's discretion, so you are best served by discussing situations and extraordinary circumstances prior to class whenever possible.

  • Distractions: The instructor needs your attention and your respect, as do your peers. And this instructor is easily distracted. So, no unauthorized device use, therefore, including Apple watches for texts. Put your phones away, and make sure they are silent. Do homework for other classes somewhere else. If your phone goes off on class, or if you are seen texting or reading texts, etc., you will be treated as absent, with appropriate point deductions. It’s a respect thing.

  • Preparation: Complete the assignments, do the readings and be ready to tackle the activities of the day. Be ready to discuss and debate ideas and approaches.

  • Academic integrity: Because academic integrity is the foundation of college life at Berry, academic dishonesty will have consequences. You are invited to consult the College Catalog for an articulation of the College’s policies with respect to academic integrity. Specific to this course, academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to: unauthorized collaboration (you will be instructed as to when collaboration is allowed and encouraged), plagiarism, fabrication, submitting the same work in multiple courses, hiring a ghostwriter (or its functional equivalent), and aiding and abetting academic dishonesty by another student. Violators will be reported to the Office of the Provost. Students who are sanctioned for violating the academic integrity policy forfeit the right to withdraw from the class with a grade of “W.”

  • Class recording (Zoom): Per Berry policy, students are required to attend class in-person. Classes will not be available for remote learning, at least not regularly or without advance warning and authorization/permission. Any recordings will only be available to students registered for this class and cannot be re-transmitted, distributed, or otherwise shared without the expressed, written consent of the instructor, who owns the copyright to the intellectual property contained in or by the recording.

How you will be graded:

Discussion questions 15%
Project proposal 10%
Literature review 10%
Analysis 15%
Smooth draft and peer review 20%
Final, finished paper & presentation 20%
Professionalism and participation 10%

To compute your final grade, add up your point totals, apply the appropriate percentages, then refer to the grading system summarized here:

59 and below

Definitions of the grades can be found in the Berry College Bulletin. “A” students will demonstrate an outstanding mastery of course material and will perform far above that required for credit in the course and far above that usually seen in the course. The “A” grade should be awarded sparingly and should identify student performance that is relatively unusual in the course.

Academic Success Resources

Consultants at the Berry College Writing Center are available to assist students with all stages of the writing process. To schedule an appointment, visit berry.mywconline.com. The Academic Success Center provides free peer tutoring and individual academic consultations to all Berry College students. The ASC Session schedule is available on ASC Website: berry.edu/ASC.

Specifically, Morgan Thoem is a tutor specific to this course, an alum of the course. You can visit her in the ASC during her office hours, Mondays 8-10pm or Wednesdays 6-10pm.

Accommodation Statement

The Academic Success Center provides accessibility resources, including academic accommodations, to students with diagnosed differences and/or disabilities.  If you need accommodations for this or other classes, please visit berry.edu/asc for information and resources.  You may also reach out at 706-233-40480.  Please note, faculty are not required, as part of any temporary or long-term accommodation, to distribute recordings of class sessions. 

Finally, I believe we are here for a good time, not a long time, so let’s have some fun!

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