3000-Level Courses

Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications

(PDF) (Word)

A selection from the following courses will be offered each term. Please check WebAdvisor or the Student Handbook for course availability.

FALL (2021) TERM

New Journalism
RHET-3154, Section 001, Fall
Schedule: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instruction Method: Online—hybrid
Instructor: Helen Lepp Friesen

"New Journalism" arose in the 1960s when Truman Capote, Tom Wolf, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, and others began to infuse their reporting with rhetorical and literary technique, creating a hybrid genre of reportage that was both factual and artistic. They dethroned the novel as the most prestigious outlet for imaginative literary talent in their generation and instigated the first powerful renewal of North American letters in fifty years. Their impact on traditional reporting can be seen in today’s feature writing and reporting. The course includes works of both early and later periods of this movement, and offers opportunities for critical and practical application of its practice.

Writing for Scholarly Audiences
RHET-3329, Section 001, Fall
Schedule: TuTh 14:30-15:45
Instruction Method: In-person
Instructor: Eunhee Buettner

This course addresses the varieties of scholarly discourse: why academics write and speak in a particular way, and how the contexts of political and economic environments that surround a university affect textual production. By reading and analyzing representative texts of various disciplines, students will learn to recognize and practice the sort of rhetoric used by academics. The goals of this course are threefold: (1) to increase students' awareness of norms and disciplinary conventions; (2) to help prepare students for advanced scholarship; and (3) to learn more about the pragmatic components involved in writing, thinking, and speaking at an academic level. In exceptional cases, this course may be taken to satisfy the Academic Writing requirement with permission of the Instructor and Chair.

Investigative Journalism
RHET-3330, Section 050, Fall
Schedule: M 18:00-21:00
Instruction Method: Online—Hybrid
Instructor: Cecil Rosner

This course provides an overview of the history, theory and practice of investigative journalism in Canada.  It will place this form of journalism into its historical context and survey its major practitioners, including both print and broadcast journalists.  The theoretical framework of investigative journalism will be analyzed, and parallels will be drawn to the other social sciences.  You will also learn some of the  practical tools of the investigative journalist, including search strategies, chronologies, computer-assisted reporting, online research methods, study and analysis of public records, and access-to-information methods. The ethics and legalities of investigative journalism will be surveyed, along with analysis of case studies.  As well, you will learn practical lessons about structuring and writing projects for both print and broadcast.

Seminar discussions will be as  interactive as possible. Examples of investigative print projects, as well as videos will be used. Two required texts will prepare you for many of the course’s components.  Assignments and tests will gauge your understanding of both the theoretical concepts involved, and the practical tools of the investigative journalist.

Strategies for Technical & Professional Communication
RHET-3340, Section 001, Fall
Schedule: TuTh 14:30-15:45
Instruction Method: In-person|
Instructor: Ryan Clement

Writing in an organizational setting requires a careful understanding of the individual writer’s role in relation to the organization, as well as the organization’s mandate and its internal and external audiences. In this course, we will use several theories from the fields of rhetoric, communications, and management to understand the purposes and constraints that shape organizational communications. We will also analyse and practise many of the standard formats used in organizational communications, in both traditional and digital forms.

We will then build on this foundation of theory and practice by analysing a range of occasions for organizational communications and the choices available for responding to those occasions. Throughout the course, you will have opportunities to work individually and in groups to produce organizational documents, to examine issues in organizational communications through oral presentations and analytical essays, and to engage in the type of peer response and revision that is fundamental to good communications practices within organizations.

Critical Studies of Social Media
RHET-3450, Section 001, Fall
Schedule: MW 14:30-15:45
Instruction Method: Online—Hybrid
Instructor: Matthew Flisfeder

Communication, social media, and social networking websites structure many of our experiences of the world, ourselves, and the culture that surrounds us. This course takes a critical, cultural, and rhetorical approach to the study of social media. Topics include the rhetoric of the public profile and persuasive constructions of social media selfhood and identity curation; the language and meaning of social media "friendship" and "publicity;" questions about the rhetoric of privacy under conditions of constant surveillance; the relationship between discourse, algorithms, and platform logics; and the role of social media in framing the world of meaning and public discourse. Specifically, this course will focus on ways to study the rhetoric of the “social” in “social media” to understand the structural and cultural dimensions of neoliberal society.


Medieval Rhetoric
RHET-3137, Section 001, Winter
Schedule: TuTh 11:30-12:45
Instruction Method: In-person
Instructor: Andrew McGillivray

This course provides students with an introduction to medieval rhetoric, its origins in the Middle Ages and subsequent echoes in the modern and post-modern periods. In contemporary popular culture we can increasingly observe themes and artifacts that originate in medieval popular culture. The course provides us with the opportunity to understand, interpret, and critique this trend. We will review selected readings in medieval rhetoric, and, as the course progresses, turn our focus to modern responses to the medieval in contemporary media, in formats such as film and television, video games and music, visual art and architecture, as well as through print and digital texts. We will evaluate medievalism as it appears today, recognize and critique its application and appropriation in political and religious discourses, and reflect on the relevance of this knowledge in colonial and post-colonial contexts.

Experimental Course - This course is offered on a trial basis to gauge interest in the topic. Students who successfully complete this course receive credit as indicated.

Rhetoric of Visual Representation
RHET-3139, Section 001, Winter
Schedule: TuTh 14:30-15:45
Instruction Method: In-person
Instructor: Ryan Clement

This course provides a systematic and comprehensive account of the grammar and rhetoric of visual design. By looking at the formal structures of design - colour, perspective, arrangement, and materiality - students examine the ways in which images communicate meaning. This course draws on a considerable range of examples to demonstrate the differences and the similarities between the grammar of language and that of visual communication. Given the influence and sophistication of visual texts and their relative neglect in scholarship, visual critique is important and necessary.

Studies in the Rhetorics of Gender
RHET-3153, Section 001, Winter
Schedule: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instruction Method: In-person
Instructor: TBA

This course focuses on issues growing from the complex interaction of gender and language use, with a particular focus on written texts. Beginning with an overview of research on the relationship between gender and communicative behaviour, including feminist critiques of language, it considers such topics as the following: the rhetorics of women's movement and of contemporary men's movements; verbal (and, to a lesser extent, visual) constructions of masculinity and femininity in advertising and the media; innovative uses of language which resist and subvert prevailing conceptions of appropriate communicative behaviour; and the rhetoric of public debates over issues

Culture Wars
RHET-3158, Section 001, Winter
Schedule: MW 16:00-17:15
Instruction Method: In-person
Instructor: Jason Hannan

This course will introduce students to the nature of communication in a divided society. Students will consider the challenges that cultural, conceptual, and moral diversity pose to democratic dialogue and civic engagement. They will first be given some historical background to explain the contemporary culture wars. They will then evaluate a series of recent case studies concerning moral conflict and communication breakdown. The aim is to get students to think critically about what communication means in the absence of a shared vocabulary and what kind of dialogue is appropriate for a radically diverse society.

Update: July 13, 2021