3000-Level Courses

Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications

3000-Level Courses (PDF)


The Fifth Canon
RHET-3145, Section 001
Fall Term, MW 1:30 PM TO 2:45 PM
Instructor: Tracy Whalen

This course focuses on the fifth canon of rhetoric—pronuntiatio or delivery—which in recent years has attracted attention from rhetorical scholars. We read classical rhetorical texts (e.g., those of Aristotle, Cicero, Demosthenes and Quintilian), trace changing attitudes towards delivery throughout history, and take up contemporary theories of delivery. Topics include delivery and gender, theatricality and excess, chironomia (the art of gesture), and the relationship between delivery and memory. We examine attitudes about bodily performance in public address including, but not limited to, vocal expression, timing, posture, and dress. We also explore the connections between media technologies and twenty first-century theories of digital delivery. There is also a performance element to this class. Students follow, loosely, some of the Roman classical exercises (or Progymnastmata), which help put our thinking into practice.

Critical Studies of Discourse
RHET-3151, Section 001
Fall Term, TuTh 2:30 PM TO 3:45 PM
Instructor: Matthew Flisfeder

Critical studies of discourse and ideology enable us to identify the ways that culturally prominent systems of value-laden language produce the forms and limits of probable (and even possible) thoughts and values. For example, patriotic discourses operate to legitimate the power of some groups in our culture, while making it seem equally logical to deny the rights of others. In this course, students learn techniques developed in the fields of rhetoric and communication studies for contributing to social change by recognizing, analyzing, and challenging the terms of discourse and ideology.

Studies in the Rhetorics of Gender
RHET-3153, Section 001
Fall Term, W 6:00 PM TO 9:00 PM
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 such as abortion and reproductive technologies, in which gender is a central factor. Cross-listed: WGS-3153(3).

Forms of Inquiry in Written Communication
RHET-3320, Section 001
Fall Term, TuTh 11:30 AM TO 12:45 PM
Instructor: Andrew McGillivray

The disciplinary fields of rhetoric, writing, and communications are still growing and forming, and people conducting research within these fields use a variety of methods to explore research questions and uncover answers to those questions in subject areas such as language, culture, and group identity. This course encourages an ethnographic approach to studying how groups communicate, form and express identities, and use technologies. To carry out this work, students have the unique opportunity to conduct research directly with human subjects. The major assignment for the course is a staged research project, for which students conduct initial exploratory investigations on a group of their choice, followed by a project proposal and human ethics research training. After the project proposals are approved, students then undertake fieldwork through observation, participation, interviews, and/or the collection of artifacts (physical and/or textual). The final stage of the project is to write out the data collected during research and to write up a final ethnographic interpretation of the group.

Strategies for Technical and Professional Communication
RHET-3340, Section 001
Fall Term, TuTh 2:30 PM TO 3:45 PM
Instructor: Sheila Page

Writing in an organisational setting requires a careful understanding of the individual writer’s role in relation to the organisation, as well as the organisation’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 organisational communications. We will also analyse and practise many of the standard formats used in organisational 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 organisational 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 organisational documents, to examine issues in organisational 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 organisations.

Rhetoric of the Public Sphere
RHET-3401, Section 001
Fall Term, TuTh 4:00 PM TO 5:15 PM
Instructor: Jason Hannan

This course adopts a rhetoric and communications framework to explore the concept of "the public sphere," everyday processes of communal discourse and negotiation.  It examines written, spoken, visual, gestural, and other texts that mediate relations among people in civic spaces.  It may include such as topics as the definition of the term "public sphere," the history of public discourse, the relationship between state and civil society, the ethics of public texts and power, the impact of the media in narrating public events, and the textual "handling" of social tensions.


Rhetoric of Non-Fiction
RHET-3150, Section 001
Winter Term, TuTh 4:00 PM TO 5:15 PM
Instructor: Helen Lepp Friesen

At least since 1800, it's been a tricky job to put together a happy, healthy self.  In olden days, heroes in literature were mighty personages who founded a nation or went on wild, adventurous quests.  Today heroism is internal for the most part, and the epic task confronting the modern personality is to put together a sane psyche in an insane world.  As social and religious certainties dissolve, as the family falls apart, the great work of adolescence and young adulthood is to integrate a coherent yet various selfhood; this has come to seem an heroic labour, and perhaps even the work of a lifetime.  In what is sometimes loosely called "romantic psychology," the self is thought to develop by stages, via an indispensable struggle with the world, toward integration, purpose, and self-actualization.  This course will look at the way this struggle toward selfhood is metaphorized in autobiography and memoir.  The course will involve a great deal of close reading, and both literary and rhetorical approaches as each work invokes them.  Class will consist of short lecture presentations and a great deal of class discussion.

Required Texts: (List may change somewhat before class begins.)

West with the Night, by Beryl Markham
Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston
White Album, by Joan Didion
Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman

New Journalism
RHET-3154, Section 001
Winter Term, MW 2:30 PM TO 3:45 PM
Instructor: Robert Byrnes

“New journalism” arose in the 1960's when Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Michael Herr, Hunter 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 literary talent in their generation, and instigated the first powerful renewal of North American letters in fifty years. The course will include critical and theoretical readings on new journalistic practice.

Required Texts:

Truman Capote, In Cold Blood
Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem
Michael Herr, Dispatches
Tom Wolfe, Kandy-Colored Tangerine Flake Streamlined Baby
Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
The New Journalism (Course Pack)

Transnational & Intercultural Language and Communication
RHET-3156, Section 001
Winter Term, TuTh 11:30 AM TO 2:45 PM
Instructor: Andrew McGillivray

This course begins by looking at the origins and development of human language from historical and mythical perspectives and moves into specific case studies of unilingual, bilingual, and multilingual groups, their languages, communication practices, and uses of representational media by the groups. Students are challenged to focus closely on how groups communicate with one another, whether using common languages or translation, and how groups use language to represent their culture within the group and to other groups. Central to such intra- and inter-group communication is the representation of identity and heritage, and therefore as languages change, identity changes also occur. As a response to such change there are often cultural motivations to preserve and revive languages. Students also have opportunity to study an individual’s use of language and to situate the language-user within a language community or communities. As a community we will develop critical interpretations on the role of rhetoric in monolingual-multilingual discourses.

Composing Our Winnipeg: Rhetoric Of/And the City
RHET-3321, Section 001
Winter Term, TuTh 1:00 PM TO 2:15 PM
Instructor: Jaqueline McLeod Rogers

How does Winnipeg influence our sense of identity and our writing? How do we understand our city through a filter of language and images? If our city been built, written and revised, can we in turn influence the production of our city and its cultures? To respond to questions like these, we will consider how paying attention to place—walking, listening, looking, mapping--can bring to light a level of detail we may have overlooked. We will consider how for each of us the city is both real and imagined, material and mobile. Finally, we will also consider how [well] we live together in the city as strangers and what discourse practices promote a sense of shared community.

We will work with theories about how language and cultural discourse influence identity and possibilities of creativity and social action. We also theorize place and mobilities: thinking locally balances interdisciplinary and extracurricular emphasis on globalization, and thinking about place balances our explorations of virtual space. Research methods in this course are both traditional and non- traditional. We will conduct some archival research and literary analysis, as well as ethnographic observations. We will also adapt the concept of researcher as «flaneur», one who observes by being in place—walking, drawing maps, recording sounds, all to create an alternate up-close version/vision of place.

Investigative Journalism
RHET-3330, Section 050
Winter Term, Mon 6:00 PM TO 9:00 PM
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.

Critical Studies of Social Media (Topics in Rhetoric, Writing & Communications course)
RHET-3900, Section 002
Winter Term, MW 2:30 PM TO 3:45 PM
Instructor: Matthew Flisfeder

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.