The History and Theory of Rhetoric


Middle Age, Renaissance, and Enlightenment” or “Materialist” units


The goal is to conduct a rhetorical analysis of a movie using the rhetorical theory discussed in the readings, class lectures, or discussions held during the “Middle Age, Renaissance, and Enlightenment” or “Materialist” units of this course. Through an analytical lens structured by one of the rhetorical approaches developed during these periods you will conduct an analysis that will show your knowledge and understanding of rhetorical theory and show how that theory can be used to critically analyze a rhetorical artifact.

Because this course is both about learning theory and using theory to enrich an understanding of rhetoric, this assignment will be as much about critiquing an object as about exhibiting a thorough understanding of a rhetorical theory.

General Objectives to Be Met:

This paper will be graded according to and should accomplish the following objectives:

1. Demonstrate your understanding of the assigned readings (up to Wednesday, October 22) from The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction and from Blackboard including your ability to integrate, synthesis, apply, and critically assess those readings.

2. Demonstrate your capacity to link theory and practice through a reflection that extends, amends, or reconstructs ONE rhetorical concept, theory, or approach explored in the readings related to Middle Age, Renaissance, Enlightenment, or Materialist Rhetoric and creates an evaluative perspective that is relevant to evaluating ONE movie which I will chose for you (see below).

3. Demonstrate your ability to deal intelligently and thoroughly with rhetorical concepts and use such analytical tools to conduct rhetorical criticism.

4. Because these periods in rhetorical history marked a clear shift towards hermeneutics (textual analysis) and an awareness of the context from which rhetoric was produced, you will need to do some research outside of the text itself. I am not asking for much, but I do want you to know the context from which this movie came. (Hint: use Wikipedia.)

5. Demonstrate command of the mechanics of writing, including using proper grammar, spelling, and academic referencing (using APA Style).

More Specifics:

Your paper should: (a) show that you have watched Harlan County, USA, a documentary by Barbara Kopple from 1976 and are aware of the contextual elements that informed the movie, (b)identify and explain the rhetorical theory, concept, or approach from Middle Age, Renaissance, Enlightenment, or Materialist Rhetoric you will use to analyze this speech and justify why you chose it for this paper, and (c) through the use of this rhetorical perspective, examine and evaluate Harlan County, USA at length.

The first portion of the paper will provide contextual information about the movie (ask yourself, ‘Why would someone make this movie at this time about these people?’)(1/4 of the paper); the second portion will present the rhetorical theory, concept, or approach you will use (1/4 of the paper); and the final portion will involve you critiquing the movie using the theory you chose (1/2 of the paper). Use plenty of examples from the movie to help support your claim.

The paper should be 6-7 pages in length, use 1” margins all around, be written in 12-pointTimes New Roman font, and be double-spaced. Any citations should use APA format and the paper itself should include a “References” page at the end of the paper (this is not included as part of the 6-7 page requirement).

The link to this movie is available on the course. You can also access is via (search for Harlan County, USA).