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Academic program


Rhetoric is a civic and cultural art. Rhetoric's origins are at the invention of democracy in the ancient Greek polis. The Christian church maintained the foundational rhetoric texts during the Middle Ages and scholars rediscovered them during the Renaissance. Since then rhetoric has flourished as a fundamental aspect of modern democracy. At Bates, rhetoric is the study of the symbolic as it is enacted in the process of negotiation in culture, civil society, and history. The major teaches students to understand how citizens use the symbolic in processes of negotiation within democratic states.

Rhetoric is both performance and a field of study. Rhetoric as performance is the ability to fundamentally navigate in the public sphere as an agent. Traditionally successful agency has included skills in oratory, writing, and debating. As the public sphere has expanded, so have the skills needed for successful agency. Skills may now be in purely visual media such as film, television, and virtual worlds.

Argumentation and debate are traditional aspects of the practice and study of rhetoric, and have long been considered essential elements to a functioning public sphere. Bates has a storied history of excellence in debate, and students may study argumentation in courses or participate in competitive debate, or both. Through the Brooks Quimby Debate Council (BQDE), the Bates rhetoric program teaches non-rhetoric students basic elements of rhetorical practice and theory and enriches the public sphere at the college.

The major in rhetoric offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of human communication. Students complete a series of core courses in rhetorical theory and criticism, history of public address, and film and television studies, complemented by courses on language, media, and communication drawn from the curricula of other departments. All students complete a senior thesis. More information on the rhetoric curriculum is available on the website (bates.edu/rhetoric).

Major Requirements. Students must choose a concentration in either rhetorical theory and criticism or in film and television studies. Each major consists of eleven courses distributed as follows:

Rhetorical Theory and Criticism. Required core courses:
1) RHET 100. What is Rhetoric? (formerly 155).

2) One of the following:
RHET 185. Public Discourse.
RHET 186. Introduction to Argumentation (formerly 291).
THEA 261. Beginning Acting.
THEA 263. Voice and Speech.
RHET s16. Public Discourse.

3) One of the following:
RHET 257. Rhetorical Criticism.
RHET 276. Television Criticism.

4) RHET 252. Rhetorical Theory.

5) One of the following:
RHET 260. Lesbian and Gay Images in Film.
RHET 265. The Rhetoric of Women's Rights.

6) One of the following:
AA/RH 162. White Redemption: Cinema and the Co-optation of African American History.
RHET 226. Minority Images in Hollywood Film.

7) Two of the following:
RHET 391A. The Rhetoric of Alien Abduction.
RHET 391B. Presidential Campaign Rhetoric.
RHET 391C. The Harlem Renaissance.
RHET 391D. Argument Theory.
RHET 391E. The Interracial Buddy Film.

8) RHET 457 and/or 458. Senior Thesis.

9) Students are also required to complete at least one course from two of the following three areas. No single course may be used to complete more than one requirement. No more than one Short Term course may be counted toward the major. One Short Term course in addition to RHET s16 (Public Discourse) may be counted toward the major.

a) Theories of Communication:
ANTH 333. Culture and Interpretation.
CM/RH 160. Classical Rhetoric.
CM/HI 231. Litigation in Classical Athens.
FYS 332. A Raisin in the Sun.
PHIL 195. Introduction to Logic.
PHIL 235. Philosophy of Mind.
PSYC 380. Social Cognition.

b) Representation:
AV/WS 287. Women, Gender, Visual Culture.
AVC 288. Visualizing Race.
AVC 375. Issues of Sexuality and the Study of Visual Culture.
AVC s32. The Photograph as Document.
FYS 313. Whitelands: Cinematic Nightmares.
INDS 235. The Politics of Pleasure and Desire: Women's Independent and Third Cinema and Video from the African Diaspora.
INDS s25. Black Terror.
RHET 195. Documentary Production.
RHET s18. Goldberg's Canon: Makin' Whoopi.
RHET s31. Conspiracy Rhetoric.
RHET s32. Motown America.

c) Social and Political Movements:
HIST 261. American Protest in the Twentieth Century.
PL/RE 212. Contemporary Moral Disputes.
PLTC 346. Power and Protest.
REL 247. City upon the Hill.

Film and Television Studies. Required core courses:
1) RHET 100. What is Rhetoric?

2) On of the following:
AA/RH 162. White Redemption: Cinema and the Co-optation of African American History.
RHET 226. Minority Images in Hollywood Film.

3) One of the following:
RHET 185. Public Discourse.
RHET 186. Introduction to Argumentation.
THEA 261. Beginning Acting.
THEA 263. Voice and Speech.
RHET s16. Public Discourse.
RH/TH s40. Digital Video Production.

4) RHET 260. Lesbian and Gay Images in Film.

5) One of the following:
RHET 240. Film Theory.
RHET 276. Television Criticism.


6) Two of the following:
RHET 391A. The Rhetoric of Alien Abduction.
RHET 391B. Presidential Campaign Rhetoric.
RHET 391C. The Harlem Renaissance.
RHET 391D. Argument Theory.
RHET 391E. The Interracial Buddy Film.

7) RHET 457 and/or 458. Senior Thesis.

8) Students are required to complete three film and television studies courses from among the following. Within this category, no more than one Short Term course may be counted toward the major.
ANTH 255. Cinematic Portraits of Africa.
AN/PT s22. Politics of Cultural Production: African Films and Filmmaking.
EN/ES 395Q. Nature and Culture in European Art Film.
FRE s36. The Evolution of French Cinema.
FYS 334. Film Art.
GER s25. The German Cinema.
INDS 235. The Politics of Pleasure and Desire: Women's Independent and Third Cinema and Video from the African Diaspora.
MUS 340. Music and Cinema.
PLTC s16. Arab and Iranian Film as Indicators of Social Change.
REL 100. Religion and Film.
RHET s18. Goldberg's Canon: Makin' Whoopi.
SPAN 217. Literature and Screen.
SPAN 454. Revolución en el cine.
THEA 242. Screenwriting.
THEA s33. Central European Theater and Film.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Students are allowed to take one 100- or 200-level course pass/fail within the major. No 300-level courses may be taken pass/fail.

Minor in Rhetoric. The minor consists of six courses. A coherent program for each student's minor is designed in accord with the following guidelines and in consultation with a member of the rhetoric faculty who is chosen or appointed as the student's departmental advisor for the minor.

The courses courses required for the minor in rhetoric include:
1) RHET 100. What is Rhetoric?

2) One of the following:
RHET 255. Rhetorical Criticism.
RHET 276. Television Criticism.

3) One of the following:
AA/RH 162. White Redemption: Cinema and the Co-optation of African American History.
RHET 226. Minority Images in Hollywood Film.

4) One of the following:
RHET 260. Lesbian and Gay Images in Film.
RHET 265. The Rhetoric of Women's Rights.

5) One of the following:
RHET 185. Public Discourse.
RHET 186. Introduction to Argumentation (formerly 291).
THEA 261. Beginning Acting.
THEA 263. Voice and Speech.
RHET s16. Public Discourse.
RH/TH s40. Digital Video Production.

6) One of the following:
RHET 391A. The Rhetoric of Alien Abduction.
RHET 391B. Presidential Campaign Rhetoric.
RHET 391C. The Harlem Renaissance.
RHET 391D. Argument Theory.
RHET 391E. The Interracial Buddy Film.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. One 100- or 200-level course may be taken pass/fail in fulfilling the minor requirements.


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