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 (BQDC), the Bates rhetoric program teaches students basic elements of rhetorical practice and theory and enriches discourse in 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 screen studies. Students may count one Short Term course toward the major, unless they are completing the performance requirement, in which case, students may use two Short Term courses to satisfy the major requirements. Each of the major concentrations consists of eleven courses distributed as follows:

Rhetorical Theory and Criticism.
1-3) Required core courses. All of the following:
RHET 100. What is Rhetoric?
RHET 120. Introduction to Screen Studies.
RHET 252. Rhetorical Theory.

4) Performance. One of the following:
RHET s16. Public Discourse.
RHET s17. Introduction to Argumentation.
RHET s40. Digital Video Production.

5-7) Public Sphere. Three of the following courses, at least one must be a 300-level seminar:
AA/RH 242. Passing/Trespassing.
RHET 265. The Rhetoric of Women's Rights.
RHET 273. Monday Morning Quarterbacking: The Rhetoric of Sports.
RHET 391A. The Rhetoric of Alien Abduction.
RHET 391B. Presidential Campaign Rhetoric.

8) National Screens. One of the following:
AA/RH 159. Cinema in Black and White: African American Presence and Absence in American Film.
AA/RH 162. White Redemption.
AA/RH 281. Black Pride and the 1970s.
RHET 220. Constructions of Italian American Men and Masculinities.
RHET 226. Minority Images in Hollywood Film.
RHET 260. Gay and Lesbian Images in Film.
RHET 391E. The Interracial Buddy Film.
RHET 391F. Bollywood.
RHET 391G. Immigration and Media.
RHET s22. The Cinema of John Ford.
RHET s30. Film Festivals and Digital Video Production.
RHET s40. Digital Video Production.

9-10) Two additional rhetoric-related courses, which, with department approval, may include courses taken in approved study-abroad programs or courses taken in other departments or programs at Bates.

11) RHET 457 or 458. Senior Thesis.

Screen Studies.
1-3) Required core courses. All of the following:
RHET 100. What is Rhetoric?
RHET 120. Introduction to Screen Studies.
RHET 240. Film Theory.

4) Performance. One of the following:
RHET s16: Public Discourse.
RHET s17: Introduction to Argumentation.
RHET s40: Digital Video Production.

5-7) National Screens. Three of the following courses, at least one must be a 300-level seminar:
AA/RH 159. Cinema in Black and White: African American Presence and Absence in American Film.
AA/RH 162. White Redemption.
AA/RH 281. Black Pride and the 1970s.
RHET 220. Constructions of Italian American Men and Masculinities.
RHET 226. Minority Images in Hollywood Film.
RHET 260. Gay and Lesbian Images in Film.
RHET 391E. The Interracial Buddy Film.
RHET 391F. Bollywood.
RHET 391G. Immigration and Media.
RHET s22. The Cinema of John Ford.
RHET s30. Film Festivals and Digital Video Production.

8) Public Sphere. One of the following:
AA/RH 242. Passing/Trespassing.
RHET 265. The Rhetoric of Women's Rights.
RHET 273. Monday Morning Quarterbacking: The Rhetoric of Sports.
RHET 391A. The Rhetoric of Alien Abduction.
RHET 391B. Presidential Campaign Rhetoric.

9-10) Two additional rhetoric-related courses, which, with department approval, may include courses taken in approved study-abroad programs or courses taken in other departments or programs.

11) RHET 457 or 458. Senior Thesis.

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

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 required for the minor in rhetoric include:
1) RHET 100. What is Rhetoric?
2)RHET 120. Introduction to Screen Studies.

3) One of the following:
AA/RE 159. Cinema in Black and White: African American Presence and Absence in American Film.
AA/RH 162. White Redemption: Cinema and the Co-optation of African American History.
AA/RH 242. Passing/Trespassing.
AA/RH 281. Black Pride and the 1970s.
RHET 220. Constructions of Italian American Men and Masculinities.
RHET 226. Minority Images in Hollywood Film.
RHET 273. Monday Morning Quarterbacking: The Rhetoric of Sports.

4) One of the following:
RHET 220. Constructions of Italian American Men and Masculinities.
RHET 260. Lesbian and Gay Images in Film.
RHET 265. The Rhetoric of Women's Rights.

5) One of the following:
RHET s16. Public Discourse.
RHET s17. Introduction to Argumentation.
RH/TH s40. Digital Video Production.

6) One topics seminar (391), including:
RHET 391A. The Rhetoric of Alien Abduction.
RHET 391B. Presidential Campaign Rhetoric.
RHET 391E. The Interracial Buddy Film.
RHET 391F. Bollywood.
RHET 391G. Immigration and the Media.

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