Teaching for Spring 2014: “The #epicfail as Argument”

Happy to share with everyone that this spring I’ll be teaching a sophomore seminar built around the idea that ineffective rhetoric (what I’m calling failed rhetoric) can teach us just as much about how people communicate with one another as can those “Great Moments in Oratory” typically featured in rhetoric  & writing courses.

If you’re a prospective student who would like to know more about the kinds of questions we’ll be discussing throughout the semester — or if you’re someone who’s simply interested in what a course like this might entail — please take a look at the latest draft version of the course syllabus. Information and formatting included in the document are (as always) subject to change, but this should give you a good idea of the course’s primary goals, objectives, and content.

(And, of course, if you have any questions or concerns about this class, please don’t hesitate to e-mail or stop by the office — Reed 402 — to chat about it.)

Here’s the course description, which can also be found on the TCU English Department’s website:

The #epicfail as Argument

Failure is something we have all dealt with at some point. Failed quizzes or tests in school. Failed plans and projects at work. Failed relationships with the people in our lives. And as frustrating or disappointing as each of these failures might initially seem, in time we come to understand how failure can lay the groundwork for success by exposing both the flaws in our original plan and the rules, limits, or behaviors we have violated in our attempt to achieve a desired goal. The purpose of this writing course, then, is to examine failed communication—speeches that flopped, tweets that shocked the world, movies that “bombed” at the box office, books that confused their readers—as a way of better understanding the processes by which effective communication operates. By exploring how and why the #epicfail has achieved such a ubiquitous place in contemporary culture, students in this course will wrestle with both the freedoms and constraints placed upon speakers in various rhetorical situations in order to better understand how arguments are generated and disseminated in the 21st century.

TCU Requirements Fulfilled: Written Communication (WCO)

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