Sample Syllabus

Rhetoric 1030

5:00-6:40 p.m., T/TH, 4 EPB
Spring 2014
The University of Iowa
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Rhetoric

Instructor: L.J. Kuhlman
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:40-8:10 p.m. and by appointment in 403 EPB.
Department Chair: Steve Duck, 164 EPB. Call 319-335-0186 or email
Department Main Office: 171 EPB. Call 319-335-0178 or email
Course Supervisor: LuAnn Dvorak, 157 EPB. Office hours 1:30-2:15, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Call 319-384-3627 or email

Department Goals
Rhetoric is the first foundational course for the General Education curriculum for the entire University. Most students take Rhetoric during their first or second semester of University study. We strive to prepare students for competent and engaged participation in University life. You should leave with the critical thinking, comprehension, research, writing, and speaking skills that all your future courses will build upon, whatever your Major. Rhetoric is a gateway to college learning, not a gatekeeper. It represents a foundation stone of the pathway to advanced learning.
Rhetoric is the study and art of persuasion: understanding how you are influenced by “texts” around you, and knowing how to compose successful writing and presentations yourselves. In Rhetoric, we consider just about everything a “rhetorical act” that attempts to persuade a specific audience to think or feel a certain way: “texts” are speeches and essays for sure, but also ads, films, products, art, graffiti, and even spaces. We emphasize the universal applicability of Rhetoric and its usefulness not only in school, but also in everyday life (e.g. media awareness, civic engagement, activism, decision-making, relationship conduct, citizenship, scientific choices).
Our curriculum focuses on controversies, and I will lead you through a sequence that asks you to analyze and describe the argumentation and persuasiveness of different perspectives on the same topic, and eventually advocate positions of your own in a way that skillfully takes into account the interests and concerns of your audience. A controversy is not just a single yes/no issue: there are always complex points to evaluate, and our job in this course is to find those nuances.
So why do we expect you to study Rhetoric at The University of Iowa? Because we want you to learn how to think at an advanced level suitable for university education. We want you to learn how to contribute more usefully to discussions and social debates. We want you to create the best essays and presentations you can in college and beyond. Your future professors expect you to master Rhetoric as a foundation for college-level learning, writing, and presenting in your chosen field of study, whether it is Engineering or English. Critical thinking, sound argumentation, and effective writing and presentation processes are essential to academic success in any discipline or field.

Course Topics & Goals
In this course, we will analyze everything from propaganda to music videos, from scholarly articles to fashion trends, from architecture to sermons, to study the ways in which we are subtly or overtly influenced every day through any medium imaginable. We will seek to understand what makes these arguments for how to live our lives so persuasive (or not so persuasive), and practice the art of influence in our own speech and writing. The main goal of this course is to help you develop a confident and persuasive voice, for use both in speech and in writing, which will enable you to present future academic work at this university in the best light possible and will make you a more effective communicator in your future career. Beyond presentation, however, you will learn valuable research skills and writing techniques, sharpen your analytical insight to become a more cognizant reader, and practice respectfully discussing controversial topics in a room of varying viewpoints.

Course Texts
Required texts or materials (available at University Book Store and Zephyr):
• Everything’s an Argument, 6th edition, without readings [orange book] (Lunsford, Ruskiewicz, & Walters; Bedford/St. Martin’s; 9781457606069)
• Rhetoric Readings course pack (L. J. Kuhlman, Spring 2014)
• Additional materials available on ICON
• A folder for your midterm portfolio

Assignments and Activities: Students will be expected to complete four major assignments in this course: two essays and two speeches. In addition to these four items, there will be a series of smaller assignments to help students practice skills instrumental to their success in the larger ones, which will include impromptu speeches, reading responses, workshopping, a group-directed discussion, small group activities, etc.
Essay 1 15%
Speech 1 15%
Essay 2 20%
Speech 2 20%
Informal Assignments 15%
Participation 15%
• You may keep track of your grade in progress through ICON or make an appointment to speak with me. I do not discuss grades via email.
• Your final grade will be determined on the University’s A-F grade scale, with A as the top possible grade.
• There is no final examination in this course.

Attendance & Participation
Attendance is required and is therefore not rewarded. Points may be deducted for absences or lack of participation in class. Students are expected to attend every meeting (unless you have an excused absence). Your participation grade makes up 15% of your final grade in this course. This grade is determined by your level of preparation for class (as demonstrated by your performance in informal or in-class assignments), and also by your active participation in class discussion (by providing thoughtful, relevant, and productive commentary when appropriate). Your participation grade will be negatively affected by unexcused absences and disruptive behavior in class (texting, sleeping, tardiness, etc.).

Excused Absences and Late Work
According to University policy, absences from class are excused in the following circumstances:
• Illness or injury.
• Family emergencies.
• Mandatory religious obligations – must be documented and arranged in advance.
• Authorized University activities – must be documented and arranged in advance.
• If you have a conscientious objection to course material covered that day, you may choose not to come, and may be asked to complete an alternate assignment or activity. See UI Operations Manual III.15.2f). Must be arranged in advance: I always give warning for content or activities that might fall under this category.

In all cases, I require documentation. I may ask you to complete the Registrar’s “Explanatory Statement for Absence from Class” form, which is available at

Lying about excused absences, including false use of Student Health self-reports, is a violation of the Code of Student Life and as such will be reported to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs & Curriculum, who can impose University sanctions.

Late work is acceptable only by arrangement with me, and it may not always be logistically possible for you to make up a public oral presentation even if an absence is excused. I will try to accommodate you, but if the class is unable to accommodate an audience for your speech, you may not be able to meet the requirement for public presentation of the speech. This will be handled at my discretion.

Late work caused by (appropriately documented) excused absences can be made up; if possible, please contact me in advance to make arrangements prior to your absence. You are responsible for providing documentation for excused absences as well as for finding out about work missed during absences.

Late work caused by unexcused absences may not be accepted. I generally do not accept unexcused late assignments. In addition, you may be penalized for work missed during unexcused absences, which includes participation in discussion and other class activities. Should you consistently arrive late to class, miss class, or miss deadlines, your participation grade will suffer as well.

In addition to penalties resulting from unaccepted late work and lack of participation, excessive unexcused absences will have a negative impact on your participation grade. I understand that circumstances like car trouble or childcare concerns can arise, and I will handle these on a case-by-case basis, but accumulated unexcused absences that bar you from participating will lower your final course grade. Tardiness may become an issue as well—Class begins promptly at 5:00, and if you arrive after I have taken attendance, it is your responsibility to check in with me after class. If you are significantly late to class, you may not receive participation credit for that day.

Course Policies

Formal Writing Assignments
All formal writing assignments must be submitted to me in BOTH a hard copy form and as .doc or .docx files sent to the ICON dropbox.
Formal writing assignments must conform to standard MLA formatting guidelines (standard one-inch margins, 12-pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced) and include a complete bibliography for sources cited. Should you need help formatting citations or the layout of your writing assignments, guidelines can be found in the back of your textbook or accessed online via the Purdue OWL site.

Peer Editing/ Workshopping
In this course, you will frequently workshop works in progress with your classmates. This should, of course, be done in a respectful and conscientious manner. As we will be dealing with controversial topics, you may not see eye-to-eye with your partner on the selected issue, but you should still be able to provide constructive feedback as to how he or she might improve his or her argument.

Classroom Community
Once more, and most importantly, be respectful. We are a diverse group of individuals with strong opinions—there is no better setting in which to learn. Keep an open mind, consider the validity of viewpoints different from your own, and be careful to present your own argument without offending others in this collegial setting. Inappropriate/disrespectful classroom behavior will not be tolerated and you may be asked to leave.

You will be expected to bring your books to class every day, as well as printed copies of materials posted to ICON as relevant to the day’s discussion. To prepare effectively, take notes as you read each chapter—this will help you to actively participate in class discussions.

Personal Electronics
Cell phones, PDAs, and laptop computers should be turned off and stowed beneath your seat for the duration of this class. If I see you texting or checking your Facebook page, your participation grade will suffer.

You are generally expected to spend two hours outside of class preparing for each hour spent in class.

All graded assignments should be kept in a folder after they are returned. I will collect these folders at the middle of the term.

I take matters of academic honestly very seriously—students who attempt to pass off others’ work as their own will be reported to the department. Consequences may include failure of the course, suspension, or expulsion from the University. If you have any questions regarding proper citation procedure, please ask me for clarification.

Adds/Drops & Transfers
All section changes are handled on-line, unless you are told you MUST have an Add/drop slip by your advisor. Add/drop slips are valid only if signed by the DEO of the Rhetoric Department: I have no authority to sign them. No Adds are permitted after the first Friday of the Fall semester and after the first Monday of the Spring semester. Transfer students are placed in this course based on your transcript. If you have questions, contact the Rhetoric Office.

Calendar of Major Course Assignments and Exams

This is a tentative calendar and is subject to change. Updates will be posted to ICON and shared in class. You are responsible for tracking course activities, readings, and assignments as the semester progresses.

A more complete explanation of assignments will be provided in class. The deadlines for the four major assignments and their preparatory components are as follows:

Paper #1 proposal due: February 4
Paper #1 rough draft due: February 11
Paper #1 revised draft due: February 13
Paper #1 final essay due: February 18

Speech #1 proposal due: February 25
Speech #1 rough outline due: March 4
Speech #1 polished outline due: March 6
Speech #1 performed in class: March 11-13

Paper #2 proposal due: March 25
Paper #2 rough draft due: April 3
Paper #2 revised draft due: April 10
Paper #2 final essay due: April 17

Speech #2 proposal due: April 22
Speech #2 rough outline due: April 29
Speech #2 polished outline due: May 1
Speech #2 performed in class: May 6-8

There is no final exam in this course.

UI Policies and Procedures
Administrative Home
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the administrative home for Rhetoric. Different colleges may have different policies. See the CLAS Academic Handbook.
Diversity & Inclusion
The University of Iowa prohibits discrimination in employment or in its educational programs and activities on the basis of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference. No acts of discrimination will be tolerated in this class.
Understanding Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University and threatens the wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff. We share a responsibility to uphold this mission and to contribute to a safe environment that enhances learning. Incidents of sexual harassment should be reported immediately. See for assistance, definitions, and the full University policy.
Accommodations for Disabilities
A student seeking academic accommodations must register with Student Disability Services and meet with me privately to make particular arrangements.
Electronic Communication
Students are responsible for all official correspondences sent to their standard University of Iowa e-mail address ( Students should check their account frequently.
Academic Fraud
Any instance of a student falsely presenting work that is not their own (e.g. plagiarism, cheating) is academic fraud and taken seriously by the College. The instructor reports any suspicion of fraud to the department and follows procedures outlined in the CLAS Academic Handbook. Consequences may include failure of the assignment or course, suspension, or expulsion.
Resubmitting work for which academic credit has already been given is fraud. It does not matter where or when the work was previously submitted.
Any student who has previously submitted work for grading in Rhetoric and who resubmits that work is committing academic fraud. For that reason, students repeating Rhetoric for a second grade option or for any other reason must submit work that is new or that has been substantially revised in terms of effort and extension of thought and quality.
Making a Suggestion or a Complaint
We may not always see eye to eye. If there is a problem, please speak to me first. Often we can resolve the issue without need for further action. I may consult with the course supervisor for advice. If matters are still unresolved, feel free to speak with Carol Severino (, the department officer charged with dealing with student concerns. If she cannot resolve the issue, then it goes to Steve Duck, the DEO. Complaints must be made within six months of the incident. See the CLAS Academic Handbook.
Reacting Safely to Severe Storms
In severe weather, the class members should seek shelter in the lowest, innermost part of the building, away from windows. The class will continue if possible when the event is over. (Operations Manual, IV. 16.14) Sign up for
Clarifying Student Collaboration
Some of your work may be collaborative. Each student on a research team is expected to complete a similar amount of work and to contribute equally to the project. Each student will complete a self-evaluation and a group evaluation, describing this equality or the lack of it during the group’s work. For more information, see the assignment sheet, the grading rubric, and the self-evaluation form for the project. Students who misrepresent themselves as equal partners in this collaborative project but who are actually letting others do the bulk of the work will be reported to the College for academic dishonesty. If you have questions, it is your responsibility to ask them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s