Class Notes: "Critical and Rhetorical Methods" with Professor DeLaure

As Led Zeppelin said (or rather, sang) “It’s been a long time.”  I think they were singing about lost love and rock and roll (who am I kidding, I totally needed my husband’s help with this hook), but it is fitting for today’s post.  Yes, “it’s been a long time” since our last “Class Notes” post, but now it’s here (was it worth the wait?).

Remember “Class Notes” where we get to hear from the professor what the class is about?  “Class Notes” which we decided were much more helpful than the course catalog?  “Class Notes” where alums can reminisce about times spent in their Communication Studies courses?  Well, it’s back, just in time to help you plan your Fall 2011 schedule!

Those of you who have checked out the course schedule already know that Professor DeLaure is teaching COMS 252: Critical and Rhetorical Methods.  This course, offered for the first time in Fall 2011, is a revised version of Rhetorical Criticism (COMS 332), which will no longer be offered.  **So, if you have already taken Rhetorical Criticism, you should NOT take COMS 252!  And if you wanted to take Rhetorical Criticism, you should take Critical and Rhetorical Methods! ** We are shifting the course from an upper division course to a mid-level Methods course (one of three Methods options from which Communication Studies majors and minors may choose). Prerequisite: COMS 202, Rhetoric and the Public Sphere.

Here’s the course in a nutshell from Professor DeLaure herself: “In Critical and Rhetorical Methods, students will learn the skills of close reading and rhetorical analysis.  Techniques of close reading apply to texts of all kinds—from deliberative speeches to advertisements, from protest marches to public monuments. Mastering close reading enables us to understand how a text creates meaning, attending not only to what is said, but how it is said, and with what implications.  Students read theory, criticism essays, and primary texts; they will write several papers on topics they choose.

Critical and Rhetorical Methods builds on the foundation laid in Rhetoric and the Public Sphere by exploring a number of rhetorical perspectives from which to analyze texts.  We will put those perspectives into practice by scrutinizing speeches, images, public spaces and other kinds of texts.  In each case, we will attempt to understand the functions of language (broadly construed) in our society: the ways it persuades, forges individual and collective identity, and structures our experience of the world.  Close reading is an indispensable skill not only for students of rhetoric, but for all citizens, as it equips us to understand more deeply the myriad texts that vie for our attention.  Through engaging in critical analysis, we will become better attuned to the forces of symbolic action working around and within us, thus enabling us to become savvy consumers and more informed, ethical creators of rhetoric.”

Professor DeLaure, excited to teach Critical Rhetorical Methods in the fall!

If you have taken Rhetorical Criticism (the former identity of this new class), comment back!  Are there classes on the schedule for Fall 2011 that you want to learn more about?  Contact me at edoohan@usfca.edu and I will feature them in an upcoming “Class Notes” post.



  1. Rhetorical Crit. was one of my absolute favorite classes at USF. The material profoundly changed the way I understood politics and media, and two years out of college, I can say that the analytical skills learned have had a huge impact on my every day life. A must-take!

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