wra 260 | spring 2019


Rhetoric, Persuasion, and Culture

Professor Kristin L. Arola
Classtime: MW 12:40-2pm
Room: 315 Ernst Bessey Hall
Office Hours: MW 10-12 or by appt (during January, please email me to confirm time)
Office: Bessey Hall 288
email: arola@msu.edu

Course Description

Rhetoric is everywhere; it shapes how and why we communicate (or express ourselves), from a simple “hello” to a sonnet, from an Instagram post to the most complex data set. One purpose of this course is to provide you with a basic knowledge of rhetorical theory. Another, more important purpose is to help you develop critical rhetorical flexibility, which means that you cannot only shift your discourse according to different situations, but that you will know and be able to describe why you shift. That is, like any “skill” or “strategy,” rhetorical flexibility works best when you know the implications of what you’re doing.

Catalog description: Rhetorical analysis of consumer, corporate, organizational, and popular cultures appropriate to professional settings.


Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to
  • Define rhetoric, rhetorical situation, and rhetorical appeals
  • Describe how and why rhetoric shifts for different cultures and contexts
  • Identify the rhetorical strategies used in any given text


Required Materials

  • Access to d2l.msu.edu (ALL readings will be provided on D2L)

Course Policies

Accommodation Policy

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at rcpd.msu.edu. Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc). Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Academic Honesty

The Spartan Code of Honor states, "As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do." In addition, Article 2.III.B.2 of the Student Rights and Responsibilites (SRR) states that "The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards." The (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: www.msu.edu.)

Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Also, you are not authorized to use the www.allmsu.com Web site to complete any course work in this course. Students who violate MSU academic integrity rules may receive a penalty grade, including a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also the Academic Integrity webpage.)

Limits to Confidentiality

Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University's student record policies. However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others. As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the MSU Police Department) if you share it with me:

  • Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child,
  • Allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment when they involve MSU students, faculty, or staff, and
  • Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared. In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual. If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling Center

Needs Support

Any student in this class who experiences difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in our course, is urged to contact their academic advisor for support. You may also contact the MSU Food Bank (http://foodbank.msu.edu) for help getting access to healthy foods. Furthermore, if you are experiencing any other challenges with basic needs, you may also notify me, and I will work to connect you with any resources that I may have access to.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center staff consults with writers at all levels of proficiency, at all stages of the composing process, and on a wide variety of composing projects including essays, resumes, presentations, websites, and digital movies. Visit our website at http://writing.msu.edu to set up an appointment at one of our various sites across campus, including all neighborhoods, the main library, and online. When space is available, all locations take drop-in clients on a first-come, first-served basis.