M. Renee Benham

The Rhetoric of Violence

This course provides practice in composing and revising expository essays that are well organized, logically coherent, and effective for their purpose and audience. My primary goal for this course is to help students improve their understanding of what writing is, how it functions in various writing communities, and how to read and write rhetorically for various situations you may enter. To aid their development of these skills, this course will simultaneously investigate the theme of violence, specifically violence in schools, advertising, and entertainment. We read a variety of articles – both scholarly and popular – in order to practice our skills of reading, thinking, and writing rhetorically. In addition, they will choose a topic that is pertinent to their own interests and intersects with the violence theme, research this topic throughout the semester, write an argument essay and create a webpage about this topic that demonstrates their knowledge of the topic, their ability to think about it rhetorically, and their writing skill.

Our textbook is Reading Rhetorically by John C. Bean, Virginia A. Chappell, and Alice M. Gillam. We also read many supplemental essays.

Though the topics vary by semester and class, we usually focus on how violence is represented in advertisements, video games, and television. Through this, we are also able to examine the representations of race, gender, and sexuality in each of these mediums. The analysis of media also allows us a great deal of rhetorical visual analysis experience. In the past, we also examined how violence is represented and valued in different discourse communities, looking specifically at hip-hop and professional wrestling.

For the final project, students are asked to transform their 8-10 page essay (which has been written, graded, and revised by this time) into a webpage with a specific intended audience connected to their essay topic and with specified goals.  Here is a gallery with links to the students’ sites:

ENG 1510-154

ENG 1510-173

ENG 1510-182

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