Performative Rhetorics Assignments

Course Description / Texts / Assignments / Schedule Resources

1) Weekly Reading Posts: Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings on the canvas course site under Discussions. One or two people will be responsible for writing the opening post for each reading, to which others will respond. Opening posts due on the discussion board by the Saturday before the class in which we discuss the text. Substantial responses will be due by Tuesday at noon. Whether you’re responding to a classmate’s post or offering your own read, these “substantial responses” should offer a real engagement with the material that takes us into the text, using quotes and page numbers, and posing questions and/or offering reflections on passages or ideas.

2) Artifact Paper:

You will select a “cultural artifact” for the semester (a novel or novelist; a literary theory or theoretical text or theorist; a rhetorical theory or rhetorical text or rhetorician; a philosophy or philosophical text or philosopher; an architect or architectural style, etc.), across which you will read the texts of this course. Ideally, the artifact you choose will be a “text,” broadly defined, that links your particular scholarly focus or interests to the theme of the course. Be sure to select something narrow enough to produce a focus but complex enough to sustain several re-readings throughout the semester. (Grimms Fairy Tales would work, for example, whereas one specific fairy tale might be too narrow, and a general theme of “fairy tales and fables” would be too unfocused. You could select Fyodor Dostoyevsky or Mary Shelley or Martin Heidegger or Kenneth Burke or Hélène Cixous or Bruno Latour, or one of their major works, but I wouldn’t select a single essay by one of them. You could select a specific architectural approach or a specific architect or Aristotle or Aristotle’s Politics, but I wouldn’t select one building or one section of the Politics. You get the picture.)

Your artifact paper should introduce the class to your artifact, noting its implicit or explicit position(s) on the question of performative language. Papers should be one, tight, single-spaced or two double-spaced pages in length, and they should include an annotated bibliography of other works on this artifact–a handful of texts is fine. Papers will be read aloud in class and uploaded to the canvas site.

Here are a few sample artifact papers from other courses:

Gerdes Artifact / Eric’s Artifact  /

3) Three Summary/Response Papers: Formal, one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers that are interested less in opinions than in relationships and that are to be read aloud in class and submitted to the course site before class begins. Margins are optional, but no smaller than 12 point font and no more than one letter-sized page. The first half of each paper should be a very concise but thorough summary of the assigned text. The second half should be your reading of that work “across” your artifact or vice versa. I am very serious about devoting half of the page to each task.

Please don’t be fooled; these one-pagers are hard as hell—they demand a higher level of reading/writing savvy than a traditional essay. Until you get the hang of the process and the style-cramping format, expect to rewrite at least once, maybe several times. The grading will be rigorous; excellence will be required. The hope is that when you leave this course, these short, dense papers will offer you a base for one or more publishable papers and also provide you with some valuable study resources for your field or comprehensive exams.

Here are a few S/R papers from other courses:

Gerdes Paper 1 / Eric’s Paper 1