RHE 330E Pathos Course Description

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Aristotle held that there were three basic appeals (pisteis) by which to persuade an audience: appeals to reason (logos), appeals that arise from the rhetor’s own character (ethos), and appeals to the audience’s emotions (pathos). In contemporary western society, however, the latter is often considered to be a bit unsavory, a slimy-smarmy way to move an audience to action or attitude.

Appeals to fear, anger, pity, or shame, it is presumed, line up on the side of seduction and ruse rather than on the side of reason and truth—that is to say, they line up on the side of the body rather than the mind. The mind is putatively the arena of pure rational thought, diametrically opposed to unruly bodily spasms, such as blood-boiling anger or self-shattering shame. Common wisdom today suggests that we’d be a lot more rational if it weren’t for those pesky emotions. One must keep a “cool head,” as they say today, or one mustn’t “lose one’s head.” The prejudice against all things “body” enjoys a long and proud history that is associated with the classical definition of man as a rational animal (animale rationale). The capacity for reason is considered by many to be unique to human animals; indeed, it is considered the means by which humans transcend their animality. Emotional appeals, which shoot for the less lofty realms of sensual reaction, are therefore considered superficial and dangerous, manipulative tactics that lead audiences away from a more objective truth.

But Aristotle situated the pathé (the passions or emotions) within the realm of reason, considering them crucial not only to sound judgment but to thinking itself. And contemporary thought in such diverse arenas as rhetoric, philosophy, neuroscience, and political theory backs Aristotle on this one: all suggest that emotions fundamentally orient one’s existence in the world, and that there is no disinterested or dispassionate reason—indeed, thinking itself depends upon the passions.

In this course, we will follow Aristotle’s lead and study the ways in which thinking and judgment are intricately tied up with passion. We will read a broad spectrum of texts on emotional life in order to better understand both how we, as people, are moved to action or attitude through our affective engagement, and how we, as rhetors, might use that understanding to perform critical analyses and craft successful appeals.

Prerequisite: Completion of at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including E 316k or the equivalent.

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Course Policy:

Attendance: Be here. This is a performance course that requires student attendance. Should a student miss the equivalent of 5 class sessions this semester, excused or not, s/he will not pass the courseEach three tardies will count as one absence. Beyond that, this: Because the success of this course depends upon the success of our interaction as a class, attendance is absolutely necessary. Expect your grade to suffer if you fail to fully participate on the wiki and in class discussions. If you must miss a class, check with one of your classmates about what you missed before the next class. Please keep at least 3 numbers/eddresses handy.

Deadlines: Don’t miss ’em. Even if you must miss class, your work will need to find its way there (via a friend or an email, perhaps) on time if it doesn’t want its grade to suffer–one letter grade for each day it’s late. **I will allow rewrites on certain projects; however, to qualify, you must have submitted a full and complete version of your assignment at the time it was due. I will not allow rewrites on any paper/project that is turned in late, without peer review, and/or turned in on time but incomplete.**

Students with Disabilities: The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), at 471-6259.

Scholastic Honesty: Turning in work that is not your own, or any other form of scholastic dishonesty, will result in a major course penalty, possibly failure of the course. This standard applies to all drafts and assignments, and a report of the incident will be submitted to the Office of the Dean of Students and filed in your permanent UT record. Under certain circumstances, the Dean of Students will initiate proceedings to expel you from the University. So, take care to read and understand the Statement on Scholastic Responsibility, which can be found online at http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/rhetoric/firstyearwriting/plagiarismcollusion.php. If you have any doubts about your use of sources, ask your instructor for help before handing in the assignment.

Email notification polilcy: All students should become familiar with the University’s official e-mail student notification policy. It is the student’s responsibility to keep the University informed as to changes in his or her e-mail address. Students are expected to check e-mail on a frequent and regular basis in order to stay current with University-related communications, recognizing that certain communications may be time-critical. It is recommended that e-mail be checked daily, but at a minimum, twice per week. The complete text of this policy and instructions for updating your e-mail address are available athttp://www.utexas.edu/its/policies/emailnotify.html. All students may claim an email address at no cost by going to http://www.utexas.edu/its/services/email/.

Emergency Information. Occupants of buildings on The University of Texas at Austin campus are required to evacuate buildings when a fire alarm is activated.  Alarm activation or announcement requires exiting and assembling outside. Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of each classroom and building you may occupy.  Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when entering the building. Students requiring assistance in evacuation shall inform their instructor in writing during the first week of class. In the event of an evacuation, follow the instruction of faculty or class instructors. Do not re-enter a building unless given instructions by the following: The University of Texas at Austin Police Department, or Fire Prevention Services office. Other important Emergency Information: http://www.utexas.edu/safety/preparedness/

Computation of Grades: Grades will be computed on a 4-point scale: A=4.0, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. Final grades will not include plusses and minuses.

Undergraduate Writing Center.  I strongly encourage you to use the Undergraduate Writing Center, FAC 211, 471-6222: http://www.uwc.utexas.edu/). The Undergraduate Writing Center offers free, individualized, expert help with writing for any UT undergraduate, by appointment or on a drop-in basis. Any undergraduate enrolled in a course at UT can visit the UWC for assistance with any writing project. The consultants there work with students from every department on campus, for both academic and non-academic writing. Whether you are writing a lab report, a resume, a term paper, a statement for an application, or your own poetry, UWC consultants will be happy to work with you. Their services are not just for writing that has “problems.” Getting feedback from an informed audience is a normal part of a successful writing project. Consultants help students develop strategies to improve their writing. The assistance they provide is intended to foster independence. Each student determines how to use the consultant’s advice. The consultants are trained to help you work on your writing in ways that preserve the integrity of your work.


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