Speculating about the nature of truth, the philosopher and theorist of rhetoric Giambattista Vico famouslydeclared “Verum esse ipsum factum,” which may be translated in two paradoxical ways: both as “Truth itself isfact” and “Truth itself is made.” This paradox — that what we call truth is at one and the same time
like fictions — lies at the heart of the rhetorical practice of invention, i.e., the process of discovering and/or constructing new ideas.In this class, we’ll study and practice strategies of invention across a range of academic disciplines and in bothacademic and public spheres. How do critics invent original arguments about verbal and visual artifacts? Howdo social scientists invent original arguments about human cultural practices? How do we use what we havelearned about writing and research in an academic setting to invent original arguments for use in a public one?As the repetition here of the word “original” ought to suggest, the writing that you do in this class will be largelyself-directed. I’ll provide you with the tools of invention, but the invention itself — the discovery and creationof new ideas — will be up to you.
Project 1: Inventing with Artifacts
For this project, you’ll learn about how humanists generate arguments by analyzing and interpreting artifacts,specifically rhetorical ones.
Project 2: Ethnographical Invention
In this project, you’ll design and conduct a social scientific research project on an aspect of life as it is livedonline, in communities such as those found on Second Life, Facebook, or Flickr.
Project 3: Public In(ter)vention
This project asks you to intervene in a civic debate of your choosing by creating and acting within a rhetoricalsituation of your own making.
Project 4: Teaching as Invention
In this project, you’ll create original lessons to contribute to a writing and rhetoric handbook for next year’s DUclass.
Unless otherwise indicated, all readings will be posted on our course blog:http://1133writrhet.blogspot.com/
Your own texts are a central element of this class —
so please bring your laptop to every classmeeting.