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From “Yes We Can” to “Civil Disobedience”: Rhetorics

of Change in the U.S
FSEM 1111-60

Fall Quarter, 2010

10:00am – 11:50am, Mondays and
Nagel Hall 102
Instructor: Jeff Ludwig
Office: Penrose Library 352 | Phone: 871-7835
Hours: Mon & Wed. 12-1pm and by appointment via email
Email: | Blackboard:

Course Description: As a retrospective, this seminar is designed to examine

critically the arguments and methods of persuasion used in moments of
political and social change in US history. We’ll use classical rhetorical theory as
a basis of critical analysis, and ask: “How does social change take place in the
US? What does change mean for US citizens? What different kinds of
arguments are used to bring about change? And what threads tie these
together?” Beginning with the arguments for change presented in the “Yes We
Can” message from the Obama campaign, we’ll trace its rhetorical roots
backward through American history, examining literary, political, and historical
texts in terms of how their persuasiveness led to political action and change.
Specifically, we’ll analyze 1) How the rhetoric of climate change created a call
for a green economy; 2) How a changed understanding of race emerged from
Emancipation and Civil Rights, 3) How young voters were motivated by 60’s
and 70’s countercultures, 4) And how revolution and social consciousness is
seen in the American Renaissance. Though the seminar will be based primarily
on in class discussion, there will be significant writing and revision expected
alongside individual research. (i.e. Frequent smaller papers, two major papers,
and a collaboratively-written project and presentation.)

The First-Year Seminar will:

1. Foster a vitally-felt, exciting sense of intellectual community, serving
as a model for what it means to be an active member of such a
community through critical reading, discussion, research, and/or writing.
2. Introduce students to the rigorous academic expectations they must
meet if they are to be successful at the university level. These academic
expectations include the notion that the quantity and quality of work
required of students in a university setting are significantly higher than in
high school.
3. Provide an active learning environment where writing, performing,
laboratory experiments, quantitative analyses, or other forms of
experiential and/or creative activities will shape the goals and activities
of the seminar. Assignments will deepen students' understanding and
engagement with course materials, to foster analytical, critical and

creative thinking, and to familiarize students with some aspects of

academic writing.
4. Foster a strong academic advising relationship between the faculty
mentor and seminar students.
Required Texts:
Crowley, Sharon and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary
Students. Fourth Edition. New York: Pearson, 2009. ISBN: 0205574432.
Obama, Barack. Inspire a Nation. New York: Publishing 180, 2009. ISBN:

**All other readings are available under the “Readings” section of the course’s
Blackboard. YOU MUST have access to this space; I suggest printing readings
to aid in class discussion

Other Materials:
Money on your Pioneer Card to for printing of articles, papers, etc.
A laptop with a connection to DU Wireless, to bring to class everyday

Course Work: Reading critically, writing well, and learning overall takes
practice, hard work, and exploration of ideas that, sometimes, don’t just come
from you. This class will be run as a seminar, meaning that we will seek to
create an intellectual community as a class, not only as individuals. Sure, you’ll
read, write, and think on your own, but as a seminar, it is vital that the class be
based on class discussion, the sharing and debating of ideas, and the sharing
of knowledge and insight. You’ll also be asked to examine political rhetoric as a
scholar, NOT as an ideologue. You’ll learn ancient rhetoric so that these
principals can become tools of critical reading and writing to actively examine:
rhetorical messages in many mediums, elements of persuasion, argumentation,
use of evidence and proof, and how the history of such messages is ubiquitous
in your social/political world. Generally speaking, we’ll spend our class time
discussing readings, writing in class, listening to and talking about student
presentations, sharing the writing done in our major assignments, or applying a
particular rhetorical principal we’ve learned. In short, you will be responsible in
learning what constitutes productive academic discussions and how to become
critical readers and writers. To do this, you must always come prepared to
class by reading, finishing writing assignments or drafts, and be prepared to
offer your thoughts or ask questions.

Reading: This class will have a heavy reading component. Any assigned
reading will become the topic for discussion and analysis. It is not only
expected that you come to class having read, but that you understand how
essential these readings will be in helping you as you write and revise your own
work for the course. You must decide how to budget your time in completing all
the required reading for the class. It is not a good idea to wait until the night
before to read for class. You will not comprehend what’s being read, and
therefore won’t be prepared for discussion or other class activities. Generally
speaking, we’ll have two types of readings: 1) Readings from our textbook,

Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. This book will give you basic
instruction on ancient rhetoric, which we will use as a method of analysis,
means of delivery, and ways to understand argument and persuasion. 2)
“Contemporary” readings. These readings will be contemporary to the
particular historical moments we’re analyzing.

One goal of this class is to train students to become critical readers of all kinds
of texts (print-based, visual, auditory, etc.). At times these readings will be
online in either textual or visual form. Most often, .pdf copies of the readings
are available on the “Readings” section of Blackboard. If, you cannot access
the readings, EMAIL ME so we can work out a way to get them to you.
Writing/Major Projects: There will be two major projects for the course that
ask for application of classical rhetoric to topics covered, and a collaboratively
written proposal and final paper/presentation. These projects will be evaluated
on the effectiveness of your interpretations/arguments, your use of evidence,
appropriateness to chosen audiences, and the effectiveness of your rhetorical
choices (including prose). You will be expected to provide high levels of
thinking in all assignments, and to produce quality written and/or multimodal
products. In addition, you will also be expected to become familiar with
processes of revision and use critical analysis to improve your arguments. I
expect each student to provide substantive feedback to their peers on all
projects, and to meet with me at least twice during the quarter to discuss their
writing (see “Conferences” below). Working collaboratively on a final project
that requires both written and visual forms will ask you to think more largely
about revision, delivery, and developing ideas. In all of these projects, you will
be encouraged to think, write, and compose in mediums beyond traditional
writing assignments (visual, auditory, etc.); simply discuss with me what you
have in mind and we’ll brainstorm some alternative methods of presentation
for your arguments. The focus for all assignments, though, will be on becoming
rhetorically effective and on meeting course goals.

• Project One: Repackaging “Yes We Can” (4-5 pages): This

assignment will ask you to imagine that you’ve been asked to select a
particular component (or part of a component) of the “Yes We Can”
message/platform and to re-package it for an audience of your own
choosing, using your own thoughts, your own words, and your own
mediums of presentation. Alternatively, act as a representative that
opposes some element of the “Yes We Can” platform, and create a set of
documents that effectively reaches an audience of your choosing.
• Project Two: Rhetorical Appeals Analysis (4-5 pages): Re-visit a
reading or particular set of historical readings we’ve completed, and
analyze the rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, or logos) used to make its
message persuasive. In a 4-5 page paper, interpret the effectiveness of
the rhetorical appeals used, comparing your understanding of ethos,
logos, and pathos with the rhetorical moves made in the text’s particular
historical context.

• Project Three: Collaborative Presentation (15 pages +

presentation, in three parts): By design, the class will not adequately
discuss all moments of “change” in the history of the US. Your job will be
to research, discuss, and analyze a particular moment of change, its
cultural and historical context, and the successful and unsuccessful
rhetorical strategies used by people who participated in this moment.
This assignment has three parts:
1. A Proposal that outlines your group’s topic, plan for
composition, and method of presentation,
2. A 12-page Paper that pursues with more depth a moment
of change already covered in the class, but with more detail, OR a
moment of change not covered in course materials. This paper will
use secondary research; and
3. A Group Presentation of your study that presents your
research and arguments in a multi-media project at the end of the
quarter, using a combination of textual, visual, and verbal forms to
present your work in Power Point, online, or in audio/video fashion.
You will receive more detailed assignment sequences as the quarter moves
along. Specific requirements and criteria for individual assignments will vary,
but all projects will be workshopped with your peers and/or me, and will be
revised and polished before evaluation.

Discussion Assignment: Once during the quarter and with a partner, you’ll
be asked to pick an event or moment from the current news as it relates to
how “change” is argued for, and critically analyze the rhetorical messages
given in that event in terms of one rhetorical canon or principal we have
analyzed during the quarter. (i.e. How is ethos used to argue for change? Or,
how does the argued change use kairos? Or commonplaces?) In one, single-
spaced page (or the equivalent in other modes), identify the news event you’re
discussing, summarize what you believe important in that event, and then
analyze the message given in terms of your chosen rhetorical concept or term.
Post this analysis to the class’s discussion forum on Blackboard, and be
prepared to: 1) offer a brief presentation on what you wrote, and 2) offer the
class some questions that might lead discussion on the event you’ve chosen.

In-Class Work: Mostly, we’ll spend our time in discussion of rhetorical

concepts, contemporary readings, or other topics. At times, however, informal
writing assignments will be used to facilitate discussion of readings or as
invention exercises for major projects. Informal assignments will be given a
check (√), check, plus (√+), check minus (√-), or zero, and will be a percentage of
your Class Participation grade.

Conferences: Twice, and on days you decide, you will be asked to conference
with me concerning a project before it gets turned in for a grade. You may do
choose to do this by submitting a draft of your project to me at least 48 hours
beforehand, or you may set up a time to meet during office hours. You may
also set up a conference to discuss an assignment you’ve already completed

and received a grade on, one you might choose to revise for a different grade,
but you must meet with me to be allowed to do this.

Class Participation (includes Discussion Assignment): 20%
Paper One: 25%
Paper Two: 25%
Final Group Projects (Paper + Presentation): 30%


ADA Statement: DU complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act of

1990. If you have a documented disability, please contact the Disabilities
Service Program (DSP) at:

Writing Guidelines:
1. All papers must be typewritten and double spaced on a computer or word
processor. No hand-written papers will be accepted.
2. Following the Modern Language Association, margins will be of the
standard size: 1” from the top and bottom of the page and 1” from
the left and right margins. Times New Roman size twelve font will be
used (no others).
3. Starting on the second page, pages should be numbered in the upper,
right margin.
4. The upper, left-hand corner of the first page should look as such:
Your name
FSEM 1111-60
Jeff Ludwig
Assignment and Draft #
Due date
5. Skip one line and place your title in the center of the first page. Do not
underline or put the title in quotation marks. Do not bother with cover
6. We also follow MLA for citation format. Consult any handbook for general
guidelines, and for further information.
7. Cover Sheets: Before every scheduled peer workshop or teacher
conference, attach a Cover Sheet to guide reader response. Include brief
explanations of the following:
Possible Audience:
Look for this as you read:
What I need your help with:

Attendance: Because interaction with other students and the professor is a

vital part of learning, attendance at every class meeting, scheduled
conference, and online activity is expected. Any absence will affect your
performance, and multiple absences are likely to have a dramatic negative

effect on both learning and your grade. In the event of excessive absences
(20% of class meetings or more), you should consider dropping the course and
re-enrolling at another time. Missing 20% of the classes will affect your
grade (except in the case of University sanctioned events), and may cause you
to fail the course. If you miss class, you are personally responsible for learning
about any missed material or assignments, either from classmates or from the
course website.

Late Work: Assignments are due when they are due. (See the Course
Schedule.) Late work will be accepted only at my discretion, and often only if
you have communicated with me in advance of any possible delayed work. You
may, however, expect to receive one or more of the following: a lowered grade,
delayed instructor response, or no credit. In-class work and class participation
cannot be made up.

Plagiarism: The Writing Program follows the Council of Writing Program

Administrators policy “Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism,” which states, “In an
instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses
someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge)
material without acknowledging its source” (
DU’s Honor Code also maintains that all members of the University must
responsibly use the work of others. Students who have plagiarized a project will
receive an F on that project, and the instructor will inform the Office of
Community and Citizenship Standards, who may take further action. Any
documented acts of plagiarism after the first may be subject to more severe

Civility in the Classroom:

1. DU’s Code of Student Conduct (,
“expects students to recognize the strength of personal differences while
respecting institutional values.” Because this course relies heavily on
interactions among individuals, students and teachers must act in a manner
respectful of different positions and perspectives. While civility and
tolerance are vital in and of themselves, working productively with others,
furthermore, is an important rhetorical skill. I will act to reduce behaviors
that may compromise productive learning environments. These actions may
range from informal conversations, to formal communications, to request
action by the Office of Citizenship and Community Standards.
2. By definition, all of education depends on encountering new ideas and
information. Some of these may conflict with individual’s existing knowledge
or perspectives. I expect you to engage such materials thoughtfully, in ways
that reflect the values and mission of the University.
3. Students must respect the classroom environment. In class, all cell
phones and electronic devices shall be turned off. Unless specifically
directed by the instructor, students shall refrain from sending email and
instant messages, or from engaging in other activities (reading non-course

materials, engaging in private conversations and so on) that disrespect the

classroom environment and learning conditions for others.

Student Engagement: In this class, engagement is visible in a number of

ways, including participation in classroom discussion, online discussions,
conferences outside the classroom, peer review feedback, group project
contributions, and general efforts to improve not only one's own learning, but
also the learning of the entire class. Your participation will be graded as
“Average” engagement means that the student seems prepared, although
he or she sometimes needs to be prompted to participate, and he or she is
engaged with the work occasionally but infrequently. Generally,
participation in discussion, online comments, and feedback on writing seem
to encourage and support others in the class. However, even if the student
generally remains silent, he or she is prepared and engaged. The student’s
presence is productive.

“Superior” engagement means that the student is always prepared, often

adding additional insights to a class or online discussion, providing
extensive feedback to writing, or doing additional work on group projects.
Consistent, judicious, and empathetic engagement with the material and his
or her peers and instructor demonstrates superior and active learning. This
engagement may manifest in several consistently good comments or
comments that bring in productive perspectives and outside sources in class
discussion, or it may be insightful and extensive commentary in peer review.
Students who take steps outside of the common classroom space to build a
better learning environment demonstrate superior engagement.

“Weak” engagement means that the student comes to class but that either
he or she does not seem prepared or that his or her presence detracts from
the quality of class experience for others. The student consistently and
deliberately disengages from classroom activities and discussion. This
disengagement may take the form of sleeping, reading a paper, talking or
texting on a cell phone, or surfing the Internet while others in the class
discuss or work in small groups or as an entire class.

Technological Responsibilities: All of your work will be returned after such

work has been evaluated, but it is your responsibility to keep a paper copy
and/or an electronic copy for this class. Additionally, you may be expected to
demonstrate a portfolio of your work, so keep the writing you do for this class
organized. Occasionally, essays are stolen, lost, or destroyed, so you should
keep additional copies of each essay and a back-up disk in safe places. Make
sure you are saving copies of projects as multiple drafts (using the "Save As")
option, as well as peer responses you've both given and received, and all in-
class exercises.

Conferences/Office Hours: I will do everything that I can to help you succeed

in this course. My office hours are a chance for you to meet with me for
individual discussion, guidance, help with drafts, etc. Feel free to schedule a
conference or just drop by if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or
ideas you’d like to talk about. If you schedule a conference, I fully expect you
to attend or notify me well in advance if you can’t be there.
DU’s Writing and Research Center: Any DU student may make an
appointment for a consultation by calling 303.871.7456 or by using the
online scheduling system at It is best to
schedule an appointment. Consultations last 45 minutes, and can help with
any stage of the writing process.

Blackboard: We will use frequently the Blackboard for class discussions,

for group projects, and for process assignments. Visit to register yourself for this class.

Penrose Library: Penrose Library offers access to many online databases

and thousands of articles for research and scholarship. Using the library’s
PEAK feature at their website, or visiting a Reference Librarian, to narrow
down a research topic and find the best sources for your writing. The
library also maintains a sizeable collection of print books, journals, and
government documents. Visit

This is a preliminary schedule for you to get a feel for how class will be
structured, what texts we’ll be analyzing, and our goals for each particular
week. A more detailed Course Schedule will be posted and updated on the
class’s Blackboard, under “Course Schedule.” Check there (OFTEN) for
updates and homework.

Dialogues/Discoveries: Sept. 7-10

As a class, we will take an excursion around one of the oldest parts of the
city of Denver, where you’ll hear about and actually see “change” in
Denver’s cityscape. After you take some time to jot some notes on your
experience witnessing moments of change, write a response to the
experience. How change happen? How, based on what you hear about the
city’s history, has change affected the social and cultural climate of the city?
Of the state? You might also pick one moment of change that stuck out to
you on the tour, and discuss what makes this moment of change powerful to
you. Type this response in a 2 page, double-spaced, paper that you will turn
in on Monday, September 13th, during our first FSEM class meeting.

Week One: Sept 13 & 15

Introduction to seminar; Analyzing “Yes We Can”; Kairos, Rhetorical Situation,
and Memory
During the first two weeks, we will identify the rhetorical moves that
establish calls to action of Obama’s “Yes We Can” message, working as a
class to identify some of its major tenets by examining speeches Obama
gave during his run for president. We will also spend time examining
background information on classical rhetoric, and introducing some its basic
principles, including the canon of memory, which will guide our inquiry into
the history that led to “Yes We Can.”
Speeches: 1) Feb 10th, 2007 announcement; 2) “A More Perfect Union;” 3)
April 14, 2008 (AP Annual Luncheon); 4) DNC 2008 Acceptance Address
Readings: Ancient Rhetorics, Chapter 1 & 2

Week Two: Sept 20 & 22

Analyzing “Yes We Can”; Kairos, Rhetorical Situation, and Memory
We continue our discussions of basic principles of rhetoric, and begin to
hone in on some of the tenets of social, economic, and cultural change
according to the Obama administration.
Speeches: Election Night Address; “American Recovery and Reinvestment;”
Inaugural Address
Reading: Ancient Rhetorics, Chapter 11.

Week Three: Sept 27 & 29

Going Green: A Debt to Global Warming as seen in An Inconvenient Truth;
Rhetorical Commonplaces and Logos.

In the second section of the course, we examine the recent rhetoric of

“going green” and trace its conception to mid-nineties warnings and
research on global warming. We also examine the rhetorical cannon of
commonplaces, and how commonplaces are used in appeals to logos in
controversies over global warming. We extend this discussion to the
rhetorical moves made in the call to go green that rely on such
commonplaces and appeals.
Readings: “Going Green” (Newsweek, July 17, 2006); Curry, Webster, and
Holland: “Mixing Politics and Science” (American Meteorological Society,
August 2006); Ancient Rhetorics, Chapter 4 (Commonplaces), Chapter 5
Watch: An Inconvenient Truth

Due Sept 27th: Draft of Project One; peer response.

Week Four: Oct 4 & 6

“When brown can stick around”: Civil Rights Beginnings and Race Leaders;
Pathos, Logos
We continue our examination of the rhetorical appeals of logos, ethos, and
pathos, and apply them to the history of civil rights in the US. On this week,
our focus will be on the historical context and early conceptions of non-
violent protest for civil rights.
Readings: Ancient Rhetorics: Chapter 6 (Ethos), Chapter 7 (Pathos); Elizabeth
Alexander’s “Praise Song for the Day; Thurgood Marshall’s “The Legal Attack to
Secure Civil Rights”; Ella Baker’s, “Organization Without Dictatorship”; MLK Jr.’s
“Letter from Birmingham City Jail”

Due Oct 4th: Final Copy of Project One

Week Five: Oct 11 & 13

“When brown can stick around…”: The Freedom Summer of 1964, Civil Rights
After the March
In this two-week section of the course, we continue our examination of
rhetorical appeals of logos, ethos, and pathos, and apply them to the history
of civil rights in the US. Here the bulk of our discussion will compare the
participation of America’s youth in non-violent protest with the more direct
action espoused in messages like Malcolm X’s and the Black Panther’s.
Speeches: Obama's speech to NAACP
Readings: McAdam’s Freedom Summer, Chapter 1 & 3; Malcolm X’s “The
Ballot or the Bullet”; Zinn’s “The Limits of Non-Violence”; Carmichael’s “Toward
Black Liberation”

Week Six: Oct 18 & 20

“Obamamaniacs” and “Hippies”: Youth Counterculture and Political Action;

Here we’ll examine the resurgence of grassroots political action as traced

back into 60’s counterculture and embraced by youth revolutions. We
examine what made 60’s counterculture so persuasive.
Readings: Ancient Rhetorics, Chapter 9, Progymnasmata V: Encomium;
Ginsberg’s “Howl”; Watch “Hippies” (a History Channel documentary)

Week Seven: Oct 25 & 27

Emancipation and the Roots of American Racial Equality; Final Collaborative
Project: Imagining and Brainstorming
As we continue to trace backward in American history the roots of social and
political change, we pause briefly to examine two important leaders of
emancipation politics—Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln—and where
the fight to end segregation began.
Readings: Ancient Rhetorics: Chapter 9, 10; Douglass’ “What to the Slave is
the 4th of July?”; Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, 11/19/1863, and Second
Inaugural Address, 3/4/1865.

Due Monday, Oct. 25th: Draft of Project 2; peer response

Week Eight: Nov 1 & 3

The American Renaissance and “Civil Disobedience; Penrose Visit
Though we realize that “change” goes as far back as the American
Revolution and before, we end our inquiry into the past with Thoreau’s “Civil
Disobedience,” its criticisms of governmental control, and a reconfigured
conception of the American individual.
Readings: Ancient Rhetorics, Chapter 12; Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”

Due November 1st: Final Draft of Project 2

November 3: Consultation with Penrose librarian.

Due Nov 3: Final Collaborative Project Proposal

Week Nine: Nov 8 & 10

Workshopping of Final Collaborative Projects
During the second to last week of the class, groups will be working
individually as groups, but also together as a class to respond to the work of
other students. More specifically, we will read drafted group projects to offer
advice not only on the writing, but also to help generate possible ideas for
presenting group work.

November 8th: Chancellor’s Dinner, 6pm, Gottesfeld Room, Ritchie Center, 4th

Week Ten: Nov 15 & 17

Presentation of Final Collaborative Projects