Assistant Professor Heather Hayes teaching

Rhetoric is the use of symbolic action by human beings to share ideas, enabling them to work together to make decisions about matters of common concern and to construct social reality.

As such, rhetorical study examines symbolic action, civic engagement, and the creation of knowledge by exploring a variety of symbolic forms of interaction and the many ways society engages in persuasive argument. Courses focus on political, legal, environmental, social, activist, and identity politics, as well as cultural argument while providing a deep foundation in the theory, practice, and criticism of contemporary communication and symbolic action. Students ultimately utilize this rhetorical understanding to explore the kinds of communication in which they have interest. In the process, they learn what makes rhetoric power and examine the ways that rhetoric produces knowledge.

Our department's approach toward rhetorical studies involves the study of the use of symbols in speeches, written texts, media, visual texts, bodies, spaces, and other forms of symbolic exchange. In sum, the Rhetoric Studies department has as its primary goal the critical evaluation of symbolic action in all of its diverse forms.