Description and requirements

Socrates and Athena
via Duncan Hull

Course information

Course number: ENGL 693
Course name: Rhetoric and Poetics
Term and year: Summer II 2014
CRN: 53242
Time/Location: 1:30-4:30, G18 Colson Hall
Instructor: John Jones, Assistant Professor
Email: john dot jones at-sign mail dot wvu dot edu
Twitter: johnmjones
Office: 231 Colson Hall
Office hours: By appointment [schedule an appointment]


The standard history of Greek and Roman rhetoric describes the western rhetorical tradition as arising from the exigencies of political discourse. In this tradition, poetical practices have typically been relegated to the category of epideictic, or speeches of praise and blame. Walker (2000) however, has outlined a different history, one that argues the roots of rhetorical theory and practice lie not in political argument but in poetry, particularly lyric poetry.

In this course we will examine the poetical roots of rhetoric and the rhetorical effects of poetry. To ground our practice, we will begin by reading Walker along with a number of primary texts, then we will apply this method to a range of poetical/rhetorical texts chosen by the class. By doing so, we will explore the deep connections between the poetical (broadly defined) and rhetorical traditions as well as the effectiveness of contemporary epideictic practices for rhetorical action.

Required Texts

I will provide digital copies of or links to most of our course readings. The readings are listed on the Schedule and copies will be distributed via the Readings page [password required] the course GoogleDrive folder. If you own copies of these texts, or prefer to seek out your own copies, feel free to do so. You will need to find access to the following texts on your own. (The Walker text is expensive. See my email to the class for alternative strategies for accessing a copy of this text via the WVU library.)

  • Walker, J. (2000). Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity. Oxford, Oxford UP.
  • West, M. L. (1993). Greek Lyric Poetry. Oxford, Oxford UP.

West Virginia University | Summer 2014 | ENGL 693