ENG 7007: Questions of Critique (Fall 2010)

critique on September Sunrise over DC by Tony DeFilippo

Photo Credit:
"critique on September Sunrise over DC" by modezero

At various historical moments, the tools of rhetorical theory and composition theory have been discussed as a shifting ratio—oscillating between the polls of production and interpretation. This course traces contemporary debates about the productive and interpretive dimensions of rhetoric and composition, debates that continue to define the various theoretical agendas of the discipline. In order to understand these debates, we will begin from contemporary texts and then work backwards to their foundations. The contemporary debates of rhetoric and composition can be traced to texts from within the discipline and outside of it, and we will “drill down” to such texts after reading contemporary scholarship on a range of topics: ideology critique, cultural studies pedagogy, hermeneutics, posthermenutics, and invention.


Jim Brown
Office: 5057 Woodward, 10-410.2
Office Hours: T/Th, 3pm-5pm (or by appointment)
Class Location: State Hall, Room 337
Class Time: Tuesday, 6-9pm

Course Goals

  • Develop skills to analyze and synthesize scholarly arguments
  • Understand the theoretical underpinnings of contemporary debates in rhetorical theory and composition studies
  • Complete a draft of a publication or conference presentation
  • Experiment with a pedagogical approach for new media writing

    Required Texts:
    Acts of Enjoyment, Thomas Rickert
    Rhetoric, Poetics, Cultures, Jim Berlin
    The Future of Invention, John Muckelbauer
    Heuretics, Greg Ulmer
    Internet Invention, Greg Ulmer
    Phaedrus, Plato (If you don't already own a copy, consider the Nehemas and Woodruff translation)

    Course Work
    You will be evaluated on the following work:

    1) You will lead a forum discussion once during this semester. This will involve writing an initial post, posing questions to the group, facilitating discussion, and beginning that week's class with a one-page recap of the discussion. Your one-page recap will be distributed to the class.

    2) One of two options:

    • Academic Conference Paper: You will write a conference paper (no more than 2,000 words, double-spaced) with a particular conference in mind.

    • Online Syllabus: Develop a course that you would teach online. You'll develop course materials that take into account the unique rhetorical situation of an online course, and you'll explain how your course addresses that situation. The format will follow that of the "Course Designs" section of the journal Composition Studies. (Also see Jenny Edbauer's CWRL Whitepaper about annotated syllabi).

    3) Wide Site: While reading Gregory Ulmer’s Internet Invention (and related texts) during the final portion of the class, you will create what Ulmer calls a “wide site”—a website that attempts to document your own learning, reading, writing, and thinking styles. During this project, you will be asked to tinker with at least one new media technology with which you have no experience.

    4) Class Participation

    Each day you will prepare and hand in "talking points" (no more than 1 page) for the day's readings, and you will be expected to participate in class discussions.

    Student Disabilities Services
    If you feel that you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, please feel free to contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. Additionally, the Student Disabilities Services Office coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. The Office is located in 1600 David Adamany Undergraduate Library, phone: 313-577-1851/577-3365 (TTY). http://studentdisability.wayne.edu

  • Schedule

    Ideology Critique


    • Acts of Enjoyment, Thomas Rickert


    • Rhetoric, Poetics, and Cultures, Jim Berlin
    • "Three Countertheses; A Critical In(ter)vention into Composition Theories and Pedagogies," Victor Vitanza


    • The Sublime Object of Ideology, Slavoj Zizek (excerpt)
    • Negotiations, Gilles Deleuze (excerpt)

    Hermeneutics and Post-hermeneutics


    • Mailloux, Steve. “Making Comparisons: First Contact, Ethnocentrism, and Cross-Cultural Communication.” In Post-Nationalist American Studies.
    • Davis, Diane. "Addressing Alterity: Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and the Nonappropriative Relation.". Philosophy and Rhetoric 38.3 (2005): 191-212.
    • Muckelbauer, John. "Rhetoric, Asignification, and the Other: A Response to Diane Davis." Philosophy and Rhetoric 40.2 (2007): 238-247.
    • Davis, Diane. "The Fifth Risk: A Response to John Muckelbauer's Response." Philosophy and Rhetoric 40.2 (2007): 248-256.
    • "Darmok" Stark Trek: The Next Generation


    • "The Trace of the Other," Emmanuel Levinas
    • "Rhetoric and Hermeneutics," Hans-Georg Gadamer


    • Premises, Hamacher (excerpt)
    • "Cosmopolitanism without emancipation: A response to Jean Francois Lyotard," Richard Rorty

    The Future of Invention


    • The Future of Invention, John Muckelbauer


    • Heuretics, Greg Ulmer


    • Writing Workshop
    • Draft of Conference Paper/Annotated Syllabus Due

    After Critique: A Pedagogy


    • Internet Invention, Preface, Introduction, Part 1
    • Career Discourse Page, 2 exercises
    • Phaedrus, Plato


    • Internet Invention, Part 2
    • Family Discourse Page, 5 exercises
    • The Political Unconscious, Frederic Jameson (excerpt)


    • Internet Invention, Part 3
    • Entertainment Discourse Page, 2 exercises
    • The Logic of Sense, Deleuze (Preface, 7th Series, and 11th Series)


    • Internet Invention, Part 4
    • Community Discourse Page, 3 exercises
    • The Coming Community, Georgio Agamben (excerpt)


    • Internet Invention, Part 5 and Conclusion
    • Wide Emblem, 4 exercises

    Second Submission of Conference Paper or Annotated Syllabus Due