The Rhetoric Department will offer the following courses in the Spring 2022 semester. Contact Department Chair Dr. Sean O’Rourke at or Dr. Melody Lehn at with questions.

RHET 101 A: Public Speaking

Professor Melody Lehn
M/W 3:30-4:45 p.m. and W 7:30-8:20 p.m. (first three weeks)

Study of the principles, precepts, and strategies of informative, persuasive, and ceremonial speaking. Emphasis is placed on assessing the rhetorical situation and researching, composing, practicing, and delivering a speech. Ethical, political, and social questions raised by speaking in public are considered. Students deliver speeches, practice effective listening, and serve as speech critics and interlocutors. 

*Required for the Rhetoric Minor
*Open only to first-year students and sophomores 

RHET 201 A: Introduction to Rhetoric 

Professor Sean O’Rourke
T/R 1:30-2:45 p.m.

Topical survey of the major questions and controversies in rhetorical theory, criticism, and practice, including rhetorical situations, classical canons of rhetoric, the role of rhetoric in civic life, and the relationship of rhetoric to power, politics, law, education, and ethics. Students consider the rights and responsibilities of speakers and critics. Accordingly, readings include selections from a wide array of rhetorical theorists and critics as well as a diverse and open canon of orators and speakers.

*Required for the Rhetoric Minor and also counts for the Shakespeare Studies Minor

RHET 341 A: Rhetoric of Mass and Social Media

Professor Melody Lehn
M/W 2:00-3:15 p.m. 

Survey of the key topics, questions, issues, and controversies surrounding the rhetoric of mass and social media. Students explore not only how this rhetoric helps them inform, persuade, and move others to action, but also how—and whether—they are informed, persuaded, and moved to act themselves. Topics surveyed may include rhetorical framing, message bias, propaganda, the rhetorical propagation and circulation of misinformation, freedom of expression, protest, and visual rhetoric. 

*Counts for the Rhetoric Minor

RHET 491 A: Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement

Professor Sean O’Rourke
T/R 3:00-4:15 p.m.

Study of the discourses–speeches, editorials, letters, visual images, prayers, songs, silences, demonstrations, and protests–at the center of the mid-twentieth century U.S. civil rights struggles. Primary focus is on controversia, the give and take of arguments for and against segregation and desegregation in schools, housing, busing, employment, churches, law, athletics, and healthcare (to name a few) in the period from 1948-1973. Discourses by both well-known and less-known rhetors are studied, as are local institutions such as the Highlander Folk School, Monteagle Assembly, and the University of the South.

*Counts for the Rhetoric Minor