I teach the following courses at UW-Madison on a regular basis:
CA 472: Rhetoric and Technology
Rhetoric and Technology is a course that explores the technologies of rhetoric and the rhetorics of technology. Over the course of the semester, students explore the shaping effect of various technologies on rhetorical practice, including developments like orality, literacy, alphabet, print, and mass media, and also explore how and why rhetoric may be understood as a technology. Students also investigate how the impacts of certain technologies have become fodder for public debate and controversy, with a focus on how technologies shape public policy, enable/constrain democratic participation, emerge from/contribute to social structures, and shape our understanding of the human body and mind.
CA 570: Classical Rhetorical Theory
This course is a survey in the major figures and developments traditionally associated with Classical rhetoric in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. Condensing nearly of millennia of material into 16 weeks is a labor worthy of Heracles and will necessarily involve some truncation and contextual detours; however, by the end of the course, you will have a working knowledge of most of the major texts in the Greek and Roman rhetorical traditions. In addition to reading the major figures, we will explore such issues as the canonical status of the “rhetorical tradition”; contemporary application of classical texts; and controversies that have arisen in the field over the issue of historiography.
CA 610: Limits of the Human: The Rhetoric and Politics of Human Definition
All definitions are arguments. The definition of the human being is an argument that has fascinated thinkers from Aristotle to contemporary bioethicists, and it remains an argument with significant philosophical, theological, ethical, and political implications. Using perspectives derived from rhetorical studies, disability studies, science studies, bioethics, and even science fiction, Limits of the Human explores how the human boundary has been rhetorically constructed, enforced, and transgressed at different points in history.
CA 610: Rhetoric of Health
Rhetoric of Health is a special topics course in rhetorical theory that investigates how the concept of health is rhetorically constructed and deployed in a number of different contexts. Over the course of the semester, students explore how language and argument shape our understanding of health and how it is positioned in opposition to illness and disability. Topics include: the role of language and culture in the construction of biomedical knowledge; our complex lived experiences with illness (both physical and mental); the intricate intersections of race, gender, sexuality, disability and medicine; the political dimensions of epidemics and the “public” of public health; and many other topics. One of the recurrent topics of this course is to consider how non-experts interact with medicine and its technical vocabularies. Although the primary objective of the course is to understand the rhetorical and cultural dimensions of health and medicine, a secondary objective is for students to become better informed and more empowered patients and, for the very few students who might emerge on the other side of the stethoscope one day, more well-rounded health care professionals.
CA 610: Introduction to Disability Studies
Disability Studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores the intersection of disability with communication, media studies, history, literature, sociology, law, architecture, and other disciplines. Disability Studies challenges the view of disability as an individual deficit or defect that can be remedied solely through medical intervention or rehabilitation by experts and other service providers. Instead, a Disability Studies perspective examines social, cultural, political, rhetorical, economic, and environmental factors that construct and define disability and determine personal and collective responses to human difference. In this course, students learn about disability as a social movement and rhetorical construct; gain an appreciation for different models of disability in history and in different cultural contexts; explore representations of people with disabilities in television, film, and other forms of mass media; understand how disability intersects with race, gender, sexuality, and class; examine policy debates with regard to disability and their consequences for citizenship; learn about the origins and consequences of stigma for civic participation; and, ultimately, emerge from the course with a greater understanding of disability and perceptions of disability in the United States and larger world.