Introduction to Cultural Rhetorics

Course Overview

All cultures have their own ways of communicating and making meaning through a range of situated rhetorical practices. In this gateway course to the Notation in Cultural Rhetorics, you’ll explore the diverse rhetorical contexts in which such practices are made; learn methodologies for examining their rhetorical production across media and modality; and engage in the rhetorical study of situated cultural practices and their historical developments. As the Notation emphasizes the study of the rhetorical histories and traditions of communities that have not always been foregrounded in classical rhetorical study, the gateway course introduces you to foundational theoretical frameworks and epistemological approaches for undertaking ethical, responsible research of diverse communities and rhetorical traditions with which you may have varying degrees of familiarity and affiliation. Additionally, the course invites you to examine the ways that race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, citizenship, ability, and other cultural locations bear on the production of rhetorical practices that maintain or resist social differences among people. We invite you to expand your facility with real-world cross-cultural and intercultural communications that you will likely encounter in both professional and public spheres. The theories, methodologies, practices, and research skills gained in this course will also prepare you for more sustained study of cultural rhetorics in the Notation.


Collaborative Reading Responses | 1 pg | Wkly | 20%

In advance of the first class of each week, draft a 1-page critical summary of the reading. In class, we’ll work collaboratively to dialogue with each other on the page in preparation for class discussion. Instructors will collect these responses at the end of the period.

*One of your reading responses will be based upon a cultural artifact that you identify in relation to the readings. You will sign-up to bring in the artifact and present it to the class.

Cultural Practices Attendance

One time during the quarter, the entire class will attend a cultural event together. In addition, you are asked to attend 1 cultural campus event of your choosing that shows cultural rhetorics in practice. This might be a read-in, play or dance performance, an open event at a cultural house, an exhibit on a campus museum, etc. Whenever you attend, discuss the event in the next due reading response. 

Language & Culture Autobiography | (5-6pp ) | Wk3 | 25%

Reflect on the ways rhetoric and language have shaped your identity and culture, weaving 2-3 concepts from assigned readings into your autobiographical sketch.

Language & Culture Sketch | (5-6pp) | Wk6 | 25%

Working in pairs and in a medium of your choosing, create a narrative sketch of a particular cultural rhetoric in practice. Include a 1pg cover memo that outlines the rationale for the sketch’s compositional choices.

Final Project | See Options Below | Due Wk10 | 30%

Create a final research project of 15 pages, 5-7 minutes, or their equivalent that contributes to the emerging field of Cultural Rhetorics. Your final project, which can draw on your earlier work in the course, should significantly discuss a culture from which you do not hail, and also be reflexive about your positionality and your approach to being in dialogue with another culture. Projects should include an audio/visual component for our end-of-the-quarter showcase, and should use citational practices that are rhetorically and culturally appropriate to their form while still acknowledging all sources used. 

You might:

  • Create a document that experiments/plays with genre, medium, and language use.
  • Create a podcast or video
  • Design and print an infographic, zine, or booklet
  • Build an informational website or exhibit 
  • Create and prepare to perform a dance, performance, or short play
  • Write a syllabus for a CR course on a specific topic or culture
  • Or pitch an idea of your own


The final will be followed up with a 750-word reflection, due during finals that describes your compositional choices, their relationship to specific cultural rhetorical practices, and how the project emerged from and relates to the earlier work you did throughout the quarter.