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PWR 1EH: Rhetoric of Resistance: Analyzing Narratives For and Against

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Catalog Number: PWR 1EH

Instructor: Elizabeth Hille

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP)

Prerequisite: None

Course Feature: WR-1 requirement


Every day we encounter resistance personally and globally. Do you resist buying plastic or eating meat? Do you resist the idea that video games cause violence? What is tech disrupting–how, why? Should we reconsider normalizing language like thug, terrorists, or illegals? Are large language models like chatGBT useful, unbiased research tools? In this course we will examine what constitutes a narrative of resistance and we will use rhetoric to help us understand who decides when resistance is celebrated, needed, righteous, and who decides when it is condemned or misguided.

Narratives of resistance can be found in all fields so your research topics can range widely, and I encourage you to pursue an issue you want to learn more about. For instance, you might analyze narratives for and against unionizing, abortion bans, automation, or buying fast fashion. Former students have researched resistance narratives about trans athletes competing in their chosen gender as well as whether universities should accept money from fossil fuel companies to fund climate research. Resistance is an important skill to cultivate and hone as we enter into public conversation as writers, researchers, and community members. 

We will root our critical inquiry by closely examining how the language we use creates or thwarts a more just society, and we’ll study scholars who have written academic and popular resistance narratives. All quarter we will return to these questions: What is considered valid or needed resistance in the midst of our ever shifting social, political, economic, and environmental extremes?  What is the relationship between resistance and truth; resistance and democracy; resistance and our language choices?

Major Assignments

Rhetorical Analysis

(1500-1800 words; 5-6 pages) This assignment asks you to analyze the rhetorical strategies of a text of your choice that makes an argument about resistance narratives. You’ll choose a text that examines counter narratives to topics such as standardized language use in the classroom, theories like identity politics, or tactics such as code-meshing. 

Texts in Conversation

(1800-2400 words; 6-8 pages) This assignment marks the beginning of your research project. Here, you will research and investigate the larger research question you’d like to explore relating to resistance. You’ll analyze how different sources, voices, and perspectives inform the larger conversation about your topic. For instance, you might explore topics such as defunding the police, how AI can be racist, or how corporations have co-opted narratives of resistance. 

Research-Based Argument

(3600-4500 words; 12-15 pages)  Your RBA is the final product of this course where your voice enters into the conversation. Here is where you’ll build on and expand the work you began with the Texts in Conversation assignment by integrating a variety of sources to produce your own complex, provocative argument about resistance as it relates to your topic.