PWR 1EH: Rhetoric of Resistance
Catalog Number: PWR 1EH
Instructor: Elizabeth Hille
Quarters offered 2021-2022: Fall, Winter, Spring
Fall 2021: Section 1 MW 1:30PM-3:15PM, Section 2 MW 3:30PM-5:15PM
Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Course Feature: WR-1 requirement
What is resistance? More importantly, what do we resist, when, and why? Resistance is defined as the refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument. In this course we’ll examine what constitutes an act of resistance and we’ll use rhetoric to help us understand when resistance is celebrated, needed, righteous and when it’s condemned or misguided. What narratives, knowledges, or ideologies do you resist and why? Resistance is an important skill to understand and hone as we enter into public discourse as writers, researchers, and community members.
We’ll situate ourselves in narratives of resistance by looking at both past and present texts and movements of resistance. To begin, we’ll examine how and why writers such as Gloria Anzaldua and Ibram Kendi composed narratives of resistance. We’ll also interrogate how past and present social movements that might have opposing narratives--Black Lives Matter, the Water Protectors, anti-vaxxers, the Proud Boys, etc--have expanded or contracted national conversations.
In your own research, you’ll be able to investigate how resistance is performed in a topic of your choosing. You might, for instance, analyze resistance narratives in the medical field to the Covid vaxxine or cloning. Or, you might choose to research the resistance to certain technologies like self-driving cars, AI, or GMO foods. You might interrogate resistance narratives around the need for a college degree or resistance to social media influencers. Narratives of resistance can be found in all fields so your topics can range widely, and you will be encouraged to choose a topic that you’re interested in learning more about. All quarter, we’ll be returning 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?
(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. You might analyze a resistance poster from the Black Panthers or Colin Kapernick’s Nike ad; a historical or contemporary resistance movement; a counter narrative to an act or social movement of resistance; or a resistance essay like one written by abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
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 why and how engineers are persuading the public to use a new technology, or you could examine how corporations have co-opted narratives of resistance.
(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.