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PWR 2CWB: Hear/Say: The Art of Rhetorical Listening

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Fall 2021: Not offered

Winter 2021: Not offered

Spring 2022: Not offered

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP) 

Prerequisite: PWR 1, ESF, ITALIC 95W, or equivalent

Course Feature: WR-2 requirement

For twenty-five centuries, Western knowledge has tried to look upon the world. It has failed to understand that the world is not for the beholding. It is for hearing. It is not legible, but audible.
— Jacques Attali

Silence can be a plan
Rigorously executed
Do not confuse it
With any kind of absence
—Adrienne Rich

Why do we listen? To whom do we listen? And what do we learn from generous acts of listening? Lamenting the lost art of listening in rhetorical studies, K. Ratcliffe (2005) defines rhetorical listening as a “stance of openness that a person may choose to assume in relation to any person, text, or culture” (p.1). In contradistinction, Adrienne Rich and Susan Jarratt have explored silence as a strategic, gendered tactic of survival and/or resistance. Indeed, rhetorical listening and silence are central to feminist rhetorical praxis, which has traditionally focused on the rescue, recovery, and (re)inscription of nonmajority cultures and communities into the rhetorical tradition. In short, rhetorical listening and silence ask us to reconsider the role(s) and value(s) aurality plays in knowledge construction in processes of knowledge construction inside and outside the academy.

In this course, you are invited to read, excavate, and practice Ratcliffe’s and Jarratt’s inventive tropes of rhetorical listening and silence to your personal stories and intellectual curiosities in the development of a sustained research project focused on a specific person, text, or culture.

Major Assignments

Research Proposal

(5-minute oral presentation; written text of 900-1200 words) Students propose a sustained research project on rhetorical listening or silence. Proposals will outline the project’s genre, purpose, audience, and significance; detail how it engages rhetorical listening; frame selected research questions and methods; and provide acute critical summaries of germane sources.

*Potential topical scope includes development of theories of rhetorical listening; research on an aspect of sonic studies; rhetorical analyses of “die ins,” “protests” and other activist movements, music, podcasts, or storytelling and “listening booth” projects like; theories of listening in (second) language acquisition; creation of an oral history or (auto)ethnography or digital storytelling project; or other topics of proposed interest.

Written Research-Based Argument

(3000-3600 words; 10-12 pages) Students develop their proposal into an extended written research-based argument developed in the genre and written toward the audience proposed in the research proposal, using appropriate citation and document design. A detailed annotated bibliography is required along with a reflection memo on the process of writing the paper.

Oral Delivery of Research

(10-minute live oral presentation with multimedia support) Students translate and orally present their research project, using appropriate media support, to an educated lay audience on the project’s main findings and write a reflection memo on the process of moving from writing to speaking on the project.

Genre/Modes Assignment

(mini-cast) Students synthesize and translate their research project's big idea and supporting evidence into a 1m radio minicast for a general public.