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Courses

Faculty in Rhetoric and Communication Studies marry scholarship and teaching, recognizing active, ongoing research and intellectual inquiry grounds genuine learning inside and outside the classroom.  Faculty theorize about and analyze various forms of symbolic action-media, rhetoric, and relational dynamics-and treat subjects including elective politics, law, social protest, globalization, history, conflict and negotiation, and culture, the latter including public memory, consumerism, identity formation, gender, race, and class.

Theoretical expertise ranges from antiquity to post-modernity in the Western tradition. Methodological approaches include critical, critical/cultural, qualitative, and quantitative. RHCS professors mentor scholarly writing, foster intellectual exchange, promote performative agility, and encourage interdisciplinary exploration and discovery.

  • RHCS faculty view communication in a general liberal arts education to include, but not be limited to, the facility, in a variety of contexts to:
  • Analyze and speak extemporaneously on various public issues with clarity and informative and/or persuasive art
  • Report complex findings in a manner accessible to lay persons and appropriate to intellectual communities of their origination
  • Field interrogation in various venues thoughtfully, ethically, persuasively, or with other purposes
  • Manage conflict with an analytical eye towards reaching negotiation and resolution, or other ethical purposes
  • Identify, analyze, and/or critique public expressions of individual or collective identities and dominant ideologies as well as various public challenges to them
  • Present prepared addresses on various occasions, which may entail informative, persuasive, ceremonial, or other purposes.
  • Become sophisticated analytical audiences of public discourse and other forms of symbolism, which includes judiciousness in assessing arguments, emotional appeals, and other strategic choices, and recognizing the potency of visual rhetoric for various audiences.
  • Develop acumen in assessing communicative dynamics in various interpersonal or group settings for varied purposes, which might include  alleviating misunderstandings or correcting insufficient or overly complex communicative patterns so as to promote good ends.

Most courses are considered either a rhetoric or communication studies course. Check major and minor requirements and upcoming courses for more information.

Courses
RHCS 100 Public Speaking
Units: 1
Description
Introduction to the art of public speaking. Students will learn the classical canons of rhetoric: the arts of invention, disposition, style, memory, and delivery. Emphasis is placed on the design and delivery of speeches. Applies to majors/minors and general electives.

RHCS 102 Interpersonal Communication
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)
Description
Survey of theory and practice relating to one-to-one communication. Exploration of role of communication and meaning in development of self, perceptions, and relationships. Introduction to social scientific study of communication. Includes lab-based practicum.

RHCS 103 Rhetorical Theory
Units: 1
Description
Introduction to theoretical study of rhetoric where we learn to think about language, speech, argument, and symbolic action at large as social forces, influencing how we perceive ourselves and others, how we understand our relationship to local and global communities, and how we address important issues in politics, law, and culture. Applies to majors/minors and general electives.

RHCS 104 Interpreting Rhetorical Texts
Units: 1
Description
Introduction to critical interpretation of rhetorical texts such as speeches, written arguments, and various media. Topics covered may include audience analysis, lines of reasoning, logical fallacies, modes of proof, evidence types, generic forms, and visual vocabularies. Applies to majors/minors and general electives.

RHCS 105 Media, Culture, and Identity
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSA)
Description
Basic theoretical frameworks and concepts in media studies. Through close analysis of a variety of texts including, but not limited to, films, music, television programs, newspapers, magazines, and websites, explores the ways in which culture is produced and consumed. Case studies and other examples will provide entry points into thinking about how culture shapes and also is informed by individual and collective identities.

RHCS 201 Argumentation and Debate
Units: 1
Description
In-depth introduction to principles of public advocacy. Emphasizing both theory and skills, the course includes casewriting, presentation, analysis, refutation, cross-examination, and logical fallacies.

RHCS 221 Business and Professional Speech
Units: 1
Description
Making the business presentation and giving the corporate advocacy speech. Application to workplace of skills in listening, problem solving, interviewing, conducting meetings.

RHCS 279 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Communications Studies
Units: 1
Description
Special topics course offering lower-level/introductory inquiry in rhetoric and communication studies.

RHCS 295 Topics in Research
Units: 1
Description
These topical courses focus on theory and practice of selected research methods (e.g. rhetorical criticism, ethnography, interview and survey methods, etc.), providing students with critical understanding of published research, a grounding in research methodology, and a working knowledge of the research process. Majors are required to take two units of RHCS 295, minors one unit. May be repeated for credit when topics differ.

RHCS 302 Advanced Theories in Interpersonal Communication
Units: 1
Description
In-depth exploration of specific theories in area of interpersonal communications. Will focus on role of communication in creating, maintaining, repairing, and transforming individual's sense of self and other. From this foundation, students will explore essence of dialogue through works of Buber, Bakhtin, Arnett, and Baxter.

RHCS 323 Classical Rhetoric
Units: 1
Description
Roots of modern rhetorical theory in writings of Greek and Roman teachers of rhetoric.

RHCS 325 Medieval to Modern Rhetorics
Units: 1
Description
Introduction to nature, scope, function and value of rhetorical theory in Medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment cultures. Key figures include St. Augustine, Boethius, Trebizond, Peter Ramus, Giambattista Vico, George Campbell, Hugh Blair, and Richard Whately.

RHCS 327 Contemporary Rhetorical Theory
Units: 1
Description
Survey of leading contemporary rhetorical theories/theorists.

RHCS 333 Theory and Pedagogy
Units: 1
Description
For students who have successfully applied for positions as student consultants and speech fellows at the speech center.

RHCS 340 Culture and Communication
Units: 1
Description
Engages students in an inquiry into the rhetorical and communicative dimension of culture. Includes exploration of cultural performance ranging from popular culture in various media to the public memorials, rituals, and institutions that shape norms of culture. Also explores the rhetoric of elements of culture such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

RHCS 341 Speech Writing
Units: 1
Description
History of professional speech writing from classical times to present. Attention to status and impact of modern political and business speech writers. Emphasis on writer/speaker relationship, audience analysis, speech structure, use of data, and writing in an oral style.
Prerequisites
Rhetoric and Communication Studies 100, 103, or 104.

RHCS 342 Gender and Communication
Units: 1
Description
Focus on how gender is constructed and communicated in our daily lives through influences and institutions such as interpersonal relationships, the family, media, education, and religion. Theoretical work, empirical research, personal experiences, and media all will be utilized in discussions of gender and its impact on everyday interactions. Students will explore major theoretical developments concerning gender and communication from varied perspectives and disciplines.

RHCS 343 Rhetoric and Politics
Units: 1
Description
Analysis of American political systems from rhetorical perspective using several theoretical frameworks and applied research. Examine interpretive processes on which political arguments and ideologies are based. Study impact of language on issues, candidates, and campaigns. Develop perspective of government's role in the "ongoing conversation" of politics and evaluate rules, choices, and strategies employed in different political arenas.

RHCS 347 Advertising and Consumer Culture
Units: 1
Description
Critical approach to the study of advertising and consumer culture, challenging students to reconsider entrenched assumptions and ideas about advertising and consumer culture more broadly. Issues of representation, production, reception, and citizenship, considering the material advertisement as well as its relationship to individuals and larger institutional structures. Application of theoretical concepts to historical and contemporary advertisements and objects of consumer culture. Application of different methodological approaches to the study of advertising including ethnography, focus groups, and textual analysis.

RHCS 349 Memory and Memorializing in the City of Richmond
Units: 1
Description
Examines various sites of memory production (i.e. films, museums, monuments) -- how they have been conceptualized and debated -- and asks students to consider memory not only as an entity used in reconstructing the past but capable of being reconstructed itself. Over the course of the semester, students may take several field trips to historical sites and museums throughout the city of Richmond to experience how memory is reproduced and to consider alternate ways of crafting narratives of the past.
Prerequisites
Determined by instructor.

RHCS 350 Rhetoric in a Globalized World
Units: 1
Description
Exploration of the rhetoric of U.S. internationalism in the 20th century and its impact on the discourse of globalization in the 21st century through close analysis of speeches, public documents, maps, photos, posters, radio, and films. A broad historical/critical perspective is offered on important public arguments pertaining to the global expansion of American power, while also engaging with significant archival and other primary materials from both American and international perspectives. Special attention to the relationship between historical and contemporary rhetorics of intervention, foreign aid, and exceptionalism.

RHCS 351 20th Century Media History
Units: 1
Description
Considers the ways in which mass media have impacted the trajectory of 20th century political and social movements, family life, leisure, and nationalism, among other topics. By questioning the role played by communication technologies within a recent historical context, this class will encourage students to forge connections between issues confronted over the course of the twentieth century and the present day. Through analyses of texts including, but not limited to, songs, IMs, television programs, and radio broadcasts, students will explore the transformations and continuities of the media landscape and its surrounding context.

RHCS 353 Rhetoric and Law
Units: 1
Description
Inquiry into the law from rhetorical perspectives, using the history and theory of rhetoric and its long-standing association with law and justice. Examination of interpretive processes on which legal arguments and ideologies are based. Exploration of the language of legal argument, court decisions, and of the role of rhetoric and the law in shaping of public life and social justice.

RHCS 355 Rhetoric, Media, and U.S. Feminism 1830s-1980
Units: 1
Description
A feminist/critical approach to the rhetoric surrounding the early women's rights movement beginning in the 1830s through 1920 and the women's liberation movement starting in the early 1960s through 1980 approximately. General foci include 1) treatment of women's rhetorical history and social, legal, religious, and psychological obstacles inhibiting their agency and 2) critical treatment of various strategies used by female rhetors to advance their causes. Speeches, essays, conventions, journals, newsletters, parades, and demonstrations may be considered as rhetorical forms.

RHCS 359 Media and War
Units: 1
Description
Engages students in an inquiry into the rhetorical and communicative dimension of war in the twenty-first century.

RHCS 361 Rhetoric, Media, and the 1960s
Units: 1
Description
Examination of political rhetoric of the 1960s including presidential rhetoric and the rhetoric of various social movements: civil rights, anti-war, women1s liberation, American-Indian, gay and lesbian, among others. Also explored is the role of the media as shaper and filter of events and as target for diverse audiences to court, exploit, and challenge. Speeches, essays, books, art, television, film, fashion, music, and demonstrations may be explored as rhetorical forms.
Prerequisites
Rhetoric and Communication Studies 104.

RHCS 387 Independent Study in Rhetoric
Units: .25-1
Description
No more than one unit of independent study may count toward the major or minor.
Prerequisites
Permission of instructor.

RHCS 388 Individual Internship
Units: .25-1
Description
Practical application of speech communication principles and skills in a supervised, out-of-class environment. Graded pass/fail only. No more than one unit of internship may count toward rhetoric and communication studies major. Open to majors and minors only, but does not count toward the rhetoric and communication studies minor. No more than 1.5 units of internship in any one department and 3.5 units of internship overall may be counted toward required degree units.
Prerequisites
Faculty approval before beginning work.

RHCS 406 Summer Undergraduate Research
Units: 0
Description
Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.
Prerequisites
Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor

RHCS 412 Communication Studies Seminar
Units: 1
Description
Special topics courses allow for advanced inquiry and research in Rhetoric and Communication Studies.

RHCS 490 Senior Capstone
Units: 1
Description
Special topics seminar for seniors only focusing on research with an oral presentation requirement. Course is required for the major.
Prerequisites
Senior standing. Rhetoric and communication studies majors only.

RHCS 498 Honors Thesis Writing
Units: 1
Description
Advanced research and writing opportunity for departmental honors students. Requires completion and presentation of honors thesis.
Prerequisites
Participation in department honors program.

RHCS 499 Honors Thesis Writing
Units: 1
Description
Advanced research and writing opportunity for departmental honors students. Requires completion and presentation of honors thesis.
Prerequisites
Participation in department honors program.