Studying the history of rhetoric provides students with foundational rhetorical principles and building blocks, crucial for writers, editors, and evolving scholars. This course introduces students to key concepts in the study

of rhetoric; to frameworks useful for the analysis of texts, events, communication, and other phenomena; and to the principles of rhetoric in contexts across media and cultures.



I teach the Western Rhetorical Tradition through a feminist lens. Students start by reading Jacqueline Royster’s “Disciplinary Landscaping; or, Contemporary Challenges in the History of Rhetoric.” We learn about how language has shaped our beliefs, knowledge, and privileges. We learn about who can speak and who is silenced.

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Course Schedule



The course schedule is unique in regards to my focus on access and accessibility. I have provided not only a summary of each day's activity and homework, but students can access detailed breakdowns of each class period.

"I really like how Ms Stark didn't just give us the answers or her view of what the correct answers were but encouraged us to think of the answers on our own and develop our own understanding of what rhetoric was. This approach really helped me to critically assess the readings and come up with my own views on the matter. It also made the class a lot more engaging as it encouraged me to take ownership of my own learning and stimulated my interest in the class."

Ms. Stark is absolutely my favorite professor at FSU. Don't get me wrong, her class was intense and required me to bring my A game every single meeting, however, she instilled a sense of excitement and purpose into the class. I have learned more in this course than any other course I have taken so far at FSU. On top of being an amazing professor who makes challenging concepts clear, Ms. Stark was reasonable and overly understanding when the university switched to remote learning this semester....I cannot say enough good things about Ms. Stark, as a person as well as a professor."

"Ms. Stark assigned reading prior to every class. In these readings, we were to pick out key terms and summarize. We would then spend the next class meeting discussing the reading and relating its importance in regard to the study of rhetoric and rhetoric itself. I found this method to be extremely useful. It adequately prepared us for each class and Ms. Stark would clear up any confusion. I believe this method allowed us the optimum amount of learning."

Assignment Sheet Samples

Critical Reading Responses

Students complete two Critical Reading Responses (CRRs) throughout the course. Each CRR asks students to address several texts that they have read for class. They are required to put multiple texts into conversation with each other, synthesize the reading, and use the theorists to answer a question about rhetoric. 

Theory of Rhetoric​

In this project, students detail the key components of their own definition and theory of rhetoric, using the materials from the semester to support their perspective. Additionally, they bring in contemporary scholarship from beyond the scope of the class to supplement their particular approach to rhetoric. Students put their definition and theory of rhetoric into practice through a series of applications, examples, heuristics, and/ or tools. Overall, students think of their Theory of Rhetoric as a sustained inquiry into these two questions: What is rhetoric? How does rhetoric function?

Key Term Map​

Students are asked to engage with a range of materials that we’ve covered in the course to define key terms and make connections across terms to rhetorical readings and theories. The Key Term Project provides students with an opportunity to synthesize, apply, complicate, and/or contradict the key ideas and terms we’ve been grappling with. Each key term on their map should have a clear definition and explanation of what rhetorician/text you acquired that definition from. Students are also required to draw connections between key terms that they feel relate to or inform the other. 

DS–Define and Summarize

For each assigned reading, students write a DS. They list the key terms in the reading and define (from the text) for each key term. By developing a concrete understanding of these very difficult rhetorical concepts, they will be better able to recall and practice rhetoric in your life beyond this class. Students also write a 150-200-word summary of each assigned reading. Having these summaries to return to as they study for their quizzes and write their critical response papers help them tremendously. These summaries are also meant to help students understand the material after they've read it. Being able to put the material into their own words will help them wrestle with it.