Teaching Rhetoric & Argumentation

My teaching has been energized by the goal of providing students with tools for personal and societal empowerment.  At the undergraduate level, I have taught approximately 9,000 students in our introductory rhetorical criticism class.  I often hear from students who took the class some years and sometimes decades ago that they continue to apply the tools they learned in the class in their daily lives.  I am also proud of the fact that there are seven or eight Ph.Ds. in the field who were introduced to the study of rhetoric in this class. 

An empty auditorium, photo by PexelsThe undergraduate rhetorical criticism class teaches basic principles of critical analysis that give students the skills to pick apart any work of rhetoric and the tools to test the strength of the argument and ethicality of rhetoric.  Implicitly, the class also teaches students how to build strong and empowering rhetoric that can persuade an audience in an ethical manner. The class also functions as a form of empowerment because I emphasize the importance of citizen involvement in any democratic society in order to build a productive, just, and inclusive society. 

Just some of my bow-tie collection that I wear when working with the passionate and driven students at the University of Kansas

At the graduate level, I teach rhetorical methods classes including an overview of rhetorical criticism, as well as classes focused on narrative, myth, social movements, and genre studies. More broadly, my focus has been to teach students the skills they need to be productive scholars.  The academic job market is increasingly difficult, but there are always positions for those who demonstrate their capacity to be significant scholars.  For decades, I have designed graduate classes so that students produce draft papers that can be submitted to journals.  Any number of journal publications have come out of my classes.  I am also happy to say that all of my 39 completed Ph.D. dissertation students have been able to find faculty jobs, with almost ninety percent of them in tenure-track or tenured lines.