Rhetoric and Public Discourse Spring 2015 Application
This seminar will cover issues in both individual and public discourse. For the former, students will have an opportunity to hone rhetorical skills in a chosen format -- speaking, presenting, moderating or production of media -- and for the latter, we will explore the evolving nature of discourse in the networked public sphere, from "electronic town halls" to Wikipedia to anonymous and identified commenting. Some of our questions: What roles do and should intermediaries play in setting our topical agendas and shaping conversations around them? What impact does and can money have in influencing opinion on a large scale? What new modalities exist to facilitate conversation and closure among parties who disagree in good faith? Should advocates and agents be treated the same as those who claim to be speaking for themselves? Are there ways to identify and mitigate discourse grounded in bad faith, a.k.a. truthiness?
Spring term, 2 credits, by application. Possible to undertake clinical work with the Berkman Center, or to fulfill the Written Work Requirement.
Please submit this application by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 24, 2014.
First and last name
This will be our primary method of communicating with you about your application and the course. Please list an email you check regularly.
Please tell us a little about why you'd like to take the course
Feel free to include any experience you think might be relevant.
What do you see as the most pressing issue with public discourse today, and what remedy would you propose?
What form of rhetoric are you most interested in pursuing as a personal skill?
Multimedia (PPT, Keynote)
Persuasive writing (short, e.g. op-ed)
Persuasive writing (long, e.g. book)
Considering the list above, what sort of experience(s) would you say you already have developed?
Please describe a public debate for which you find the opposing side's view to be so different from your own that you wonder if a productive discussion is even possible.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
(If you would like to share a cv, please send it to
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