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Rhetoric: Persuasion: Plato to the Present

This four-week course will examine rhetorical theory beginning with Plato and the Sophist Gorgias in the 3rd Century BC and ending with contemporary theories of persuasion. What moves us to believe what we believe, or to take a certain action? How do we evaluate the things we read, see, and hear? Along the way, we will consider the Talmudic tradition, early Puritan sermons, Presidential speeches, advertising, and visual rhetoric, through the lens of the options Plato and the Sophists offer. We will end with a consideration of ideology, discourse theory, semiotics, and 20th century discussions of “unconscious” rhetoric. How is meaning made? Why do we tell the stories we tell and what does their form reveal about our culture? Are we more like Plato or Gorgias? Which model serves us better and under what circumstances?

Facilitator: John Holbrooke
In 1982, a young Holbrooke took a job with U.S. Customs at Los Angeles International Airport. It led to a 39-year career. For five years, Holbrooke was a customs inspector “annoying the traveling public and impeding, sometimes destroying international cargo. I also collected duty, stamped passports, seized dope and money - both laundered and counterfeit.” He then spent time as an intelligence analyst for two years before moving to Washington to work with the U.S. Customs Office of International Affairs. This transitioned into U.S. Customs and Border Protection within Homeland Security in 2004. Holbrooke explains: “I advised, promoted, represented, taught, interdicted, seized and coordinated. I travelled to East Asia, Central Asia, Most of Europe, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.  It was usually fun.  My career plan was to go to faraway places and eat.  Mission accomplished.” He retired in 2021.

Thursdays, April 11, 18, 25. 3-4pm. Followed by drinks and appetizers.
$15/M, $35/NM for 3-week course.

PLC: Rhetoric: Persuasion: Plato to the Present, M

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