THE WAR FROM THE WEB: READING FOR RHETORIC IN SEPTEMBER 11 DOCUMENTS ON THE INTERNET
Winter 2002

Elizabeth Losh

lizlosh@uci.edu
This course will focus on close-reading of primary texts from the past few months for rhetorical features, but will also include some other very short readings about the history of rhetoric for background. 

Be warned.  Some of these documents about September 11 will contain powerful emotional and ideological material.  Nonetheless, students from the widest possible range of backgrounds and perspectives are encouraged to enroll in this course, so that members of the group can also educate each other.

This seminar will emphasize the strategies of a variety of rhetorical appeals rather than validate any one particular political viewpoint.  For example, what are broadly labeled "appeals to logos" in the syllabus below would not necessarily be better or more logical than other documents, and we would read all effective texts for the multiple rhetorical strategies that they deploy.

Writing assignments that might grow out of class discussion would involve electronic discourse: e-mail postings to our electronic discussion list and a class web page project.  For your convenience, almost all the September 11 documents that we will be reading are available online through the hypertext syllabus below.  In our educational use of this intellectual property, links go to sources with a hosting news or governmental agency whenever possible.  Please refer to the special UCI edition of Writing from A to Z to learn how to appropriately acknowledge an Internet source.

Maps
The Contemporary Islamic World: History Links

The Contemporary Islamic World: Language Links

The HumCore Site for Rhetoric Resources on the Web

The HumCore Site for Logic and Composition Resources on the Web

Materials about Visual and Electronic Rhetoric

A Student Website about Aristotle's Rhetoric
Note: 1) You will be expected to subscribe to the online version of the New York Times at www.nytimes.com to read some of the assigned material.  2) You should also print out web pages and take notes in the margins of the hard copy and plan to bring your annotated documents to class.  If you do not own a printer and computer, there are several computer labs on-campus that offer low-cost printing services with a UCI print card.  3) Optional readings to supplement class discussion are indicated by parentheses in the syllabus below.   Nevertheless, you may find it helpful to skim this material before class.

WEEK ONE: INTRODUCTION TO RHETORIC AND DOCUMENTARY HISTORY

AN INTERACTIVE QUIZ ON PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SOURCES

The September 11th Archive
The September 11th Digital Archive

A September 11th Archive of Official Documents at Columbia University

The Center for Strategic Education at Johns Hopkins University: September 11 Links


WEEK TWO: APPEALS TO ETHOS [class notes*]

GEORGE W. BUSH SPEECHES: September 11, September 14, September 16, September 20   (and the Composing Process)


WEEK THREE: APPEALS TO PATHOS

WORLD TRADE CENTER MISSING PERSONS POSTERS from the Village Voice and CNN (and the Fieldwork Context of the Posters)
and THE NEW YORK TIMES "PORTRAITS OF GRIEF"



WEEK FOUR: APPEALS TO LOGOS [class notes*]

WEEK FIVE: THE RHETORIC OF JUSTIFICATION

THE HIJACKERS' LETTER: Arabic, English  (and Rhetorical Context from Gaza, Cairo, and Hamburg)


WEEK SIX: THE RHETORICAL SCENE

APPEALS ON ARABIC TELEVISION: Osama Bin Laden I, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Osama Bin Laden II, Christopher Ross (and the Al-Jazeera Newsfile)

A News Conference with Charlotte Beers


WEEK SEVEN: RHETORIC AND PURPOSE [class notes*]

FLYERS TO AFGHANISTAN: Initial Text, Initial Images, Complete Gallery (and the Context of Expertise from Psychological Operations)


WEEK EIGHT: RHETORIC AND DEFINITION

TERRORISM LEGISLATION: The PATRIOT Bill and others


WEEK NINE: RHETORIC AND RECEPTION [class notes*]

US Department of State Domestic Site and International Site

INTERNATIONAL NEWSPAPERS (including political cartoons), THE ONION, ADBUSTERS


WEEK TEN: NEWS FROM THE LAST TEN WEEKS [class notes*]

DOCUMENTS CHOSEN BY THE CLASS


Although many of the "classic texts" on rhetoric were written a long time ago, we will apply ideas from stasis theory, Isocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, and Kenneth Burke to the documents of the immediate present. 

We will start by studying what the Aristotle called ethos (the credibility or "character" of a speaker), logos (the logical structure of the speaker's argument), and pathos (the way that emotional appeals are used by a speaker to persuade an audience). 

Rhetoric, however, should not be considered only as a history of "Western" discourse.  Islamic philosophers were also important in the history of rhetoric.  In fact, the text of Aristotle's Rhetoric, parts of which we will be reading in this class, survived to the present day because it was preserved by Arab scholars and commentators.

To see the sources of the images above, please click on the thumbnails.
Student Web Sites

Lindsey Carter
Valerie Terrell

Martin Vega

Student Final Comments