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CAS 084 - First-Year Seminar

Joshua Trey Barnett
Assistant Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences
Email: barnett@psu.edu 

Rhetoric and Earthly Coexistence

How should we dwell upon the earth? In an age of human-caused climate change, no challenge is more pressing. In this course we will explore a range of rhetorical discourses which seek to answer this question, from Aldo Leopold's "The Land Ethic" to Elizabeth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle's "Ecosexual Manifesto," from Rachel Carson's Silent Spring to Greta Thunberg's speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, from image events staged by radical environmental activists in the 1970s and 1980s to recent nonviolent demonstrations staged by indigenous peoples. Through careful reading and discussion, we will illuminate how these and other rhetorical discourses powerfully shape our thoughts and feelings about the practice and prospects of earthly coexistence.

Course Objectives

  • Students in this first-year seminar can expect to gain both an appreciation and understanding of the rhetorical means by which various actors – writers, activists, politicians, artists, intellectuals, and scientists alike – shape our ideas about what it means to dwell upon the earth with others, human and more-than-human alike. Students can also expect to become better acquainted with rhetorical theories useful for studying a wide range of discourses beyond those discussed in this seminar; to practice and to refine their critical thinking, writing, and oral communication skills; and to become familiar with the intellectual resources available to them at Penn State.

Filed under: Rhetoric Courses