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CAS 375 - Rhetoric and Public Controversy

John F. Kennedy in the presidential motorcade before the assassination in Dallas

Chris Kroft, Assistant Teaching Professor
(717) 487-5611

CAS 375: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX on November 22, 1963.  Impassioned rhetoric surrounds this tragic event as individuals and groups still attempt to make sense of what exactly happened in Dealey Plaza and, to a larger extent, the country as a whole when his tenure in office abruptly ended.  Rhetoric and Public Controversy: The Assassination of President Kennedy explores persuasive messages related to the life and untimely death of President Kennedy.  Covered topics include landmark addresses by President Kennedy, political rhetoric in 1960s Dallas, generic elements of commonly suggested conspiracy theories, logical appeals of official reports related to the case, and memorialization in and around Dealey Plaza.  This course explores rhetoric as witnessed through famous speeches, cultural artifacts, and written government documents.

CAS 496: Optional Embedded Travel Component to Dallas for Students Enrolled in CAS 375: Rhetoric and Public Controversy: The Assassination of President Kennedy

This Independent Study is an optional 1-credit embedded travel course.  CAS 496 provides students currently enrolled in CAS 375 (Rhetoric and Public Controversy: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy) with an opportunity to travel to Dallas for the purpose of visiting famous landmarks associated with the event.  Students participating in this trip will spend their time in Dallas hearing from local historians as they trace, step-by-step, events taking place in the city between November 22 - 24, 1963.  Some of the visited sites include The Texas School Book Depository (now The Sixth Floor Museum), Dealey Plaza (location of the assassination), and The Texas Theatre (location of Lee Harvey Oswald's capture). 

Course Objectives

CAS 375:

  • Summarize the domestic and international effects of President Kennedy’s public addresses;
  • Appraise the outcomes of political rhetoric upon a city;
  • Distinguish between rhetorically framed conspiracy theories and well-reasoned analyses of historical events, and;
  • Assess the rhetorical value of public memorialization related to unsettling national events.

CAS 496:

  • Outline the locations and series of assassination related events taking place in Dallas between November 22-24, 1963; 
  • Describe the political climate of Dallas in 1963;
  • Provide informed judgments of what he or she believes took place in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and;
  • Assess physical artifacts and places for rhetorical merit.