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CAS 497 - The Rhetoric of Place and Space

Professor: Bradford Vivian
Office: 210 Sparks
Email: bjv113@psu.edu
Phone: 814.865.0945

If places and spaces could speak, what would they say? This course will explore how and why our surroundings, whether built or natural, function as mediums of human communication. We will study how the design of particular places and spaces operates like a language, speaking to us while also influencing how we think, feel, and interact with others in turn. The design of a fast-food restaurant, for example, speaks to us, and asks us to speak to one another, in remarkably different ways than a house of worship. Students in this course will study many such differences in place or space—the many different “languages” of the built or natural environment—by examining various artistic, historical, and theoretical works in the subject matter. The goal of the course is to provide students with a better understanding of the constant rhetorical influences that aspects of place and space exert on our public and private lives.

Course Objectives

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate their functional knowledge of scholarship on place and space in the field of communication or rhetorical studies.
  2. Explain the nature and utility of major theories or concepts regarding the rhetorical dimensions of place and space (meaning how they influence our thought, behavior, and interaction as human beings).
  3. Apply such theories or concepts to discussions of social, political, or ethical problems centered on issues of place and space in everyday life.

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