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CAS 597 - Rhetoric & Public Policy

Professor: Michael J. Steudeman
Assistant Professor of Rhetoric
Director of CAS 100: Effective Communication

Placing rhetorical studies in conversation with the “argumentative turn” in policy scholarship, this course contemplates the reciprocity of rhetoric and policy as forces in public life. Analyzing a wide range of international debates over making, maintaining, and assessing public policies, students will engage with multidisciplinary perspectives on issues including education, immigration, welfare, housing, surveillance, health care, and policing. Thematically, the course will grapple with rhetorical dynamics of community activist struggles for city governance, the ways the law and legislative argument (re)inscribe systems of power, and how (neo)liberal logics of neutrality and competition have been imposed on various policy domains. As policy discourses complicate rhetoricians’ traditional conceptions of author, audience, situation, and context, students will develop their ability to draw together fragmentary discourses into cohesive narrative arguments. In the process, they will learn to interrogate the circulation of policy discourses to account for "invisible contexts" that re-inscribe power, reproduce inequality, and marginalize bodies.