Rhetoric is a fundamental part of classical education. It is the art of effective communication, whether written or spoken. Or, as Aristotle puts it, it is the art of studying the available means of persuasion in any given situation. It teaches the ability to persuade others, and the power of analyzing the attempts of others (whether politicians, news media, or books) to persuade us, to discover whether those attempts are manipulative or beneficial.
Rhetoric has been a central subject in classical education for over two thousand years, because it is the art of organizing knowledge. It is the capstone of the Trivium, the three fundamental arts of learning; once the grammar (the particular facts) and logic (the connections between the facts) of a subject have been learned, the knowledge gained must be organized and incorporated into the student’s worldview in such a fashion that it can be communicated to others.
Cassiodorus.org’s online Rhetoric classes will cover the history and basic principles of rhetoric, a brief review of logic, and the skill of determining the structure of spoken communication (speeches, debates, arguments) and of written works of all kinds, from the sentence level to paragraphs to whole books. The course will include reading and discussing primary sources and current articles, and writing papers and short speeches to demonstrate ability in the principles studied.
Course Summary and Profile:Age Range: 15 and up Topic: The Communication Arts Duration: 1 year
Rhetoric is the name for the last stage in the trivium of classical education. This course is designed to teach the student how to apply the principles of classical rhetoric to his own speech, writing, and communication. We will study the elements of the rhetorical situation and the available means of persuasion. The text for this class is written by the tutor, Peter Roise, and is primarily based on classical rhetoric as represented in Aristotle’s Art of Rhetoricand Ad Herennium.
1. The Power of Persuasion, Peter D. Roise
2. The Book of Psalms
3. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
4. Rhetorica ad Herennium (Loeb Classical Library)
5. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain
6. Bondage of the Will, Martin Luther
7. Leave it to Psmith, P.G. Wodehouse
8. Henry V, William Shakespeare
9. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
10. Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, Williams
11. That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis
12. On Christian Doctrine, Augustine
13. Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman