840083 :Rhetoric, Culture & Democracy, in conjunction with Academic English


Voertaal Engels
Werkvorm: 13 lectures followed by interactive seminars+ 8x2 hours Academic Writing in English (an attendance of 80% is compulsory to pass Academic Writing in English). (Collegerooster)
Tentamenvorm: Group presentation and paper (Tentamenrooster)
Studielast:6 ECTS credits
Inschrijving:Inschrijven via Blackboard voor aanvang colleges
Blackboard informatieLink to Blackboard (Als u de melding 'Guest are not allowed in this course' krijgt, dient u nog bij Blackboard in te loggen)


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T. Muntz MA MSc (coordinator)

dr. M. Vitullo (Academic English)

Doel van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain how ancient theoreticians intended to influence their readership through the use of rhetorical devices and recognize their impact on writers and speakers through history.
  • Identify and evaluate the rhetorical strategies and elements used in speeches and texts from contemporary politics, from the court room, and developed to commercial ends.
  • Explain the intricate relations between rhetoric and democratic thought in the West.
  • Apply the acquired knowledge of rhetoric to one's own speech and writing.

At the end of the Academic Writing part of this course, students will be able to:

  • Present their opinions in a well-structured, argumentative paper;
  • Give a group presentation on a classical text;
  • Assess and critically discuss academic sources from books, scholarly publications, etc.;
  • Detect plagiarism and apply the APA style referencing rules in order to avoid plagiarism;
  • Write in an academic style, which includes an appropriate register (vocabulary) and accurate use of grammatical;
  • Evaluate and correct their own writing on structure, style and accuracy.
  • Present their opinions in an enticing way in an oral presentation, including delivery techniques and the use of visual aids.

Inhoud van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

Rhetoric and democracy; these are two vast subjects in their own right. In this course, we will study them in relation to each other. Rhetoric will be our primary focus. It is the ancient art of persuasive speech, developed first in democratic Athens and later in republican Rome. In our own days we can witness the heritage of classical speeches in the performance of political candidates in modern democracies, of lawyers in our courtrooms and of CEO’s during their shareholder meetings.

Envisaged as the technique of persuasion, rhetoric can be found in abundance in everyday language as well. The commercial success of advertisements, for example, or the educational success of advice, are largely a matter of rhetoric. And so is, to a lesser extent, the outcome of a judicial procedure. In general, mastering this technique must be seen as an asset.

 Democracy is the name for a particular kind of political regime where the people (demos) rule (kratos), directly or through representatives. This opens another perspective on rhetoric; what is of interest now is in what way the media of communication influence political life. In Athens, the art of rhetoric had to be suited for the needs of speakers addressing vast crowds in the open air, whereas effective political rhetoric today depends on making good use of the television medium, which requires somewhat different techniques. In all times, the less restricted the cultural setting (e.g. by political suppression, undemocratic laws, or lack of freedom of speech), the more the art of rhetoric can flourish.

Writing papers and giving presentations are the focus of the Academic writing part of this course. We will be dealing with tactics and modes of structuring what it is that you need to say, phrasing your points as efficiently as possible, and making your points most effectively. These issues involve writing well-structured paragraphs, adopting the correct terminology and vocabulary, and using the necessary markers and sentence constructions to produce coherent texts and give effective presentations. We will also be focusing on how to look critically at your own work, as well as the work of others.

For the Rhetoric course, the students have to write a number of different texts and deliver a speech. Moreover they have to collect samples of rhetoric from different types of sources.These assignments will be the materials worked with in the academic communication course. The aim here is that the students develop their writing and presentation skills in a context that is immediately relevant.

The lectures

Following the first, introductory lecture, there are weekly interactive lectures of two formats:

  1. Introduction of the general topics of the course (by the main lecturer) followed by the presentaqtion of rhetorical samples (by students) and discussion.
  2. Lecture on a specific topic (such as: rhetoric and populism, the rhetoric of the law, etc.)  followed by the discussion of rhetorical samples (by students).

Students tasks

The students are supposed to have read the literature accompanying each lecture in the Course Schedule .

In order to develop an analytic eye for rhetoric in everyday life, students will collect examples of any form of rhetoric that they discover (or remember from the recent past) during the course weeks. This material will be used as input for group discussions in the lectures.

All students will write a speech - some of them will deliver one. All students will analyze a speech (of their own choice).

The students will be divided in small groups that will meet regularly between sessions and will work together during class. Some of the course assignments will be at the group level, others are individual assignments.

Tests and exams

Your final grade will be composed of: a grade for your collection and discussion of fragments of rhetoric (10%), a grade for your group presentation (20%), and a grade for your two papers (70%). The grade for your papers will be composed of the average of your two papers. You must pass all three separate parts (contribution, group presentation & average of two papers) in order to pass the course.

Bijzonderheden (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

For non-LAS students the number of places in this course is limited. For registration, please contact Tessa Leesen (t.g.leesen@tilburguniversity.edu) at least three weeks prior to the start of the course.

With respect to the Academic Writing part: in order to pass this part of the course you must have a passing grade, which will then be converted to a +, indicating you have completed Academic Writing. An attendance of 80% is compulsory to pass. More details on how to pass this course will be given during the lectures. The point of the attendance requirement is that developing skills requires practice and feedback, and this requires attendance and active participation in the sessions. Furthermore, the main writing assignment is given a CEFR-level indication. This score provides students with an internationally-used indication of current proficiency in English with respect to writing.

Verplichte literatuur

  1. Van Loon et al., Academic Writing in English, Coutinho, 2011, ISBN 978-90-469-0256-1.
  2. Sam Leith, You talkin' to me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, Profile Books, 2012, ISBN 978-18-466-8316-9.
  3. Machiavelli, N., The Prince, translated by George Bull, Introduction by Anthony Grafton, Penguin Classics. Very important: you need to buy the Penguin version, the Introduction by Anthonu Grafton is important! Machiavelli The Prince Penguin Version
  4. Additional materials will be distributed via Blackboard or in class

Vereiste voorkennis

Verplicht voor

  • Liberal Arts and Sciences ( 2015, 2016, 2017 )
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: Elective major Business and Management ( 2015, 2016, 2017 )
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: Elective major Cognitive Neuroscience ( 2016, 2017 )
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: Elective major Humanities: European History and Culture ( 2015, 2016, 2017 )
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: Elective major Law in Europe ( 2015, 2016, 2017 )
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences: Elective major Social Sciences ( 2015, 2016, 2017 )