Spring 2019 - ENGL 375 D100

Studies in Rhetoric (4)

Class Number: 1672

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 2503, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 100 division English courses, and two 200 division English courses. Recommended: One of English 199/199W or 214.



Advanced study in the theory and/or history of rhetoric. The course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught, though students who obtained credit for English 375 prior to Summer 2015 may not take this course for further credit.


Fighting Words: Shaping Controversy and Consensus in Discourse

The drama of disagreement gives verbal conflict an outsize presence in public discourse. Controversy can be held up as virtuous, denigrated as villainous, or dismissed as vapid. Disrupters are heralded as revolutionaries, cursed as terrorists, or brushed off as gadflies. But they maintain our attention. Because of this, it is easy to overlook our overwhelming preference for agreement in our everyday interactions and to miss the background of consensus that controversy requires. In this course we examine the relationship between controversy and consensus by asking how we shape both in our talk and writing. How do assumptions that were once invisible or heretical to question become openly contested, and how do open disagreements become tacit assumptions? On the way, we investigate the ritualized antagonisms of Western academic discourse and their link with traditional gender roles. We look at the strategies children use to resolve verbal conflicts, the role of power and solidarity in interaction, and the problem of political polarization and "filter bubbles" on social media. Students will gain experience analyzing talk and writing in the language of English and will make their own discoveries about particular cases of controversy.


  • *Proposal 20% 20%
  • *Analysis 30% 30%
  • *Essay 40% 40%
  • *Participation 10% 10%



No textbook.  Readings for the course are journal articles and excerpts from primary texts.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html