Fall 2020 - CMNS 332 E100

Communication and Rhetoric (4)

Class Number: 7114

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 5:30 PM – 8:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including one of CMNS 220, 221, 223W, or 235.



An examination of rhetoric and persuasion in the context of communication studies. Several classical accounts of persuasion and rhetoric are examined in order to develop a fuller understanding of the promotional ethos of the modern age. How different institutional modes of persuasive discourse have been shaped by a variety of research agendas and underlying theories about human nature is also studied.



Over the past several decades, rhetoric has enjoyed something of a renaissance, and has found a welcome audience in several formerly hostile academic fields.  History, philosophy, anthropology, communication, and literary studies have all come to realize that the rhetorical enterprise – identifying, addressing, and persuading audiences – is a central part of their intellectual heritage.  In being revived, rhetoric has come to occupy a prominent place in a number of academic debates.

This course examines rhetoric and persuasion in the context of communication studies.  We will begin by considering several classical accounts of persuasion and rhetoric, in order to develop a fuller understanding of the promotional ethos of the modern age.  From there, we will move on to look at how different institutional modes of persuasive discourse have been shaped by a variety of research agendas and underlying theories about human nature.  We will examine arguments about the place of persuasive practices in the works of Plato and Aristotle; notions of persuasion as encountered in the psychoanalytic tradition; and theories of a rhetorical attitude as developed by Kenneth Burke.


  • Mid-Term Exam (In-Class) 25%
  • Project/Research Paper 30%
  • Discussion and Participation 20%
  • Final Exam (Take-Home During Exam Period) 25%


A minimum 2.25 CMNS CGPA and 2.00 overall CGPA, and approval as a Communication student is required for entry into most Communication upper division courses.

The school expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03 and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline.  [Note: as of May 1, 2009, the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02) and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies.]



Borchers, Timothy A., Rhetorical Theory: An Introduction (2nd Edition). Waveland, January 2018.
ISBN: 9781478635802

Additional readings will be available online.

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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).