Fall 2021 - CMNS 332 E100

Communication and Rhetoric (4)

Class Number: 6130

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 5:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    HCC 1700, Vancouver

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2021
    11:59 PM – 11:59 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including one of CMNS 220, 221, 223W, or 235, with a minimum grade of C-.



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 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.