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Rhetoric in Our Worlds: Field Research on Language and Power - ENGLISH 292

Topics in Language and Literature

Through this course, you'll explore rhetoric everywhere - including student cabin walls.


2 credits (this UMBS-based course is an extension of several thematically related English classes)

Prerequisites: ENGLISH 203 (Introduction to Language and Rhetoric) in WN22, ENGLISH 319 (Literature and Social Change) in F21,  ENGLISH 140 (Rhetoric and Rights) in F21, or ENGLISH 140 (Our Heroes: What's the Story) in WN 2022.

Instructor: Alisse Portnoy

Course Description

We know language and power intersect in meaningful ways. That “sticks and stones” myth is, well, a myth. UMBS includes in its vision “host[ing] unrivaled programs of field-based scientific research, education, and outreach that together enhance our understanding of human-environment interactions at local through global scales.” Field research in such a place has the potential to expand exponentially what we’ve learned in the classroom about rhetoric and rights, and build our capacities not simply to know but also to notice, analyze, explain, and use rhetorical power in the worlds in which we live. At UMBS, we’ll be in an unfamiliar place considering, real-time, claims including, for example, neutrality (is science objective and neutral?); authority (who’s the “they,” what counts as expertise?); universality (what makes natural and built environments more and less available and for whom?); and facticity (wow, just that word itself illustrates how names and definitions reveal and conceal all sorts of things!). Let’s play with, and take very seriously, ways power manifests in our every day at a remarkably complex and stunningly beautiful place “up north.”

Note: You will live at the Biological Station for the duration of the field course. Your room and board for those two weeks are covered by UMBS Transforming Learning Program scholarships.