Mark R. Stoner
Basic Questions Essays
Optional, 50-150 points

Purpose: This course has dual foci of theory and practice; the two are inextricably related. This assignment features work in understanding basic theoretical concerns. Dennis Gouran has laid out a series of questions that facilitate thinking about the breadth of theoretical issues in rhetorical criticism in an integrated way. You may elect to answer two (50 points), four (100 points) or six (150 points) of the questions below:

Rhetoric and its social consequences

1. What factors affect the selection and production of symbols that comprise communicative acts?

2. How do the properties of symbols and their arrangements in communicative acts contribute to the ways in which they are understood, interpreted, and acted upon?

3. How do the characteristics of message producers affect the perception and interpretation of symbolic behavior?

4. How do characteristics of message recipients influence responses to symbolic behavior?

5. What roles do media play in the process of symbolic exchange?

6. In what ways do the social contexts in which symbolic exchanges occur contribute to the production and reception of communicative acts?

The conduct of inquiry about rhetoric

7. Have the means of inquiry employed in exploring questions about the process in which symbolic exchanges occur been appropriate to support the types of [knowledge] claims advanced?

8. What are the assumptions and limitations of the methodological perspectives and modes of inquiry employed?

9. Which methods of inquiry have been most fruitful in producing claims about symbolic representations of cognitive activities and related affective states and their social consequences?

10. What are the pragmatic values of the knowledge derived from scholarly inquiry [about rhetoric]?

11. What can be done to produce more reliable and useful knowledge about human communication?

You will choose two, four or six of the eleven questions to answer. Each answer will have an introduction to contextualize and interpret the questions and explain their relationships to each other, a well-argued and supported body, free of spelling and grammatical errors, and a summary conclusion that synthesizes the responses. Length will be as follows:

If you select 2, each essay will be a minimum of 500 words, plus bibliography;

if you select 4, each essay will be a minimum of 400 words, plus bibliography;

if you select 6, each essay will be a minimum of 300 words, plus bibliography.