Fall 2023

Good Speech: Philosophy and Rhetoric in Theory and Practice

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-136


Jyl Gentzler (Section 01)


In Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates argues with three sophists who practice and teach the art of rhetoric. To Socrates’ mind, rhetoric is a dangerous tool that aims at mere persuasion, indifferent to the question of truth. Philosophy, in contrast, aims at truth and knowledge. In this class, we will examine and participate in the ancient battle between philosophy and rhetoric. What makes for a good speech? Are the logical tools of philosophy necessarily at odds with the rhetorical tools that effective speakers use to move their audience to conviction and action? What constitutes a good argument? How do effective speakers move their audience through the use of their voice, body, and character? We will consult Aristotle’s Rhetoric in order to gain some theoretical insight into the constituents of effective public speech. We will also gain some first-hand insight into the nature of good speaking by trying out, and assessing, various techniques and strategies that have been used in famous speeches throughout history. In all of our work, our goal is to become good speakers. 

Fall Semester. Professor Jyl Gentzler and  Susan Daniels, Associate of Public Speaking.

How to handle overenrollment: Registrar will cut roster once enrollment hits 15 students

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: discussion, writing and public speaking.

FYSE 136 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM OCTA 200
Th 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM OCTA 200


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023