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Fall 2017: WRD 320
Rhetorical Traditions: Rhetoric Between Athens and Jerusalem”
Professor: Janice W. Fernheimer,(jfernheimer [at] uky [dot] edu,
Class Times: Tues/Thurs.  9:30-10:45 am, Patterson Office Tower Rm OB3
Office hours: Patterson Office Tower 1303 by appointment.
Contacting Dr. Jan:  The best way to reach Dr. Jan is by email. Jfernheimer [at] uky [dot] edu
Class Website:

Rhetoric Between Athens and Jerusalem  
Rhetoric is a powerful, architechtonic art that often gets maligned in colloquial English by its association with “bullshit” or empty speech.  Yet the tenets of rhetorical theory have allowed for both the analysis and production of powerful symbolic texts for thousands of years. In this course we will investigate the history of rhetoric in Ancient Greece and Israel to explore the productive space between Greco-Roman and Jewish rhetorical traditions. We will also learn about contemporary debates in rhetorical historiography as well as contrastive and comparative approaches to studies in rhetorical history and theory.

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of this course, students will:

  • Gain familiarity with classical Greek and early Jewish rhetorical traditions.
  • Identify key terms and concepts in classical Greek and Jewish rhetorical traditions.
  • Compare/contrast culturally situated concepts of rhetoric.
  • Discuss key debates in rhetorical historiography.
  • Practice (and ideally improve!) research and writing skills.


Required Texts and Materials

  • Aristotle’s Rhetoric
  • Plato’s Gorgias
  • Plato’s Phaedrus
  • Deuteronomy (also known as Devarim in the Torah), preferred translation by Everett Fox
  • Megilat Esther , preferred version in graphic novel form by JT Waldman
  • The Song of Songs Ariel and Chana Bloch
  • Other readings will be provided through PDF in the course reserves on Blackboard.
  • A functional email account you check regularly (preferably your UK account).
  • A dropbox account and a flashdrive to back up/save materials. Don’t worry, dropbox is free.
  • A willingness and openness to learn!

Scholarly Writing in Practice
Over the course of the semester, you will have the opportunity to practice and hone your scholarly writing in several genres that you will be asked to produce throughout your academic career: the abstract or proposal, the research or conference paper, and the short essay response paper. I encourage you to begin thinking about the issues, ideas, and concepts you’d like to learn more about early on and to talk to me and your peers about appropriate venues for further research and/or possible presentation and publication.


  • Short writing Assignments10% Due by Sept. 28.

Students will write 1 short reading response papers of no more than 2 pages single-spaced  (1000 wds) each, and students will write one short critical precis of a scholarly text.

  • Major Research Project First Submission10% Due Nov. 16.

Students will bring a full draft of their final paper to class for peer review.

  • Peer Review of a Colleague’s Major Research Project—5% Due Nov. 16.
  • Major Research Project –25% Due Dec. 8 at noon
  • Students will write an 10-15 page research paper based on a research question of their own choosing. Full grading criteria will be available on the assignment prompt. Final submission.

Students will give a brief oral presentation of the research they conducted for their final presentation. Presentations will take place during the class period.

  • Mid-term20% Due Oct. 10
  • Class Participation—10%
  • Final Exam—20% Due Dec. 7.

Total =100%


Extra Credit Opportunities
Scholarly Book Review or Additional Reading Response for up to 5%

There are number of Jewish Studies events this semester that are directly related to our class. You may earn up to 5% extra credit by attending an event and writing a 500-750 essay connecting the ideas discussed to class concepts. Events are scheduled for

Sept. 14, Oct  3 , Oct 24, Nov. 30 at 7:00 pm at the Boone Center and Sept 6 TBD.


You must complete all assignments to receive a passing grade in the course.

Grades in the class are determined by your performance in two related but different tasks:

1) Your daily performance, participation, and engagement (weekly reading and short papers, conferences with me, attendance) and

2) Your performance on time-bound tasks that constitute the major assignments in this course (abstracts/proposal, mid-term, papers, peer review, final portfolio of short responses). For major assignments, you will receive a letter grade.  At the end of the semester, final grades will be calculated on the following scale:


A         90-100%

B         80-89%

C         70-79%

D         60-69%

E          59% and below.

Course Policies

Attendance and Participation.

It probably goes without saying that part of the joy and delight of upper division courses is that you get out of them what you put into them. In order to help ensure that we have a productive semester together, I require the following:

1) Each student will come to every class on time, prepared to actively discuss and engage the assigned reading material. In my experience, students who follow these guidelines tend to do better in college generally and my courses specifically.


Daily Questions

In order to help you come prepared, I require you to post questions to the Blackboard discussion board by 8am the day of class.  You must post at least three questions, and you do not have to post questions if you are submitting a writing response that day.  Over the course of the semester you are allowed to miss 3 classes worth of questions without penalty.  If you miss more than 3 classes worth of questions, you will lose points from the class participation part of your grade. You can assume you are receiving full credit for your questions, unless I contact you to inform you that you are not asking appropriate or acceptable questions.

Daily questions are important because they help you stay on top of and engaged with the reading, and they allow me to understand what you understood, what you didn’t,  and what needs further explanation. Questions should demonstrate you’ve done the reading, but can ask for further clarification of definitions, issues, historical context, etc.

You are allowed to miss three classes no questions asked (though if work is due that day, it needs to be turned in to Canvas, even if you aren’t there). Notice I don’t distinguish between excused or unexcused absences, so save your absences to use when you are sick or when you have an emergency.  If you find that an unavoidable problem prevents you from attending class, please discuss the problem with me. After your fourth absence, you will lose your participation points and your final grade for the course will be reduced by 5 points or ½ a letter grade. After your sixth absence, you will be eligible for failing the course based on the university’s 20% rule.  If you contract an illness that requires you to miss more than the allotted three classes, please contact me and provide appropriate medical documentation. Notice, your ethos will be substantially stronger if you contact me by email before you miss class.

2) Each student will treat our class as a safe intellectual space and community, one that values challenging questions but which does not tolerate hateful language or behavior. I ask that you engage one another in ways that are respectful and productive and that you treat each other and me with collegiality and humanity. In our reciprocal community, sometimes the best way to demonstrate your respect for a person, text, or idea is to ask a difficult question, disagree with someone or something, or challenge the assumptions that gird a belief, idea, or response. I ask that we each find ways to challenge each other so that our responses further rather than shut down the conversation.

3) Part of building our reciprocal community requires that each person not only participate, but also be aware of his or her participation. Challenge yourself to both notice and moderate how much “verbal space” you take up in class. If you are the kind of person who participates freely and easily, challenge yourself to make space for others to participate. If you are the kind of person who often doesn’t speak much in class, challenge yourself to become an active participant.

Late Policy
Late arrivals are distracting for class activities, so do whatever you need to do to arrive on time and be alert. I will count two tardies as one absence.  If you are more than 10 minutes late for class, you will be marked absent for the day. In order for you to fully contribute to both the workshops and class discussions, it is important that you are not only physically but also mentally present in class. Although it is my general policy to let you know about exams or quizzes ahead of time (they are clearly marked on the daily schedule), I reserve the right to add quizzes to the class agenda if too many class members appear to be unprepared. So be prepared and on time.

A note on preparation: When doing your reading, talk back to the text—ask questions, write in the margins, connect ideas to things you already know or are learning in other classes. Being prepared means being able to respond thoughtfully to the reading, not just doing it. Help yourself by taking notes so that you are prepared to discuss issues in depth.

Late Assignments
Your assignments for this course are due at the beginning of class on the dates indicated in the class schedule below. You may request (in advance) one two-day extension of the due date of a major assignment (not the first submission of the final paper).  Late assignments are not accepted unless a two-day extension has been requested and approved in advance of the deadline. If you cannot attend class on the day an assignment is due, you must post the assignment to Canvas by the beginning of class.  You may not miss class on the day of peer review or final presentations.

Part II of Student Rights and Responsibilities (6.3.1; online at describes what constitutes academic dishonesty and what the penalties are.  It states that all academic work‚ written or otherwise‚ submitted by students to their instructors or other academic supervisors‚ is expected to be the result of their own thought‚ research‚ or self–expression.

We will be using MLA citation methods in this course. You are responsible for making sure you follow proper citation methods for all materials whether or not we explicitly discuss them in class.  If you ever have a citation question, please come talk to me. Plagiarism is serious, and I’m always happy to talk with you about citation so that everyone’s ideas are properly credited.

Any material you use from someone else’s work must be appropriately recognized as such or you will be committing an act of plagiarism (regardless of whether you intended to or not). Any time you use someone else’s exact words you must put them in quotation marks. Any time you use someone else’s ideas but express them in your own words, you must provide the name of the author and the page number where you read about them as well as a full  listing for the source in your works cited. If you do not follow proper citation methods, you put yourself in danger of failing the course.

Some Ways Students Commit Plagiarism
When students submit work purporting to be their own‚ but which in any way borrows ideas‚ organization‚ wording or anything else from another source without appropriate acknowledgment of the fact‚ the students are guilty of plagiarism.

Plagiarism  also includes reproducing someone else’s work‚ whether it is a published article‚ chapter of a book‚ a paper from a friend or some file‚ or another source, including the Internet. Plagiarism also includes the practice of employing or allowing another person to alter or revise the work which a student submits as his/her own‚ whoever that other person may be. Plagiarism also includes using someone else’s work during an oral presentation without properly citing that work in the form of an oral footnote.

Whenever you use outside sources or information‚ you must carefully acknowledge exactly what‚ where, and how you have employed them. If the words of someone else are used‚ you must put quotation marks around the passage in question and add an appropriate indication of its origin. Plagiarism also includes making simple changes while leaving the organization‚ content and phraseology intact. However‚ nothing in these rules shall apply to those ideas which are so generally and freely circulated as to be a part of the public domain.

You may discuss assignments among yourselves or with me or a tutor‚ but when the actual work is done‚ it must be done by you‚ and you alone. All work submitted must be new, original work; you may not submit work you have produced for another purpose or class.

Collaboration is something we will be doing a lot of in this class. Collaboration differs from collusion, which is an unsanctioned kind of working together that becomes an act of academic dishonesty. I have explicitly asked you to collaborate in specific ways: sharing resources for final projects, doing peer review, and that’s all fine. Collusion would involve a case where two of you turned in the exact same assignment without acknowledging one another (i.e. it has the same structure, form, and uses the same examples even if the wording is not verbatim).  If you have a question about the nature of the collaboration you are engaging in, please come talk to me, BEFORE you turn in your assignment.
A Note about Cellphones: I understand they are helpful and useful, but please turn them off or at least to silent/vibrate during class. If you have an emergency (someone is in the hospital or something of that nature of dire consequences), please let me know and then feel free to put your phone on vibrate and step out of class to answer your call.

Class Online Syllabus
I am responsive to student requests for changes in the schedule if you make a persuasive case for them, which means that the daily schedule may change during the semester. You will be responsible for checking the online syllabus and schedule before beginning your homework for each of our class meetings for any changes or updates. I will post all assignments here and on Canvas. If you lose an assignment page or handout, you are expected to get a copy the class website or Canvas rather than me.

Gender and Pronoun Reference
It is no longer customary to use the masculine pronoun for cases of indefinite pronoun reference, e.g., “When a professor grades papers, he is often swayed by a student’s degree of effort.” Instead, style books recommend changing pronouns to the plural form, e.g., “When professors grade papers, they are often swayed by a student’s degree of effort.” It is standard procedure in professional settings and this class to use “gender-fair language.”


All of your work in this class must be posted in the appropriate place in Canvas and available in hard copy. In general, all assignments will require a title, your name, my name, the name of our course, and the date.

Backing Up Your Work
Technological failures are bound to occur and you’ll need a back up. If you follow my advice and back up to two places, you’ll be amazingly unbothered when your hard drive crashes or your roommate spills coffee on your laptop. Trust me.

You are required to save all work in at least two places: a flashdrive and your dropbox account. You may also opt to back up your materials to other locations such as your public folder, your email, or a CD-R/RW.  If your assignment is lost in cyberspace, you will be expected to repost it within the same day.

“My computer crashed” is today’s equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” and neither will be accepted as excuses for late or missing work!


E-mail Policies

Regardless of how you address your friends, family, or peers, remember that in this class e-mail is an officially recognized mode of communication for class business. It’s an electronic letter and should be treated as such. When you e-mail me, please make sure you include a subject, i.e. “WRD 320, Rhetoric Class, Your student,” so I know it’s one of my students trying to reach me. In the text of the e-mail itself, be sure to use an opening and closing salutation, i.e. “Dear Dr. Jan:,” or “Hi Professor Fernheimer,” and “Sincerely,” “Best wishes,” or “See you in class.” Most importantly, make sure that you sign your name, so I know to whom I am responding. This part is especially important if your handle is something like “sugarspice or” Of course, if you’ve got a handle like the aforementioned, you probably want to consider opening an official UK account for class-related correspondence.

In general, I will try to respond to your email within 48 hours, though there will be times in the semester when it may take me longer. I also do not check email after 4pm or on the weekends, so plan accordingly if you have an urgent question. I encourage and invite you to make use of office hours or email me for an appointment if your schedule conflicts.

Alternate Class Meeting Spaces

If it’s nice and you can stay focused, we may meet outside (consider that an incentive). On temperate days, you may want to dress accordingly (short skirts and kilts may make sitting outside less comfortable).

Writing Center
The Robert E. Hemenway Writing Center is located in W. T. Young Library, B108B  in the HUB, (phone: 257-1368). The staff can help you with all aspects of your writing at any stage of the process, including brainstorming, organization of ideas, revising. I do not require you to go to The Writing Center, but I strongly recommend that all of you go at least once and try it out. Remember the folks who work there are trained writing professionals, so do not expect them to simply “correct” or  “edit” your paper. Rather, know they will challenge you to think about your work and how to advance it! To have the best possible session, be sure to bring your assignment instructions along with whatever drafts, peer comments, or instructor feedback, or rubrics you’ve received. You can schedule an appointment online

Students with Disabilities. If you have a documented disability that requires academic accommodations, please see me as soon as possible. In order to receive accommodations in this course, you must provide me with a Letter of Accommodation from the Disability Resource Center (Room 2, Alumni Gym, 859-257-2754,, for coordination of campus disability services available to students with disabilities. We can then collaborate on the best solution.

If you have a physical or other condition which is not quite a disability but might impair your ability to participate in class (an instructor who regularly keeps you late, a bad back which prevents you from sitting for long periods, the need to keep your blood sugar up, the feeling that you’ve lost all energy and motivation), please let me know. Although I’m not a medical doctor, I do know about a wide variety of student services that you have access to but might not be aware of, and I’m happy to point you in the right direction. If you’re not physically or otherwise comfortable, you cannot be fully intellectually engaged. There are ways to make arrangements so that everyone gets the support they need to be happy, comfortable, and thus productive. After all, you’re human, not just student automatons.

Campus Climate and Bias Reporting
The University of Kentucky is committed to cultivating and nurturing an environment in which every student, staff, and faculty member feels and knows they belong.  In the event a student, staff, or faculty member experiences an instance of bias, hatred, or identity-based violence, there are services and resources to provide support and advocate for the person or group targeted.  Services can be accessed by contacting the Bias Incident Response Coordinator, Carol Taylor-Shim at 257-3189 or  The Bias Incident Support Services (BISS) Office is located on the ground floor of Frazee Hall in Suite 4.  Services are available M-F8:30am-5:00pm.

The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is the official university reporting system to address instances of bias, hate, and identity-based violence. Reports can be made anonymously. Reports can also be made with the expectation that the reporter will be contacted by the Bias Incident Response Coordinator via an outreach email to the impacted person’s university email.

The report form can be accessed at

Equal Opportunity.
Discrimination is prohibited at UK. The University of Kentucky is committed to a policy of providing equal educational opportunities to all students regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability. Compliance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination, and with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is coordinated by the Equal Opportunity Office. If you experience an incident of discrimination we encourage you to report it to Institutional Equity & Equal Opportunity (IEEO) Office, 13 Main Building, University of Kentucky, (859) 257-8927.
Title IX.
The University of Kentucky faculty are committed to supporting students and upholding the University’s non-discrimination policy. Under Title IX, discrimination based upon sex and gender is prohibited. If you experience an incident of sex- or gender-based discrimination or interpersonal violence, we encourage you to report it. While you may talk to a faculty member, understand that as a “Responsible Employee” of the University the faculty member MUST report to the University’s Title IX Coordinator in the IEEO Office what you share.  If you would like to speak with someone who may be able to afford you confidentiality, the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) program (Frazee Hall – Lower Level;, the Counseling Center (106 Frazee Hall,, and the University Health Services ( are confidential resources on campus. You do not have to go through the experience alone.