Course Description

In this public rhetoric and practical communication course we will explore the intersection between attention and expression. In particular, we will examine how the quality of our attention impacts the quality of our expression, a practice in mindfulness. Mindfulness, broadly speaking, is “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us” (Kabat-Zinn). Mindfulness and other contemplative practices are often not taught in the classroom, but they are key components to making a fulfilling life path, whether towards a professional career, graduate school, or an unconventional journey. Some key questions considered are: What kind of attention have you paid to your presentation of self? How is opportunity impacted by your attention and self-expression? How might you develop a flexible self-narrative that allows you to blossom in a variety of spaces—from the classroom, to the hourly wage job, to the corporate boardroom, to the community forum? In this course, you will use the strategies of mindfulness to inform your rhetorical practices of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Exercises and assignments are loosely structured so as to allow you to mindfully compose texts that will support your present and/or future life-intentions.

Assignment Description

A popular podcast from NPR, “This I Believe” asks for listeners and speakers to critically think through the values and worldviews that guide their everyday choices, no matter how small. For this assignment, you will construct your own “This I believe” statement on everyday ethics. Everyday ethics concern minor acts that point to your values. Some examples might include:

  • Depositing dropped money into a tip jar
  • Giving money to buskers
  • Slowing down to allow cars to merge
  • Making eye contact and smiling with service workers
  • Chewing food with your mouth closed

Think about how you would complete one of the following sentences:

I believe you should always ______________________________________.

I believe you should never _______________________________________.

While the above statements are rather absolute, your speech may work through some of the qualifiers and complexities of your belief.

Your speech will be delivered in the style of an Ignite speech – a 5-minute speech that is supported by 20 automatically timed slides. While these conditions may feel limiting, such conditions encourage you to be intentional in your linguistic, embodied, and visual rhetoric. 5 minutes is roughly 500 words.

You will provide your TA a draft of your speech and your slides during your section meeting on Thursday October 10th.

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