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Law and Rhetoric

In this course we will explore a Jurisprudence of Expression, investigating what the law is and does (and should be, and should do) through an evaluation of law as a rhetorical, cultural discourse. In so doing we will consider the potential for law, and the practice of it, to be a conversation in search for meaning versus a competitive marketplace for the maximization of beneficial outcomes. What do we mean by a "rhetorical, cultural discourse"? We will adopt a conception of rhetoric that extends beyond the Communication Studies 101 definition of it as the art of persuasion. Aristotle called rhetoric the art of knowing that which will persuade. In that sense rhetoric is more than the dubious art of making the smaller argument the greater (in the Platonic sense), it is the gaining of knowledge about evoking responses and communicating principles that are compelling both to the audience and the speaker. Defined in this way, rhetoric is a search for meaning through expression, the translations and interpretations of ideas and values. In no sphere of our communal lives is this idea of rhetoric more present than among the actors, consumers and observers of the law. When we speak as lawyers, and when the government and the culture speak back to us, we engage in dynamic translations of what our particular rule of law should be and what it means to be a member of our rule of law republic. The practice of law, and legal process therefore can be seen as a search for meaning and identity through rhetorical discourse: the client's narrative, the speech of the advocate, the interpretations of the court, the culture's perception, and the government's reaction. How these various aspects of the conversation are spoken, interpreted, translated, acted upon and changed reflect the ways in which legal actors and those affected by legal process perceive their culture of justice. As lawyers we are essential actors in this search for the meaning of what our rule of law was, is and is becoming. You will be evaluated on one final project or paper of your own design (60%), a class presentation of your work (25%) and class participation (15%). Students are encouraged to work in groups.


Catalog Number: LAWSTUDY 615
Additional Course Information: 1 Draft degree req may be met with class ,  3 draft degree req may be met with class ,  Consult Professor about writing requirements ,  Perspective Elective


Course History

Fall 2013
Title: Law and Rhetoric
Faculty: Lupo, James A. (courses  |  homepage)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 24



Fall 2012
Title: Law and Rhetoric
Faculty: Lupo, James A. (courses  |  homepage)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 25



Spring 2011
Title: Law and Rhetoric
Faculty: Lupo, James A. (courses  |  homepage)
Section: 1     Type: Seminar     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 24