Course Title: Rhetoric and Social Movements Dr. Jennifer Asenas

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Course Title: Rhetoric and Social Movements

Dr. Jennifer Asenas

Meeting Times: M/W 5:30-6:45pm

Location: LA5: 171

Office Hours/Location: AS 373; W

Campus Emergency Procedures:

Course Description: The goal of this course is to introduce you to canonical texts in the rhetorical study of social movements while expanding your interdisciplinary knowledge of social movements as an object of study. We will examine the definitional, theoretical, and methodological issues unique to rhetorical criticism of social movements as articulated in contemporary scholarly debates such as the nature of a rhetorical movement, the role of communication in development of rhetorical movements, method(s) appropriate to study of modes of symbolic activity in rhetorical movements, and the ethical status of the critic of rhetorical movements.
Course Objectives:

1. Engage in concepts that help explain the persuasive dynamics of social movements

2. Understand the exigencies that produce social movements

3. Appreciate various ethical and other dilemmas faced by social movements

4. Recognize the role of the state and other institutions in suppressing social movements

5. Understand how changes in technology and global capitalism have changed the nature of social movements in the twenty-first century

6. Examine case studies that illuminate the successes and failures of social movements in US history.
Class: You are expected to show up on time and stay the duration of every single class without exception. Life does happen, however. Should “life” happen to you, you must contact me before class and you are responsible for contacting a classmate to obtain all of the material you missed during your absence.
Late Work:

Because part of your commitment to the norms of the class is to do the best job you can in the time available, and because everyone in the class is operating under the same strictures, it would be unfair to excuse late work without penalty. Therefore, subtract 10% from the earned grade for EACH day (including weekends and holidays) that work is turned in after the class PERIOD on which an assignment is due. This rule applies even if your computer or printer fails to function. Start work far enough in advance to allow for possible glitches. Other policies regarding late work include the following:

  • All make-up exams are essay and short answer tests.

  • If you miss an exam due to an extra-curricular activity (i.e., sporting competition, debate, etc.), religious holiday, or any other event that can be anticipated, you have to complete the exam BEFORE the rest of the class takes the test.

  • Make-up tests will only be given to students who have an excused absence (see below).

  • In a public speaking course, however, rescheduling a speech is very difficult. If you must miss your speaking day and your absence is excused, you may make up your speech at a time arranged by your instructor during the semester. This may mean that you should be prepared to give your speech at that time. No make-ups will be given or unexcused absences unless the student makes arrangements before the date of the absence. No make-ups for speeches will be given for unexcused absences.

  • For the final exam, you MUST take your final at the schedule date and time. If you have an excused absence, only, you must arrange with the instructor for an alternate time.


  1. Illness or injury to student.

  2. Death, injury, or serious illness of an immediate family member or the like.

  3. Religious reasons (California Education Code section 89320)

  4. Jury duty or government obligation

  5. University sanctioned or approved activities (examples include: artistic performances, forensics presentations, research conferences, intercollegiate athletic events, student government, required class field trips, etc.)

Any EXCUSED absence that results in a missed test or presentation will have to be substantiated with SIGNIFICANT evidence. Make-up assignments must either be completed one week before or one week after the absence. It is the student’s responsibility to ask for and complete make-up assignments.
All written work for this course must be typed, on white paper, using 12 pt font, Times New Roman, properly cited (MLA), and stapled (no paper clips, binders, etc).
No Laptop Policy:

While class is in session, students MAY NOT use laptops. I have instituted this policy for a number of reasons that are substantiated by educational research. First, emailing, instant messaging, game playing, and web surfing frequently distract students who use laptops in the classroom. As a result, laptop users provide less eye contact and participate less in class discussion. Second, technology use distracts other students in the class. Communication and technology experts Kinzer and Lohnes find that students are distracted by the sound of typing and sight of screen glow. There is also evidence that taking notes by hand is superior (in terms of learning, not speed) than typing notes. Finally, the use of laptops inhibits feelings of community in a classroom, because several in-class laptop users are dually and only partially committed to two simultaneous contexts: the world of the classroom and online space. Laptops may ONLY be used for individual or group presentations.

Policy on Scholastic Dishonesty: The university defines academic dishonesty as cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, falsifying academic records, and any act designed to avoid participating honestly in the learning process. Scholastic dishonesty also includes, but is not limited to, providing false or misleading information to receive a postponement or an extension on a test, quiz, or other assignment, and submission of essentially the same written assignment for two courses without the prior permission of the instructor. By accepting this syllabus, you have agreed to these guidelines and must adhere to them. Scholastic dishonesty damages both the student's learning experience and readiness for the future demands of a work-career. Students who violate University rules on scholastic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and/or dismissal from the University.

One particularly naughty type of scholastic dishonesty is "plagiarism." This "hard-to-spell term refers to the theft of words, ideas, or test answers of another person and is an extremely serious violation of academic ethics. If you are caught being dishonest, Dr. Asenas reserves the right to fail you.

Depending on the severity of the academic dishonesty, the instructor can fail you for the assignment or the entire course.

Student papers will be submitted to Turnitin. Turnitin is a plagiarism prevention service available in BeachBoard. Students submit their papers electronically, and Turnitin compares the text of those papers to the text in billions of other documents on the Internet, in papers submitted by other students around the world, and in commercial databases of journal articles and periodicals. Whenever similarities between the text in a student's paper and the text in an existing document are found, Turnitin highlights those similarities, providing an annotated document showing both the student's paper and the original source.

According to CSULB policy: Students agree that by taking this course all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. You may submit your paper in such a way that no identifying information about you is included. Another option is that you may request, in writing from your instructor, that your papers not be submitted to However, if you choose this option you will be required to provide documentation to substantiate that the papers are your original work and do not include any plagiarized material.

Special Needs: Please notify Dr. Asenas of any modification/adaptation you may require to accommodate a disability-related need. I will need official documentation to make certain accommodations.

Sometimes special needs include a "note taker." Students who can provide notes for someone with special needs are greatly appreciated.


Please wait 24-hours before approaching me about a grade you earned.

Grading disputes (single grade): Grade disputes must be addressed within one week after the assignment has been posted/returned to the student. Students must fill out the grade appeal form posted on Beachboard, print it, and turn it in a week after the grade has been posted/returned.
The following information reflects the STANDARD quality index at most academic institutions located in the United States. If you are surprised by the idea that average work, or work that meets the minimum requirements, results in grades ranging from 70-79, I encourage you to visit the following link to brush up on the United States’ standard evaluative index:

“A”: Excellent and superior work. “A” students go above and beyond the minimum course requirements. “A” students tend to do all the assigned readings, attend office hours, and miss only up to one class period. An “A” student typically also belongs to a presentation group that was one of the best in the class. Grade percent: 90-100.

“B”: Above average. “B” students surpass the minimum course requirements. “B” students read most (if not all) the assigned essays and book chapters. Typically, consistency marks the difference between “A” and “B” students. Whereas the “A” student excels on every assignment, the “B” student may encounter difficulty on one or two of the class projects. Grade percent: 80-89.

“C”: Average. Synonyms for “average” include regular, normal, usual, common, typical, and ordinary. In other words, “C” is considered to be “average” because most people in a class earn a “C.” “C” students meet the MINIMUM course requirements but do very little to go above and beyond minimum course expectations. The “C” student reads once in a while but takes diligent notes and attends class regularly. Grade percent: 70-79.

“D”: Below average but passing. “D” students have turned in all assignments but marginally miss meeting the minimum requirements. A “D” student does not invest much in reading the assigned essays and book chapters. He or she may attend class regularly, but most “D” students have more than the allotted “free” absences, regardless of whether or not the absences are “excused.” Grade percent: 60-69.

“F”: Failure. Typically, “F” students fail to turn in a major assignment or consistently produce work that does not meet the minimum course requirements. The “F” student rarely (if ever) reads the course material. F” students may also have excessive absences. Grade percent: 0-59.

“CR/NC” - In some courses, the University permits students to select evaluation on a “Credit” or “No Credit” basis.  These grades are defined as follows:

“CR” is equivalent to an “A,” “B,” or “C,” and “NC” is equivalent to a “D,” “F,” or “WU” (defined below).  In two circumstances a final course grade of “CR” reflects work at the level of “B” or better, and a final course grade of “NC” reflects work at the level of “C,” “D,” “F,” or “WU.”  Those two circumstances are:

“I” - “Incomplete”.  The symbol “I” indicates that a portion of required course work (normally not more than one-third) has not been completed and evaluated in the prescribed time period due to unforeseen, but fully justified, reasons and that there is still a possibility of earning credit.  It is the responsibility of the student to bring pertinent information to the attention of the instructor and to determine from the instructor the remaining course requirements that must be satisfied to remove the “Incomplete.”  A final course grade is assigned when that work has been completed and evaluated.
“W” grade is assigned to a student who enrolled in a course but officially withdrew from that course after the second week of instruction; the W grade is not a punitive mark, it carries no connotation of amount or quality of work completed. A WU grade indicates an Unauthorized Withdrawal, which is equivalent to an F, and signifies that a student enrolled in a course but failed to attend or to drop the course in a timely manner. For withdrawal, drop, and add deadlines for the Spring 2013 semester, see the university webpage.

Class Preparation: You are expected to come to class having read and thought about the material for the week. You need to have done two things:

1. (this is the reading part) Due ALL Mondays by 9am. Post your thoughts to Beachboard

A. What was the most interesting passage and why (please quote the passage in its entirety with the page number).

B. What passage is the least clear to you (please quote the passage in its entirety with the page number)

2. (this is the thinking part) Bring something to share: (excused on days you


A. Bring a short youtube clip, newspaper article, blog, etc. that relates directly to the concept under discussion. You need to be prepared to share your item and talk about how it relates to the readings.
Presentations: Speaker Responsibilities

Part One: In-class speaking: To facilitate the collaborative space of the classroom and to help with the production of a written project, each participant will give presentations on their social movement four times during the semester. You will have roughly 15 minutes to present your work and we will dedicate a minimum of 10 minutes for discussion after the presentation.

Part Two: Written: You are responsible for posting a 500-word synthesis of your presentation two full days (48 hours) in advance of your presentation on Beachboard. It should not be an outline for your presentation. It should be 500 words of prose excluding an introduction and conclusion. Failure to provide this synthesis (regardless of reason – technical, life, etc.) will result in a 10% reduction in your grade on that presentation.
Presentation 1: Introduce the class to your social movement. Key information and/or questions might include: why might we explore your object of study as a social movement? What does the social movement argue for/against? What kind of historical boundary or periodization is important for your study? What might be the “context” and/or events that mark important pivot points in the history of the movement? What kind of “influences” (other social movements, philosophy, religion, history) that informs the orientation of the social movement? How might you describe it on a political spectrum (revolutionary, reformist, liberal, conservative, etc.)? Why might this social movement be worthy of study? Put differently, why should someone who does not care much about your social movement care about this social movement? Finally, what more needs to be said about your social movement (one imagines we have 100’s of interdisciplinary studies about the civil rights movement circa 1955 – 1975), what do we not know about this social movement?
Presentation 2: Introduce participants to the rhetorical features of your social movement. Key information and/or questions might include: what are the central claims of your social movement? What are the different claims making behavior your social movement participates in when making claims? What are some of the key “discursive features” of this claim making behavior (genres, metaphors, argument types, themes) To whom does your social movement address (the state, the people, themselves); who tends to speak/ speakers for your movement (key entrepreneurs, institutional forms); what are some of the important occasions that make visible the claim making behavior of your social movement? What were the consequences or effects of significant claim making moments in the history of your social movement? In general, attempt to isolate one moment in which someone (or organization) addresses something to someone else in order to advance the goal of the social movement. Feel free to bring in extended examples of the discursive features you are interested in exploring.

Presentation 3: This presentation is an attempt to bring the first three presentations together as one presentation/paper. However, it requires a more specific engagement with disciplinary and or interdisciplinary literature to build an audience for you study. The primary question for you to work through is “to whom is your study addressed?” How are the claims you are making about your social movement new, interesting, valuable for your audience? To answer this question requires you to target a journal or magazine and get a sense of the audience. One question to discover is whether, for example, your study says something new to those that tend to study this social movement? Thus, you may want to try to bundle a set of findings about your social movement to highlight what you have discovered as new or different? You may also need to answer more directly whether your study is really a study of a social movement qua movement and, therefore the findings are about our knowledge of social movement’s more general or whether your findings are unique to your social movement. Moreover, might your findings be less about social movements qua movements and more about the rhetoric or discursive features of your study (say for example, its political, aesthetic, or instrumental character)? If your study of the social movement speaks more about the political aesthetic or instrumental character of protest rhetoric, how might your findings compare to other findings about protest rhetoric more generally?
Class Presentation: Class Responsibilities

Each participant needs to be actively engaged with the presentations in class. I would not expect folks presenting papers to be as active discussing other folks’ papers the same day they are speaking, but I would expect those not presenting to be actively involved.

This active involvement might include: questions, sharing resources and knowledge, and/or serving as reader prior to a presentation.
I do not want to assign people to participate as much as I want folks to organically engage the presentations in useful ways. As a general rule, I would expect you to have something to say about at least one presentation on days you do not present. You can craft an insight/question, for example, by drawing on the readings in class and helping your co-participant see relevance. However, since social movements often have relationships with other social movements, the most important thing you can do for others is provide them with a bibliography of research on your case study. You should keep a working bibliography and, as you consult a source, you should add that to your bibliography.
Op-Ed Piece: 3 parts

The manuscript: Before writing a full-blown article, it may be helpful to cut your teeth on a more manageable sized manuscript. Your job is to look on the “length of a manuscript” document posted on Beachboard and choose a magazine for which you’ll write an op-ed piece about your social movement.

The choice: You need to answer the questions posed on the “Length of Manuscripts” link posted on Beachboard.

The cover letter: You’ll need to provide a cover letter that explains why your manuscript is appropriate for their publication and would be of interest to their readership.

Final Project:

To complete the final project you have three options:

Option 1: National Communication Association. This is a good option if you like to travel to Philadelphia and think that engaging other scholars (Dana Cloud, Ron Greene, etc.) about rhetoric, social movements, etc. would be interesting. To complete this project, you’d need to:

1. Identify and justify your choice of division

2. Identify all of the submission requirements (and correctly complete them).

Option 2: Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Research (it says qualitative, but they accept rhetorical essays, too).

1. Identify and meet the requirements:

Option 3: Write a lead-article or substantial blog-length manuscript. This is a good option if you want practice writing for a non-scholarly audience. The audience may be harder to define and therefore, more difficult to effectively address.

1. Justify your choice based on the nature and scope of your analysis

2. You must choose an outlet different from your op-ed piece. Write a cover letter explaining why your article is appropriate for the outlet and why it would be of interest to the readership and why a lead-article length manuscript is warranted, given the importance of your topic.

3. This option must be footnoted in Chicago style, regardless of real publication standards.




Reading Responses

15 %


Presentation 1

12.5 %


Presentation 2

12.5 %


Presentation 3

15 %



20 %


Final Project

25 %


Tentative Schedule: Should we need to amend the schedule, I will announce it in class and post the changes to Beachboard.

Week 1

Orientation to Social Movements

Aug 24

BB: Anderson, Kurt. “The Protester.” Time

* Introduction to class

* Politics by other means

Aug 26

BB: Cox, Robert and Christina R. Foust. “Social Movement Rhetoric” in The SAGE Handbook of Rhetorical Studies

M&B: “Foundations,” and

Griffin, “The Rhetoric of Historical Movements”

* Rhetoric and Social movements

Week 2

Orientation to Social Movements, Cont.

Aug 31/Sept 2

MB: Section 1

BOJS: Chapter 1

BB: Goodwin, Jeff and James M. Jasper. “Introductions” (all of them) The Social Movements Reader.

* Features of Social Movements

*Eyes on the Prize – Reform vs. Revolution

* Sign up for Student presentations on Sign-up Genius

Week 3

Kinds of Social Movement Rhetorics

Sept 7

No Class: Labor Day

Sept 9

* MB: Stewart “A Functional Approach to the Rhetoric of Social Movements.”

BB: McClish, Glen “The Instrumental and Constitutive Rhetoric of Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass.”

Presentations Set 1:

* 4 Student Presentations

Week 4

Kinds of Social Movement Rhetorics

Sept 14/16


MB: Lake, Randall A. “Enacting Red Power: THE Consummatory Function in Native American Protest Rhetoric.”

Presentations Set 1:

* 5 student Presentation

Week 5

Culture and Social Control: Hegemony

Sept 21/23

* BB: Selections from Gramsci, Antonio. The Prison Notebooks

* BB: Resnick and Bix. “Gramsci Comes Home.”

BOJS: Chapter 3: The Rhetoric and Strategies of Control

Presentations Set 1:

*5 Student Presentations

Week 6

Kinds of Movements: “Old” Social Movements

Sept 28/30

* BB: Kumar: “What’s Good For UPS Is Good For America.”

* MB: Cloud: Null Persona

* Cloud, Dana “Change Happens: Materialist Dialects and Communication Studies”

“Old” Social Movements:

Week 7

Kinds of Social Movements: New Social Movements

Oct 5/7

BB: Joseph R. Gusfield Identities, Grievances, and New Social Movements

BB: Deluca, Kevin. “Articulation Theory: A Discursive Grounding for Rhetorical Practice”

BB: Identity Arguments in New Social Movement Rhetoric.

“New” Social Movements

* Due Oct 7: Op-Ed. Bring hardcopies to class.

Week 8

Identity Politics and New Social Movements

Oct 12/14

MB: Chapter 4 (review Lake article, too )

Presentation Set 2

* 4 Student Presentations

Week 9

New “New” Social Movements

Oct 19/21

BB: Langman, Lauren. “Occupy: A new new social movement”

Ganesh, S. & Stohl, C. (2013). “From Wall Street to Wellington: Protests in an Era of Digital Ubiquity.” Communication Monographs, 80, 425-451.

“From the Arab Spring to Athens, From Occupy Wall Street to Moscow”: Regional Accents and the Rhetorical Cartography of Power.

Presentation Set 2

* 4 Student Presentations

Week 10

Movement Tactics: Nonviolence

Oct 26/28

BOJS: Chapter 2/4

BB: Asenas “The Political Efficacy of Nonviolence in Eyes on the Prize: Creating Activists, Complicating Tactics”

BB: King “Nonviolence and racial Justice”

Presentation Set 2

* 4 Student Presentations

Week 11

Nov 2/4

MB: Deluca and Peeples “From Public Sphere to Public Screen: Democracy, Activism, and the ‘Violence’ of Seattle”

BB: Excerpts: Williams “Negroes with Guns”

* Deacons for Defense and Justice

Presentation Set 3

* 4 student presentations

Week 12

Nov 9

BB: Gitlin, Todd “The Whole World is Watching”: Chapter 1

BB : Crafting a Social Movement or Brewing Up Trouble? Framing the Tea Party.

BB: Excerpts: DeLuca, K. M. (1999). Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism.

Presentation Set 3

* 2 student presentations

Nov 11

No Class: Veterans Day

Week 13

Publics & Counterpublics

Nov 16

BB: Michael Warner Publics and Counterpublics


Presentation Set 3

* 4 student presentations

Week 14

Nov 23-25

No Class: Fall Break

Week 15

Issues Facing Movements/Study of:

Nov 30/

Dec 2

The Limits of Communication

By Jodi Dean

BB: Social Movement Rhetoric: A Critical Genealogy

BB: Max Halupka, "Clicktivism: A Systematic Heuristic"

Presentation Set 3

* 4 student presentations

Week 16

Building Solidarity

Dec 7/9

BB: Saving Kenneth Foster: Speaking With Others in the Belly of the Beast

BB: Cloud, Dana L. “The Only Conceivable Thing To Do: Reflections on Academics and Activism.”

* 4 student presentations

Please See CSULB Calendar For Final Date & Time

* Final Papers are due at the beginning of the final examination period or they will be considered late.

Occupy Wall Street (2011-Present)

American Temperance Movement (1851-1920)

Women’s Suffrage Movement (1848-1920)

Animal Rights Movement (1965-Present)

Modern Anti-War Movement (2003-Present)

Death Penalty Abolition Movement (1976-Present)

Anti-Abortion/Pro-Live Movement (1973-Present)

Slavery Abolition Movement (1780-1865)

Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968)

Marriage Equality Movement (1989-Present)

Tea Party Movement (2008-Present)

Immigrant Rights Movement (2006-Present)

American Anarchist Movement (1905-1950)

Men’s Movement (1970-Present)

Catholic Worker Movement (1933-Present)

Liberation Theology (1955-Present)

Anti-LGBTQ Rights Movement (1977-Present)

Anti-Vietnam War Movement (1964-1975)

Gay Liberation Movement (1969-1981)

Black Power Movement (1966-1972)

American Indian Movement (1968-1978)

American Socialist Movement (1901-1936)

Prison Abolition Movement (1970-Present)

Farm Workers Rights Movement (196201972)

Puerto Rican Nationalist Movement (1968-1983)

Second Wave Feminist Movement (1963-1979)

U.S. HIV/AIDS Movement (1981-Present)

Modern US Labor Movement (1981-Present

(9/11 Truth Movement (2001-Present)

American Patriot Movement (1958-1996)

#BlackLivesMatter (2013-Present)

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