Mondays 9:00-11:50, Hagey Hall 345

The blog page is here

Synonymous with rhetoric for over 1500 years, a period in which rhetoric suffused learning, art, and religion; Quintilian's Ideal Orator; Caesar's friend and rival, Augustus's champion and sacrifice, Antony's friend and victim; a Skeptic, a Stoic, and a Peripatetic; the author Augustine credits with turning him away from a life of sin, toward philosophy, and ultimately God: Cicero is the single most important figure in the history of rhetoric. We will study him, in an attempt to build what John Angus Campbell calls a rhetoriography of him, a rhetorical understanding of the life he led--in, through, and about symbolic inducement.

The schedule of topics and readings is here.

Randy Harris
Hagey Hall 247, x5362
Office Hours: 8:00 - 9:00, Wednesdays; 8:00 - 9:30, Thursdays
Home phone (Milton): (905) 876-3972
web— raha

Assorted e-texts; linked from the course schedule, here.

Course reader, available from UW Coursewares, through the bookstore.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. 1990. On Oratory and orators. Edited by J. S. Watson. Southern Illinois University Press.

Everitt, Anthony. 2003. Cicero, The life and times of Rome's greatest politician. Random House

Clarke, M. L. 1953, 1966, 1996 (any edition is fine). Rhetoric at Rome: a historical survey. Routledge.

Essay, 50% (due 5 August)

Course participation, 50%

Presentation to class, 15 %
schedule here
Commentary on another's presentation, 10%
Class discussion, including blogs, 25%


Start thinking about your essay right away. I'm not kidding. This is a graduate RCD course; you should be writing and thinking about rhetorical issues at an advanced level, and you should know how to write and research an academic essay. That sort of work cannot be done properly in the last week before it's due.

The most obvious kind of essay for this course would be an examination of some aspect of Cicero's thought with respect to another element (style and genre in Cicero, for instance, or figuration and pathos), or an examination of some aspect of Cicero's thought in relation to rhetorical theory generally (Ciceronian ethos compared to Aristotelian ethos, or Cicero's use of logic contrasted with Perelman and Olbrecht-Tyteca's quasi-logical arguments), but you can also do a critical analysis of some symbolic amalgam (For whom the bell tolls, Desperate housewives, an Audi commercial, a Bush 'oration', ...) in Ciceronian terms; or study the impact of Cicero's thought on Boethius, or Augustine, or Booth. The keyword is Cicero; the invention and development are up to you. Just start those processes early, research steadily, and compose diligently. And if you have any concerns about your topic, please contact me. A poor choice is not the sort of thing you should find out about retroactively at this stage of your education.

I am not a big fan of word counts as a measure of when you should stop writing your essay, or how far you should prune back your ramblings—let the matter determine the vestle—but if it's under 3000 words, you probably haven't developed enough matter for an appropriate graduate researach essay, over 6000 and you've probably been either too ambitious or too undisciplined, or both.

My evaluation will depend on the cogency, conceptual sophistication, research depth, and rhetorical appropriateness of the essay—standard-issue academic criteria.


You are welcome to present on a topic that feeds into your essay, but it should be self-contained, and it should develop an argument in true Ciceronian fashion. Let's say your essay is on Ciceronian ethos: you might then take up the projected character of Jean Chretien in the context of the sponsorship scandal, or Paul Martin's, or both. The presentation, too, should be primarily oral (broadly construed—visual aids and data projection are welcome), not an essay read aloud. Feel free to adopt any Ciceronian stance that suits your argument.

You will have to get a high-level draft of your presentation to your commenter one week before you present.

It should be 10-20 minutes long.


Your commentary will follow the presentation directly. You may raise challenges, develop lines of argument, question premises, suggest applications, and so on, so long as your commentary is framed constructively, in a way that benefits both the presenter and the audience. It should be Ciceronian in the De oratore sense, not in the Verrine sense. No matter what stance the presenter adopts, you are to proceed as if (s)he is Crassus. You are Antonius.

It should be 5-10 minutes long.


Please keep in mind that this is a seminar: you are expected to take an active role in the development of the course. Come to class prepared, contribute to discussions, participate in our collective growth in understanding Cicero and rhetoric. In particular, think reflectively about all the readings, and think publicly.

I will use a merit/demerit policy to evaluate your participation. Merit will be awarded primarily on the quality of participation: asking relevant questions; making relevant observations; complementing or advancing someone else's contribution; and generally being a constructive rhetor. Quantity of participation is a positive factor to the extent that more quality contributions are preferable to fewer quality contributions, but talking for the sake of talking is not a good idea. Demerit will be assessed reluctantly, and only on the basis of repeated instances. The grounds for the demerit system are: absenteeism (you can't participate if you're not there); whispering or chatting while other people are talking; and/or making lengthy, unfocused comments that draw away from the general thread of discussion (verbal wanking). You also get credit for blogging, according to the following scheme:

15 % of your participation mark will come from your active engagement with the issues in the class.

10% of your participation mark will come from your blogs (which will not be graded: you will get 10% for doing them all, on time, 5% if you miss one deadline, 0% if you miss more than one--yep, you read that correctly: 0%). 


The blogs should be 300-to-500-word opinionated summaries: synopses of the week's readings, inter-larded with some evaluation of their cogency, relevance, and value. I want to see (1) that you have read them, (2) that you have thought about them, and I want to (3) start the discussion before we get into the classroom. They should be submitted by 6:00 PM on the Friday before the class, beginning 6 May. Everyone is expected to read all the blogs before coming to class.

No blogs are required for 8 or 15 July, but if you want to use the blogspace to post things related to your presentations, you are welcome to do so.

Catonic principles

No late assignments will be accepted, no extensions will be granted, and no incompletes will be awarded, without very strong reasons.

Plutach's biography of Cicero

A useful Cicero timeline (with sporadically working links to e-texts)

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy treatment, with useful, if condescending, epitomes of Cicero's writings

An assortment of Cicero's letters

Petrarch's first letter to Cicero; his second letter to Cicero