PRK 3515 Applied Rhetoric


PRK 3515 Applied Rhetoric

Responsible for the course
Peggy S Brønn, Ratna Kamsvåg

Department of Communication and Culture

According to study plan

ECTS Credits

Language of instruction

All organizations use messages strategically to influence thoughts, feelings or behaviors. This is known as rhetoric. In this course students learn about using language effectively, especially to persuade or influence people in a practical way. Students will learn about integrating rhetorical theories and methods with principles of organizational communication. They will receive an introduction to rhetorical research, theory and criticism in order to enable them to analyze and create organizational messages in different contexts. This includes the needs of organizations to create and maintain identity, to manage messages about issues, risk and crisis and to communicate with employees.

Learning outcome
Acquired Knowledge
Upon completion of this course students will have a solid understanding of rhetorical analysis as applied to organizational texts. They will understand commonly occurring rhetorical strategies and situations, be able to conduct evaluative and critical reading and use their conclusions to guide decisions and/or assist their organizations in using language to persuade and influence.

Acquired Skills
The students should be able to:

  • Explain how organizational rhetoric shapes everyday life and frames public discourses
  • Articulate theories and methods of organizational rhetorical practice
  • Articulate the role of audiences, both internal and external, and “the rhetorical situation” in organizational rhetoric
  • Practice the method(s) of organizational rhetorical criticism to analyze texts, social phenomenon, and material practices from a theoretically grounded [organizational] rhetorical perspective
  • Utilize organizational rhetorical methods to author an organizational rhetorical criticism
  • Present an organizational rhetorical criticism in a “conference presentation” format

Students will gain a greater appreciation of societal expectations of organizations, the pressures for consistency between actions and words, and the personal responsibility of leaders for transparency and openness.

Students should have the course Influence and persuasion first.

Compulsory reading
Hoffman, Mary F. and Debra J. Ford. 2010. Organizational rhetoric : situations and strategies. SAGE
Kjeldsen, Jens E. 2006. Retorikk i vår tid : en innføring i moderne retorisk teori. 2. utg. Spartacus

Recommended reading

Course outline
  • Organizations and rhetoric in contemporary culture
  • Identifying rhetorical strategies in organizational rhetoric
  • Rhetorical situations in organizations
  • Critical approaches to organizational rhetoric
  • Evaluating and critiquing organizational rhetoric
  • Identity creation and maintenance rhetoric
  • Rhetoric about issues
  • Rhetoric about organizational risk
  • Crisis rhetoric
  • Organizational rhetoric for internal audiences

Computer-based tools
Student should be able to use basic text programs.

Learning process and workload
Discussion is a vital part of this course and in order to receive a grade for the course students must bring in at least three unique organizational rhetorical artifacts to share with the class. The students will lead the discussion on their artifacts. Artifacts may be newspaper clippings, ads, annual reports, brochures, newsletters, company policy statements, training videos, or any other artifacts you may run across that illustrate, contradict or in some other way speak to the issues raised in the readings. Students may work in groups of no more than 2.

Recommended workload in hours:

Use of hours
Participation in lectures
Group work (with supervision)
Preparation for lectures
Home work and reading
Project paper
Exam preparation and exam
Total recommended use of hours

    The final grade in the course is based on following activities and weighting:
    Part 1) Rhetorical Analysis Project paper, accounts for 60 % of the final grade. The project paper must be done in a group, the group shall consist of not more than 3 students, any student wishing to work alone must get special permission from the lecturer
    Part 2) A three (3) hour written examination accounts for 40 % of the final grade.

    Examination code(s)
    PRK 35151 Process evaluation accounts for 100 % of the final grade in 3515 Applied Rhetoric, 7,5 credits.

    Examination support materials
    No aids for the written exam
    All aids acceptable for the project paper.

    Re-sit examination
    A re-sit examination is offered next time course is scheduled.

    Additional information