The first thing I’m going to do, after basic introductions, is introduce them to the concept of rhetoric as the study and practice of the art of persuasion, not the common definition of “empty or insincere speech.” [See, for example, the intro to Andy Cline’s online Rhetoric Primer, or Jack Lynch’s much more brief definition.] We’ll go over the importance of audience: writers write for readers. I’ll discuss the three divisions of rhetoric identified by Aritostotle, sometimes referred to as deliberative, forensic, and epideictic. [See this section of Aristotle’s On Rhetoric.] Our first focus will be on epideictic rhetoric: the rhetoric of praise or blame. [See this section of On Rhetoric.] Praise or blame is something we’ll be hearing a lot in the months leading up to the 2004 election, so I figure this is a good place to start. Students will choose a candidate, a campaign proposal, or an event and write (probably as an in-class essay) an encomium, a vituperation, or an apologia for a specific audience of their choice.