COMM 230 : Introduction to the Rhetoric of Film

Transcript title

Film Rhetoric



Grading mode

Standard letter grades

Total contact hours


Lecture hours


Recommended preparation

or to be taken with WR 121Z.

Course Description

Introduces the visual and aural languages of moving pictures (film and video) and provides the tools necessary to analyze the social impact of both overt persuasion (in propaganda and commercials) and covert persuasion (in entertainment). Films that manage audience perceptions of race, class, gender, religion politics and the environment will be discussed.

Course learning outcomes

1. Define rhetoric in both classical and contemporary terms.
2. Analyze the use of imagery, editing, and sound to persuade.
3. Recognize both overt and covert methods of persuasion in film.
4. Articulate the differences and similarities among propaganda, documentary and fictional films.
5. Explain the use of film to set political agendas.
6. Recognize and report on images of race, class, gender, religion, and the environment in films.
7. Employ the tools of film rhetoric, including imagery, sound, covert or overt persuasion in the creation of a short persuasive video.

Content outline

  1. 1. Rhetoric in Historical Context
  2. Visual Rhetoric in Historical and Contemporary Context
  3. Filmmakers' tools and the way in which they are used to influence: visual imagery, camera gaze, script, editing, sound
  4. Covert vs. Overt persuasion
  5. Uses of Rhetoric in propaganda, documentary, and narrative films
  6. Uses of film rhetoric in the political arena
  7. Uses of Rhetoric in Film to create specific attitudes about race, class, gender, religion, the environment
  8. Creating a short film that uses Rhetoric to persuade one's audience to take action in response to an issue of concern.

Each aspect of course content is reinforced by filmic examples watched in class or assigned as homework.

Required materials

Students will be required to watch specific films on their own time. These films will be available through one or more popular subscription services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.) Students can expect to pay no more than $75 total for legal online access to these films during the course of the term. Course reading materials will be available on Blackboard.

General education/Related instruction lists

  • Arts and Letters

Outside of

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