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Argumentative and Rhetorical Analysis




Admission Requirements

None. This course is a prerequisite for The Power of Words.


How do you get persuaded? Are you capable of distinguishing between good and bad arguments? Do you recognize rhetorical tricks? In this course we will teach you how to resist verbal manipulation. Starting with analyzing argumentative discourse, you will learn how to find the implicit elements of an argument, to make a schematic overview of the different arguments in a line of reasoning, and how to recognize fallacies. After that we will focus on two classical rhetorical practices: politics and law. You will learn that speakers often do not only use argumentation for persuading their audience, but also ethos and pathos, as well as means of style and presentation. If you are capable of seeing through these means, you are capable of passing a well-considered judgment of the tenability of an opinion.

Course Objectives

  • Knowledge of basic argumentative concepts

  • Knowledge of basic rhetorical concepts

  • Being capable of identifying and analyzing the argumentative and rhetorical means of a text

  • Being capable of providing a basic assessment of the use of these means

Mode of Instruction

Active participation is paramount in this course. The course literature has to be prepared by answering questions about it and by making assignments, which will be discussed during class. All students are expected to engage in discussions actively.


Assessment: In-class participation
Percentage: 10%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1-7

Assessment: Written Exam Part I Argumentative Analysis
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Week 4

Assessment: Oral speech & written reflection
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Week 7

Assessment: Written Exam Part II Rhetorical analysis
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Week 8


Andeweg, B., J. de Jong & H. Hoeken (1998): “May I have your attention?”: Exordial Techniques in Informative Oral Presentations. Technical Communication Quarterly 7 (3), 271-284. THIS ARTICLE WILL BE AVAILABLE VIA BLACKBOARD.

Crowley, Sharon & Debra Hawee (2012): Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. 5th edition. Boston [etc.]: Pearson.

Van Eemeren, Frans, Rob Grootendorst & Francisca Snoeck Henkemans (2010): Argumentation. Analysis, Evaluation, Presentation. New York [etc.]: Routledge.

Contact Information

Drs. Maarten van Leeuwen, m.van.leeuwen@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Standpoints & Argumentation / The Structure of Argumentation
Week 2: Unexpressed Standpoints & Unexpressed Premises / The Soundness of Argumentation (Argumentation Schemes)
Week 3: Fallacies
Week 4: No class / Exam Argumentative Analysis
Week 5: Logos / Kairos, Stasis Theory
Week 6: Ethos, Pathos / Style
Week 7: Analysis of speeches & Oral speeches by students
Week 8: No class / Exam Rhetorical Analysis

Preparation for first session

Homework for the first session will be published on blackboard, a week before the course starts.