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Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight:Paul Stob

Posted by on Saturday, February 4, 2012 in News.

Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Paul Stob, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, talks about his teaching philosophy and interests:

My research explores the intersection of rhetoric and intellectual culture—specifically the relationship between public discourse and the practices, forums, and figures of the world of thought. My first book, William James & the Art of Popular Statement, which will soon be published by Michigan State University Press, explores William James’s work as a public intellectual. I pay particular attention to the way he crafted his thought in public forums—lecture halls, popular periodicals, and best-selling books—and, in the process, created a distinctive intellectual community around him.

“I aim to promote critical thinking, analytical investigation, the ability to read texts carefully, and an appreciation of the past, present, and future of American public discourse. I also aim to help students develop and articulate their own arguments—a necessary skill for life in a democracy.”

The courses I teach in the Department of Communication Studies are courses in the history, criticism, and practice of rhetoric. By helping students reflect upon the role of rhetoric in their lives, I aim to promote critical thinking, analytical investigation, the ability to read texts carefully, and an appreciation of the past, present, and future of American public discourse. I also aim to help students develop and articulate their own arguments—a necessary skill for life in a democracy.

Because rhetoric is a text-based discipline involving the analysis of speeches, debates, pamphlets, manifestoes, essays, lectures, and similar documents, I enter the classroom ready to help students engage and evaluate texts. It is often necessary to provide students with contextual information so they can understand the text under consideration, which means I usually begin class with a lecture-based approach. But when students have sufficient understanding of a text’s context, we undertake an analysis together. My goal is to create an open-ended discussion of a given rhetorical document, helping students express their own opinions and arrive at their own conclusions.

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