Persuasion and Propaganda
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From the CTY Course Catalog (2019):
Comic book heroes punching dictators in the face; aircrafts papering the ground beneath them with thousands of pamphlets; troops goose-stepping in front of military arsenals. Many types of propaganda are easy to recognize, especially historical ones. But what about contemporary ones, like bot-generated tweets, mud-slinging political ads, and fact-distorting TV news reports? Without any objective distance from current events—and with ever subtler techniques for influencing opinions and beliefs—how can we tell what’s “fake news”? Where is the line between truthiness and truth?
In this course, students examine nonfiction sources from political systems around the world to analyze the numerous ways people have swayed others to their points of view, tracing these efforts from history through to the present day. Students learn to identify flawed premises as they develop the rhetorical strategies necessary to question and dissect competing messages, becoming critical media consumers. During the course, they will use these skills to construct and deliver their own persuasive arguments in a variety of forms, including written compositions, oral presentations, brief films, and public speeches.