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PHOTO: Stu­dents in the new Logic and Rhetoric Course in Lane Hall. (Emilia Heider/Collegian)

Unlike other classes at Hillsdale College, the new Clas­sical Logic and Rhetoric course doesn’t have a home aca­demic department.

Although the speech major’s new name is rhetoric and public address, the new core cur­riculum class is under COR 150 in the course catalog. That is because logic and rhetoric are at the basis of a liberal arts edu­cation and provide tools for later eval­u­ating more spe­cific sub­jects, said Kirstin Kiledal, pro­fessor of rhetoric and public address, who helped design the course with Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Edu­cation Daniel Cou­pland.

“We wanted it to be owned, not by a department, but by the faculty,” Kiledal said.

After a college com­mittee com­mis­sioned to evaluate the core cur­riculum found a need for more instruction in logic and rhetoric around seven years ago, it charged Kiledal with writing a piece on how the college can implement them.

“One of the holes they dis­covered was in the tools stu­dents need to study well before they can study in depth one of the higher liberal arts,” Kiledal said.

Provost David Whalen said adding logic and rhetoric to the core cur­riculum is an attempt to recover a part of higher edu­cation that has been lost in recent history.

“They were the absolutely essential ele­ments of the soil out of which all intel­lectual devel­opment in the West occurred up to 100, 150 years ago, and when we turned away from them, we basi­cally uprooted our­selves from the soil from which we were natively born,” Whalen said.

Assistant Pro­fessor of Edu­cation Jeffrey Lehman said the addition of the course aims to provide Hillsdale stu­dents with a more com­plete edu­cation.

“The liberal arts are ways by which stu­dents can make a good beginning in an edu­cation for freedom and self-rule,” Lehman said. “Since logic and rhetoric are foun­da­tional arts, this course will help stu­dents get the most out of their studies at Hillsdale, regardless of what majors or minors they pursue.”

Whalen said these arts provide scholars with the tools needed to make progress in their nar­rower fields of study.

“It enables and endows any dis­ci­pline to do what it needs to do with greater pre­cision and effec­tiveness,” Whalen said. “What dis­ci­pline doesn’t think? What dis­ci­pline doesn’t use reason?”

Since Clas­sical Logic and Rhetoric lacks an aca­demic department, pro­fessors from all dis­ci­plines will teach it. In fact, 22 instructors from across campus are taking a class learning how to teach the “guinea pig world of logic and rhetoric” this semester, Kiledal said.

Pro­fessor of Biology Frank Steiner is one. He said as an instructor, he would take a sci­en­tific approach to the mate­rials.

“I was intrigued because logic is really the science of knowing,” Steiner said.

The course orig­i­nally comes from a class in the edu­cation department approved three years ago by faculty and is a requirement for clas­sical edu­cation minors. Revamped, it now covers a larger array of ideas geared toward freshmen and sopho­mores rather than juniors and seniors, though the course remains a requirement for edu­cation minors.

The class con­sol­i­dates primary texts, handouts, and exer­cises into four books, which mostly Lehman developed. There is a reader con­taining primary sources like those for the classes Western Her­itage, American Her­itage, and U.S. Con­sti­tution as well as a textbook con­taining expli­ca­tions and def­i­n­i­tions, exer­cises, and sup­ple­mentary resources for both logic and rhetoric.

Senior Jessica Stratil took Clas­sical Logic and Rhetoric for her minor. She said it taught her how to read deeply and analyze writing. As an admin­is­trative assistant to Kiledal, she also helped with prepa­ra­tions for the new core course. She put her clas­sical studies major to use as she looked through the original Greek and Roman texts in the reader and wrote some of the intro­ductory para­graphs to these excerpts.

“All of my back­grounds in all of the classes I’ve taken here have really helped for this one core class,” Stratil said. “It’s really inter­esting to see how my majors and minors and the classes that exist in the core have come together in this one class.”

Stu­dents will read texts from Plato, Aris­totle, Cicero, and Quin­tilian as well as more modern pieces dealing with the rhetoric of lit­er­ature, science, eco­nomics, and more.

“It’s going to remind us we’re all rhetori­cians, whether we’re sci­en­tists or math­e­mati­cians or teachers, that we all have to com­mu­nicate, all have to per­suade,” Kiledal said.

And stu­dents will put the canons of logic and rhetoric to use. They will present on some­thing they found inter­esting or unique about a piece they read, Kiledal said.

Prior to the class of 2017 core cur­riculum, the Great Books courses were sup­posed to include instruction of rhetoric, Whalen said. Dou­bling up the sub­jects, however, proved imprac­tical, he said.

Likewise, speech depart­ments in higher edu­cation were once included in English depart­ments until the 1950s and then moved to the theater department because of the focus on ora­torical abil­ities. The adoption of the new core class, however, pro­vides a good time for Hillsdale’s speech department to rebrand as rhetoric and public address and become an inde­pendent department, Kiledal said.

“We’re doing dif­ferent things than theater,” Kiledal said. “We decided that with this class and the way resources were going to be directed that it was a healthy time at Hillsdale to make this change.”

That is also because at least nine classes in the rhetoric and public address department will need alter­ations, since stu­dents taking the new core cur­riculum will enter upper-level classes with foun­da­tional knowledge already.

“The class pushes you outside your comfort zone in terms of what it teaches you, not even what to think, but how to think,” Stratil said. “You learn how words are put together and that words really mean things and how to put all these words together to create a beau­tiful whole, the whole of lan­guage.”

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Breana Noble
Breana Noble is The Collegian's Editor-in-Chief. She is a born and raised Michigander and studies politics and journalism. This summer, Breana interned in New York City at TheStreet, a business and finance news website. She has previously worked for The Detroit News, The American Spectator, and Newsmax Media. She eventually hopes to pursue a career in investigative journalism. email: bnoble1@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @RightandNoble