How do you know when someone speaks the truth? Throughout the ages, the recurring problem of whom to trust has riddled our public and private lives. How can you tell if someone is lying? How can you tell if someone is telling you the truth? Shades of truth? Distorting the truth? Doesn’t know the truth? In an era when no one is distrusted as much as a politician, do we know how we differ from him or her? Why do they "lie" so much? Do we? Is there any help for it? Can one be ethical and speak in public at the same time? Is Deception inherent in every attempt to influence another? Rhetoric is the study of influence and the art of persuasion. Throughout its history, rhetoricians have grappled with these very issues: trust, truth, lying, and deceit. What did they know that we need to find out?

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the study of persuasion and rhetoric as they have occurred throughout history. These systems and theories are a direct response by Rhetoricians to the questions raised above. We will pay special attention to the classical period of Rhetoric and the Rhetorics of the 20th century. It is important to have a sense of how rhetoric has been understood in the past and how it transformed and has been transformed over time. It is also imperative to recognize that despite these transformations it has always been considered of first importance for the ethical practical conduct of our everyday living.
How we present or live our beliefs, attitudes, and commitments, which is to say how we conduct our lives through communication is the concern of rhetoric and the focus of this course.