Rhetoric 24, Section 1

Bad Books and How to Spot Them (1 unit, LG)

Professor Daniel F. Melia
Wednesday 11:00-12:00, 7415 Dwinelle Hall, Class number: 46031

The world is full of BAD BOOKS; not just uninteresting or ill-informed or morally repugnant books, but books that set out to present or defend positions that are unsupportable in logic. I speak here not of books like Hitler’s Mein Kampf, but of books such as von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods, which presents “proof” of visits to earth by extra-terrestrials, or of Barry Fell’s America B.C., which “proves” that ancient Celts reached North America before the time of Christ. Often these BAD BOOKS become quite popular. This seminar will examine the proposition that there is a recognizable rhetoric common to many such BAD BOOKS and investigate possible reasons for the fact that they often gain a wider audience than GOOD BOOKS on the same subject.

Instructor Bio

Daniel Melia is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Rhetoric, where he has taught for forty-three years.

Faculty web site: http://rhetoric.berkeley.edu/people.php?page_id=1056&p=62

Note

Students who are interested in understanding how rhetorical devices can be used to provide pseudo-logical or weakly logical arguments. Also an introduction to close reading.