2015 – 2016 LATEST: Chalkface Rhetorics, J. F. K Institute, FU, Berlin


“Speech in its essence is not neutral.” Kenneth Burke

Where? When? What?

Room 203. JFK-I. With curtains!!!!!

Room 203. JFK-I. With curtains!!!!!

AMBITIONS: “In a reasonable graduate seminar, you don’t expect students to copy it down and repeat whatever you say; you expect them to tell you when you’re wrong or to come up with new ideas, to challenge, to pursue some direction that hadn’t been thought of before. That’s what real education is at every level, and that’s what ought to be encouraged. That ought to be the purpose of education. It’s not to pour information into somebody’s head which will then leak out but to enable them to become creative, independent people who can find excitement in discovery and creation and creativity at whatever level or in whatever domain their interests carry them.” Noam Chomsky, The Salon, Friday, October 10th, 2014.

2015-2016: The Department of Culture,the John F. Kennedy Institurothko overviewte of North American Studies, Free University of Berlin

“The John F. Kennedy Institute is renowned for its innovative interdisciplinary research as well as its rigorous study programs. Founded in 1963 by the political scientist Ernst Fraenkel, the institute is dedicated to the study of the United States and Canada in all its facets. The six disciplines brought together at the institute, the numerous scholarships and exchange programs which it sponsors in addition to its world class research library create a unique academic environment. Disciplinary diversity and in-depth intellectual inquiry lay the foundation for excellence in research and teaching.”

Course Title and Description

BA Course. Chalkface Rhetorics: The Politics of the Classroom in U.S Film and Social Media

“The practical and ideological role of American formal education has, since the nation’s inception, been a pivotal agent in articulating its democratic assumptions and in forwarding its aspirations towards equal opportunity. From Blackboard Jungle (Brooks, 1955) to The Great Debaters (Washington, 2007), the subject of schooling has, not surprisingly, emerged as a challenging and often lucrative Hollywood sub-genre that uniquely and explicitly addresses issues of hegemony, discourse, and resistance. The course will include but then advance beyond such Hollywood representations of the classroom to critically consider competing representations of education (from the Public School, the Charter School to the ‘Corporatized University’) as they have recently emerged across social media platforms. Our principle goal is to address how these rhetorical formulations are already instrumental in shaping the charged education policy debates for the coming 2016 Presidential Election. Final Student Response Papers will find support in class discussions and formal lectures as based on selected readings in rhetorical persuasion, media literacy and educational theory, and as supplemented by related class viewings.”

Course Leader: Dr. Alan Taylor

Contact: a.taylor@education.oxon.org

  • Dr. phil, The Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Filmwissenschaft
  • PGCE, The Department of Education, the University of Oxford
  • Diploma, The London Film School
  • MA, Institute of Education, University of London
  • BA, (Joint Hons), Keele University – American Studies and English

Questions about administration university procedures go HERE




Please note the dedicated Research Hub is HERE

Session 1: Oct 14th

Introductions, overviews, and research paper expectations. Guidance advice is HERE

Our opening Prezi presentation is HERE

Session 2: Oct 21st

Dr. Taylor lead on the scope and depth of the area of interest: histories, theories, issues and debates and clarification of the Response Paper requirements that focus on the Research Hub is HERE

Today’s presentation is HERE

Session 3: Oct 28th

Dr. Taylor lead – key names, US education histories and rhetorics, part one: John Locke, Horace Mann, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Holmes McGuffey, John Dewey, Edward Thorndike, Kenneth Burke, Jerome Bruner, Pablo Freire, Henry Giroux and Darletta Scruggs (Dyett, 2015)

Our presentation is here

Session 4: Nov 4th


Dr. Taylor lead – key names, US education histories and rhetorics, continued (Prezi above)

We finish with analysis of

Session 5: Nov 11th

Class reflective discussion based on previous two sessions. Q andA about Response Paper prep and focus. We begin with a sequence from John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1961) .

  • PLEASE NOTE the Thursday November 12th Million Student March

Session 6: Nov 18th

Dr. Taylor leads on U.S. higher education 1960s – 1980s, texts and contexts. The PREZI isHERE!

Session 7: Nov 25th

The Corporate University: texts and contexts (see PREZI above)

Session 8: Dec 2nd

STAGE 1: Introductory summary presentations by all students undertaking the Response Paper. This is to provide initial insights into the research area and subject topic and forward planning.

  • It is suggested (though not obligatory) that students align their research interest within a specific interdisciplinary persepective of the kind found at the JFK-I, i.e., economics, political science, literature, culture.
  • Response Papers, though, must refer as their starting point to one/two/three items of interest found in the Research Hub: http://www.scoop.it/t/researching-film-and-media

Session 9: Dec 9th: The Documentary as Thesis

Case Study film, part one. This is a staggered critical analysis of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN (Guggenheim, 2010): narrative structure (hooks, complications, heroes and villains), montage, technical elements…

The trailer is here…

Session 10: Dec 16th

Case study film, part two. WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, part 2. Structural analysis (Propp) and issues of ethos (ownership), logos (argument) and pathos (rhetorical claims).

The alternative voice is here

Festive Season Break

ADIOS 2015

HALO 2016

Session 11: Jan 6th 2016


Education, Dramatism and Kenneth Burke

“A prominent intellectual in Eastern literary circles starting in the 1920’s, Mr. Burke was a poet, essayist, reviewer, novelist, translator, social commentator and writer of short stories. His works were collected in more than 15 books. But Mr. Burke was more widely known in scholarly circles as a philosopher who concentrated on the deeper uses to which language may be put, as well as its true meaning and significance. He had a wide following among writers and an influence that reached far beyond his own writings.”

The talk is here https://prezi.com/xrg2djv8deyd/education-dramatism-and-kenneth-burke/

Session 12: Jan 13th

STAGE TWO: Response Paper presentations – the study so far.  Prep material to be handed in.

Session 13: Jan 20th

General class summary discussion, analysis with a focus on interdiciplinary scope. Addtional elements to come.

Session 14: Jan 27th

Dr. Taylor leads with: “Get off my Lawn!: Property As God-term in American Culture and Education”.

  • Identity
  • Substance
  • Specialization
  • Trained Incapacity
  • Symbolic Action
  • Identification
  • Metaphor

“…distinction in status inlvolves a corresponding distinction in property (“property here comprising of any kind of characteristics: A house is a property, a way of speaking or thinking is a property, even a condition of total impoverishment is, in this usage, a property.” (Kenneth Burke, Grammar of Motives, 1945, 211.)

What aspects of property ownership are manifest here?

“And insofar as men “cannot live by bread alone,” they are moved by doctrine, which is to say, they derive purposes from language, which tells them what they “ought” to want to do, tells them how to do it, and in the telling goads them with great threats and promises, even to the gates of heaven and hell.” (KB, Rhetoric of Religion, 1966, 274).

Dr. Taylor’s presentation (minus great student discussions and critical questions!) is located HERE

Session 15: Feb 3rd

STAGE THREE: This session is devoted to final Response Paper Presentations.

Final Session 16: Feb 10th

  • Summaries.
  • Feedback assessment sheets.
  • Final Response Papers to be submitted.
  • Adios und danke.


Feb 19th: all grades (Response Papers and attending) submitted into system.

Thanks for reading. More to follow.