This seminar will prepare students to identify, analyze and critique argumentation and persuasion styles, strategies and problems in a wide variety of legal texts, ranging from opening and closing statements to judicial opinions to law review articles as legal rhetoric. The objective of this seminar is to expose the participants to a diverse set of theories, including traditional concepts of formal logic and logical fallacies, audience-centered approaches to argumentation, narrative reasoning and modern approaches to language in order to allow students to think more critically about their own attempts at legal argumentation and persuasion. In short, seminar participants must be prepared to explore in depth the complexity of this question: "What is good legal argumentation and persuasion?"
Students will prepare weekly one to two-page "focus paper," in which they will comment on the week's reading assignments, raising questions and comments about the reading. The paper, which will be used to set the seminar discussion agenda and must be e-mailed to the professor two days before the seminar meets so that they can be posted on the seminar web page. Seminar participants will then be expected to read the postings on the seminar web page before coming to class in order to discuss the questions and comments raised in the "focus papers." The students will also be expected to choose a piece of legal rhetoric that they will critique, using the theories studied, to produce a 15 to 25 page final paper.
Grading: The final paper, along with weekly "focus paper" assignments, may be used to satisfy the Advanced Research and Writing Requirement.
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