Pen and Sword: Renaissance Rhetoric and Military History

This section of English 1102 will develop students’ written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal communication skills through the study of Renaissance approaches to rhetoric and armed combat. We will explore the ways in which answers to the question “which is mightier, the pen or the sword?” have shifted over time from the Renaissance to today, and what these changes can tell us about what society deems to be honorable and/or ethical behavior. To do so, we will read selections from Renaissance authors who were famous in their time for their writing as well as their military involvement, including Baldasarre Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier, William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson’s drama, and Machiavelli’s Art of War. These authors will ground our discussions of humanist rhetoric and its relationship to the duel, national identity, and theories of selfhood and personal honor. Students will complete extensive writing homework, three 3-4 page essays, a 3-5 minute video essay, and a digital group project.