course hack

Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking

James Engell, Harvard University

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

This course from Harvard University introduces the fundamentals of rhetoric by analyzing famous speeches, exploring their use of rhetorical devices, and teaching students how to adapt the lessons learned for their own arguments.


Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking

Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking

by James Engell


Often defined as the art of persuasion, rhetoric is an important tool for democratic societies. In a democracy, people must be able to persuade others and often use persuasion on many people at once. Writers and public speakers study rhetoric to better understand the structures and strategies that make arguments more convincing.

James Engell is an English and comparative literature professor at Harvard University. He has an extensive teaching background and has given numerous university lectures on rhetoric.

In this edX course, Engell explores the study of rhetoric and the most crucial strategies used in persuasive speech and writing. The course guides students to analyze and apply rhetorical devices observed in the words of some of the most prominent speakers in American history.

Favorite quote

Rhetoric has a real effect on people's behavior. Words move us to action. They drive our decisions—from what to buy to whom to elect, to whether or not to go to war.

- James Engell

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