Humanities Graduate Seminar Presentations

Rhetoric, Theory and Culture

The MS and PhD in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture

The Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (RTC) program at Michigan Tech provides innovative, broad-based, interdisciplinary degrees that draw students into study across a range of fields, focusing on the complex interactions among rhetoric and communication within their social and cultural contexts. Special attention is given to the changing role of technology, communication, and representation in contemporary societies.

RTC Program Description

The RTC program is designed to challenge and prepare students both broadly and deeply to consider important issues of communication and rhetoric in a rapidly changing technological world. The program seeks flexible, intellectually curious, highly motivated students who are interested in working with faculty who offer challenging, advanced study, and intensive mentoring. Students consult closely with advisors to build a coherent program of study.

Recognizing that today's challenging issues often require analysis from across disciplinary perspectives, the RTC program is designed to draw on the diverse talents of some thirty-plus distinguished graduate faculty members.

Students choose groundwork courses in five areas:

  • Writing, Literacy and Technical Communication
  • Philosophy and Rhetoric
  • Technology, Media, and Visual Studies
  • Language, Literature, and Globalization
  • Communication and Culture

RTC Curriculum

Effective Fall 2014

The RTC curriculum consists of preparatory courses providing for general instruction in scholarly work and two types of content courses:

  • Groundwork courses providing an intensive study of a topic in one of the five interdisciplinary areas
  • Focus courses providing advanced and specialized topics of study.


Preparation for graduate work, scholarly roles, ethical conduct of research, and teaching responsibilities and skills is an important feature of the RTC program. The following courses address these concerns.

Introduction to Graduate Studies

taken in the student’s first year

First semester
  • Introduces students to the structure, processes, and timelines of the RTC program and to expectations and skills for graduate-level inquiry
  • Introduces graduate faculty and their scholarly specializations
  • Involves students in department’s academic life (colloquia, speakers, graduate forums, job talks, etc.)
Second semester
  • Surveys methodologies/methods for interdisciplinary humanistic inquiry
  • Assists students to identify a focus of interest, generate research ideas, and articulate a defensible research question
  • Involves students in department’s academic life (colloquia, speakers, graduate forums, job talks, etc.)

RTC Colloquium Series

1 credit taken in the student’s second semester; thereafter, participation is expected as part of a student’s graduate role in the program

This series features presentations by advanced RTC PhD students who have completed drafts of their research questions in preparation for their third year dissertation proposal defense requirement. There may be presentations by faculty as well highlighting current research projects and emerging research questions.

The series demonstrates the expectations for successful graduate student work and work within the academic profession. All current faculty and RTC students are expected to regularly attend as many presentations as possible.

Composition Practicum (HU5931)

2 credits in a student’s first semester and 1 credit in the second semester

This course is designed for GTIs teaching UN1015 Composition for the first time.  Weekly readings and assignments are designed to support continuous improvement as a writing teacher/scholar.

Other Practica

Available in Technical Communication, Modern Language Pedagogy, Communication (by consent of instructor)

These pedagogy courses are offered as needed in order to prepare graduate students for teaching a variety of courses other than the Composition course. Practica may be dedicated to teaching Technical Communication, Modern Languages, Communication, or other undergraduate courses.

Sample Practica Contents:

  • Read current research on best pedagogical practices within a specific academic field
  • Observe undergraduate teaching by faculty and advanced graduate students
  • Design syllabi and assignments
  • Attend courses taught by graduate peers and reflect on practicesParticipate in group grade norming

Responsible Conduct of Research

Basic and Advanced courses required by the MTU Graduate School

In addition to the preparatory courses required within the program, the Graduate School requires all graduate students to complete two Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) courses. The Basic course is offered during the new graduate student orientation prior to the start of classes each semester. The course is also offered online. The Advanced RCR requirement can be fulfilled by taking one of the courses offered by various departments (all are 1 or 2 credits). The department offers a Research Integrity Workshop each summer that fulfills this requirement. Click here for a listing of all available RCR courses.

Groundwork Courses

The RTC program is centered on coursework organized within five (5) clusters, with two (2) courses per cluster:

Writing, Literacy, and Technical Communication

Rhetoric and Composition

Technical and Scientific Communication

Philosophy and Rhetoric

Continental Philosophy

History and Theory of Rhetoric

Technology, Media, and Visual Studies

Theoretical Perspectives on Technology

Visual Theory and Analysis

Language, Literature, and Globalization

Critical Approaches to Literature and Culture

Critical Perspectives on Globalization

Communication and Culture

Communication Theory

Cultural Theory

Focus Courses

Focus courses develop in-depth understanding of a delimited scholarly area. Examples of Focus courses include the following.

  • Feminist Philosophy
  • Cyberactivism and Social Change
  • The Body in Visual Representation
  • Community Literacy
  • Feminist Critiques of Technology and Science
  • Critical Aesthetics from Analog to Digital Color
  • Technical and Scientific Communication in/and the Humanities and Liberal Arts Traditions

RTC Graduate Student Policies and Procedures

This page is currently undergoing revisions. Please contact Dr. Patricia Sotirin if you have questions. For general information about Graduate School policies and requirements, visit

Placement History

The graduate program in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture (formerly Rhetoric & Technical Communication) has been highly successful in placing graduate students in the kinds of jobs they want. The program boasts a nearly 100-percent placement rate. We have placed graduates in schools such as:

Clarkson UniversitySaginaw Valley State University
California State University (Chico)St. Cloud State University
Grand Valley State UniversityState University of New York (Potsdam)
Illinois State UniversityUniversity of Wisconsin (Stout)
Kings CollegeUniversity of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
Metropolitan State UniversityUtah State University (Logan)
Michigan State UniversityUtah Valley State College
New Mexico State UniversityVillanova University
Northern Illinois UniversityWashington State University
Penn State UniversityWestern Michigan University

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