About this courseSkip About this course
We are living in a contentious time in history. Fundamental disagreements on critical policy, economic, and political issues make it essential to learn how to compose an effectiveargument and to analyze the arguments of others. This ability will help you engage in civil discourse and make needed changes in society. Conveying a convincing message can benefit your personal, public, and professional lives.
This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of rhetoric, the art of persuasive writing and speech. In it, you will learn to construct and defend compelling arguments, a crucial skill in many settings. We will be using selected speeches from prominent twentieth-century Americans -- including Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Margaret Chase Smith, Ronald Reagan, and more -- to explore and analyze rhetorical structure and style. Through this analysis, you will learn how speakers and writers persuade an audience to adopt their point of view.
Built around Harvard Professor James Engell's on-campus course, "Elements of Rhetoric," this course will help you analyze and apply rhetorical structure and style, appreciate the relevance of persuasive communication in your own life, and understand how to persuade and recognize when someone is trying to persuade you. You will be inspired to share your viewpoint and discover the most powerful ways to convince others to champion your cause. Join us to find your voice!
What you'll learnSkip What you'll learn
- When and how to employ a variety of rhetorical devices in writing and speaking
- How to differentiate between argument and rhetorical technique
- How to write a persuasive opinion editorial and short speech
- How to evaluate the strength of an argument
- How to identify logical fallacies in arguments
Meet your instructors
Pursue a Verified Certificate to highlight the knowledge and skills you gain$99.00
Official and Verified
Receive an instructor-signed certificate with the institution's logo to verify your achievement and increase your job prospects
Add the certificate to your CV or resume, or post it directly on LinkedIn
Give yourself an additional incentive to complete the course
Support our Mission
EdX, a non-profit, relies on verified certificates to help fund free education for everyone globally
Frequently asked questions
How is the honor code upheld?
HarvardX requires individuals who enroll in its courses on edX to abide by the terms of the edX honor code. HarvardX will take appropriate corrective action in response to violations of the edX honor code, which may include dismissal from the HarvardX course; revocation of any certificates received for the HarvardX course; or other remedies as circumstances warrant. No refunds will be issued in the case of corrective action for such violations. Enrollees who are taking HarvardX courses as part of another program will also be governed by the academic policies of those programs.
How does my participation contribute to research?
By registering as an online learner in our open online courses, you are also participating in research intended to enhance HarvardX's instructional offerings as well as the quality of learning and related sciences worldwide. In the interest of research, you may be exposed to some variations in the course materials. HarvardX does not use learner data for any purpose beyond the University's stated missions of education and research. For purposes of research, we may share information we collect from online learning activities, including Personally Identifiable Information, with researchers beyond Harvard. However, your Personally Identifiable Information will only be shared as permitted by applicable law, will be limited to what is necessary to perform the research, and will be subject to an agreement to protect the data. We may also share with the public or third parties aggregated information that does not personally identify you. Similarly, any research findings will be reported at the aggregate level and will not expose your personal identity.
How are non-discrimination and anti-harassment supported?
Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com and/or report your experience through the edX contact form.