Teaching Argumentation Through Trial Transcripts

Photograph of the Courtroom During Nuremberg Trials

My teaching primarily focuses on forensic rhetoric and the role of narrative, memory, and proof in disputes about past events. This classically includes legal disputes, although it extends far beyond them. In the course I’m teaching now, entitled Rhetoric and the Law, I challenge students to consider the importance of rhetoric to interpretations of evidence in legal disputes, the use of analogical argument in appeals to precedent, and the significance of the adversary system of justice as a dispute resolution model.

Finding Trial Transcripts Online and Exploring 18th-19th Century Crime Broadsides

Broadside depicting crowd at an execution

I’m teaching an upper-division rhetorical theory course about legal rhetoric in which I focus students on the rhetoric involved in adjudicating particular cases in dispute. The initial unit in the course focuses students on the rhetoric of narrative, memory, and proof surrounding factual disputes in particular cases. Although there are many examples of such discourse, the most classic example is in a legal trial.


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