The Agora

A Place for Rhetoric and Sophistry

Technical Communication

Writing Proposals and Grants


Science and Nature Writing

Purdue ICaP Program

Teaching Introductory Composition

About Professor Johnson-Sheehan


At Purdue, I teach the graduate course in Classical Rhetoric, under the number English 622. Being a sophist myself, I like to contrast Plato and Aristotle against Gorgias, Protagoras, Antiphon, and Isocrates. The figure of Socrates is certainly enigmatic. He clearly argues as a sophist, and yet Plato turns him into a crusader against them.

Cicero is also a favorite of mine. His masterpiece, De Oratore, is clearly one of the finest works on rhetoric. I must admit that after Cicero, it's hard to see other classical authors on rhetoric as offering more than glosses. Nevertheless, I enjoy teaching St. Augustine because of his blend of Roman rhetorical practices with Christianity.

Here are my policies and syllabus (PDF):

English 622: Issues in Composition Studies: Classical Period to Renaissance


This website is designed for no particular purpose. If you have comments, please send them to Professor Johnson-Sheehan. If you have complaints, keep them to yourself. He's just not in the mood. And, if you have read this far, you really need to get something more important to do.