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Major Project 1: Travel Progymnasmata


For Major Project 1, “Travel Progymnasmata,” you will craft both creative and explanatory responses to our course readings in relation to the progymnasmata. What are progymnasmata? They are the “rudimentary exercises” practiced by students in Greece, Rome, and Renaissance Europe—as well as by Thomas Jefferson and American students all the way up until the early 20th century. The goal of the progymnasmata was to prepare for rhetorical performances, the kind of which we’ll be building towards this semester.

Because you will be graded primarily on completion (see below), this project is your chance for “productive failure.” That is, I’m less concerned about you “getting it right” than about the effort and labor you put into your work as you explore the different progymnasmata exercises in relation to the history, rhetoric, and art of travel. In short, you can respond however you want to the readings by evoking the progymnasmata.

What should these responses accomplish? 1. For some readings, you may want to explore how an author makes use of one of the rhetorical concepts related to the progymnasmata. 2. For other responses, you may want to respond more playfully to the reading (although you will need to demonstrate that you actually did the reading, through strategies such as quote, summary, and paraphrase). In the end, you should strive for a relative balance between these two approaches.

Playfully? Well, by that I mean feel free to craft your responses using different audio, visual, and textual media. Feel free to create an artful picture or image. You can do whatever, as long as it’s clear that your response is inspired by the different progymnasmata exercises and reflects on our course readings. The only other criteria is that you will need to be sure to practice the different progymnasmata—so you should label each response to clarify which one you are working on.

Find the progymnasmata here: