2023-2024 / LING0004-1

Rhetoric and semiology


30h Th

Number of credits

 Bachelor in human and social sciences5 crédits 
 Bachelor in human and social sciences (New programme)5 crédits 
 Extra courses intended for exchange students (Erasmus, ...) (Faculty of social sciences)5 crédits 
 Bachelor in information and communication5 crédits 
 Bachelor in philosophy5 crédits 


François Provenzano

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

This course is a synthetic and problem-oriented presentation of the main analytical tools that rhetoric and semiology can offer us. These two disciplines are focused on the operation of meaning in human discourse, verbal or nonverbal (we will concentrate on verbal discourse in this class, but the development of other systems of signification will be mentioned). We will describe different levels on which meaning is constructed, from the most basic unit, the sign, on up to more complex groupings, entire discourses delivered in particular interactive contexts, with a focus on the argumentative practices and the notion of "figure".

This conceptual progression will be structured in 4 steps:

- What is a sign?

- How to describe a system of signs?

- What is an argument?

- How to describe argumentative practices?

This conceptual progression constitutes the backbone of the course. It will be accompanied by a historical progression, focusing on rhetoric first, on semiotics then. Each of these two stories will be told with stops on two major conceptual systems: Aristotle's for rhetoric, Saussure's for semiotic. Case studies will put the tools mentioned at the outset to a test, that of concrete discourse.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

By the end of the course, students should be able to:
a) recognise the main historical stages in the evolution of rhetorics and semiotics;
b) define the main concepts of rhetoric and semiotic analysis and understand the relations between them;
c) use these concepts to describe and analyse simple signs systems and discourses;
d) provide specific examples of general rhetoric or semiotic phenomena.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Good oral and written command of French.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

The course is organised as followed:

- ex-cathedra lessons;
- exercises.

The course is based upon a coursebook written by the teacher.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Recommended or required readings

A coursebook is provided to the students.
It is available at the beginning of the academic year, both in PDF and print.

The PDF file will be posted on e-Campus.

The print versions are available at the "ULiege Opéra" desk, located on the ground floor of "Galerie Opéra" (place de la République française), at the price of 4 euros.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions )

Additional information:

A single written exam, during the January session.

The exam will be made up of a section of closed questions and a section of open questions, which will test three types of knowledge/know-how: a) encyclopaedic knowledge concerning the history of rhetoric and semiotics; b) the understanding of concepts covered in class; c) skills in rhetorical/semiotic analysis.

Criteria :

  • the relevance and accuracy of the answer ;
  • the care in formulation ;
  • synthesis capacity and articulation of ideas ;
  • the spelling of names and concepts presented in class.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The course will take place on Mondays (1st Term only), 2PM to 4PM, classroom Wittert.
Resumption : Monday 25/09/2023, 2PM.

The course will focus more on exercises.


François PROVENZANO, Professor

Département de Langues et littératures françaises et romanes
Service de Sciences du langage et rhétorique
Place Cockerill, 3-5, bât. A2, 4000 Liège.
Tél. 04 366 56 45
Mail : Francois.Provenzano@uliege.be

Surgery hours: Wednesdays, from 9.30 to 11, office A2/4/4

Ariane Nusgens : 04 366 56 50

Association of one or more MOOCs