Response to Jasmine
Read you loud and clear!
I was thinking about that situation, the English major & non-major having The Rhetoric Conversation, just the other day. Maybe while you were having it; maybe I was there in spirit. It’s strange, because it’s one of those things that an English major who has been studying it — maybe unknowlingly — for years likely can’t answer with the confidence of someone outside of the field. Kind of like how, if asked about biology, I’d give a vague answer about Life — or something like that. Maybe the study of life. And sure, we can say Rhetoric is the study of Rhetoric, and it’s true, but no one knows Rhetoric as well as they know life, so we sound snarky regardless.
You said, “I want to teach English, but I don’t want to teach “rhetoric and composition”, telling someone what’s acceptable…” But I think the two are always conflated; you’ll always be working with students, honing their voice, telling them what’s right and wrong. I don’t think Rhetoric, in the capacity we’ve been exploring it, is always referred to as Rhetoric. Your definition shows you know what you’re talking about, so why NOT teach it!