WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image

Every classroom

“Every classroom is an act of making citizens in the realm of that room, and every room is a figure for the larger community.” ~ A. Bartlett Giamatti, A Free and Ordered Space.

Concluding Thoughts

“One purpose of a liberal arts education is to make your head a more interesting place to live inside of for the rest of your life.” —Mary Patterson McPherson, President, Bryn Mawr College

“I thought that the future was a placelike Paris or the Arctic Circle. The supposition proved to be mistaken. The future turns out to be something that you make instead of find. It isn’t waiting for your arrival, either with an arrest warrant or a band; it doesn’t care how you come dressed or demand to see a ticket of admission. It’s no further away than the next sentence, the next best guess, the next sketch for the painting of a life’s portrait that may or may not become a masterpiece. The future is an empty canvas or a blank sheet of paper, and if you have the courage of your own thought and your own observation, you can make of it what you will.” —Lewis Lapham 

“It ain’t where ya from, it’s where ya at!” —KRS-ONE, Ruminations

” …a limiting sense of humility, a deference to the complexity and multifaceted nature of reality.”

From Brooks, “The Campus Crusaders”

If you’ll allow me to take him out of context for just a moment and replace “settled philosophies” with our terms:

  • Critical thinking  is meant to instill a limiting sense of humility, a deference to the complexity and multifaceted nature of reality. 
  • Analyzing for context is meant to instill a limiting sense of humility, a deference to the complexity and multifaceted nature of reality. 

That works for me. Does it work for you?

whoa

Writing to Make Something Happen in the World

What kinds of writing make something happen in the world? College students in a six-year research study felt particular pride in the writing they did for family, friends, and community groups—and for many extracurricular activities that were meaningful to them. They produced flyers for fundraising campaigns, newsletters for community action groups, nature guides for local parks, press releases for campus events,and Web sites for local emergency services. Furthermore, once these students graduated from college, they continued to create—and to value—these kinds of public writing.

A large group of college students participating in a research study were asked, “What is good writing? The researchers expected fairly straightforward answers like “writing that gets its message across,” but the students kept coming back to one central idea: At some point during your college years or soon after, you are highly likely to create writing that is not just something that you turn in for a grade, but writing that you do because you want to make a difference. The writing that matters most to many students and citizens, then, is writing that has an effect in the world: writing that gets up off the page or screen, puts on its working boots, and marches out to get something done!

— St. Martin’s Handbook, 12.66 — page 890.

Typographic treatment & case study

Week 10: Portfolio Editing Checklist

We’ll add to this in class during Week 10 as needed, in our search for — and our practice of — cognitive vigilance in editing with a goal of visual & logistical coherence:

  • If you’d like to change the default DePaul banner, feel free, but make your own; no stock or Google photos. Digital writing portfolio banners can be rhetorically compelling if they evoke the writer’s environment, ethos, or tone.
  • Add short descriptive annotations to each project section for readers who may not be aware of how we approached, planned, and completed projects. It’s good practice to summarize the assignment and your approach to it.
  • Confirm that all elements of your Contextual Analysis Project are accounted for and easily accessible.
  • Where to put your Process Description? As a page in your reflective essay, where you can link to it? Or in your contextual analysis section, where can also link to it?
  • Confirm that your previous work is edited and proofread, with a serif font and appropriate white space for readability.
  • Main “home page” should introduce you and your work. The rhetoric of a portfolio home page is that it announces the successful completion of WRD104; include enough overview and guidance such that readers know what to do after reading it, and why.

After-class updates, Monday:

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Comments on Brooks’s “The Small, Happy Life”

 Comments on Brooks’s The Small, Happy Life

Why do we forget?

NYT, October 14, 1914: “What Causes Slips of the Tongue? Why Do We Forget?”

For the Poor, the Graduation Gap Is Even Wider Than the Enrollment Gap

For the Poor, the Graduation Gap Is Even Wider Than the Enrollment Gap

Visual and material forms of rhetoric

NYT: Cleveland Police Officer Acquitted of Manslaughter in 2012 Deaths

Memorial Day, 1870

Via New York Times Machine, Tuesday, May 31st, 1870

Another angle on critical thinking

NYT: Getting It Right

What is it to truly know something? In our daily lives, we might not give this much thought — most of us rely on what we consider to be fair judgment and common sense in establishing knowledge. But the task of clearly defining true knowledge is trickier than it may first seem, and it is a problem philosophers have been wrestling with since Socrates.

Where are you?

How to roll a joint

Apparently the New York Times Magazine has you covered:

How to Roll a Joint

Trying to connect the dots …

These two paragraphs from Friedman last week:
 
Just follow the headlines. We’re in the middle of some huge disruptive inflections in technology, the labor market and geopolitics that will raise fundamental questions about the future of work and the social contracts between governments and their people and employers and employees. These will all erupt in the next presidency.”
 
“What are the signs of that? Well, my candidate for best lead paragraph on a news article so far this year goes to Tom Goodwin, an executive at Havas Media, whose essay March 3 on Techcrunch.com began: “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.” 
 
 
They pair nicely with Ehrenreich’s book review, ‘Rise of the Robots’ and ‘Shadow Work’:
“… all the ways corporations and new technologies fiendishly generate new tasks for us — each of them seemingly insignificant but amounting to many hours of annoyance. Examples include deleting spam from our inboxes, installing software upgrades, creating passwords for every website we seek to enter, and periodically updating those passwords. If nothing else, he gives new meaning to the word “distraction” as an explanation for civic inaction. As the seas rise and the air condenses into toxic smog, many of us will be bent over our laptops, filling out forms and attempting to wade through the “terms and conditions.”
 
and then, today, in Politico, one of the authors Ehrenreich is reviewing — Craig Lambert’s Shadow Work: The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day — Lambert writes in “The Second Job You Don’t Know You Have”:
 
I define shadow work as all the unpaid jobs we do on behalf of businesses and organizations: We are pumping our own gas, scanning our own groceries, booking our travel and busing our tables at Starbucks. Shadow work is a new concept, so as yet, no one has compiled economic data on how many jobs we, the consumers, have taken over from (erstwhile) employees. Yet it is surely a force shrinking the job market, and the unemployment it creates is structural. Thanks in part to this new phenomenon, widespread joblessness could become entrenched in the social landscape.”
 
“Consider what you now do yourself: You can bank on your cell phone, check yourself out at CVS or the grocery store without ever speaking to an employee, book your own flights and print your boarding pass at the airport without ever talking to a ticket agent—and that’s just in the last few years. Imagine what’s coming next.”
 

 

Students and Money, in Their Own Words

Students and Money, in Their Own Words

Rhetoric, Identification & Exploration

Something to consider as we think about our Op-Ed essays this week: 

Rhetoric & Identification

“A speaker persuades an audience by the use of stylistic identifications; the act of persuasion may be for the purpose of causing the audience to identify itself with the speaker’s interests; and the speaker draws on identification of interests to establish rapport between herself or himself and the audience.” — Kenneth Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives.

Identification, Burke reminds us, occurs when people share some principle in common — that is, when they establish common ground. Persuasion should not begin with absolute confrontation and separation but with the establishment of common ground, from which differences can be worked out. Imagining common ground is the point of our work with stasis.

 Exploratory Writing

To change yourself (St. Martin’s Handbook: 9a. Arguing for a purpose — page 186)
Sometimes you will find yourself arguing primarily with yourself, and those arguments often take the form of intense meditations on a theme, or even of prayer. In such cases, you may be hoping to transform something in yourself or to reach peace of mind on a troubling subject. [Maybe Jameson is a model of this kind of persuasive writing?]

Composing Informational Abstracts

A couple of people have written asking for samples of good informational abstracts. I think in our case, it’ll be important for you to include your method (contextual analysis), your framework (ideological, historical, cultural, social, etc.), and a summary of your findings, conclusion, or the implications of your research (“Every wolf in Yellowstone therefore is more than just a wolf. Imbued with profound symbolic meaning, each wolf embodies the divergent goals of competing social movements involved in the reintroduction debate”). 

Here are some good resources:

From our Writing Center:

Qualities of a Good Abstract

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (p. 26) suggests that good abstracts are written in a way that is accurate, non-evaluative, coherent and readable, and concise.

  • Accurate:  Give your reader a clear idea of the purpose and content of your paper. Avoid adding anything extra, superfluous, or overly detailed.
  • Non-evaluative:  Think of it as a report rather than a sales pitch. You don’t need to “sell” your paper or comment on it. Rather, give a clear summary of your work.
  • Coherent and readable:  Use language that is clear and understandable. Use active voice rather than passive voice. ( e.g., Participants took a survey rather than A survey was taken by participants).
  • Concise: Don’t try to cover everything in your paper. Choose the four or five most important points of your work; these points can refer to concepts, findings, or implications. Use key words from your paper, especially words you think readers will use when doing electronic searches.

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Serendipity Alert

What’s the Point of a Professor?

Arguing for a purpose

To convince and persuade 

Usually a conventional, thesis-driven essay — the conventional academic model has an identifiable thesis, intro, body, conclusion, like the example in your St. Martin’s Handbook; our Op-Ed model is more flexible 

More often than not, out-and-out defeat of another — as in a debate, for example — is not only unrealistic but also undesirable. Rather, the goal is to persuade readers to see an issue in a particular way, or to help them understand, or move them toward some action, or to cause them to be newly interested in your issue.

To reach a decision or explore an issue 

This is where we get to see the writer struggling with an issue and engaging in truth-seeking behavior

Often, a writer must enter into conversation with others and collaborate in seeking the best possible understanding of a problem, exploring all possible approaches and choosing the best alternatives. As all good critical thinkers know, there’s always more than just one side of the story, there’s always more than two sides of the story: there’s always a third side of the story. Some people phrase that as “there’s your truth, there’s my truth, and then there’s the real truth.”

To change yourself

We can think of this one as the “Leslie Jameson model”

Sometimes you will find yourself arguing primarily with yourself, and those arguments often take the form of intense meditations on a theme, or even of prayer. In such cases, you may be hoping to transform something in yourself or to reach peace of mind on a troubling subject.

From your St. Martin’s Handbook — 2.9a “Arguing for a purpose” (p. 186)

David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon Commencement Speech (2005)

Intro

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Conclusion (22 minutes later)

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”
“This is water.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.

Transcript (PDF)
Audio (YouTube)

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Problem-based learning: a good model for your Op-Ed Essay?

Replacing your claims with researchers’ claims

[Many researchers argue that …] As neighborhoods get white-washed and become trendy tourist locations, important historical information and cultural narratives become extinct.

[Some urban planners assert that …] Cities are notorious cultural melting pots. As cities become more and more the same and lose their sense of individuality to cater the visions and desires of the white middle class, the world as a whole loses its sense of individuality.

And did you see this OED definition of gentrify?: “”To renovate or convert (housing, esp. in an inner-city area) so that it conforms to middle-class taste; to render (an area) middle-class.”

[Cultural critics have asked …] Are you really experiencing the uniqueness of a city if you can get the same brunch, shop at the same trendy boutique, and work out at the exact same yoga studio in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles?

[Some people argue that …] universities seek to attract the most academic, experienced, and worldly students from around the world, putting less and less emphasis on curriculum and credential teachers. 

[Others claim that …] Today it’s all about construction the best resume and finding a job. 

[Some research suggests that …] Higher expectations and a push for timely graduation have made students less concerned about the value of the education they are receiving, and more worried if their transcript will look good.

Proofreading: toward excellence

“The Top Twenty: A Quick Guide to Troubleshooting Your Writing” in your St. Martin’s Handbook and here

Looking for examples in the NYT:

Commas in a non-restrictive clause (St. Martin’s 44c):

  • “Groups like Teach for China, which hosted the Teach for All network at village schools here, are too new to determine whether they can make a difference in helping their lowest-performing schools succeed.” (Friedman, 10/30)
  • “But this year, even before Halloween, more women seem to be finding ways to wear Gothic-influenced makeup: a look of dark lips and pale skin that has been seen on recent runways including Badgley Mischka, Yohji Yamamoto, and Louis Vuitton.” (Syme 10/29)
  • “The social network, which has been built around 140-character snippets of text since its founding in 2006, has added photo and video previews to the feed of items that users see when they log onto the service from the Web or mobile applications.” (Goel 10/29)

Commas after introductory elements (44a):

  • Over all, Black Flag’s Caribbean archipelago is a nice place to be, if you don’t mind the killing.” (Totilo 10/29)
  • To put it to the test, I set out in my rental car Sunday, the day of Game 4 of the World Series, between the Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox, and headed south, the radio tuned to 1120 AM, to see if I could I outdrive the signal before the end of the game.” (Waldstein 10/29 — five commas)

“The Most Comma Mistakes” — NYT

Writer as truth seeker

‘Hold Still,’ a Memoir by Sally Mann

” … an examination of the larger economic context.”

From a Chronicle of Higher Education article, “Heard on My Recent Book Tour: Frustration and Doubt About Higher Education”

Grace Mann

Editorial Peer Reviews

The most helpful reviewers are interested in the topic and the writer’s approach to it. They ask questions, make concrete suggestions, report on what is confusing and why, and offer encouragement. Good reviewers give writers a new way to see their drafts so that they can edit effectively. After reading an effective review, writers should feel confident about taking the next step in the writing process.

Peer review is difficult for two reasons. First, offering writers a way to imagine their next draft is just hard work. Unfortunately, there’s no formula for giving good writing advice. But you can always do your best to offer your partner a careful, thoughtful response to the draft and a reasonable sketch of what the next version might contain. Second, peer review is challenging because your job as a peer reviewer is not to grade the draft or respond to it as an English instructor would. As a peer reviewer, you will have a chance to think alongside writers whose writing you may consider much better or far worse than your own. 

Being a peer reviewer should improve your own writing as you see how other writers approach the same assignment. So make it a point to tell writers what you learned from their drafts; as you express what you learned, you’ll be more likely to remember their strategies. Also, you will likely begin reading your own texts in a new way. Although all writers have blind spots when reading their own work, you will gain a better sense of where readers expect cues and elaboration.

St. Martin’s 4b.: Reviewing peer writers — at least two fully developed paragraphs

Focus on:

  • Is the framework is identifiable? Early?
  • Summary language and rhetorical appeals are precise: argues that, claims that, suggests that, implies that, asserts that; shows how an argument is made; attempts to analyze why the argument is made; speculates on the audience and the implications for the issue under consideration
  • Does the conclusion raise new and interesting questions? Does it conclude with a vivid image? “Every wolf, therefore, is more than just a wolf …”

Integrating quotations

St. Augustine believed that “because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” We often think of restlessness as a malady. Thus, we urgently need to reclaim the etymology of restlessness — “stirring constantly, desirous of action” — to signal our curiosity toward what isn’t us, to explore outside the confines of our own environment. Getting lost isn’t a curse. Not knowing where we are, what to eat, how to speak the language can certainly make us anxious and uneasy. But anxiety is part of any person’s quest to find the parameters of life’s possibilities. — From “Reclaiming Travel”

Police officers “know that in a swearing match between a drug defendant and a police officer, the judge always rules in favor of the officer.” At worst, the case will be dismissed, but the officer is free to continue business as usual. Second, criminal defendants are typically poor and uneducated, often belong to a racial minority, and often have a criminal record.  “Police know that no one cares about these people,” Mr. Keane explained.
— From “Why Police Lie Under Oath”

St. Martin’s Guide: “Integrating Sources into Your Writing” (3.13)

A good seating arrangement can prevent problems; however, “withitness,” as defined by Woolfolk, works even better: Withitness is the ability to communicate to students that you are aware of what is happening in the classroom, that you “don’t miss anything.” With-it teachers seem to have “eyes in the back of their heads.” They avoid becoming too absorbed with a few students, since this allows the rest of the class to wander. (359)

In contrast to parentheses, dashes give more rather than less emphasis to the material they enclose. Many word-processing programs will automatically convert two typed hyphens into a solid dash (—).

Why do people travel?

 

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

— St. Augustine


Benning, Jim. “Interview with Henry Rollins: Punk Rock World Traveler.” World Hum. 11 Nov. 2011. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. 

The Traveller’s Companion: A Travel Anthology. The Century Co., 1932.

 

“Your Purpose,” continued …

Brooks: What Is Your Purpose?

As a result, many feel lost or overwhelmed. They feel a hunger to live meaningfully, but they don’t know the right questions to ask, the right vocabulary to use, the right place to look or even if there are ultimate answers at all.

As I travel on a book tour, I find there is an amazing hunger to shift the conversation. People are ready to talk a little less about how to do things and to talk a little more about why ultimately they are doing them.

This is true among the young as much as the older. In fact, young people, raised in today’s hypercompetitive environment, are, if anything, hungrier to find ideals that will give meaning to their activities. It’s true of people in all social classes. Everyone is born with moral imagination — a need to feel that life is in service to some good.

Brooks: What Is Your Purpose?

Brooks: First Steps

“I, too, … “

NYT: ‘I, Too, Am America’ Shares Snapshots From Workers Living on the Edge

Dream or Mirage?

Typography, typefaces, and typeface choices

The size and shape of fonts affects reading and comprehension to a much greater extent than most of us give them credit for — thus making them deeply rhetorical choices. We’ll talk about some of those differences in class and look at examples, including default fonts in your favorite word-processing program and in Digication. (more…)

Paragraph development & structure

[P] Every wolf in Yellowstone therefore is more than just a wolf. Imbued with profound symbolic meaning, each wolf embodies the divergent goals of competing social movements involved in the reintroduction debate. Framed by environmentalists and their wise use opponents as another line in the sand in their ongoing battle for the heart and soul of the West, wolf reintroduction is a high-stakes political conflict. [I] Wolf recovery is often portrayed by environmentalists as being symptomatic of a culture in transition–an inevitable change (Askins, 1995). It is an image that plays especially well with the media: “[T]he wolf issue pits the New West against the Old West” (Johnson, 1994, p. 12), a milestone in the “transformation of power” from the Old West (Brandon, 1995, p.8). [E] Wolf restoration clearly represents change, but sound bites that reduce the social struggle over wolves to an “inevitable” transition from the old to the new are inadequate. They do not explain the underlying social issues driving the transformation. They do not capture the essence of social negotiation, the give-and-take of political exchange between social movements struggling to define the western landscape. Nor do they acknowledge that these social issues will remain after the wolf controversy has exited the center stage of public policy discourse.

Wilson, Matthew. “The Wolf in Yellowstone: Science, Symbol, or Politics? Deconstructing the Conflict between Environmentalism and Wise Use.” Society & Natural Resources. 10(1997): 453-468. (more…)

Boredom, continued …

Preparing for Draft #2: Contextual Analyses

I’ve sent everyone feedback and/or met in Office Hours on your Contextual Analysis #1 drafts. They are looking good. Really good. In fact, most of the feedback was consistent and I can summarize it for you here:
  • Be sure to alert readers early that you are analyzing other people’s arguments and claims: some people claim this, some researchers imply that, some writers have suggested this, some psychologists have advocated that … see paragraph #2 here for a good example.
  • It is not wrong to think of a Contextual Analysis as a big comparison & contrast essay, in which you compare and contrast sources.
  • Having a contextual framework is really helpful on these projects, as it helps you to gather and structure your ideas even before you sit down to write, and it can help readers to understand your approach, structure, and analytic priorities. In fact, for many of you, that’s all you’re missing. 
In terms of logistics and planning:
  • I was able to make some adjustments, and your 2nd draft is now due Wednesday, the 6th, not Monday
  • Be sure to place your 2nd draft in a separate page — we need to be able to track the drafts and see changes between #1, #2, and #3 — keep them separate. This will pay off for you later.
  • Don’t hesitate to be in touch — with me, or with the Writing Center, or both — if you need any help!

And keep up the good work.

Brooks on “The Nature of Poverty”

The informal guardrails of life were gone, and all was arbitrary harshness.

That’s happened across many social spheres — in schools, families and among neighbors. Individuals are left without the norms that middle-class people take for granted. It is phenomenally hard for young people in such circumstances to guide themselves.

Yes, jobs are necessary, but if you live in a neighborhood, as Gray did, where half the high school students don’t bother to show up for school on a given day, then the problems go deeper.

The world is waiting for a thinker who can describe poverty through the lens of social psychology. Until the invisible bonds of relationships are repaired, life for too many will be nasty, brutish, solitary and short.

The Nature of Poverty

Bullshit

image title “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his [or her] share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, or attracted much sustained inquiry.

In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.” (p1) 

” … she is not concerned with the truth-value of what she says. That is why she cannot be regarded as lying; for she does not presume that she knows the truth, and therefore she cannot be deliberately promulgating a proposition that she presumes to be false: Her statement is grounded neither in a belief that it is true nor, as a lie must be, in a belief that it is not true. It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth — this indifference to how things really are — that I regard as of the essence of bullshit.” (p10) (more…)

Serendipitous Contextual Analysis Map

What’s the Best Way to Teach Sex Ed Today?

The News: A User’s Manual

Preface
 
1.
 
IT DOESN’T COME with any instructions, because it’s meant to be the most normal, easy, obvious and unremarkable activity in the world, like breathing or blinking.
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Two in the Sunday Review

Upshot, College for the Masses: The Benefits of a Degree
Richtel, Push, Don’t Crush, the Students

Preparing for our Research & Contextual Analyses

“I tell college students that by the time they sit down at the keyboard to write their essays, they should be at least 80 percent done. That’s because “writing” is mostly gathering and structuring ideas.” – David Brooks

In another New York Times Op-Ed, “Engaged or Detached?” Brooks claims that writers need to maintain a detached perspective in order to honestly inform their readers. Brooks defines the differences between a detached writer and an engaged writer as the difference between truth seeking and activism. The goals of an engaged writer are to have a limited “immediate political influence” while detached writers have more realistic goals, aiming to provide a more objective view.

Textual & Contextual Analysis

The etymology of “boredom”?

“Boredom” in English derives from the noun “bore” — but interestingly, even the OED doesn’t know the etymology:

Preliminary research sources

“Every wolf in Yellowstone therefore is more than just a wolf.”

Paragraph #2

Wolves in Yellowstone provide a potent metaphor for both opponents and proponents of federal land use management. Beasts of deeply held cultural myth, wolves are the ultimate symbol of wilderness and untamed nature. As such, wolves embody deep social passions that swirl around the issue of federal land use policy in the American West. On the one hand, environmental activists argue that the wolf is the last remaining link in a chain ecological restoration to a prehistoric time, a chance to restore the largest predator in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the its former glory when the shite man first came west. On the other hand, wise use activists argue that wolf reintroduction is primarily a strategy to gain increased social control over private property.

Paragraph #3

Every wolf in Yellowstone therefore is more than just a wolf. Imbued with profound symbolic meaning, each wolf embodies the divergent goals of competing social movements involved in the reintroduction debate. Framed by environmentalists and their wise use opponents as another line in the sand in their ongoing battle for the heart and soul of the West, wolf reintroduction is a high-stakes political conflict. Wolf recovery is often portrayed by environmentalists as being symptomatic of a culture in transition–an inevitable change (Askins, 1995). It is an image that plays especially well with the media: “[T]he wolf issue pits the New West against the Old West” (Johnson, 1994, p. 12), a milestone in the “transformation of power” from the Old West (Brandon, 1995, p.8). Wolf restoration clearly represents change, but sound bites that reduce the social struggle over wolves to an “inevitable” transition from the old to the new are inadequate. They do not explain the underlying social issues driving the transformation. They do not capture the essence of social negotiation, the give-and-take of political exchange between social movements struggling to define the western landscape. Nor do they acknowledge that these social issues will remain after the wolf controversy has exited the center stage of public policy discourse.

Wilson, Matthew. “The Wolf in Yellowstone: Science, Symbol, or Politics? Deconstructing the Conflict between Environmentalism and Wise Use.” Society & Natural Resources. 10(1997): 453-468.

A Well Cultivated Critical Thinker:

  • Raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
  • Gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it, effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • Thinks open mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, ideologies, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • Communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism. – Adapted from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008

“A persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends.” Edward M. Glaser.An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking. 1941.

When the New York Times discovered pizza (1944)

Analyzing “The Middle Class”

From “Middle Class, but Feeling Economically Insecure”

I am always on the lookout for instances when New York Times writers reference or gesture toward work done in academic disciplines — and your majors — especially when it’s deployed as having explanatory power, which is the case here:

“Middle income is not necessarily the same thing as middle class,” said Rakesh Kochhar, a senior research associate at Pew. Even as the proportion of households in the middle-income brackets has narrowed, people’s identification with the middle class remains broad.”

“That’s because the middle-class label is as much about aspirations among Americans as it is about economics. But a perspective that was once characterized by comfort and optimism has increasingly been overlaid with stress and anxiety.”

“Part of the reason has to do with lost jobs and stagnating incomes. At the same time, the psychological frame — how Americans feel about their security and prospects — and the sociological — how they stack up in relation to their parents, friends, neighbors and colleagues — are just as important as purely economic criteria. And on both these counts, middle-class Americans say they are feeling increasingly vulnerable.”

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Better memorize this, in case it’s on the final

NYT: Chris Christie and the Lane Closings: A Spectator​’s Guide


Sunday Review, 4/5

Efferent, Aesthetic, and Foraging Reading Practices

Louise Rosenblatt explains  that readers approach texts in ways that can be viewed as aesthetic or efferent. The question is why the reader is reading and what the reader aims to get out of the reading:

  • Efferent reading: reading to take away particular bits of information, such as when reading most textbooks.  We are not usually interested in the rhythms of the language or the prose style but focused on obtaining a piece of information.  Rosenblatt suggests that, “the reader’s attention is primarily focused on what will remain as a residue after the reading — the information to be acquired, the logical solution to a problem, the actions to be carried out.” An example would be a deep-sea fishing guide to decide where to go fishing, or a textbook to learn about the economic causes of the Great Depression. 

    A New York Times example might be reading Market News.

  • Aesthetic reading: reading to explore the work, the world, and one’s self: “in aesthetic reading, the reader’s attention is centered directly on what she is living through during her relationship with that particular text.” An example would be reading Hemingway’s Old Man and The Sea to live through a deep-sea fishing adventure, or the Grapes of Wrath to plumb the emotional depths of living through the Great Depression. One would not read the Old Man and The Sea to learn how to deep-sea fish, nor the Grapes of Wrath to examine the economic factors that caused the Great Depression.

    A New York Times example might be Jameson’s Mark My Words. Maybe. 

But now, in the 21st century:

  • Reading as foraging? Foraging, according to Keller, is “a purposeful wandering across texts, evaluating and possibly gathering and using materials along the way.”

Habits of Mind

Habits of mind refers to ways of approaching learning that are both intellectual and practical and that will support your success in a variety of fields and disciplines. The framework identifies eight habits of mind essential for success in college writing

  • Curiosity: the desire to know more about the world. In our class, that might mean challenging yourself and stretching yourself intellectually to think beyond the obvious and inquire into issues and contexts to which you might be blind .
  • Openness: the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world, rather than merely clinging to what you already believe to be true or not true; in our class, that includes critical thinking
  • Engagement: a sense of investment and involvement in learning; in our class, that includes focused reading of the New York Times and your contributions to the intellectual life of our class
  • Creativity: the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas; in our class, that includes brainstorming, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
  • Persistence: the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects; developing mental discipline and rising up to challenges, rather than backing away from them. 
  • Responsibility: the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others; in our class, that includes practicing good time management, and identifying and using resources available to you — office hours, the Writing Center, each other.
  • Flexibility: the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands.
  • Metacognition: the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge: thinking about thinking and writing about writing.

Welcome to WRD104

“We are what we find, not what we search for.” – Piero Scaruffi

Spring Quarter, 2015 

In WRD 104 we focus on the kinds of academic and public writing that use materials drawn from research to shape defensible arguments and plausible conclusions. As the second part of the two-course sequence in First Year Writing, WRD 104 continues to explore relationships between writers, readers, and texts in a variety of technological formats and across disciplines:

  • How does specific text content gain acceptance and prominence?
  • What counts as “true” within the discipline, and who makes that determination? Why?
  • How do particular text genres gain acceptance and prominence?
  • What are considered “legitimate” modes of inquiry within the discipline?
  • How do the content, genres, and modes of inquiry within a discipline affect the social relations of participants in the disciplinary community?

You’ll be happy to note, I hope, that we build on your previous knowledge and experiences; that is, we don’t assume that you show up here a blank slate. We assume that you have encountered interesting people, have engaging ideas, and have something to say. A good writing course should prepare you to take those productive ideas into other courses and out into the world, where they belong, and where you can defend them and advocate for them.

If you have a project from another course that you would like to continue, or a community project that would benefit from rigorous research, or a professional aspiration that needs research-based support, this is the course for you.

Writing Center 

It’s no secret around here that students who take early and regular advantage of DePaul’s Center for Writing-based Learning not only do better in their classes, but also benefit from the interactions with the tutors and staff in the Center.