WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image

Critical Thinking

Thinking & Writing

NYT Book Review: A Guide to Writing Guides (5/19)

Course keyword brainstorming for portfolio development

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Argument, Persuasion, or Propaganda?

Reasons & Purposes for Arguing and Persuading

Arguing to convince: claim + support

More often than not, out-and-out defeat of another is not only unrealistic but also undesirable. Rather, the goal is to convince other persons that they should change their minds about an issue. A writer must provide reasons so compelling that the audience willingly agrees with the writer’s conclusion. Such is the goal of advocates of assisted suicide: they well know that they cannot realistically hope to defeat or conquer those who oppose such acts. Rather, they understand that they must provide reasons compelling enough to change people’s minds.

Arguing to understand: stasis & truth seeking

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 alternative. The Rogerian and invitational forms of argument both call for understanding as a major goal of arguing. Argument to understand does not seek to conquer or control others or even to convince them. Your purpose in many situations—from trying to decide which job to pursue to exploring with your family the best way to care for an elderly relative—will be to share information and perspectives in order to make informed political, professional, and personal choices.

Arguing to change yourself: Exploratory Essay 

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. If you know a familiar mantra or prayer, for example, think of what it “argues” for and how it uses quiet meditation to help achieve that goal.

leaf

“But, as we’ve already suggested [invitational rhetoric], arguing isn’t always about winning or even about changing others’ views. In addition to invitational argument, another school of argument-called Rogerian argument, after the psychotherapist Carl Rogers-is based on finding common ground and establishing trust among those who disagree about issues, and on approaching audiences in nonthreatening ways. Writers who follow Rogerian approaches seek to understand the perspectives of those with whom they disagree, looking for “both/and” or “win/win” solutions (rather than “either/or” or “win/lose” ones) whenever possible. Much successful argument today follows such principles, consciously or not.” 

— From Andrea Lunsford, Everyone’s an Author 

Print & Digital Reading

Lieber/NYT: As College Deadlines Near, Families Wonder What They Can Pay

Griswold et al, “Reading and the Reading Class in the Twenty-First Century” Annual Review of Sociology. 2005. 31:127–41.

Griswold, W. (2001). “The Ideas of the Reading Class.” Contemporary Sociology, 30, 4-6.

Editorial Peer Review Feedback

Lunsford, SMH p. 81

Integrating and editing sources & quotations

Lunsford, “Top 20”

Paragraph development and transitions

Fully developed and coherent paragraphs have these identifiable characteristics: 

[P] Point, like a topic sentence
[I] Illustration, which might be data, a quote, an example, a story; the range of possibilities is pretty wide 
[E] Explication, which is your commentary or explanation

[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…)

Assessing sources for credibility

Sent by Jumma:

  • How would you assess the article’s credibility and authority?
  • What questions would you ask?
  • If you were writing about terrorists and terrorism, how could you use this article?

Thank you, Jumma!

“Writer’s Block”

Definition: “An inability to begin or continue writing for reasons other than a lack of skill or commitment

Possible causes:

  • Subconscious awareness and overly rigid “rules” — such as a rule against sentence fragments or how to compose paragraph transitions
  • Too-early editing: a writer begins criticizing and altering a text before there is enough of a rough draft to evaluate
  • Inflexible composing strategies
  • Fear of evaluation
  • Insecurity

Rose, Mike. “Rigid Rules, Inflexible Plans, and the Stifling of Language: A Cognitivist Analysis of Writer’s Block.” College Composition and Communication 31.4 (1980): 389-401. Print.

Latinx

Followup from Wednesday, a definition of Latinx:

North American

A person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina)

 

‘the books share stories of the civil rights struggle for African Americans, Latinxs, and LGBTQ people’

‘a career network for Latinx who are looking for jobs’

Preparing for Editorial Peer Reviews

Early-stage drafts: Your draft #1

Writers of early-stage drafts need direction and options, not editing that focuses on grammar or punctuation. Your goal as a peer reviewer of an early draft is to help the writer think of ways to expand on the ideas. Pose questions and offer examples that will help the writer think of new ways to approach the topic. Try to help the writer imagine what the final draft might be like.

Approach commenting on and marking up an early draft with three types of questions in mind:

  • Fit. How does this draft fit the assignment? In what areas might the writer struggle to meet the criteria? How does this draft fit the audience? What else does the writer need to remember about the audience’s expectations and needs?
  • Potential. What ideas in this draft are worth developing more? What other ideas or details could inform the argument? Are there other viewpoints on this topic that the writer should explore?
  • Order. Considering only the parts that are worth keeping, what sequence do you recommend? What new sections do you think need to be added?

Intermediate-stage drafts: Your draft #2

Writers of intermediate-stage drafts need to know where their claims lack sufficient evidence, what ideas confuse readers, and how their approach misses its target audience. They also need to know which parts of their drafts are clear and well written.

Approach commenting on and marking up an intermediate draft with these types of questions in mind:

  • Topic sentences and transitions. Topic sentences introduce the idea of a paragraph, and transitions move the writing smoothly from one paragraph or section or idea to the next (5b, e, and f). How well does the draft prepare readers for the next set of ideas by explaining how they relate to the overall claim? Look for ideas or details that don’t seem to fit into the overall structure of the draft. Is the idea or detail out of place because it is not well integrated into this paragraph? If so, recommend a revision or a new transition. Is it out of place because it doesn’t support the overall claim? If so, recommend deletion.
  • Supporting details. Well-developed paragraphs and arguments depend on supporting details (5c and d). Does the writer include an appropriate number and variety of details? Could the paragraph be improved by adding another example, a definition, a comparison or contrast, a cause-effect relationship, an analogy, a solution to a problem, or a personal narrative?

Late-stage drafts: Your draft #3

Writers of late-stage drafts need help with first and last impressions, sentence construction, word choice, tone, and format. Their next step is proofreading (4l), and your job as a peer reviewer is to call attention to the sorts of problems writers need to solve before submitting their final work. Your comments and markings should identify the overall strengths of the draft as well as one or two weaknesses that the writer can reasonably improve in a short amount of time.

St. Martin’s Handbook, 72-3

“…people that think it’s OK to major in dance.”

KATZ: What was it like trying to find common ground with the people that you went to school with? Like, I come from a poor family, and suddenly I’m going to be going to school with people that think it’s OK to major in dance.

LATTIMORE: You’re right (laughter).

KATZ: And maybe it is. But from my standpoint, I could never imagine going to school for something that couldn’t have a job at the end of it.

College Is A 4-Year-Long Balancing Act For First-Generation Students 

Good context for today’s Frank Bruni Op-Ed, “Lifting Kids to College.”

“A bit like the Supreme Court …”

“The Times’s editorial page is a bit like the Supreme Court: Its opinions set the framework for the national debate, and its members tend to stay there for decades. So Stephens’s beliefs are about to have a big impact on the national discourse — even as his new employer sells newspapers by marketing itself as a leading vanguard of the anti-Trump resistance.”

Stein, The NYT’s new columnist defends his views on Arabs, Black Lives Matter, campus rape

Values-based persuasion (Brooks)

“This Western civ narrative came with certain values — about the importance of reasoned discourse, the importance of property rights, the need for a public square that was religiously informed but not theocratically dominated. It set a standard for what great statesmanship looked like. It gave diverse people a sense of shared mission and a common vocabulary, set a framework within which political argument could happen and most important provided a set of common goals.”

David Brooks: The Crisis of Western Civ

Probably

Adam, Eve, Love, and Stephanie’s Contextual Analysis

Here’s the book review that serendipitously addresses Stephanie’s Inquiry Question:

Romantic love is a myth. You don’t choose a partner because you love him. You love that partner because you chose him. Which explains the plague of our time. Too many choices, too many channels, too many potential hookups — it’s made it just about impossible to choose, and if it’s just about impossible to choose, it’s just about impossible to love, and if it’s just about impossible to love, then, according to “The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us,” by Bruce Feiler, it’s just about impossible to be fully human. Why were Adam and Eve able to love each other so fiercely? Because those lucky bastards had no choice.

The closing lines of Paradise Lost we read in class:

Som natural tears they drop’d, but wip’d them soon; 
The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way.

Contextual Analysis Projects

  • Stephanie A.: TBA
  • Henry B.: “How is the Concept of Race Taught in Schools?”
  • Georgia B.: TBA
  • Andrea B.: “What is the Current Debate on Animal Rights?”
  • Deja C.: “What is the Relationship between Athletes and Performance Enhancing Drugs?”
  • Lexi F.: “Is there a Link between Fashion and Low Self Esteem in Young Women?”
  • Jumma G.: “What is a Terrorist?”
  • Ellen G. “What is Creativity?”
  • Adam G. “What is Loneliness?”
  • Jamie: TBA
  • Liv.H.: “What is Optimism?”
  • Isabelle J.: “Does our Relationship to Food Mimic our Relationship to Romantic Love?”
  • Raina K.: “What are the Stigmas of Mental Illness?”
  • Cameron K.: “Is there a Psychological Factor in Inequality?”
  • Michael L.: “What Impact does the Meat Industry have on our Environment?”
  • Jennifer L.: “What is an Immigrant?”
  • Salvatore: “What Kind of Culture Produces a 19 year-old who Doesn’t Care about Anything?”
  • Katlyn M.: “Where does Confidence Come From?”
  • Stephanie N.: “How is Romantic Love Different than Companionate Love?” 
  • Katie P.: “How are Students with ADHD Affected by Formalized Education?” 
  • Markiyan P.: “What has the Partisan Divide Done to our Country?”
  • Juan S.: “Are Athletes Born or Made?”
  • Lucy W.: “Are Americans Over-Medicated?”

Contextual Analysis Proposal Criteria Checklist

checkmarkYour issue and inquiry question are debatable; we can find credible sources where people take different and plausible positions on them

checkmarkYour issue and inquiry question affect you in some demonstrable way; your proximity to the issue is close

checkmarkYour proposal articulates the relevance of the project, and to whom it might be relevant

checkmarkYour proposal includes two Rhetorical Précis

checkmarkYour proposal includes a visual representation of your inquiry question and groups who might have a stake in it

Contextual Analysis Project Resoures

In the spirit of problem solving and self-regulated learning, here’s what we brainstormed in class yesterday:

It’ll be smart of you to track your progress at every stage of our process so that you can both self-assess and know when & where to identify resources for help. Depending on your own process, this might look different for different people: 

  • Brainstorming (SMH 44-5)
  • Initial Research (SMH 190-260): what’s the landscape?
  • Draft (Lamott)
  • More research
  • Revise: overall, “global,” big-picture issues: tone, level of detail, does it accomplish the assignment? 
  • Get feedback (SMH 66-76)
  • Revise more
  • Research more
  • Edit (SMH 87-88): for us, so far, this has meant paragraph development and transitions
  • Get more feedback
  • Revise more
  • Proofread (SMH 1-11); Lunsford, “Top Twenty Errors”
  • Formatting/Presentation — academic essay genre conventions

Page A1 photography

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

It’s also a good case study in the integration of sources and quotes:

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.

Follow-up Notes

For those of you who would like to follow-up on some points from last week: 

We talked about how sometimes the “debate” politicians are having often seems like a debate about something else. From “Do Tax Cuts Really Spur Growth? It Depends on the Details,” this serendipitous detail:

Indeed, you could argue that the liberals’ and conservatives’ differences on taxes is less a technocratic debate over optimal taxation but a proxy war for a bigger philosophical argument on the role of government.

“A lot of the debate about taxes is really a debate about spending,” said Leonard E. Burman, who studies tax policy at the Urban Institute. “What is the role of government, and what is the value of government spending? Those tend to be the real underlying question.”

“Chase Had Ads on 400,000 Sites. Then on Just 5,000. Same Results.”

“As of a few weeks ago, advertisements for JPMorgan Chase were appearing on about 400,000 websites a month. It is the sort of eye-popping number that has become the norm these days for big companies that use automated tools to reach consumers online.”

“Now, as more and more brands find their ads popping up next to toxic content like fake news sites or offensive YouTube videos, JPMorgan has limited its display ads to about 5,000 websites it has preapproved, said Kristin Lemkau, the bank’s chief marketing officer. Surprisingly, the company is seeing little change in the cost of impressions or the visibility of its ads on the internet, she said. An impression is generally counted each time an ad is shown.”

6 Reasons You May Not Graduate on Time

“Graduating from a four-year college in four years may sound like a fairly straightforward venture, but only 41 percent of students manage to do it.

Tomaselli’s Collages

… a lucid and thoughtful argument that speaks directly to the issues

“In my “Political Development of Western Europe” course this semester, which is essentially an extended reflection on the origins of fascism and democracy, students are writing their first papers. The last paragraph of my instructions reads as it has throughout my nearly three decades of teaching at both Harvard and Middlebury: “I am looking for a lucid and thoughtful argument that speaks directly to the issues raised in the question and is supported with historical evidence from the assigned readings or our class discussions. Careful comparative analysis cannot help but make your argument more persuasive.”

“While students must always first demonstrate that they understand an argument on its own terms, I make sure they know that they are free to disagree, both with a particular text and with me. I will grade them on the strength of their argument and the evidence they muster in support of it, not the conclusions they may reach. With these maxims, students not only write better papers, they also learn skills that arm them to fight injustice in all its manifestations.”

Stanger, “Middlebury, My Divided Campus”

Self regulated learning

“At one time or another, we have all observed self-regulated learners. They approach educational tasks with confidence, diligence, and resourcefulness. Perhaps most importantly, self-regulated learners are aware when they know a fact or possess a skill and when they do not. Unlike their passive classmates, self-regulated students proactively seek out information when needed and take the necessary steps to master it. When they encounter obstacles such as poor study conditions, confusing teachers, or abstruse textbooks, they find a way to succeed. Self-regulated learners view acquisition as a systematic and controllable process, and they accept greater responsibility for their achievement outcomes.” (Zimmerman, 1990.)

The Wikipedia entry on self-regulated learning makes a connection to metacognition.

Happy International Fact Checking Day

Signal verbs

Useful for articulating what the writer is doing in your Rhetorical Précis — some of these are rhetorically active verbs — most are not:

St. Martin’s Handbook, p. 235

Welcome to WRD 104

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

Spring Quarter, 2017

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.

Critical Thinking Contexts for our Class, for College, and for Life

Unclear writing, now as always, stems from unclear thinking–both of which ultimately have political and economic implications. 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, 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.

Chaffee’s Definition of Critical Thinking

Critical thinkers are people who have developed thoughtful and well-founded beliefs that guide their choices in every area of their lives. In order to develop the strongest and most accurate beliefs possible, you need to become aware of your own biases, explore situations from many different perspectives, and develop sound reasons to support your points of view. These abilities are the tools you need to become more enlightened and reflective “critical thinker” (p. 28). For Chaffee, critical thinking involves the following:

  • Carefully analyzing and evaluating your beliefs in order to develop the most accurate beliefs possible.
  • Viewing situations from different perspectives to develop an in-depth understanding.
  • Supporting viewpoints with reasons and evidence to arrive at thoughtful, well-substantiate conclusions.
  • Thinking critically about our personal “lenses,” which shape and influence the way we perceive the world.
  • Synthesizing information into informed conclusions that we are willing to modify based on new insight. (p. 35)

[From The Thinker’s Way by John Chaffee, Boston: Little, Brown, 1998]

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.