WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image


“It obscures the fact that there is a vast educational culture in this country, unlike anything else in the world. It emerged from a glorious sense of the possible and explored and enhanced the possible through the spread of learning. If it seems to be failing now, that may be because we have forgotten what the university is for, why the libraries are built like cathedrals and surrounded by meadows and flowers. They are a tribute and an invitation to the young, who can and should make the world new, out of the unmapped and unbounded resource of their minds.”

— Marilynne Robinson 


June 5, 2016

Toward perfection

Page A1, above the fold, upper right

This is Water

It’s easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people’s two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy’s interpretation is true and the other guy’s is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person’s most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there’s the whole matter of arrogance.

The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They’re probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties.

Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.

Week 10 notes: Tuesday/Thursday

Tuesday Notes

Upcoming events

Discussion notes

One of the biggest challenges in critical thinking is how to access and understand the experiences of others.

You have powerful tools in your rhetorical quiver now:

  • The ability to distinguish between assertion, argument, persuasion, and propaganda
  • How — and why — to put an issue into context
  • How to assess your own biases, assumptions, ideologies, and how they affect what you are doing, thinking, and writing
  • Which of your assumptions are you most skeptical about?
  • Stasis 
  • Writing in order to make something happen

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives” — Audre Lorde


Extra portfolio office hours, for feedback and for those of you traveling during Final Exam Week and who want to turn yours in early:
    • Sunday, June 5th, 1:00-3:00 p.m. (300 SAC)
    • Monday June 6th, 10:00a.m.-2:00 p.m.
    • Tuesday June 7th, 10:00a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Thursday Notes

Update on recent campus events?

Portfolio Scoring Guide & Self Assessment

  • Essay structure with links
  • Multiple examples
  • Paragraph development
May 30, 2016

Writing with precision

Letters to the Editor in response to “It’s No Accident: Call It a Car ‘Crash’ Instead, Advocates Insist”

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, “To Make Oneself Eternal,” from A Free and Ordered Space.

“The American university constantly challenges the capacity of individuals to associate in a spirit of free inquiry, with a decent respect for the opinion of others. Its values are those of free, rational, and humane investigation and behavior. Its faith, constantly renewed and ever vulnerable, holds that if its values are sufficiently respected within, their growth will be encouraged without. Its purpose is to teach those who wish to learn, learn from those it teaches, foster research and original thought, and, through its students and faculty, disseminate that knowledge and transmit those values of responsible civic and intellectual behavior. That purpose can never become the captive of any single ideology or dogma. Nor can it be taken for granted.” Yale President A. Bartlett Giamatti, Inaugural Address, 14 October 1978.

Giamatti went on to become the  Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

“We are past being a literate culture and are now a visual culture”

Related to our discussion of “establishment” or mainstream political rhetorical traditions and emerging Alt-right discourse:

Twitter user @Ricky_Vaughn99, who is among the most vitriolic and impactful of the alt-righters (at least in terms of retweets and mentions), exhibited a shrewd understanding of the fury that is powering insurgencies on the left and right. “There is definitely anger among the youth,” he told me in a Twitter direct message. “The Bernie people are angry. The #BlackLivesMatter people are angry.”

But what distinguishes this from the anger of other generations, the fact that “people are always angry,” in Brent Boyea’s terms?

At least in part, it comes down to the way that this anger can be showcased. “We are past being a literate culture and are now a visual culture,” said @Ricky_Vaughn99. “Obama understood this, and so does Trump.”

For Vaughn and other trolls, a meme-able moment is worth millions of words. Most of the alt-rigthers with whom I spoke cited Trump’s immigration rhetoric as opening the “Overton Window”—the range of discourse about which public conversation is permissible—to more extreme points of view. This, in fact, is what many perceive to be Trump’s lasting legacy: even if he doesn’t prevail in the general election, he opens the possibility of heretofore unspeakable ideas being entertained by future politicians.

And the terms “rhetoric” and “discourse” show up in close proximity in one paragraph:

The alt-right understands the inexpensive power of this kind of discourse, given that they have been honing their skills in internet flame wars for most of their lives. Those seeking to contest and defeat such hateful rhetoric should, too. However, such a victory over the nascent political trolling culture may entail more face to face meetings and civil conversations with angry, disenfranchised individuals who harbor some beliefs we find abhorrent.

Vice: Understanding Trump’s Troll Army


I was walking down Sheffield this afternoon looking for a protest to join, and ran into Odisho, our local NYT delivery driver, dropping off our final SQ papers. 

He’s really a great guy — recently immigrated from Iraq, and starts his Saturdays 30 minutes earlier than usual (2:30 a.m.!) so that DePaul students are guaranteed a Saturday delivery. Every time I try to thank him or treat him to a coffee he brushes me off — “reading and learning are important. My father used to read the newspaper to me every day in Baghdad.”

So there’s that.

May 29, 2016

Memorial Day

Originally called Decoration Day, from the early tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags, Memorial Day is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our country. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Union sailors and soldiers.

During that first national celebration, former Union Gen. and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.

Via PBS: The History of Memorial Day

May 27, 2016

Three gatekeepers

May 26, 2016

Corporate America Chases the Mythical Millennial

If you’re reading this article voluntarily, you’re probably not a millennial, because everyone knows millennials don’t read news. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance you look down on millennials. Perhaps you consider them entitled, indulgent, needy and a little too much to bear — or maybe you’re simply skeeved by their weird headgear, strange hieroglyphs and intricate courtship rituals

I can predict all this because I work in the news media, and one of the primary functions of the media these days is to traffic in gleefully broad generalizations and criticisms of millennials, the more than 75 million Americans born about 1980 to 2000. Although millennials are now the largest demographic group in the country (sorry, boomers), and though they are more racially diverse than any other generation in American history, they are often depicted on TV, in movies and music, and in the news (including The New York Times) as a collectively homogeneous cliché.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in corporate America, especially in the technology industry, which has long been obsessed with the dubious idea that young people are in the cultural vanguard.

Corporations like LinkedIn and Oracle are now hiring an army of “millennial consultants” who charge as much as $20,000 an hour for their expertise on how to manage and market to young people, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

Corporate America Chases the Mythical Millennial

May 25, 2016

Ferris Bueller, 30 year anniversary

May 24, 2016

Rick Santorum At DePaul

Tuesday, May 31 at 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Update from YAF and CR: everyone coming to the Rick Santorum event on Tuesday, 5/31 should RSVP on Facebook and Eventbrite. Admission is first come, first serve if RSVPs exceed the capacity of the room. 

Please also note that the location of the event has changed- it will now be held at the DePaul University Lincoln Park Campus Welcome Center- 2400 North Sheffield Avenue.

Presented by DePaul Young Americans for Freedom (YAF):
Former senator Rick Santorum will be speaking about free speech, safe spaces, and traditional values, specifically addressing the current state of higher education.

More info here.

May 22, 2016

Researching Katelyn’s question: why is my generation referred to as “entitled”?

For example, millennials’ perceived entitlement isn’t a result of overprotection but an adaptation to a world of abundance. “For almost all of human history, almost everyone was a small-scale farmer. And then people were farmers and factory workers. Nobody gets very much fulfillment from either of those things,” says Jeffrey Arnett, a psychology professor at Clark University

[…] In fact, a lot of what counts as typical millennial behavior is how rich kids have always behaved. The Internet has democratized opportunity for many young people, giving them access and information that once belonged mostly to the wealthy.

So the great thing is that they do feel entitled to all of this, so they’ll be more innovative and more willing to try new things and they’ll do all this cool stuff.” 

Time: Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation: Why millennials will save us all 

Morrow (2008) has developed a theoretical framework delineating the origins of the mindset of entitlement displayed by Millenials. His research highlights the fact that members of this generation tend to have had child centered parents who exhibited a “trophies for all” attitude in what were previously competitive activities. Such parental attitudes and behaviors create unrealistic expectations by the children who are often unable to comprehend that not everyone wins and that their efforts may often result in failure.

Morrow also addresses the phenomenon of “helicopter parents”, or those parents who “hover” over their children and impede a child’s development of a good sense of independence and responsibility. This practice may have contributed to the Millenial’s risk adversity and fear of ambiguity (Hershatter & Epstein, 2010).

A Study of the Cognitive Determinants of Generation Y’s Entitlement Mentality 
The increases in self-esteem and narcissism indicate that self-centredness and self-love are rising. Are these good or bad for society? Narcissistic individuals are said to have poor empathy and, not surprisingly, favour themselves over others and tend to over-react to criticism. Twenge calls this Generation Me. These changes lead to the perception of an Age of Entitlement. Trzesniewski and Donnellan (2010) showed that the younger generation was becoming more materialistic. Becoming more materialistic with increased self-esteem may indicate moving towards an age of entitlement
Age of entitlement and the young: Implications for social psychiatry
May 20, 2016

Congratulations, Ashley!

Ashley’s letter was published in today’s New York Times:

First Dates: FYI

First dates can be awkward; they’re basically job interviews with alcohol. In fact, one date seemed exactly like a job interview. I was out with a guy who works in advertising, as I do, and all he wanted to talk about was the cost of full-page ads in magazines.

People say and do weird stuff on first dates. Another guy didn’t take off his clip-in bike shoes; between his gait and the clicking of his shoes, it sounded as if a horse were approaching every time he walked across the hardwood floor from the bar.

We were at the Bell House in Brooklyn, and after his second beer, he lay down across the couch where he was sitting and stayed like that for a while, with his bike shoes propped up on the arm of the couch. Then he put drops in his eyes. When he sat back up, the drops made it look as if there were tears rolling down his face.

I asked if everything was O.K., and he looked at me as if I were the crazy one.

NYT/Modern Love: Single Woman Seeking Manwich

Empathetic Listening

Empathetic Listening is a technique that can help you manage and avoid disruptive and assaultive behaviors. The foundation of the technique can be summarized in 5 simple steps.

  • Provide the speaker with your undivided attention.This is one time “multi-tasking” or “rapid refocus” will get you in trouble.
  • Be non-judgemental. Don’t minimize or trivialize the speakers issue.
  • Read the speaker. Observe the emotions behind the words. Is the speaker angry, afraid, frustrated or resentful. Respond to the emotion as well as the words.
  • Be Quiet. Don’t feel you must have an immediate reply. Often if you allow for some quiet after the speaker has vented, they themselves will break the silence and offer a solution.
  • Assure your understanding. Ask clarifying questions and restate what you perceive the speaker to be saying.

Following these procedural steps will place you in a better situation for addressing the key issue.

Via LifeHack

Empathic listening is attempting to understand the other person. You engage in empathic listening by using both mindfulness, which is being “fully engaged in the moment,” and empathy, which is the ability to perceive another person’s worldview.

And see Empathy and Empathetic Listening.


May 19, 2016

Appendix A: The Ideological Consistency Scale

1:00 section, here’s the Pew Research Appendix A: The Ideological Consistency Scale that we looked at in class:

For context: referenced in A Wider Ideological Gap Between More and Less Educated Adults (Pew, April 26, 2016):

Throughout this report we utilize a scale composed of 10 questions asked on Pew Research Center surveys going back to 1994 to gauge the extent to which people offer mostly liberal or mostly conservative views across a range of political value dimensions. In short, while there is no ex-ante reason for people’s views on diverse issues such as the social safety net, homosexuality and military strength to correlate, these views have a traditional “left/right” association, and the scale measures this growing correlation over time.

May 18, 2016

Reading process description: “Are Texts That Display Differently Different Texts?”

For Obama, an Unexpected Legacy of Two Full Terms at War 

Device #1: Print

Just out of habit, I always look to see what article is on Page A1, above the fold, upper-right-hand corner, of the New York Times every day, working under the assumption that the editors have deemed it an important story. That spot — above the fold, upper-right-hand corner — is usually reserved for breaking news of importance: a scandal, war-related news, politics, a new virus. “For Obama, an Unexpected Legacy of Two Full Terms at War” seemed at first glance an analysis, not breaking news, and a historical analysis at that. I skimmed the first few paragraphs and then moved inside the Sunday paper, which is my usual practice (Starbucks, 7:15 a.m., window seat at the counter) because I want to see what is in the Sunday Review, the Styles section, and in the Sunday Magazine. 

This is a kind of slow, reflective reading time for me. I watch people go by, read some, people-watch for a while, read some more, drink my coffee, day-dream, read some more, drink more coffee, and so on. 

Several hours later, in my office, I read the article more closely, underlining phrases that stood out to me, and highlighting a couple that seemed important. “Important” might be relative here: I have some prior knowledge that Obama campaigned for president as an anti-war candidate, and as a member of the state senate in Illinois took a public stand against the Iraq War in 2007.

One of the first details I noted is that Obama was not interviewed or quoted in the article, which is probably irrelevant because he’s not usually quoted in these kinds of articles, but as a reader, I did find myself wondering, what would he say? How would he respond? I also noticed a comparison and contrast, where the writer solicits views from Obama’s critics, and then in the next paragraph, discusses George Bush’s “visceral desire to win.”     

I found my interest and commitment to the article lagging right around the middle of it — “Seventeen months later, Mr. Obama halted the withdrawal…” — but because I was aware enough of that in the moment, I dug deep, as they say, and tapped into some persistence to finish. 

The accompanying image on p. 10 is notable — it gets as much space, almost 50% — as the text. And then within the image, which is really an interesting choice, we see the digital-screen version of Obama, rather than the on stage in-person Obama. The mural in the hall gets as much real estate as Obama, which cannot be by accident. (Found it! It’s an 85-foot mural by Henrik Sørensen, “The People at Work and Celebrating.” There went seven minutes of my life.) 

I also noticed in the back of my mind while reading:

  • We have some ideologically committed students in WRD104; I wonder how they might react to this article. I thought about this a lot while reading.
  • Still can’t reconcile its Page A1, above the fold, upper-right-hand corner placement.
  • Always recalling the quote “No one ever wins a war, and wars are never over. War never ends.”

Device #2: iPad


May 17, 2016

Carbon dioxide hits record high: Visual Rhetoric, 2 of 2

May 16, 2016

Are you happy yet? Visual Rhetoric, 1 of 2

Can we use first-person pronouns in our writing? Yes.

It seems to me that if it was good enough for Watson & Crick — they discovered the molecular structure of DNA, the Double Helix — then it’s good enough for you:

Watson, J. D., & Crick, F. H. C. (1953) A structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA). Nature 171, 737–738.

May 14, 2016

Blackgirl Blogs, Auto/ethnography, and Crunk Feminism

Growing up in rural North Carolina I could have gone my entire life without ever hearing the word “feminist.” The first time I heard it I didn’t know what it meant. It sounded awkward, vulgar, and derogatory, and when I was asked if I was a feminist it felt more like an accusation than a question. The inquiry came from a white woman professor in a graduate course who wanted a show of hands of those who affiliated with the term. Ignorant and confused I reacted the same way everyone around me did. I wrinkled my nose and squinted my eyes at the sound of the word, and felt offended at the assumption that I might be associated with it. When my white woman professor asked me if I was a feminist, she may as well have asked me if I was a bitch.


“By being auto/ethnographic, blogs gain credibility by incorporating cultural, social and political components into subjective personal reflections. Auto/ethnographic blogs are also useful because they have the capacity to inspire cultural criticism, call for political action, and initiate important discussions about social justice (Clough). Accordingly, auto/ethnographic blogs resonate with readers due to their realness, subjectivity, emotionality, vulnerability, reflexivity, and bravery. Blogs and auto/ethnography are emotionally intelligent texts whose success is largely determined by their capacity to instigate a reaction in readers, either resonance or response. Accordingly, auto/ethnographic blogs have the capacity to be life-changing and life-affirming, helping to make possible the change we want to see in the world (Holman Jones).”

Robin M. Boylorn, “Blackgirl Blogs, Auto/ethnography, and Crunk Feminism Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies Vol. 9, No. 2, April 2013

Revisiting critical thinking

  • Rationality: relying on reason rather than emotion; requiring support; ignoring claims without support; following claims and support where it leads; being more concerned about finding the best explanation than about being right; analyzing apparent confusion; and asking questions.
  • Metacognitive self-awareness: weighing the influences of your own motives, biases, assumptions, prejudices, and ideologies. For example, about which of your assumptions are you most skeptical?
  • Open-mindedness: evaluating all reasonable inferences; considering a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives; remaining open to alternative interpretations; accepting new explanations because they explain the evidence better, are simpler, or have fewer inconsistencies; accepting new priorities in response to re-evaluation of the evidence; and not rejecting unpopular views out of hand.
  • Judgement: recognizing the relevance and merit of alternative assumptions and perspectives and recognizing the with of evidence and support
  • Discipline: precise, meticulous, comprehensive, and exhaustive; resisting manipulation and irrational appeals; avoiding snap judgments.

I’ve highlighted the reason/emotion distinction, because I think it’s a problem — or, rather, an opportunity — to think about how we construct argumentative, persuasive, and invitational forms of rhetorical discourse.

Are Texts That Display Differently Different Texts?

A couple people have asked for more details on the “Are Texts That Display Differently Different Texts?” project for weeks 8 and 9, which is one option for your persuasive essay: http://composing.org/wrd104sq2016/persuasive-essay-a-researched-argument/.

Here’s what I’m thinking, and we can make adjustments along the way, based on our conversations and shared interests:

For the purposes of this project, we will need to engage the text as mindful readers

We will need to have a shared vocabulary in terms of reading experience and reading issues

Reading experience: this is the phenomenological part — what is your experience reading the article in print? Are you interested in the topic? Do you have any prior awareness of it? Did you read straight through, without stopping, or did you pause along the way to think about lunch, or to check your phone, or to daydream about summer, or to look up a word, or to take a nap, or to worry about something that’s still bugging you from high school? “Reading experience” refers to your real, actual genuine experience reading the article. Most of us read in fits and starts — capturing your reading experience includes trying to document your focus, persistence, curiosity, and those fits and starts. 

Reading issues: what device issues did you encounter? Was it smooth reading, or were there obstacles? Was there something you wanted to be able to do — annotate, highlight, look up a definition, save, recall, ask a question, share — that you could not, or where you encountered an obstacle? 

On Sunday, I’ll choose a NYT article for us, crossing my fingers that we’ll have something with plenty of text, links, images, and animations, and then over the next couple of weeks, we’ll write:

Reading in print: 200 +/- words reading-process description 

  • Reading experience:
  • Reading issues:

Reading via PDF: 200 words +/- reading-process description 

  • Reading experience:
  • Reading issues:

Reading on your phone: 200 words +/- reading-process description 

  • Reading experience:
  • Reading issues:

Reading on your laptop or desktop: 200 words +/- reading-process description 

  • Reading experience:
  • Reading issues:

Conclusion: “Are Texts That Display Differently Different Texts? The Role of the Device in the Making of Meaning.” 200 words.

Let me know if you have any questions or ideas!

May 13, 2016

Poll results

9:40 section — 21 participants:

1:00 section — 22 participants:

May 12, 2016

Transgender Fight in North Carolina May Hinge On 1964 Law

The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed after years of marches, beatings, sit-ins and lynchings, part of the convulsive change across the country that gave African-Americans the same rights that white citizens had to drink at water fountains, get jobs, buy homes, stay at hotels and vote. A creature of its time, the law prohibits discrimination because of “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

The word sex made it into the bill at the last minute, almost accidentally. It was inserted only after the drafting and congressional hearings, when the bill went to the House floor. Representative Howard W. Smith, a Virginia Democrat who opposed the bill, introduced an amendment adding sex discrimination, prompting laughter from his colleagues, who mockingly offered other suggested additions.

Despite speculation that Mr. Smith meant to weaken support for the bill — he said his concern for women was sincere — his amendment passed, and so did the act. The rights of transgender people never came up.

Transgender Fight in North Carolina May Hinge On 1964 Law (online edition headline)

Mulling 1964 Act’s 2016 reach (print edition headline)

May 11, 2016

‘She ate like a pig’: Arkansas Senate candidate uses Trump’s remarks about women against opponent

From the Washington Post: Democratic Arkansas Senate candidate Conner Eldridge uses Donald Trump’s remarks about women against his opponent in this campaign ad. Eldridge criticizes Sen. John Boozman (R) for stating that he would support Trump if he were the presidential nominee. (Conner Eldridge for Arkansas)

May 10, 2016

Portraits of America in the Selfie Age

Contextual Analyses feedback

There were some consistent patterns in the feedback I gave on 2nd drafts, so I thought I’d inlude it here:

  • Build your essay around the contextual points you want to make, and don’t let your sources organize your paper
  • Move up and down the “ladder of abstraction” — from generalization to varying levels of specific detail back to generalization
  • Integrate, summarize, analyze, explain, and evaluate your sources, putting them into conversation with each other, rather than merely reporting them.  For example, “David Brooks, a regular Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times argues that …” is there anything about Brooks’s ethos, ideology, or role as a public intellectual that can help you situate his argument rhetorically, and thus help you synthesize it or compare/contrast it with other sources? Don’t forget to use your good rhetorical summary & analysis skills here: what’s the argument? why does he make it? why now? for whom? in what kind of publication does it appear, who reads that publication, and what does that tell you about the argument? 
  • Make clear early in your essay  either implicitly or explicitly what kind of research project this is:  by analyzing the rhetoric of the climate change debate, and the [cultural, ideological, social, economic] values of those who study and write about it, we can learn a lot more about this timely issue … or something like that. Alerting your readers to your method and your framework positions you and your work as putting the issue into context — it helps readers follow what you’re doing.

Sample Contextual Analysis Abstracts

Tyler W. “Social Media Identity: A Contextual Analysis — Does social media promote identity branding among young people?”

Abstract: The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship between teenagers and their online identities. Social media has played a large aspect in the behavior and social structure of individuals in the Y and Z generations. Being known as the “tech-savvy” generation, social media has possibly influenced the formation of twisted self-identities among these technology educated teenagers. It seems as if more teenagers are using social media as an outlet for personal branding and self-promotion, and it is affecting the way their true identities are displayed and acknowledged by parents, sociologists, psychologists, educators, and most importantly their peers. What can we learn by analyzing young individuals interactions among social media and the effect it will have on their future social lifestyles? In my Contextual Analysis, I compared and contrasted how my sources represent those positions rhetorically and contextually, and I put sources into conversation with each other in order to take advantage of the powerful explanatory features of a contextual analysis.

Madison D. “How We Teach Sexual Education to Children: A Contextual Analysis”

Abstract: By using a social framework, this contextual analysis explains how we are teaching sexual education to children. The paper includes who cares about sexual education, how we are teaching sexual education to children in and out of an academic setting, age appropriate information, and looking at sexual education through different values lenses. Should we teach sexual education to children is not a debatable argument; how we are teaching sexual education to children, and the implications following certain ways of teaching, is the explored topic in this contextual analysis.

Margaret M. “Theories of Addiction: A Contextual Analysis”

Abstract: The concept of addiction is undeniably a reality, but what causes someone to become addicted, what defines an addict, and types of treatment have been widely disputed. The two major theories as to what causes addiction are the claim that addiction is a choice, and idea that it is a disease and/or a genetic disorder. While these are the most popular theories, there are other theories that look to spirituality, morals, and class divide as the cause. However, with each theory of addiction and each of its supporting evidence, evidence contradicting each claim accompanies it. Each person and their addictions are unique, making the hunt for one explanation of addiction difficult. This essay explores and compares different theories of addiction.

Sofia T. “Grief and Social Media”

Abstract: The purpose of my research is to identify the impact that social media has on grief, if it has any at all. I did this by reading and analyzing articles both from the popular press opinion sections and peer-­‐reviewed journal articles. The findings are conflicting. The scholarly articles claim that social media facilitates natural grieving practices and acts as a place to share emotions and find a community. The opinions from the popular press, however, are that grief expressed online is ingenuine and performative. They also mention the issues of grief tourism and RIP trolling. One interesting outcome of this research is learning that grief is not just an isolated, individual activity; it is, in fact, a community experience.

From the academic journal Computers & Composition (June 2016):

Colton, Revisiting Digital Sampling Rhetorics with an Ethics of Care


Rhetoric and composition studies have conceptualized and defined digital sampling as a method of composition in many ways and for various pedagogical purposes: from a means of free-play invention that is critical of more formalistic writing practices to a semiotic strategy rooted in African American rhetorical traditions designed to effect political change. The latter view is critical of the former in that the former does not account for student digital sampling projects that unquestioningly appropriate from other people and communities. This is a real pedagogical problem, but students can create unethical and hurtful digital sampling projects, no matter the assignment prompt. To supplement such free-play invention strategies and anticipate problematic student projects, this essay suggests to view digital sampling through a rhetorical ethics of care perspective and offers a pedagogical heuristic for ethical in(ter)vention through the concept of vulnerability. Considering digital sampling through a heuristic of vulnerability entails a questioning of all sampling practices as potential acts of wounding or caring in the hopes of helping students develop into more sophisticated rhetors capable of producing nuanced compositions and engaging with ethical issues of digital media.

Dadas, Messy Methods: Queer Methodological Approaches to Researching Social Media


This article sketches out a queer methodological approach for ethically researching social media websites such as Facebook. Detailing my experiences researching marriage equality on Facebook, I argue that queer theory can help researchers negotiate the public/private continuum that figures so heavily into digital research. During my study, I turned to queer theory to help me with ethical quandaries regarding my relationship with participants, recruitment, and data collection. I detail how, on the one hand, I identified as queer to potential participants, in an effort at being up-front with them; on the other hand, I grew uneasy that some of my Facebook friends would be confused by the fact that I was joining homophobic Facebook groups for the purpose of my research, and I opened up an additional Facebook account as a result. Ultimately, I argue that a queer methodology enables an understanding of how the public/private continuum influences multiple parts of the research process; complicates accepted methodological practices in productive ways; provides a productive lens for exploring social media as a research method.


May 5, 2016

Editorial Peer Reviews

Responding to intermediate-stage drafts

Writers of intermediate-stage drafts need to know where their contextual-analysis examples lack sufficient clarity, what ideas confuse readers, and how their approach misses the assignment goals. They also need to know which parts of their drafts are clear and well written.

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, d, and e). 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. 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). Does the writer include an appropriate number and variety of details? Could the paragraph be improved by adding another example, a definition, or a comparison or contrast?

Do you see any words, terms, or concepts that might benefit from an OED search? Sometimes a word’s history, etymology, and shifting meanings over time can add substantially to context. Are there places where the writer can narrow or broaden research? Is the writer writing in a compelling, professional, explanatory, or exploratory tone?


May 4, 2016

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.

May 3, 2016

Gillian Anderson (TTS ’90) in the NYT

In particular, you become conscious of a prescient feminist streak in “Streetcar,” a piercing awareness of a society that values its women according to youth and attractiveness. In this context, Blanche’s obsession with looking pretty acquires a sad emotional weight that tips into existential panic. “People don’t see you — men don’t — don’t even admit your existence unless they’re making love to you,” she says to Stella. “And you’ve got to have your existence admitted by someone.”

Review: A Darwinian ‘Streetcar’ With a Feminist Streak

May 2, 2016

Contextual Analysis Scoring Guide

Click here for scoring guide.

How College Students Are Sleeping … Or Not

Sleep has a big impact on learning. And not just when you do it in class. Sleep deprivation affects memory, cognition and motivation, and the effects are compounded when it’s long-term.

For those reasons, there’s been lots of interest in the education world in studying the sleep habits of children and adolescents. But until now, most sleep studies have been limited to short-term surveys with small numbers of participants.


Probably just bullshit

“Listen, Liberal …” (Book Review)

Frank’s book is an unabashed polemic, not a studious examination of policy or polling trends. In Frank’s view, liberal policy wonks are part of the problem, members of a well-educated elite that massages its own technocratic vanities while utterly missing the big question of the day. To Frank, that question hasn’t changed much over the last few centuries. “It is the eternal conflict of management and labor, owner and worker, rich and poor — only with one side pinned to the ground and the other leisurely pounding away at its adversary’s face,” he writes. Today, polite circles tend to describe this as the issue of “inequality.” Frank prefers an older formulation. “The 19th century understood it better: They called it ‘the social question,’ ” he writes, defined as “nothing less than the whole vast mystery of how we are going to live together.”

As Frank notes, today some people are living much better than others — and many of those people are not Republicans. Frank delights in skewering the sacred cows of coastal liberalism, including private universities, bike paths, microfinance, the Clinton Foundation, “well-meaning billionaires” and any public policy offering “innovation” or “education” as a solution to inequality.

May 1, 2016

Highly recommended readings

These aren’t on the syllabus, but:

Jill Lepore: After the Fact: In the history of truth, a new chapter begins. ” … for knowing how to know what’s true and what’s not.”

Teju Cole

NYTDonald Trump Says Transgender People Should Use the Bathroom They Want

Mr. Trump’s main rival for the Republican nomination, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, immediately seized on the “Today” show comments on several platforms, pushing out a statement from his campaign, assailing Mr. Trump’s remarks both on Glenn Beck’s radio program and at a rally in Maryland, and sending out this critical message on Twitter: “Common sense: grown men shouldn’t be in bathrooms w/ little girls.”

Speaking to Mr. Beck, Mr. Cruz said the country has “gone off the deep end” and the idea of so-called genderless bathrooms is “absurd.”

“My 5-year-old knows the difference between boys and girls,” Mr. Cruz said, referring to his younger daughter. “That’s not a reasonable position. It is simply crazy. The idea that grown men would be allowed alone in a bathroom with little girls — you don’t need to be a behavioral psychologist to realize bad things can happen and any prudent person wouldn’t allow that.”

Speaking at a campaign event in Maryland, Mr. Cruz said that Mr. Trump had aligned himself with President Obama and Hillary Clinton. “Have we gone stark-raving nuts?” he asked, bemoaning what he said was a culture of political correctness.

NYT: Ted Cruz, Attacking Donald Trump, Uses Transgender Bathroom Access as Cudgel:

That did not stop Mr. Cruz from saying the country had gone “stark raving nuts.”

He attacked Mr. Trump for political correctness and yoked him to Mrs. Clinton as a liberal. “If Donald Trump dresses as Hillary Clinton, he still can’t use the little girls’ restroom,” he said in South Bend, Ind. “And I apologize for putting that image in your mind.”

Earlier, Mr. Cruz said, “If the law says that any man, if he chooses, can enter a women’s restroom, a little girls’ restroom, and stay there, and he cannot be removed because he simply says at that moment he feels like a woman, you’re opening the door for predators.”

Active listening

Active listening is “involved listening with a purpose.” Active listening includes:

(1) listening carefully by using all available senses
(2) paraphrasing what we hear both mentally and verbally
(3) checking your understanding to ensure accuracy
(4) providing feedback.

Feedback consists of the listener’s verbal and nonverbal responses to the speaker and the speaker’s message. Active listening can occur in different forms, including empathetic listening and critical listening:

Empathic listening is attempting to understand the other person. You engage in empathic listening by using both mindfulness, which is being “fully engaged in the moment,” and empathy, which is the ability to perceive another person’s worldview as if it were your own.

In critical listening you challenge the speaker’s message by evaluating its accuracy, meaningfulness, and utility. Critical listening and critical thinking go hand in hand: you cannot listen critically if you do not think critically. Skills in critical listening are especially important because we are constantly bombarded with commercials, telemarketing calls, and other persuasive messages.

April 28, 2016

Tall, lean, and blond

Paragraph development

As a general guideline, paragraphs usually have just one point; think of them as little shifts in focus within the overall structure of your essay:

[P]oint: the purpose or idea of the paragraph 
[I]llustration: a quote, or data, or a narrative, or an image, or research
[E]xplication/Explanation: the so what of the paragraph — your thinking on why this information is important in the context of this paragraph

[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.


Library workshop notes

Association of College & Research Libraries: 
Framework for Information Literacy

  • Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  • Information Creation as a Process
  • Information Has Value
  • Research as Inquiry
  • Scholarship as Conversation
  • Searching as Strategic Exploration

Notes for draft #1:

Things to keep in mind:


April 26, 2016

How to Explain Mansplaining

The manologue takes many forms, but is characterized by the proffering of words not asked for, of views not solicited and of arguments unsought. It is underwritten by the doubtful assumption that the audience will naturally be interested, and that this interest will not flag. And that when it comes to speeches or commentary, longer is better.

The prevalence of the manologue is deeply rooted in the fact that men take, and are allocated, more time to talk in almost every professional setting. Women self-censor, edit, apologize for speaking. Men expound.

How to Explain Mansplaining 

Letter to the Editor, in response — 4/25:

April 25, 2016

Three gatekeepers

April 24, 2016

Logical fallacies

April 22, 2016

“…the meta-battle of framing the narrative.”

“In both law and politics, I think the essential battle is the meta-battle of framing the narrative,” Cruz told me. “As Sun Tzu said, Every battle is won before it’s fought. It’s won by choosing the terrain on which it will be fought. So in litigation I tried to ask, What’s this case about?”

The Absolutist

Contextual Analysis Projects

I may have butchered some of these, so please send any corrections?:

9:40 section Contextual Analysis Projects:

  • Kais: What is the current state of musical education in secondary ed?
  • Tanita: What is the current state of LGBT+  rights in Mississippi? 
  • Karolina: What are the rhetorical dimensions of the abortion debate in Poland?
  • Ahtziri: What is the current state of LGBT+ bathrooms & segregation?
  • Madysen: What is the role of women in the US military?
  • Kerrie: Why are there so few women in Computer Science?
  • Amarah: Why are female athletes criticized for their physical appearance?
  • Brennan: What is the relationship between socio-economic status and Methamphetamine production & consumption?
  • Matthew: What is the role of the Vinyl LP in an age of digital music?
  • Schyler: Can “the sorority girl” be a feminist? 
  • Alexandria: What are my generation’s relationships with their smartphones? 
  • Brianna: What causes anxiety?

    Abstract: My research focused on the scientific and social theories for the cause of anxiety disorders. I did this through reading and examining books and articles that claim to understand the cause of anxiety. Since, anxiety has been studied for centuries the theories were conflicting. The largest divide between theorist tends to hinge on whether they believe anxiety is caused by genetic factors, environmental factors, or a mixture of both. Through looking at all of the sources I have come to the conclusion that anxiety disorders are caused by different things for each individual, but are mainly caused by a mixture of natural and environmental factors. My essay puts these theories in conversation with one another in order to try to find the true cause for anxiety.

  • Andres: What are the rhetorical dimensions of the climate change debate? 
  • Ana: What is empathy? 
  • Trang: What is meninism?
  • Ashley: What is masculinity?
  • Geena: What is Street Art? 
  • Skylar: What is the rhetoric of political speechwriting? 
  • Morgan: Why is my generation so stressed out? 
  • Kelsey: What are the contemporary debates and controversies related to dyslexia?
  • Emma: What is the relationship between art and fashion?
    Abstract: Throughout this essay, I discuss the possibilities of the relationship between art and fashion and how it varies from person to person.  I do this by taking from interviews, articles, and even documentaries.  I have compared and contrasted the different opinions of many stars and designers views of fashion such as Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld.  I suggest the strong bond between fashion and art by using important names in the fashion industry and their respected views.  Through this I found that people use fashion in many different ways, for example to make a political statement or simply to express their fascination for history. Therefore, I proceed to question how this could be trivial for anyone with an artistic talent or interest when concluded my essay.
  • Evan: What is identity?
  • Christian: What are the contemporary debates and controversies in the field of Pediatrics?
    Abstract: In this essay, contextually analyzed concerning neurotoxicity and anesthetics using multiple sources both scholarly and popular. There were a few popular source articles
    that I used in order to add a general public
    perspective on the debate. On the other hand, there were many scholarly articles
    that I
    analyzed in order to have more concrete and reliable information. The
    rhetoric used followed a trend of ethos and logos. Logos was used more often because many
    researchers and doctors believe logically and it is what
    appeals to the normal popula


1:00 section Contextual Analysis Projects:

  • David: What is “UnAmerican”?
  • Andrei: What is the role of Leadership in the U.S. Presidential campaigns?
  • Ana: What is “Success”?
  • Sam: What is feminism? 

    Abstract: My contextual analysis puts the different sects of feminism in conversation with one another in order to be able to determine what the goals of feminism are, and what they should be going forward. The different sects of feminism I analyze are those of white bourgeois feminism, black feminism, transgender feminism, and Marxist feminism. In this essay, I explore the interests and concerns of each group and how they compare to one another in order to come to a resolution on what feminism is and should be in the modern age.

  • Cullen: What is the role of faith in U.S. Presidential elections?

    Abstract: The purpose of this contextual analysis is to explore the role that faith plays in the US presidential elections. In order to explore this topic, I found multiple scholarly and print media sources that give differing opinions and analysis of the role that faith plays in elections, and how politicians incorporate faith into their rhetoric. I have found that from this information, there are many people who disagree and hold strong opinions on whether or not faith should have a place in modern US politics. However, one thing that most sources could agree on is that the use of faith in elections is very present. I conclude that while whether the role of faith in politics can be argued one way or another, most presidential candidates – regardless of their party – uses faith in their political rhetoric. This rhetoric works very well to sway religious voters, but more and more Americans are beginning to disagree with the way faith can interfere with social issues.

  • Camille: What is the rhetoric of veganism?
  • Ben: ?
  • Ethan: Where does confidence come from?
  • Gabby: What are the rhetorical dimensions of the abortion debate? 
  • Maggie: What is “sex positive”? 
  • Natalia: Why is Fr. Egan asking me what I do for Justice? What is the role of student activism? Why do people care?
  • Jay: What is the role of women in the US military?
  • Valerie: What is our relationship between the US and North/South Korea?
    The purpose of my contextual analysis is to analyze the relationship between the
    United States and Korea by discussing the rhetoric that different writers use while discussing this
    topic. By using highly credible sources, such as
    The New York Times
    , I was able to clearly depict
    the relationships we have with both North and South Korea. I was also able to explore the source
    of these relationships by researching our involvement in the Korean War. Interestingly enough
    two countries t
    hat were once one could not have more different relationships with the
    United States
  • Natasha: How do liberals and conservatives see the world differently?
    Abstract: Using a ideological framework, I chose to write this contextual analysis to find if there is a difference between the minds of liberals and conservatives. I used scientific journals and book of professionals in this field and articles from newspapers. Although most journals talked about the differences between the two groups, there were some conflicting ideas that people are still people and we are all human. A fascinating notion was that perhaps our definition of morals is a main reason why we lean right or left on the political spectrum. This contextual analysis explores the different theories of the minds of liberals and conservatives.
  • Katelyn: What are “Family Values”?
  • Tia: Why do people compose and share selfies?
  • Charles: Can people be polyamorous? 
  • Nicholas: What reading platforms and environments support slow, deep, contextual, and rhetorical reading practices that result in comprehension? (In addition to asking how we read, we should also ask why we read.)
  • Kiera: What is a millennial? 
  • Amanda: What is at stake when casting for race & ethnicity in theatre and film?

    Abstract: The purpose of this research is to discover what it at stake when casting for race and ethnicity, why directors make those decisions the way that they do, and to imagine what might happen if white actors didn’t simply just get roles handed to them. I did this research by searching for relevant peer reviewed scholarly journals, New York Times articles, and entire books dedicated on the subject. I discovered that the real reason to why movies, tv shows, and plays are casted in such a way is usually not racist, it all comes down to money. No one is going to go to a blockbuster movie with a no-name as the lead, just because they were a different race.

  • Mariana: What is the current state of race relations in Argentina? 
  • Willord: What is the purpose of college?
  • James: What are the benefits and the consequences of gentrification?
April 20, 2016

Dialogic Reading Journals: Running Table of Contents

April 18, 2016

The Happiest Films on Earth

April 16, 2016

Key terms for exploration: cosmopolitan, liberal, conservative

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt

From the book description:

As America descends deeper into polarization and paralysis, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has done the seemingly impossible—challenged conventional thinking about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to everyone on the political spectrum. Drawing on his twenty five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, he shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns.

Is it a “liberal bias,” or is it a “cosmopolitan outlook”?

MK: Well, Jill, leaving you out of it, would you say someone from Mars coming to read The New York Times for a month would recognize any ideological preference?

JA: Well, on the editorial and opinion pages they would.

MK: No, no, on the news pages.

JA: Um, I think that they would recognize a sort of cosmopolitan outlook that reflects that, even as we become international, we’re a New York–based news institution. I can see how the intensity of coverage on certain issues may to some people seem to reflect a liberal point of view. But I actually don’t think it does.

From “A Q&A With Jill Abramson” (part of a series on “The Future of the New York Times”)

  • This chart provides some of the values associated with “conservative” and “liberal” ideologies: . I find it helpful always to start with values: what do people value? How did they come to value that?

  • “Cosmopolitanism” in the OED.

  • An excerpt from Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think

  • “The question was put to him what country he was from, and he replied, ‘I am a citizen of the world’.” —Diogenes (404-423 BC)

April 14, 2016

On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit

On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit

Color and B&W

From Donald Trump, American Preacher

April 13, 2016

Paragraph for close reading: a contextual analysis

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.

April 11, 2016

Carli Lloyd: Why I’m Fighting for Equal Pay

Carli Lloyd: Why I’m Fighting for Equal Pay

Nate Silver & Truth Seeking Behavior

Nate Silver presents his BS-meter — modeled on the old terror alert system — to evaluate information sources and “expertise.”

“Probability is the waystone between ignorance and knowledge. Sometimes the pundit who says ‘I don’t know’ is the one you should trust.”

April 10, 2016

Chicago State, a Lifeline for Poor Blacks, Is Under Threat Itself

Chicago State, a Lifeline for Poor Blacks, Is Under Threat Itself

When a Feminist Pledges a Sorority

A Film in Context: Hunger Games

“The films of a nation reflect its mentality in a more direct way than other artistic media.” — Siegfried Kracauer, “From Caligari to Hitler.”

“I’m actually part of this weird wolf pack.” — Stu Price, “The Hangover Part II.” 

The Hunger Games is about the first stirrings of revolutionary consciousness, but its relationship to capitalism is less clear than it might initially appear. Does the Capitol double for capital, or is the form of exploitation in The Hunger Games of a cruder type? Although the Capitol looks at first sight like a metropolitan capitalist society, the mode of power at work in Panem is better described as cyber-feudal.

Market signifiers are, after all, strangely absent from the Capitol. Commodities are ubiquitous, but there are no corporate logos, shops, or brand names in the city. So far as we can see, the state, under the beady gaze of President Snow, seems to own everything. It exerts its power directly, via an authoritarian police force of white-uniformed Peacekeepers which inflicts punishment summarily, and symbolically, through the Hunger Games and other rituals in which the districts are required to demonstrate their subordination. In District 12, meanwhile, there is a black market, but little indication of legitimate commercial activity. We know that Peeta works in his parents’ bakery, but the overwhelming impression of District 12 is of a society bent double by manual labor, in which shopping is by no means a leisure activity.

Fisher, Mark.”Precarious Dystopias: The Hunger Games, in Time , and Never Let Me Go.” Film Quarterly. 65 (2012): 27-33. [DePaul Library link]

April 9, 2016

Kurt Cobain

Stasis, Common Ground, and Persuasion

Two examples from the 1:00 section:

End discrimination (in context, we were talking about “liberal” or progressive values)

  • Stasis=? (is is about equality? homophobia? something else?)
  • Education: diversity, empathy, exposure to “difference”? 
  • Legislation: no federal legislation; GLAD
  • Example: LGBT+ via library > A-Z Databases & Resources > Academic Search Complete
  • Causes

Protect us from terrorism (in context, we were talking about “conservative” values)

  • Stasis=?
  • Intelligence
  • Military: “The underlying theme of this paper is that while the use of military means to fight terrorist organizations can have clear drawbacks and unwelcome consequences, this does not necessarily mean that a democratic state should eschew the use of the armed forces as part of an overall counterterrorism policy.” [p. 120]
  • Law Enforcement
  • Causes (via Google Scholar); how to customize Google Scholar on your computer for access
April 8, 2016

The Pros And Cons Of Attending College


  • Able to engage with a diverse new group of people from all over southwestern Ohio
  • Identity worth more on black market when paired with B.A.
  • Basically no other way to join a cappella group
  • Introduced to entire network of alums from which you might garner unpaid internship
  • Dwindling number of places to march to “Pomp And Circumstance” these days


  • Demand for critical thinking at 40-year low
  • Displaying bachelor’s degree requires costly frame purchase
  • Current service economy chiefly interested in how clean you keep your car
  • Agony of watching the fencing team repeatedly feint in obvious parry situations
  • Can always read Physics For Scientists And Engineers: A Strategic Approach on your own time

The Onion: The Pros And Cons Of Attending College

Via Pew Research

“These sentiments are not shared by all – or even most – Americans. The majority do not have uniformly conservative or liberal views. Most do not see either party as a threat to the nation. And more believe their representatives in government should meet halfway to resolve contentious disputes rather than hold out for more of what they want.”

“Yet many of those in the center remain on the edges of the political playing field, relatively distant and disengaged, while the most ideologically oriented and politically rancorous Americans make their voices heard through greater participation in every stage of the political process.”

Amarah (9:40 section) in the New York Times

DePaul Edges Louisville to Reach the Round of 16

April 6, 2016

Residence Hall Policy Changes, 1993

Argument, Persuasion, or Propaganda?

epistemological urge

Marilynne Robinson Via NEH:

Robinson’s work is unified not just by its grace and emotional power, but by its epistemological urge—her career is marked by her various efforts to understand how we come to understanding. “The question always is, how can I know what I need to know, how well can I trust what I seem to know, how well can I articulate what seems to me needs to be said?” she asks. “Different disciplines pose the question in different ways, and that’s why I find science and so on so interesting, because they put another light on that same question. But that’s always the question.”

President Obama & Marilynne Robinson: A Conversation in Iowa

Via SoundCloud (two parts, 30 minutes each) 

April 5, 2016

“Which Issues Each Party Debates, or Ignores”

NYT: Which Issues Each Party Debates, or Ignores

April 4, 2016


Paranoid Style

“Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content. I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric. The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent.”

The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Harper’s, Nov., 1964.
By Richard Hofstadter

April 3, 2016

Annotating Robinson

I’m trying both the print and PDF versions to see if I notice different things, which would make sense, as the reading experience is different. 

And if the reading experience is different, does that suggest that the meaning is different? 

And if the meaning is different, does that suggest that the device makes the meaning? 

The best PDF annotating tool is Acrobat Pro, which is not free, but has a 30-day free trial

There are also some free options.

March 30, 2016

Mostly I’m testing the video-embed function from the NYT, but I also like that shot of the monkeys

March 29, 2016

While You Were Away …

For those of you who took WRD103 with me in the Winter Quarter, a few updates:

Welcome to WRD 104

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

Spring Quarter, 2016 

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.

February 28, 2016

Critical Thinking Contexts for our Class and for College

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]

  • Rationality: relying on reason rather than emotion; requiring support; ignoring claims without support; following claims and support where it leads; being more concerned about finding the best explanation than about being right; analyzing apparent confusion; and asking questions.
  • Metacognitive self-awareness: weighing the influences of your own motives, biases, assumptions, prejudices, and ideologies. For example, about which of your assumptions are you most skeptical?
  • Open-mindedness: evaluating all reasonable inferences; considering a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives; remaining open to alternative interpretations; accepting new explanations because they explain the evidence better, are simpler, or have fewer inconsistencies; accepting new priorities in response to re-evaluation of the evidence; and not rejecting unpopular views out of hand.
  • Judgement: recognizing the relevance and merit of alternative assumptions and perspectives and recognizing the with of evidence and support
  • Discipline: precise, meticulous, comprehensive, and exhaustive; resisting manipulation and irrational appeals; avoiding snap judgments.

February 27, 2016

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.
February 15, 2016