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Concluding thoughts

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

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

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald

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


March 12, 2018

Three gatekeepers

March 8, 2018

The New York Times’s first Tweet (2007)

First Tweet.

They quoted their own Tweet in an article today — “We Want to Elevate the Voices of College Students and Recent Graduates. 20,000 Responded.”

March 7, 2018

For Tuesday: Nakesha Williams

March 5, 2018

Critical Thinking

March 1, 2018

Build better peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Via Fox News: Build better peanut butter and jelly sandwiches: 6 tips from restaurant chefs

February 28, 2018

The Writing on the Wall

The newspaper is itself an outlandish creation: a smudgy, portable, disposable offline data platform made of tree pulp, mass-produced every day on huge printers and trucked for a fee to your home, or sold from the sidewalk. Newspapers are not the societal bulwark they once were; their authority is challenged and ubiquity is slipping. But artists who use and love newspapers do so for good reason.

They are fountains of words, meaning, preliminary history. They are ready-made targets for irony, allusion and commentary, ripe for riffing and manipulation. They are beautiful in themselves, bursting with aesthetic riches — photographic and commercial art, comics, op-ed illustrations. They are also abundant, cheap and rectangular. And you can dip them in strips into flour and water and make beautiful things.

Their place in art, as art, is honored and unshakable, which is reason enough to curse the glowing screens that are relentlessly shoving them aside.

NYT/“The Writing on the Wall”


February 26, 2018

Invitational Rhetoric & Rhetorical Listening

“Feminist scholars Sonja Foss and Cindy Griffin have outlined a form of argument described as “invitational,” one that begins with careful attention to and respect for the person or the audience you are in conversation with. Foss and Griffin show that such listening — in effect, walking in the other person’s shoes — helps you see that person’s points of view more clearly and thoroughly and thus offers a basis for moving together toward new understandings. The kind of argument they describe is what another rhetorician, Krista Ratcliffe, calls “rhetorical listening,” which helps to establish productive connections between people and thus especially aids crosscultural communications.”

“Invitational rhetoric has as its goal not winning over opponents but getting people and groups to work together and identify with each other; it strives for connection, collaboration, and the mutually informed creation of knowledge. You may have opportunities to practice invitational rhetoric in peer-review sessions, when each member of a group listens carefully in order to work through problems and issues. You may also practice invitational rhetoric looking at any contested issue from other people’s points of view, taking them into account, and engaging them fairly and respectfully in your own argument. Invitational arguments, then, call up structures that more resemble good two-way conversations or free-ranging dialogues than straight-line marches from thesis to conclusion. Even conventional arguments benefit from invitational strategies by giving space early on to a full range of perspectives, making sure to present them thoroughly and clearly. Remember that in such arguments, your goal is enhanced understanding so that you can open up a space for new perceptions and fresh ideas.”

Lunsford, Everyone’s an Author 128-9.

What does it mean?

Via subpixel.

February 23, 2018

1:00 section: “The Boys Are Not All Right”

Maybe we can keep this one in our back pockets, so to speak, and find some time next week to talk about it? The amount of serendipity based on previous discussions just a couple of weeks ago is worth our notice.

Via NYT.

February 22, 2018

What is possible?

The mood on the bus

February 20, 2018

“Education is the point at which we decide …”

Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from that ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.”

— Hannah Arendt, “The Crisis of Education” (1954)

February 18, 2018

Self-regulated reading

“ENGAGED, SELF-REGULATED READERS are those who set realistic goals, select effective reading strategies, monitor their understanding of the text, and evaluate progress toward their goals. Readers’ level of self-regulation depends not only on their reading and self-regulation skills, but also on their beliefs about their efficacy to read, the value they place on the reading task, and their motivation to read and learn. For instance, how students monitor their comprehension during a particular reading event will depend on the other self-regulation processes and their personal beliefs. Thus, self-regulation processes, personal beliefs, and motivation are all interrelated and reciprocal.”

— Horner and Shwery, 2002

Contextual Analysis Writing Process Notes: Ongoing

Collected from class discussions, workshops, and office hours:

Am I making an argument in my Contextual Analysis?
No. Your method is analysis, not argument. The persuasive part of your project is your analysis of your issue, and what you conclude about it. Helpful prompts:

  • What do you notice about the writers’ values?
  • What do you notice about the writers’ rhetorical strategies?
  • What do you notice about the writers’ proximity to the issue?
  • What do you notice about the writers’ ethos and credibility?

One assumption about the contextual analysis method, is that by analyzing and synthesizing (SMH 12f.) these kinds of writers and texts, that you’ll be able to identify and then tell us something new about the issue: “Every wolf in Yellowstone, therefore, is more than just a wolf …”   

Can I use images in my contextual analysis essay?
Yes, especially if they support or illustrate your analysis in a way that’s helpful for readers.

I’ll add more here as we proceed.

Underlying issues that we’ll be visiting and revisiting:

  • Stasis: are writers arguing and advocating about the same thing?
  • Invention: how to discover what to write about
  • Source integration: mechanical and rhetorical — SMH 12
  • Exigence: “[a]ny exigence is an imperfection marked by urgency; it is a defect, an obstacle, something waiting to be done, a thing which is other than it should be” (Bitzer)
  • When your individual ethos and a public exigence come together
  • Moving from writer-based prose to reader-based prose
  • Problem solving & time management: your ability [1] to identify a problem, [2] to identify the resources available to you — the Writing Center, your St. Martin’s Handbook, my office hours, each other in class workshops, the Library’s Reference Desk — and [3] to use them in order to solve a problem
  • Your Self-Editing Toolkit: reflect along the timeline of our project and writing processes: brainstorming, identifying an issue, drafting, research, more drafting, more research, revising, editing, problem-solving, proofreading. While everyone’s writing process might look different, you should be able to identify your writing strengths and challenges among those process-description markers. Can you?
  • How to access Google Scholar full-text articles from residence halls or off-campus — the “Find full text @ DePaul” option: select > Settings > Library links > add DePaul


February 16, 2018

” … the language we use is not just an instrument …”

” … the language we use is not just an instrument — however feeble, inexact, treacherous — for communicating as best we can with others. The language that we speak defines us. Our thoughts, our ethics, our aesthetics are all, up to a point, defined by our language. Each particular language provokes or allows a certain way of thinking, elicits certain specific thoughts that come to our mind not only through but because of the language we call ours.”

“The Magical Power of Dictionaries”

“Much of what people believe to be true is incomplete, biased, or worse, totally incorrect …”

“Much of what people believe to be true is incomplete, biased, or worse, totally incorrect (Gilovich & Griffin, 2010; Hilbert, 2012). Even so, people often have a great deal of confidence in the accuracy of their beliefs, often more than is warranted (Koehler, 1991; Moore & Healy, 2008).”

  • Can you find this article in PDF form in the library databases?
  • How many typographic elements can you identify on this one page?
  • Can we speculate on any possible relationships between typography and credibility? Is there a typography of authority?
February 11, 2018

We can keep some of our Hypotheses annotation & notetaking notes here for now …

“I’ll make this short: The thing you’re doing now, reading prose on a screen, is going out of fashion.”


Credibility & “this new informational anarchy”

“Credibility really is kind of metaphysical: We have to take a little leap of faith to get there. The main root of “credible,” after all, is the Latin word for “belief.” Aristotle thought the best way to inspire such faith was to seem like a good person: “Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character,” he wrote in “Rhetoric,” “when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible.” The audience is inclined to trust someone it already thinks well of.”

Michelle Dean, NYT Magazine: “It’s Getting Harder to Sort the ‘Credible’ from the Incredible”

February 4, 2018

Commencement Speeches

1:00 section, follow-up notes:

February 3, 2018

Paragraph Development & 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…)

January 31, 2018

Reasons & Purposes for Arguing & 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.

St. Martin’s, 9b.


“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 



January 28, 2018

Argument, Persuasion, or Propaganda?

A Vision of Students Today?

digital ethnography

This video is now 10 years old (2007): A Vision of Students Today

January 26, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin on Writing

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, A Few Words to a Young Writer”

Digication Preparation

January 23, 2018

Why people don’t change their minds

Academic/scholarly/peer reviewed:

January 16, 2018

Civil Discourse

  • undertake a serious exchange of views;
  • focus on the issues rather than on the individual(s) espousing them;
  • defend their interpretations using verified information;
  • thoughtfully listen to what others say;
  • seek the sources of disagreements and points of common purpose;
  • embody open-mindedness and a willingness change their minds;
  • assume they will need to compromise and are willing to do so;
  • treat the ideas of others with respect;
  • avoid violence (physical, emotional, and verbal).

Leske, A Plea for Civil Discourse: Needed, the Academy’s Leadership


Martin Luther King in the NYT

January 15, 2018

New York Times Resources


Analysis vs. Opinion

Kristof quoting Hemingway

“What moment in history would you prefer to live in?”

“F. Scott Fitzgerald said ‘the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time.’ I suggest these: The world is registering important progress, but it also faces mortal threats. The first belief should empower us to act on the second.”

The rest of the Hemingway quote: “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Kristof: Why 2017 Was the Best Year in Human History

January 14, 2018

“Kids These Days & Paper Textbooks”

How can we assess, weigh, contextualize these claims?

What is the relationship between the argument and the support?

Via Brandon Keim

News: A User’s Manual



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

January 11, 2018

Data & Demographics

January 9, 2018

“Hearing From Trump Voters,” by Thursday at 10 a.m., Eastern time

And then, serendipitously — you’re welcome to attend!:

Information / Knowledge

John Naisbitt

January 7, 2018

Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think

From George Lakoff, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think (U of Chicago Press)

Here are some words and phrases used over and over in conservative discourse: character, virtue, discipline, tough it out, get tough, tough love, strong, self-reliance, individual responsibility, backbone, standards, authority, heritage, competition, earn, hard work, enterprise, property rights, reward, freedom, intrusion, interference, meddling, punishment, human nature, traditional, common sense, dependency, self-indulgent, elite, quotas, breakdown, corrupt, decay, rot, degenerate, deviant, lifestyle.

The same, of course, is true of the liberal worldview. Liberals, in their speeches and writings, choose different topics, different words, and different modes of inference than conservatives. Liberals talk about: social forces, social responsibility, free expression, human rights, equal rights, concern, care, help, health, safety, nutrition, basic human dignity, oppression, diversity, deprivation, alienation, big corporations, corporate welfare, ecology, ecosystem, biodiversity, pollution, and so on. Conservatives tend not to dwell on these topics, or to use these words as part of their normal political discourse. A description of the liberal and conservative worldviews should explain why.


Print & Digital again: Day Planners

The Case for Using a Paper Planner”

January 5, 2018

Letters to the Editor in response to Brooks’s “The Retreat to Tribalism”

For Thursday: “A Note from the Publisher”

January 1, 2018: “A Note from the Publisher” and PDF

Guiding questions, prompts, and sample rhetorical analysis: SMH, especially 8e.

January 3, 2018

Welcome to WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II

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

Winter Quarter, 2018

In WRD 104 we focus on the kinds of academic and public writing that uses 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.

November 20, 2017

Habits of Mind that Lead to Success in Writing, in College & in Life

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.


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.

November 18, 2017