A Political Debate Show for the 21st Century

This is a proposal I put together for a class on Rhetoric and Composition. The proposal is for a scripted debate show, using actors, with the aim of demonstrating respectful debate among disagreeing parties. 

I intend to update the slide show and to add more explanatory text; however, for now, I wanted to share the content itself.

Duffy and Goldblatt on Writing

“The Good Writer” by John Duffy

I appreciate the openness to something as potentially divisive as ethics and virtue, especially when, as the author rightly points out, there is already an implicit ethics in operation. 
I also appreciate on 233-4 his explanation of Aristotle’s teleology; that is to say, eudaemonia is achieved when one does well what one is made to do. (I am reminded of several recent articles talking about the importance of, rather than telling a child they can do anything, you might want to help them discover their gifts and use that as a starting point for exploring their best options. Example: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/02/18/no-honey-you-cant-be-anything-you-want-to-be-and-thats-okay/) I do think that developing a culture of purpose based on natural gifts can be freeing and ennobling. 
It’s interesting that, in discussing the Christian association that many people have when they think of virtue, he glosses somewhat over Aristotle’s understanding of how we acquire virtue: “good conduct arises from habits that in turn can only be acquired by repeated action and correction, making ethics an intensely practical discipline.” (Source: http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/2s.htm)

Continue reading “Duffy and Goldblatt on Writing”

Is the Global Village Getting Bigger or Smaller?

I’d like to thank Patrick for his insights in particular; his post on You’s take on Cosmopolitan English brought to the forefront for me a challenge of our hyper-connected world: cosmopolitanism challenges individuals to learn from a variety of cultural and linguistic communities. While this is in and of itself a laudable goal, it drives many people to belong superficially to many groups, rather than deeply to one or two. 

Edward O. Wilson, the great biologist, lamented this phenomenon in his wonderful book Consilience. In that book, he argues that increasing specialization within the sciences not only emphasizes competition where collaboration would be preferable, but that this specialization drives scientists into ever shrinking cabals, making them less able to communicate with their peers.

This idea has always stuck with me; and yet, I don’t know how to combat it. It may be an inherent aspect of our world. And so, I wonder if English can be seen as something similar to how Wilson sees science: a splintering set of communities who may or may not be able to communicate with their linguistic peers.  Continue reading “Is the Global Village Getting Bigger or Smaller?”

Wossamotta You

Wossamotta UI hope you’ll forgive the little nostalgic pun, there. But I find myself thinking of Bullwinkle’s alma mater while reading this book; wossamotta, You? I do appreciate the plight of the author, and the exchange students, at the beginning of the book. While I’ve never experienced anything quite that stark myself, I did spend a year in Costa Rica, as well as nearly 3 years in a program for native Spanish speakers, during which I struggled a great deal. And I use the term native speaker intentionally; I sincerely can’t figure out how that is reprehensible. It seems to actually communicate something about a person’s facility with a given language.

Even if I were hanging out with other non-native Spanish speakers (thus constituting a “language community”), us speaking broken Spanish together would make it genuinely difficult to communicate. Whereas someone who began speaking a language at an early age, or was immersed in the language from birth, would be better equipped to make herself understood.  Continue reading “Wossamotta You”

Bakhtin, Derrida, and the Question of Teaching Composition

This week I responded most to the readings from Derrida, although elements of the Bakhtin appealed to me. The first selection from Derrida brought up a question that troubled Socrates and Aristotle: “is it possible to teach writing without being competent in the content of a discipline?” (7) He seems to think no, which would put him in Aristotle’s camp; you need to know a subject deeply in order to speak (or write) compellingly about it. 

Continue reading “Bakhtin, Derrida, and the Question of Teaching Composition”