ENG 123 7.2: Jim Corder and “Argument as Emergence”

Today’s Plan:

  • Attendance
  • Another Paper Outline
  • Promoting Healthy Argument
  • Homework

Promoting Healthy Argument

I want to start off today by suggesting that argument in America is quite sick. There’s a number of pieces that I could point to in support of this claim. We might look at this piece in the New Yorker that “Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.” Or we could turn to examine this Conversation article on how “Republicans and Democrats Live in Different Economic Realities.” We could look at the Wall Street Journal’s project Blue Feed / Red Feed, which compares how republican and democrats’ facebook feeds differ on the same topic. But I don’t want to frame this merely as a “public” problem (or blame it all on social media), we can look at the increasingly partisan behavior of our congress in this short Business Insider video. (And another BBC video on polarization).

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite essays, one that changed my orientation as a scholar. That essay is Jim Corder’s “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love.”

So, let’s talk about a story in my newsfeed.

And let’s talk about what else you can do.


Keep at it with those annotated bibliographies. Add new entries into the existing Google Doc.

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ENG 123 7.1: Annotated Bibliographies

Today’s plan:

  • Attendance
  • Review: Annotated Bibliography Assignment [Syllabus Changes and Due Dates]
  • Homework

Annotated Bibliography Assignment

First, let’s review what I shared last class:

We have spent the first 1/3 of the course identifying and developing a topic. Now it is time to invest the majority of our energy into researching that topic. For the next several weeks you will produce an annotated bibliography, or a collection of research writing that will provide the bulk of the content for your papers.

My expectation is that you will read 75 pages of research per week for the next several weeks. For each thing you read, you will write up an annotation. I have a sample format that you will be required to use for the annotated bibliography.

Today I want to highlight a few changes to the syllabus and specify a total a count for annotations:

  • 3 annotations from your proposal expanded/rewritten into my annotation form
  • 2 annotations from Thursday the 16th’s computer lab session / homework
  • 1 annotation for homework Tuesday the 21st
  • 2 annotations for homework on Thursday the 23rd
  • 1 annotation for homework on Tuesday the 28th
  • 2 annotations for homework Thursday the 2nd

So that adds up to a total count of 11 sources. The final due date for these annotations will be on Monday March 6th. March 7th and 9th will be one-on-one meetings to go over proposed paper outlines.

A few comments from some of the annotations I’ve read thus far:


I would like you to do another annotation. You should have 6 annotations in your bibliography by Thursday. At least 3 of these should be scholarly articles.

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ENG 420 7.1: Nathan’s My Freshman Year

Today’s Plan:

  • Paper Feedback
  • Nathan
  • Homework: Thelin reading

Paper Feedback

Philosophy and Rhetoric:

Plato believed that obtaining
justice for one’s self was all-important, and the only way to achieve that justice was through knowledge. True, unbiased, non-persuasive knowledge in specific. In Plato’s mind, education is not in place to serve as a guidebook on how to become a functioning member of society. Instead it exists so that each and every member of a society has the opportunity and ability to become their absolute best.


Plato is criticizing the act of learning through controlled education and manipulation. Rather than being given the tools to find the truth, students are given a truth crafted by their elders. Words are purposefully utilized to create narratives and persuade the uneducated. A lot of this ideology still holds true in the education system in place today.

I might adjust this a bit. Take a look at this piece on the Principles of Socratic Education: https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/the-role-of-socratic-questioning-in-thinking-teaching-learning/522

Instead of arguing that Plato emphasized knowledge, I would argue that Plato stressed a method of investigation centered around questions–especially self-questioning.

So, the debate between Plato and Gorgias (between Philosophy and Rhetoric) comes down to this:

Philosophy believed that every person should learn to discover truth themselves, working through questions, seeking evidence, proposing solutions. In a world in which every individual thinks for themselves, you need no art to convince others what they should think and do. Those arts will undoubtedly end up serving manipulation more than education.

Rhetoric (sometimes) thinks this would be a nice goal, but ultimately concludes that it is unrealistic. Most people either don’t *want* to do the work of thinking this much, don’t have the time to do thinking this much, or simply don’t have the intellectual capacity to think this hard. So, you need to develop an art that allows people who think to persuade others about the importance of their thought. At the same time, you need to arm people so they can’t be as easily manipulated. [ZeFrank and learning video editing]

Returning to the question of indoctrination and critical pedagogy. I’ve written a thing.

Liberal Arts:

Ultimately, the question is: Can higher education institutions find methods for students to find what they are passionate about and give students opportunities for creative thinking and learning, which they can use to benefit others? Of course, they can. Some programs, like the Upper Division Honors Program here at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), give students the chance to explore any and all subjects through a creative, interdisciplinary lens. In the Upper Division program, students are given total control over an individualized research project of their choosing. By allowing students to design and fulfill their own project, the Honors Program encourages interdisciplinary learning, having students work closely with faculty members, and finding solutions to modern problems. A program like this encapsulates all of the requirements universities should meet in order to be successful: allowing students to have creative freedom, helping students find what they are passionate about, and foster “service” citizens.

In fact, the Honors Program mission statement says its two programs are “designed to foster outstanding students by providing a small community of intellectually-challenging peers… the tools to learn how to think critically and…how to dive deep into today’s problems, issues, and cutting-edge research challenges.” While this mission statement may seem highly specific, Harvard President Drew Faust agrees with this interdisciplinary style of teaching. In an interview for Ivory Tower, Faust says Harvard wants “to give [students] the abilities to think and reason and question for a lifetime.” Institutions all across the country should aim to give students a well-rounded, thought-provoking education. Although UNC and Harvard are vastly different institutions, they share common goals. This is perhaps why a liberal arts education has become so popular in American higher education over the last few centuries.

This made me think of a recent interview with Mark Cuban getting passed around.


I’ve made a copy of my chapter notes.

  • Chapter 2: Life in the Dorms
    • Dorm room doors 21-26 [dissonance between official University representation and student expression]
    • Moffatt’s 1970 study on time management 32-33
    • Community? 38-40
  • Chapter 3: Community and Diversity
    • 4 things that students have in common 42
    • Community? 1990 take on Greek life 48-49 [tension between support and confinement]
    • “Individual resources make collective spaces superfluous” (54)
    • Friends [55-57, 58*]
    • Race and the lunchroom 60-63
  • Chapter 4: How Others See Us
    • Nice but distant 68
    • Independence vs Friendship 73-75
    • (In)formality and dress, accessibility of faculty 78
    • Teaching: format, contract, entertainment 79-80
    • Ignorance–attitude towards news media 88-89
  • Chapter 5: Academically Speaking
    • The Witch (equality and debate) 91-95
    • Dorm Talk 98-99
    • Intellectual life vs take the degree and run 100
    • “Perfect class” 103-107
  • Chapter 6: The Art of College Management
    • Helen Horowitz’s classic categories (plus one) 107-110
    • Hours in the day (2003 NSSE report) 111-121
    • Cheating / Academic Dishonesy 127-128


Reading in the Thelin (80 pages, but it is pretty easy reading): Chapter 7 (260-271; 274-277, 303-310); Chapter 8 (317-321, 323-326, 341-342, 344-353, 357-362); Chapter 9 (363-398). Note that the book was revised in 2011.

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ENG 420 6.2: Nathan’s My Freshman Year

Today’s Plan:

  • Some paper feedback
  • Nathan
  • Homework

Paper Feedback

I wanted to address two comments I left on papers. Here was a passage dealing with Isocrates and Emerson:

There is a clear dissonance here between Emerson and Isocrates. Isocrates teaches by modeling, while Emerson is completely opposed to imitation. The solution here is not to think of modeling as imitation. It is possible to teach students to think for themselves and focus on their own learning and meaning making, while also giving students example of what good thinkers, good writers, and good people look like. In other words, modeling should only be used as a guide for students, not as something to imitate and strive for. The idea is to give students a starting point and a reference while they work towards growth. Teaching students in the way Isocrates would like is essential to giving students the skills and knowledge they need to be autonomous and competitive in the job market. For example, one of the best ways to help students grow as writers is to show them mentor texts and have them analyze the techniques used by the author. The goal, then, would not be for them to imitate that author, but rather use their own critical thinking skills to apply those techniques to their own writing.

There is another clear dissonance between Emerson and Isocrates. Isocrates believes civic involvement is an essential end goal to education. Emerson, on the other hand, believes people should simply focus on their own betterment and success. The happy medium here speaks more to Emerson’s idea of individualism. Give students the knowledge, tools, and skills to decide for themselves. Some students may choose to become directly involved with politics, while others may choose to keep to themselves. The argument may be made, however, that those who choose Emerson’s way of self-reliance, are bettering the nation by bettering themselves. When students have the wide knowledge range, the critical thinking, and open-mindedness that comes from exposure to many different topics, ideas, and opinions, they are likely to all be civically engaged in some way or another. It just may not be as directly as Isocrates believed it should.

Here was my response:

I think you and I have one particular disagreement–and that is likely both a philosophical and political disagreement. I tend to be very wary of philosophies or politics based on individual agency, the idea that each individual is responsible for themselves. I think that individualisms tend to downplay the importance of environment on shaping both what we can do and what we want to do.

If we look at America’s development, we see a history of communal dedication–by that I mean a series of commitments to developing social institutions that provide fundamental necessities for individual action. For education, we develop schools so individuals don’t have to educate themselves. For safety, we develop police departments and fire departments. For transportation and business, we develop roads. For health (and convenience), we develop water departments. And we collectively regulate other utilities (electricity, telephones, and maybe the Internet depending on the future of Net Neutrality laws) to ensure that everyone has fair and equal access.

So, unless someone really is going off Thoreau style into the woods, digging their own sceptic system, I think they are still benefiting from our *ahem* socialist arrangements. It isn’t that individuals don’t shape their destiny, or that individual work ethic isn’t important; rather I would say that those things aren’t everything, and there is a general tendency to overlook the social commitments that allow individual agency to emerge. And, we often fail to recognize that not everyone has equal access to those social commitments.

One Last Problem with Plato and Universal, Objective, Abstract Truth (Or, When Everything Becomes Math)

The problem is when we frame *all questions* like math questions. We teach students the syntax X is Y. America is a land of justice. Or Good people work hard. Or Marriage is between a man and a woman. Etc. We teach a structure of knowledge and truth that corresponds to mathematics–that for each question there is one right answer, and that their teacher can supply them that answer.

ZeFrank on College

Some classic Internetz:


We will all read chapters 5. Additionally, you should read any two other chapters:

  • Chapter 2: Life in the Dorms (dorm doors, “social” time/community)
  • Chapter 3: Community and Diversity (difficulty balancing individuality and community, measuring *actual* student diversity on campus; the lunchroom study)
  • Chapter 4: As Others See Us (how international students perceive America and Americans)
  • Chapter 5: Academically Speaking
  • Chapter 6: The Art of College Management
  • Chapter 7: Lessons from My Year as a Freshman

In terms of your blog response, I do want you to focus attention on the chapters you select to read–attempting to isolate Nathan’s argument. But I would like you to think about one particular claim Nathan makes:

Taken together, the discourse of the academe, both in and out of classes, led me to one of the most sobering insights I had as a professor-turned-student: How little intellectual life seemed to matter in college. This is not to say that no one cared about her education or that everyone cut all his classes. Rather, what I observed was that engagement in the philosophical and political issues of the day was not a significant part of student culture. (100)

Does this seem like an accurate observation? Rather than simply agree or disagree, tell me about how your experience matches up with this characterization and how it defies it.

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ENG 123 6.1: From Proposal to Research

Today’s Plan:

  • Attendance
  • Introduce: Annotated Bibliography
  • Workshop: Characters and Actions
  • Homework

Annotated Bibliography Project

We have spent the first 1/3 of the course identifying and developing a topic. Now it is time to invest the majority of our energy into researching that topic. For the next several weeks you will produce an annotated bibliography, or a collection of research writing that will provide the bulk of the content for your papers.

My expectation is that you will read 75 pages of research per week for the next several weeks. For each thing you read, you will write up an annotation. I have a sample format that you will be required to use for the annotated bibliography.

This morning I was helping Hannah to narrow down her topic. I think our discussion is worth sharing, since it highlights the importance of academic sources and when it is ok in an academic research paper to use non-peer reviewed sources.

Workshop: Characters and Actions

I want to go over a chapter from Williams and Bizup’s Style that focuses on improving sentence clarity by avoiding too many nominalizations.


For homework, I want everyone to get started on the annotated bibliography project:

  1. Create a new Google Doc and share it with my gmail address: insignificantwrangler@gmail.com
  2. Choose three sources from your proposal and craft annotations for them, using my template. You will have to select all and then copy/paste my template into your document

We will be meeting in Ross 1240, the computer lab, for Thursday’s class. I will review some writing from the proposals and then give you time to work on writing a new annotation in class.

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ENG 420 6.1: From the Past to the Present

Today’s Plan:

  • Discuss essays
  • Homework: Syllabus change (readings swapped)

Foundations of Education

I want to go around the room and ask everyone two questions:

  • What is your one sentence definition of education?
  • What classical idea resonated with you the most?


I made an adjustment on the readings. We will do the Thelin next week and the Nathan this week. For Thursday’s class, read the Preface, Introduction, and chapter 1 of Nathan’s My Freshman Year. Prepare one potential question we can address in class discussion.

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ENG 123: 5.1 Topic Proposals

Today’s Plan

  • Attendance
  • Topic Exploration Paper Turn in Issue
  • Review Topic Proposal Assignment
  • Types of Research & Proposals
  • Roadmapping Your Project
  • Homework

Review Topic Proposal Assignment

First, let’s look over the criteria that I introduced in our last class.

Now that you have completed the Topic Exploration assignment, it is time to develop your ideas a bit more. In a 750-1,200 word essay, present your opinion on a focused issue or controversy within your chosen topic, and discuss your purpose for research, your proposed audience, and your research plan.

We are going to follow USC’s Proposal Guide to organize our proposals. According to the USC site, proposals have:

  • Introduction (what problem will you address? why is it important?)
  • Background and Significance (a more extensive history of the project, extends the introduction)
  • Literature Review (What research have you already done?)
    • For the proposal, this should be a minimum of five sources or 125 pages
    • Additionally, the proposal should include the next four sources you need to read. These will be four sources in your Annotated Bibliography
  • Research Design and Methods (What will you do? How?)
    • I will discuss this more on Tuesday, but you should be thinking about what you might *do* beyond reading sources. Can you conduct interviews with local experts? Can you examine local policies? Can you conduct a survey? Can you visit a site and document important stuff? Can you watch 10 episodes of the news in order to track something? Can you etc etc etc.
  • Hypothesis / Preliminary Conclusions / Conclusion

Your papers, then, should be in either MLA or APA format and include these headings.

These papers require a Works Cited or Reference Page.

These papers are due Thursday, February 9th at midnight.

Types of Research and Proposals

Part of what I am asking for in this project is to think about what contribution you can make to an ongoing conversation: that is, beyond conducting secondary research into what others have said, what primary research can you add? There is no one way to answer this question; in fact, I think the answers will be very different based on the communities you are engaging and the kind of research you want to do. But I want to begin by making a distinction between two kinds of intellectual work: scholarship and research. I don’t agree with Southern Utah University’s claim that research is the creation of new knowledge and scholarship the application of that knowledge (particularly in teaching). Rather, I see research and scholarship as two different ways of creating knowledge.

  • Research is empirical in its approach and methods. It measures, tracks, identifies, something in the world
  • Scholarship is hermeneutic in its approach and methods. It defines, interprets, traces, something in texts

I highlight this distinction to try and help you think about what it means to write a methods section for your paper. If you are planning to do “research,” then you need to be as detailed as possible in what you collect, how you will collect it, etc. For instance, if you tell me you are going to do a survey, that is an empirical project. You need to make sure you are crafting good survey questions. I would like to know what those questions will be. If you are interested in tracking media representations of Obamacare, then I need to know how you will locate those representations–where will you look? At what time? For how long? How will you classify these representations? How are you developing your categories for classification? If you are developing an interview, then I want to know what questions you would ask your subject and how you generated those questions.

However, if you are planning to do scholarship, you still need to think about methodology. I often frame hermeneutic scholarship in terms of “lens” (a way of seeing) and “object” (what you want to look at differently). I’ve created a handout to try and get at how this works, though in simplest terms it is something like I will use X in order to analyze Y.

Road mapping

As you finish your projects, you should think about how you can break your longer paper into a series of stages. I call this road mapping your paper. This is a series of sentences, generally after the thesis, that lays out the parts of the paper, giving the reader a sense of what to expect. I do this in a lot of articles. It looks something like this:

This chapter begins by briefly unpacking Latour’s Non-Modern Constitution, tracing its development through his earlier writings to its explication in Politics of Nature. We then review two of Kant’s critical pieces on the role and scope of higher education, his early essay “An answer to the question ‘What is enlightenment?’” (1996) and his later, and more controversial manuscript, Conflict of the faculties (1979). Our analysis contextualizes Kant’s call for the separation of public and private duty in light of the snarly religious/political field of late 18th century Germany. Then, we detail contemporary politics’ increasing encroachment upon curriculum and funding across all levels of education. While contemporary scholars might not face the same “unpleasant measures” that Kant did, there are clear risks associated with reintegrating academic labor into the public sphere. However, despite these risks, academics must commit themselves to political action. Academics cannot remain idle; they must act before it is too late. We close by offering strategies and tactics (de Certeau, 1984) for instituting Latour’s Non-Modern Constitution. As a strategy, we present the University of South Florida’s recently approved Patel College of Global Sustainability, an interdisciplinary college dedicated to increasing scientific knowledge’s impact in the public sphere.

I do this in a number of articles:

In essence:

First, this paper examines X. Then, it turns to consider Y. Finally, it proposes Z.

Of course, you can really only write this sentence *after* you have finished your paper. Chances are if you can’t summarize your paper this way, then you don’t really have a comprehensive, logically-developed argument. That’s why I want you to try and imagine this sentence now: it should help you think about the logical cohesion of all the work you have to do. This kind of road mapping could appear in your introduction, or it could conclude your methods section.


We will be meeting in the computer lab, Ross 1240, on Thursday. I have some feedback from the first set of papers that I want to give and have you fix some common structural issues.

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ENG 420 5.1: Freire, Nicholson, Lorde

Today’s Plan:

  • Review Paper Expectations
  • Discuss Freire, Nicholson, and Lorde

Review Paper Expectations

Last week I went over the nuts and bolts. This paper is due next Tuesday at noon.

Someone asked if this paper is similar to writing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy. While my original impulse was “yes,” the more I think about it, the more I think “no.” A statement of teaching philosophy is often a description of how one teaches (pedagogy) or what one teaches (curriculum). I am *primarily* interested in *why* we educate–what are the ends of education? Now, explicating the ends of education likely requires you address the how and/or what. That is, I am interested in papers that explore institutional requirements. But make sure that any such explication is in service to goals, to ends.

Freire, Nicholson, and Lorde

First, let’s gloss over modernism vs. postmodernism.

To Nicholson:

  • Can we develop a definition of postmodernism from Nicholson’s article?
  • Nicholson notes that Modernists “condemn(ed) postmodernism as a neoconservative reaction against the emancipatory ideas of the Enlightenment” (197). What does this mean?
  • What does Nicholson think Lyotard got right? What does she think he gets wrong?
  • What metaphor(s) does Nicholson use to frame Rorty’s approach to education?
  • How does Nicholson perceive Rorty improving upon Lyotard?
  • What does Nicholson argue that feminism offers (postmodern) education?


  • What is the banking model of education and why does Freire so staunchly oppose it?
  • What is the goal of Freire’s model?
  • What is “praxis”?
  • Why might Plato or Kant argue that Freire’s model is destined to fail?
  • Considering Freire’s humanism


  • What is authentic poetry? What does it do? What does it put us into contact with?
  • How can we connect Lorde’s theory of poetry with Freire and/or Nicholson?


Work on the paper. These papers are due Thursday at midnight. We will talk about these papers in Thursday’s class.

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ENG 123: From Exploration to Proposal

Today’s Plan:

  • Attendance
  • Topic Proposal Paper
  • Working Knowledge Presentations
  • Homework

Continue reading

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ENG 420: 4.2 Dewey, Pragmatism, Gatto, and The Paper

Today’s Plan:

  • Outline expectations/constraints for the upcoming paper
  • Discuss: Dewey
  • Read: Gatto

What is Education?

Here is the original description on the website:

At the conclusion of the historic stage of readings, I will ask you to compose a 1000 word essay that offers a purpose for higher education. This essay will draw upon readings from the course to support its definition.

Now, in my postpedagogical spirit (itself somewhat indebted to Dewey), let me elaborate a bit. Your paper has to:

I have a loose, general expectation for the paper. The paper should offer a theoretical definition that answers my prompt: what is education? Of course, in doing so, you will have to explicate my question (do I mean “what is education for an individual? What is education for a society? What is the best way to education people? What can educated people do? What should educated people know? Etc, etc, etc. No, I will not answer these question for you. Yes, I will provide some kind of response to your answer. Yes, my goal will be to frustrate you a lot, unless you are hopelessly lost, in which case my goal will be to make you comfortable enough that I can frustrate you more. I wrote an article about this approach that just so happens to explicate Dewey’s concept of experience.

In addition to offering a theoretical definition, and drawing upon sources to justify this definition, the paper should also put this theory to work somehow; it should apply the theory in the examination of some proposal or problem or person. Show us how/why if we accept your theory we should appreciate a specific policy, or oppose a specific policy, or appreciate a specific program, or oppose a specific program. How might we change an element of contemporary education to match up with your definition, etc, etc.

These papers will be due February 14th.


Questions for today:

  • Traditional vs. Progressive Education
  • Explicating key terms: “experience,” “continuity,” “habit”
  • Intertwining Politics and Teaching

Gatto’s “Against School”

I have paper copies to hand out, but here is a link to a digital version.


I will admit that there’s quite a bit of reading for next class, though this is the last reading in this first set:

  • Read the Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed chapter
  • Read the Nicholson, “Postmodernism, Feminism, and Education” essay
  • Read the Lorde, “Poetry is not a Luxury”
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