american dialogues: composition course description

I’m considering using two quotes as epigraphs for the course:

  • “Democracy begins in conversation.” -philosopher John Dewey
  • “Go f— yourself.” -Vice President Dick Cheney

Course Description

The theme of this course is “American Dialogues,” and we will focus our attention on political discourse in the contemporary American public sphere. Some fear that American citizens are not well served by the prevailing political discourse, that it is more focused upon butting heads and scoring quick points with the media than it is with thoughtful consideration of the issues. We will use a variety of critical tools to consider the messages of political campaigns, the information published by news outlets, and the commentary provided by a wide range of individuals.

In this course, you will develop your skills as a careful, thoughtful, and effective reader and writer. You will become better at the kinds of reading and writing expected of you as a college student, in your professional career, and as an American citizen. You will learn what it means to identify or construct an issue to write about, to consider and reconsider that issue as you investigate it further, and to craft the best available means of support and expression given your audience and your purpose. You will learn a set of language- and logic-based concepts and a vocabulary of language analysis and rhetorical strategy. As you learn more about how language and persuasion work, and as you learn to recognize and use more features of style and argument, you have a greater range of choices to make in crafting your own writing.

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8 thoughts on “american dialogues: composition course description

  1. Of course what Cheney actually said was “Go f-u-c-k* yourself.” I mention it because the question of how to represent his remarks in print (and on the airwaves) is apropos of the construction of political dialogue.
    * When I typed the original four-letter word I got the following:
    “Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: f=u=c=k*
    * When I typed the original four-letter word I got the following:
    “Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content . . . [and so on, a recursive loop].

  2. Just a picky kind of note: Proper occupational title when followed by a proper name must be capitalized (Brief Penguin Handbook p. 475). When you are discussing the national titles of President and Vice President, the name of the title is always capitalized out of respect for the office.

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