Sunday, November 20, 2011

And finally...

So, your final reading this term was Willa Cather's "Tom Outland's Story," which brought our study of argument back to the region, in fact the state, in which we've been studying at New Mexico Tech.  What effect did this verisimillitude of place have on you, as you worked with the text and tried to bring some of its ideas/arguments into communication with others we've studied this term. Did this "in our place," in New Mexico, component of Cather's story have any impact on your reading, interpretation, or application if it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Readings this semester

This semester, you've read a wide array of texts, from speeches, to poems, to short stories, to polemical political essays. Of all of these, which text was your favorite and why? What did it teach you about crafting a written argument?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Amy Tan writes about the various "Englishes" she has encountered in her life and how access to power in America -- to a stockbroker, to a doctor -- is sometimes affected by one's control over and possession of "proper English." "Proper English" is not what Tan's mother speaks; she speaks what many would call "broken English." The adjective "broken" as attached to "English" suggests that there is a "fixed" or non-broken way to speak the language. What do you think about that, especially after reflecting on Tan's examination of "Englishes" and their various powers?

Walker and "nativity"

How do you understand Walker's use of the term "native"? He uses the word "native" in the following sentence: "The population of 1790 was almost wholly a native and wholly an acclimated population, and for forty years afterwards immigration remained at so low a rate as to be practically of no account; yet the people of the United States increased in numbers more rapidly than has ever elsewhere been known . . ." (417). In reflecting on the effect of immigration on this "native stock," he later writes, "The appearance of vast numbers of men, foreign in birth and often in language, with a poorer standard of living, with habits repellent to our native people, of an industrial grade suited only to the lowest kind of manual labor, was exactly . . . [the] cause" of a population slump among the "native" population (418). What do you make of Walker's theory? Can you see any evidence that such theories persist today?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tom Outland

Based on your reading of "Tom Outland's Story," how would you describe Tom? What features define him? What does he value?

Monday, October 31, 2011


Think about the ways in which Crevecouer's "American" does or does not resemble the "average" (whatever that is) American today. What are the key factors that have influenced major changes in this individual's identity, and thus mark the difference? In regard to similarity, what are the factors that have allowed for persistence across centuries of some of the foundational "American" features Crevecoeur highlights?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Resonance across texts

Have a group member post in response to this prompt Monday after class:

How do the arguments in Milk's and Allen's texts resonate with other themes we’ve discussed in the other readings from this section (by Jefferson, Douglass, Anthony, and Friedan)? After having written at least five sentences (but you’re invited to write more) with your group in class on Monday to answer this question, have a group member post your group’s answer here, with all group member names included.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Hi students. So, the title of this post will resonate with all of you. Some people use this founding national idea as a means of justifying all human behaviors (as in, we can use the land as we will, despite environmental consequences, because humans in America have the"right" to pursue happiness). Given the capaciousness (look it up) of this idea, how do we balance this "right" with the rights of "other" people in our communities (think of women, or gay and lesbian Americans, as our readings have encouraged us to do) and with the "rights" (if they exist) of other nonhuman entities (animals, the air, the earth) with whom we share our lives?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Frederick Douglass

Near the beginning of Douglass's 1852 speech "What, To the Slave, Is the Fourth of July," he tells his audience that "I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young." What are some of his reasons for being "glad"? How does he use this idea of being "glad" throughout the remainder of the speech? As he says at the conclusion, he "leaves off where [he] began, with hope," a reminder of his earlier pronouncement of "gladness."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scholarly sources

From our experiences in class, what do you think the major differences are between "scholarly sources" and non-scholarly sources, or sources collected from sources other than our library's research databases? What is the value of a scholarly source and what is the value of a non-scholarly source? What do you think of the requirement in most college classes that you limit your research to scholarly and academic sources?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cooper's "The Slaughter of the Pigeons"

Cooper's "The Slaughter of the Pigeons" is excerpted out of a full-length novel, yet it manages to stand alone as an effective denouncement of avaricious human practices towards innocent non-human residents in a community (in this case, the pigeons). How is it that this few-page piece can stand by itself, when you don't even know these characters or their histories? What tactics does Cooper use in this brief episode to tell you a significant amount about these characters' traits and this community's general attitude about animals and about themselves and their rights?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Logical Fallacies! Pick a group's post and identify the fallacies in your response.

Brian Ruskauff, Flannery Norton, Isaac Hostak, Alex Appell
1. If you don’t cut down that tree, monkeys will inhabit it.
2. If you don’t return that quarter I lent you, you might walk into an unfortunate accident.
3. If you dry up the oceans, no one will drown.
4. I won’t do my math homework because my Calculus teacher’s German shepherd is a Nazi.
5. Your beautifully astounding intellect can clearly see the stunning superiority of our work.

Francisco, Kaitlin, C.V., Josh
1. That idiot doesn't know anything about the issue at hand.
2. Baseball is the most popular sport in the nation. Doyou watch it?
3. This is the most interesting man in the world, and hedrinks Dos Equis.
4. I played against some Brazilians and they werehorrible. All Brazilians must be this way.
5. He shouldn't be president, his cousin's a convict.

Donovan May, Jordan Keeley, Conor Ward, Aaron Krueger
1. Having an iPhone is like winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
2. Anyone who doesn't have an iPhone is a douche bag.
3. The only phone Harry Potter uses is an iPhone.
4. Don't be friends with him. His brother doesn't have an iPhone.
5. If Apple can make the iPhone, then we can make a car that runs on air.

Daniel Wermer, Ariana Espinosa, Andre Littot, Chris Robertson
1. When you see a dog who has no hope of finding a home you can either adopt one or they will all die in the streets.
2. If we don't stop using aerosols to do our hair every morning then all of the polar ice caps will melt causing the polar bears to die.
3. You should buy these worn out blue jeans because everyone else is getting them.
4. We should not spend time and money to rebuild New Orleans because it will only be destroyed again by the next passing hurricane.
5. If you spend the majority of your time in gang troubled neighborhoods, then you must also be a criminal yourself.

Alyssa Ninos, Paul Muegge-Granhol, Natasha Trujillo, Sarah Furlano
1. That idiot does not know what he is talking about.
2. Riding the bus gives you cancer.
3. Since everyone goes to a technical school, they all must be geeks.
4. Obama’s uncle received a DUI so the whole family must have drinking problems.
5. Everyone is buying Toshiba computers; we should also.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tannen and "argument culture"

Beyond military metaphors, which Tannen argues drive our "argument culture," what kinds of metaphors might we more usefully employ? What do military metaphors cause? From your perspective, is this a problem?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome to ENGL 112, Section 07!

Hello students! I am excited to meet you next week on our first day of classes! This semester you will read various kinds of written arguments, some of which have had a significant effect on the American social climate and on American political policy over the last two hundred years. We will also find ways to consider arguments across genres -- from poetry to essay to short story to visual images to written reports. We will end the course with a reading from a famous Southwestern American literary text that we will analyze amply in class. Then, you will write a ten-page research paper that will include an original thesis statement of your own; within this paper, you will show your skill at weaving together types of argument from many different academic and public argument genres. On our way through the semester, we will read broadly and you will write various kinds of essays, from two-page responses to five-page formal thesis-driven papers. You will also have the opportunity to use this blog to comment further on our class readings. I will look forward to hearing what you have to say in class and to reading what you write here and in your formal papers. Let's have a great Fall semester!