Donald L Anderson
Writing papers communicating information and opinion to develop accurate, competent, and effective expression.
In this section of English 281 we will read a diverse collection of critical and analytical writing. The goal of this class is to develop our own critical and analytical reading and writing skills so that the very culture we find ourselves participating in each day becomes rich with ideas, concepts, and provocative questions. The art of thinking and the art of writing should not be understood as merely academic exercises practiced within the university, but should both be seen as fundamental tools for making sense of a world that often bares little sense. To this end we will be reading both philosophy texts and watching key episodes of South Park. We’ll consider contemporary editorials from Time magazine and watch independent documentary cinema. The fundamental claim of this class is that analysis and arguments happen everywhere and everyday and make a significant mark on our lives whether we are aware of it or not. It is time to become aware of the meanings made everyday in our world and actively participate in making them ourselves.
Part of our inquiry into “thinking the everyday” will include thinking about audience and how to effectively pitch one’s argument to a specific audience. Obviously, as we’ll see, the audience for a South Park episode is different from that of a Time magazine editorial. The course readings are diverse because they are speaking to specific, we might even say “imagined,” audiences. Therefore, our course will be attentive to other disciplines besides English and will consider how best to articulate arguments in a variety of contexts.
You will be writing regularly during the course in the form of in-class writing, small papers, GoPosts and two major papers (each with a rough draft preceding it) and a final portfolio that highlights your analytical writing and thinking development over the quarter. Your final grade will be determined by participation, the two major papers, and the portfolio.
Readings may include some (but not all) of the following selections: Michel Foucault (“Panopticism”), Louis Althusser (“Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”), Slavoj Zizek (Welcome to the desert of the real!), Don DeLillo (excerpts from Underworld), Walter Benjamin (“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and/or selections from The Arcades Project), Gloria Anzaldua (“How to Tame a Wild Tongue”), Michel De Certeau (selections from The Practice of Everyday Life), Henry David Thoreau (excerpt from Walden), Susan Bordo (“Beauty [Re]discovers the Male Body”), the films Bowling for Columbine, and This is Nowhere, and various episodes of South Park. All texts will be available in a course packet.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading