ENGL 210 - Honors English
Turn on the television, open up the editorial section of a newspaper, or eavesdrop on the conversations at lunch (or in the classroom) and you’re likely to find evidence of debate: people choosing opposite sides, opposing viewpoints, and defending them vehemently. Debate is all around us, from political campaigns to talk radio and television. In fact, debate is so prevalent in this country that linguist Deborah Tannen has dubbed ours an “argument culture.” Tannen defines the argument culture as one that “urges us to approach the world—and the people in it— in an adversarial frame of mind. It rests on the assumption that opposition is the best way to get anything done” (The Argument Culture 3).
Of course the ability to debate issues is important, but this semester we will ask, with Tannen, if opposition is always “the best way to get anything done.” We will look at alternatives to traditional debate, including invitation, dialogue, deliberation, and embodied approaches, to name a few. Students will read and watch a variety of texts and genres, including essays, speeches, columns, blogs, facebook, and clips from YouTube. Throughout the course of the semester, students will write four to six major essays of varying length, as well as smaller response papers.