e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


Catching up on Honors 220

A few weeks back I mentioned I had a section of honors rhetoric and writing 2, my first time teaching in our honors sequence. Technically proficient and accustomed to high performance at school, the students produce largely error-free prose (though a few need attention when it comes to the conventions of working with print sources). Semester-long student projects focus on the rhetorical analysis of any current debate happening in the public sphere and what students are struggling with is the difference between writing about what rhetors argue and writing about how rhetors argue. Our course text--the funny and engaging Words Like Loaded Pistols--is helping quite a bit and we're in the process of walking through various schemas and heuristics for critiquing an argument. It's fun, and we've managed to use the Richard Sherman "thug" conversation and an exchange in feminist zines about the ethos of selfies as examples we keep returning to as new tropes and terms become part of our collective repertoire. But we're also in that phase of the term where I've complicated things significantly but the complication hasn't yet benefitted student thinking and writing. I've found that there's a period where students adjust to new ways of thinking and writing, when concepts are still clicking, when they're still figuring out how to make this process their own...when the writing looks clunky. Luckily, I think I'm at the point where the students more or less trust me. And I just know that in a few weeks, as they become even more conversant about their respective areas of inquiry, as they become even more comfortable with course concepts (what is a commonplace and how does it circulate?), their writing will be at a higher level. Which is to say: I trust them too.

No comments: