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.