Tuesday, August 31, 2004

For Thursday

On Thursday, we will be doing a "thesis exercise" in class. In order to complete this exercise and to get full credit for your paper, you must submit a draft of your thesis statement by 10 PM on Wednesday night. When you submit your thesis, be sure to identify which class period you attend (9:30, 1:30, or 3).

In class, I will display the thesis statements in front of the class (anonymously), and we will work through everyone's thesis statements, discussing how students might improve their statements and considering the kinds of support students might use to support their arguments.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Michael Moore Open Letter

We've discussed Michael Moore and his documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, in class a few times, and because of that discussion, I thought that some of you might be interested in reading Moore's open letter to President Bush about the "Swift Boat Veterans" advertisements that have been airing in a number of swing states.

Moore's letter isn't required reading, but if you're getting behind on blog entries, you are welcome to write an analysis of it for your blog. It's also interesting to note that USA Today has given Moore press credentials to the Republican convention. He'll be writing a guest column every day next week.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Speaking of Protests...

Just a quick note to mention an article I came across in the AJC on some anti-war protests on the Square in Marrietta, an Atlanta suburb known for being very conservative. If you're interested, check it out.

Also a reminder that the director's cut of Donnie Darko is playing at the Lefont Plaza theater (at the intersection of Ponce de Leon and Highland, about 3-4 miles east of campus). Fans of the original might be interested in seeing the new version of the film on the big screen.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Blog Talk: I'm Already Running Out of Good Titles

Just a quick note to let students know that I may use the main course blog to direct attention to certain blog posts that I believe raise interesting points that should be addressed in class. You may notice that I've linked to one student's post in the "Fight the Power" entry.

As the semester progresses, I will likely encourage you to link to your colleagues' posts, either within your blog or in other groups' blogs. Linking to an individual post within a blog is relatively easy:
  1. First, click on the time-stamp at the bottom of the entry you want to link, which will create a new page.
  2. Then highlight a short amount of text within your blog entry (one or two words) where you want to create your link.
  3. Then click the "link" button on the top of the Blogger interface (it looks like a green ball with a white loop on top of it).
  4. Copy and paste the address in the appropriate box, and then you're done.

Who are You?

Quick note to students sending me emails: For whatever reason, new Georgia Tech email accounts show your gtg# rather than your name in the "From" line, so please adjust your settings (to display your name) or sign all emails. It's hard to give credit for assignments submitted by email when I don't know who is sending them.

Thursday Update

This coming week the Republican convention will convene in New York City. In order to be prepared for class discussion you should watch several of the keynote speeches, inlcuidng President Bush's (Thursday) and Vice President Cheney's (Wednesday).

You should also continue reading the assigned material from Good Reasons (check the syllabus) and the "Rhetorical Situation and Kairos" essay by Dr. Andrew Cline, a writing professor at Southwest Missouri State University.

Finally, you should begin looking for articles that you would be interested in discussing with your classmates (and articles you'd like to write about for your paper). Be sure to take advantage of the resources in the sidebar, keeping in mind that most blogs will not have well-developed entries but may link to other articles you find interesting. When you find an article you want to discuss, create a link to that particular article or save the web address in a blog entry.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


I'm still missing the URLs (addresses) for two of the groups. Please check to see if your group is listed in the linkroll and if not, send me the group's address by email or leave it in the comments to this entry.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Fight the Power

First, be sure to read Chapter 2 in Good Reasons. Then read the following articles about the planned protests on the Republican convention. While I did not specifically mention a required blog entry in class, many students noticed that there is a required entry for Thursday. My decision is that you may write a blog entry for Thursday (due late Wednesday), but that it's not absolutely required. If you complete the entry, it will count towards your required fifteen for the seemester.

With the Republican convention beginning in just a few days, many news articles and editorials have been preparing us for massive protests at the convention. Because these protests will be widely covered, it's important to understand how the coverage might be framed. With that in mind, I've culled a few articles and editorials from The New York Times and other newspapers that seek to understand the protestors and their effect on the convention.

As you read, see if you can identify any specific language that might frame the protests positively or negatively, any assumptions the authors might be making about the protests, or any logical fallacies (ad hominem attacks, etc). We'll be discussing these articles in class on Thursday, and while you are not required to do a blog entry on one of these articles, you should still be prepared to discuss them. Keep in mind that I'm including a mix of articles and editorials here.Note: I just came across Beau Bennett's post, "Effectiveness of Public Protests," and Beau's post raises an important question that we failed to address in the first class: what are the rhetorical effects of the protests themselves? Beau raises several good questions about whether public protests are effective in changing what they are protesting.

School Rankings

The Princeton Review university rankings just came out, and while Georgia Tech did not finish in the top spot in any major category, another local university did crack the rankings.

Apparently that university down the road in Athens doesn't require students to study very much....

Daily Show Highlights

Just thought some of you might be amused by this transcript from The Daily Show:
STEWART: Here's what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry's record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven't been disputed for 35 years?

CORDDRY: That's right, Jon, and that's certainly the spin you'll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

STEWART: Th-that's not a spin thing, that's a fact. That's established.

CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontravertible fact is one side of the story.

STEWART: But that should be -- isn't that the end of the story? I mean, you've seen the records, haven't you? What's your opinion?

CORDDRY: I'm sorry, my *opinion*? No, I don't have 'o-pin-i-ons'. I'm a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called 'objectivity' -- might wanna look it up some day.

STEWART: Doesn't objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what's credible and what isn't?

CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well -- sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] 'Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.' Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.

STEWART: So, basically, you're saying that this back-and-forth is never going to end.

CORDDRY: No, Jon -- in fact a new group has emerged, this one composed of former Bush colleages, challenging the president's activities during the Vietnam era. That group: Drunken Stateside Sons of Privilege for Plausible Deniability. They've apparently got some things to say about a certain Halloween party in '71 that involved trashcan punch and a sodomized piƱata. Jon -- they just want to set the record straight. That's all they're out for.

STEWART: Well, thank you Rob, good luck out there. We'll be right back.

(taken from Atrios).

Monday, August 23, 2004

A Puff of Smoke....

Just a quick note to the class to let you know that my monitor blew out tonight, which means I may be slow to respond to email and to create links to student blogs. I have been checking on your blogs tonight (several group leaders still have not submitted URLs), and we'll have an opportunity to discuss some of the articles and editorials in class Tuesday.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Adding to the List

Here are a few more links for readers who are interested:FactCheck.org may be especially useful in helping readers see through some of the misleading information being presented in campaign advertisements and speeches from both major parties.

All of these links were borrowed from American Dialogues, a similar freshman composition course being taught at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, by Professor George Williams.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Readings for Tuesday: Lakoff+3 articles

For Tuesday, you should also read the George Lakoff essay, "Moral Politics."

In addition to Lakoff, be sure to read the following articles:

Note: You may be required to register to view articles from the Times and other newspapers we read in class. This registration will always be free, even if it can be annoying.

For your first blog entry, you should analyze one of the three bulleted articles/editorials listed above. You may choose to analyze the article according to the model offered in Good Reasons, or you may apply some of the arguments raised by Lakoff in his essay on political discourse. If you analyze the article using Good Reasons, discuss which of the appeals the author seems to be using (he or she may be using more than one), and discuss which arguments are most and least effective and explain why. Your responses should be approximately 250-300 words.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Cracker Squire

Added to the blogroll: Cracker Squire, a blog by Sid Cottingham, a lontime Georgia Democrat. Cottingham's humorous and irreverent take on Georgia and national politics is a fun and thought-provoking read.

Keep those links coming!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Reading Assignments for Tuesday

As I mentioned in class, you should read chapter one in Good Reasons for Thursday. In addition, you should read the following online articles and essays:
  • Dr. Andrew Cline's Introduction to Rhetoric: Dr. Cline is a professor of English at Southwest Missouri State University and writes extensively about rhetoric and the media. You may notice that I have linked to several of Cline's webpages in the linkroll. His collection of media sources will be particulalry helpful when you are looking to write your first paper.
  • Democracy Matters: This is the front page of Adonal Foyle's political awareness organization for students. Feel free to take a lok around the website, but you should focus on this New York Times article. If you're interested in Foyle's "Democracy Matters" project, you might also want to look at Eric Neel's interview with Foyle and this interview with Foyle from AlterNet.
We'll begin talking on Tuesday about how to constuct effective arguments and how to read the arguments of others more effectively.

Monday, August 16, 2004

It's a Small World

In addition to looking at online news sources and television advertisements, you will be encoraged to take a look at some (English language) international newspapers to get a sense of how they might be covering the election differently, and how that coverage might be informed by different definitions of politics, argument, and the public sphere.

In the next few days, I'll add a colletion of links to international newspapers to the linkroll in the right margin. For now, Dr. Andrew Cline's News Media Sources is a good place to start for a wealth of news resources. We'll also be discussing some of Cline's materials on rhetoric and democracy in the next few days (I'll provide a specific assignment when the time comes).

You may also have noticed that I've changed the name of the blog from Democracy Matters to, temporarily at least, Rhetoric and Democracy. I decided to cahnge the name after I learned that Golden State Warriors basketball player, Adonal Foyle, already has an organization named Democracy Matters (here's a New York Times article, if you're interested). His organization promotes many of the same concerns that will be addressed in this course, including the problem of campaign finance reform.

Cruisin' In the ATL

Scroll way down to the bottom of the right margin and you'll find a few links to places of interest here in Atlanta. Because many of you will be living in Atlanta (and, sometimes, Georgia) for the fisrt time, I've also listed some of Atlanta's alternative news sources, including Creative Loafing, a great resource for entrtainment news.

More Atlanta links coming soon. Suggestions from locals are welcome.

All the News That's Fit to Print

Just a quick note to mention that I will be adding to the list of links on the right margin over the next few days. If readers (including my students) happen to have any suggestions for other blogs or news sites that I should include here, feel free to suggest them. Leave a comment or send me an email at charles.tryon [at] lcc.gatech.edu.

You may notice that I've included several major newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. All three newspapers require readers to register for free subscriptions (the AJC has some premium content, but primarily in the sports section, and since we won't be talking about football in class, the premium registration is unnecessary).

Feel free to explore all of the links in the linkroll. I've decided not to put them in any particular order (whether by political ideology or anything else), simply because I'd rather allow you, the reader, to learn to make those decisions on your own.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Welcome to Democracy Matters

Democracy Matters is the official weblog of Dr. Chuck Tryon's freshman composition courses for Fall 2004. Students are encouraged to check this weblog daily for updates and announcements. Guests are welcome to look around and leave comments.

Because I take seriously the concept that rhetoric and democracy are intimately related, my freshman composition classes this fall will be focused on the upcoming 2004 election.