Students will improve their composition and reasoning skills, and
demonstrate their mastery through practice exercises and writing critical-
argumentative essays of varying lengths. More specifically, they will
demonstrate that they can:
A. Critical Thinking Objectives
1. Identify and analyze the structure of arguments in the reading assign-
2. Evaluate the validity and soundness of arguments in the readings and in
their own compositions.
3. Identify common formal and informal fallacies of language and thought.
4. Apply what they know about inductive and deductive reasoning to their
5. Distinguish between factual and opinion statements.
6. Distinguish between and use denotative and connotative aspects of
language for appropriate rhetorical ends.
7. Draw inferences from a variety of sources (print, media).
8. Identify propoganda and other manipulations of rhetoric--charged
language and slanted facts--and avoid them in their own writing.
B. Composition Objectives
1. Write a number of essays totalling 6,000-8,000 words, divided between
short essays of 1,000-2,000 words and more comprehensive essays of up to
2. Employ writing strategies including analysis, synthesis, and summary.
3. Employ writing strategies including causal analysis, advocacy of ideas,
persuasion, evaluation, refutation, interpretation, and definition.
4. Demonstrate continued development in writing correct, sophisticated
5. Learn classical divisions of rhetorical appeal including ethos, logos,
6. Employ good writing techniques including: organization for logic and
coherence; revision for focus, clarity, precision, and diction; use of
correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
7. Demonstrate familiarity with library research techniques.
Reading assignments will include both book-length and long essays selected
from various cultures, academic disciplines, and historical periods.
Readings will include classic and contemporary arguments relating to such
issues as censorship, women's rights, civil disobedience and the purpose
of higher education.
To establish the critical connection between thinking and writing, the
class will examine the writer's argumentative purpose and its relation
to rhetorical techniques, looking specifically at:
1. The nature and structure of arguments
2. Audience--appeals through diction, tone and structure
3. Logical relationship between ideas and the linguistic indicators of
4. The demands and structures of inductive and deductive arguments--
evaluation, including identifying fallacies
5. Critical theory--study and application of several critical theories;
an examination of their utility in the study of selected poems and
works of fiction.
1. Reading assignments by authors from various cultures, disciplines, and
periods which will be used both for examples of good essay writing and
as subjects for student composition.
2. Short essays (1,000-2,000 words in length) to demonstrate understanding
of each unit during the semester.
3. One longer essay (3,000-3,500 words in length) on a topic related to
the semester's readings, which will include library research.
4. Mid-term and final exam.
ELEMENTS OF ARGUMENT, 3rd ed., Rottenberg, Annette T, Bedford Books, 1993.
STRATEGIES OF ARGUMENT, 2d ed.Hirschberg, Stuart, Allyn & Bacon, 1990.
THINKING SOCRATICALLY, Schwarze, Sharon and Harvey Lope, Prentice Hall,
WRITING: A COLLEGE HANDBOOK, Heffernan, James A. and John E. Lincoln
W.W. Norton, 1990.
Other standard English handbooks, which include MLA and APA style.