Major Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Writers on
Higher Education

Spring 2007 NYU Professor Julia Evergreen Keefer<julia.keefer@nyu.edu>

Theme: What is your utopian university?
What do you like or dislike most about your present college?
How do you like the universities depicted in the novels and plays?
What kinds of professors or students do these writers create?
Does the stereotyping enhance the satire to make you think?
Do you find didactic literature like this offensive?
How are character transformations fueled by educational and artistic epiphanies, particularly in A Portrait of An Artist as a Young Man?

Comparative Literature
How does the Egyptian trilogy differ from the American one?
How do story structure, linguistic presentation, and characterization differ?

Comparative Culture
What do you learn about the Muslim culture by reading Naguib Mahfouz?
How do DeLillo, Wolfe, Keefer, and Roth differ in their depiction of the American college culture?

Comparative Genre
How do the plays of Ionesco and Mamet differ from the novels of Roth and Wolfe on the same theme?
What can you write in a novel you can't write in a play, or vice versa?
How do prose and poetry interweave in the American trilogy?

Major Twentieth (and Twenty-First) Century Writers Reading List:

The Lesson by Eugene Ionesco
Oleanna by David Mamet
The Human Stain by Philip Roth
A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz
How to Survive as an Adjunct Professor by Julia Keefer
I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
White Noise by Don De Lillo

Objectives:
To read and analyze drama, novels and poetry for enjoyment, understanding, and enlightenment.
To do improvisational writing about what higher education means to you.
To learn how to do close textual analysis, understanding the ingredients of literature in terms of denotative, connotative and figurative language, levels of reality, theme, narrative voice, style and sequencing, central dramatic questions and dramatic structure, character depiction, development, transformation and orchestration, and audience.
To do an oral presentation on what you learned from the books.

Requirements:
Attendance, participation and punctuality are crucial. This includes reading the weekly book so that you can do responsive in-class improvisational writing and discussion.
A formal close textual analysis comparing and contrasting two of the books.
An oral presentation.
A final paper that corrects and enhances your work and summarizes what you learned from the reading, lectures and discussion.
N.B. Because this course is open to everyone, grading is lenient and generous, provided you come to class and do your part.

 

The creative projects are up to you but here are some ideas:
1)Creative Writing Deconstruction. Choose characters and
situations from different novels or plays and mix them up in a new creation
of your own--fiction, poetry, screenplay, drama, mixed genre.
2) Unclashing Civilizations. Research the history, sociology, and
religion of a particular book and compare it with another one.
3) Emotional Affect Analysis. Choose passages from at least four
books and analyze them in terms of the emotions they evoke in different
kinds of readers, not just yourself. Conduct experiments with the
class and others and write a paper on WHY and HOW these emotions
are evoked.
4) Shrinkery. Pick characters from at least four books and put
them on the analyst's couch or social worker's case study. Describe their
flaws in detail and then give recommendations of how they can
transform by putting them into a specific situation in one of the books--obviously you will change the plot.
5) Educational Theme. The theme of the semester is education in
all its aspects so you can be the teacher describing the educational
epiphanies of at least four characters, how and why they transformed,
and how their educational experiences compare and contrast with
each other. This is a different focus from the shrinkery, which is more
pathological. This requires some knowledge of the respective
cultures.
6) Stylistic comparisons will be the focus of your close textual
analysis, but if you wish to do a more extensive project on this,
that is fine. Remember to distinguish between books written in English
and those that have been translated. Look over the books and begin making notes on your creative project, which will also be an oral presentation.

Breakdown

January 17: Introduction to literature and the course theme.

January 24: Act out The Lesson, lecture on Ionesco, discussion.

January 31: Act out Oleanna, lecture and discussion on Mamet.

February 7: The Human Stain. Discuss The Human Stain and see the film.

February 14: Discuss Books I and II of The Cairo Trilogy. Lecture on Mahfouz.

Naguib Mafhouz is the best-known and most studied Arab novelist in the Anglophone world. Mafhouz was born in a warren of ancient alleys in the heart of Islamic Cairo, behind the al-Hussein Mosque, in the neighborhood of Gamaliyya, in December 1911. His father, a minor civil servant, was highly traditional, and his mother was doting, his childhood lonely but unremarkable. After attending Islamic elementary schools and a secular high school, he entered Cairo University (then King Faud 1) University and in 1934 graduated with a degree in philosophy. He rememberes that period, which coincided with the anticolonial movement against the British, as the happiest of his life--as "the golden age of patriotism....when the times themselves were listening to you," he wrote in his 1961 novel The Thief and the Dogs.

Until 1971, all his works were written late at night, for he spent his days as a government bureaucrat: as an official film censor, an adviser on the arts, and a minor functionary in various ministries, including the Ministry of Religious Affairs. A private, timid man who married late in life, Mahfouz is a strong believer, a bit of a mystic, and a Fabian socialist of the most passionate sort. Mahfouz married a Christian woman at age 43 and had two daughters and no grandchildren. He has never liked to travel, leaving Egypt some three times in his life. By the late 1950s, social realism had become the defining characteristic of his work. His well-ordered, punctilious, conservative daily life was the antithesis of the world he created in his books. Note what he says in this book we are studying: "We live in a repugnant age of slogans. And between the slogans and the truth is an abyss, into which we have all fallen and lost ourselves."

He published his first novel in 1939 and since then has written thirty-two novels and thirteen collections of short stories. This prolific writer's work appears to have gone through four stages. The first (1939-44) consisted of three novels based on the history of ancient Egypt, focusing on a cherished theme, the heroic struggle of the Egyptians and their patriotic Pharaohs to expel the Hysos, as foreign ruling invaders, from their country. Like Camus' THE PLAGUE, THE STRUGGLE OF THEBES bore a relevance to Egyptian sociopolitcal reality, the British occupation. In 1945, Mahfouz left the history of Phaoronic Egypt to write A NEW CAIRO. This led to the publication of THE CAIRO TRILOGY, in 1956-57, a realistic study of Egyptian urban society between the two World Wars. In THE MIRAGE, published in 1948, Mahfouz experimented with a psychoanalytic novel, inspired by Freud. In 1959 another stage began with OUR QUARTER, an allegory of human history. In the mid seventies he returned to the fourth stage where he asserts the unique voice of Arabic narrative forms in THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS and THE DAY THE LEADER WAS KILLED.

Mahfouz' world view is similar to Sartre's social commitment and responsibility, a far cry from the nihilism of Islamic extremists. His work reveals the irony of a European intellectual woven through the ancient Arabic storytelling. In 1988 the Swedish Academy gave him the Nobel Prize and wrote that "through works rich in nuance-- now clearsightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous, Mahfouz has formed an Arabic narrative art that applies to all mankind." His characters are warm and human, in spite of and because of their grotesque flaws from the tyrannical merchant of the Cairo Trilogy, to his debauched and fanatical sons, to the weak and wayward women who tempt and distract them. Yet there is a robust sensuality, a deep reverence for Islam, a generous tolerance and the creation of world so ripe and vivid that you want to savor it forever. CHILDREN OF THE ALLEY with its autocratic rulers and echoes of prophets found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, proved most controversial and prompted a religious fatwa calling for his death in 1989.

In 1994 there was a near-fatal assault on Mahfouz by Islamic terrorists, wonderfully described by Mary Anne Weaver in her book, A Portrait of Egypt (1999) when he was stabbed while sitting in his car. since then he has only been able to write for 30 minutes at a time because of injuried nerves. He must keep armed guards around his apartment even now, in 2002.90 year old Mahfouz was recently interviewed (2002) for the New York Times. He says that even now he struggles to write every day: "A writer must sit down to write every day, pick up his pen and try to write something-- anything-- on a piece of paper. Perhaps they will succeed, or maybe come up with a new idea that will blossom eventually. Perhaps they will complete a short story, and perhaps nothing will happen at all."

Like many of the writers we are studying, Mahfouz is intensely involved in political, social and philosophical debate. At 90 his eyes and ears are so impaired that a friend arrives every morning to read the headlines for an hour. He gave his first interest payments from his Nobel Prize to Palestinian charities and now defends suicide bombers, a common position among Arab intellectuals:
"They are people defending a cause by sacrificing with their souls, and this is the highest level of noble resistance, although the death of civilians is regrettable. We have to remember that this is not a regular fight, a regular war where you can choose your target and fight only soldiers. This is a desperate situation where you blow yourself up and whoever happens to be on the site."
At the same time he shows little patience for those who want to destroy Israel or censor freedom of expression or intercultural exchanges between Jews and Arabs. At the end of the interview, after discussing death, he said:
"That is the way of life. You give up your pleasures one by one until there is nothing left, and then you know it is time to go."

February 21: Book III. Improvisational writing on topic.

February 28: Part II Unclashing Civilizations and Utopian University free-writing in Part III of How to Survive as an Adjunct Professor by Wrestling. Forget Part I.

March 7: My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk.

Critics analyze in reverse of how writers create:

FORM

Meter in poetry or grammar, sentence length, paragraph progression in prose

Rhythm in stressed and unstressed syllables

Rhyme where applicable

Tone Color including alliteration, assonance, consonance and onomatopoeia

Figures of Speech including metaphors, similes, personification, analogy

CONTENT

Word choice:complex, simple, synonyms, denotative and connotative as they relate to meaning

Description:density, detail, which sense:olfactory, gustatory, kinesthetic, auditory, visual, synesthesia

Narrative sequence:connection between events in time and space:linear, recursive, tandem-competitive, superimposed

Narrative voice:first, second, third, singular or plural, limited, omniscient, personified, multiple or single, point of view

Theme is the way the author relates to the material, combining the form and content for aesthetic or didactic purposes. It is not the same as the Central Dramatic Question.

Characters:multi-dimensional, stereotypes, archetypes, secrets, lies, flaws, objectives, needs, desires, conflicts, fantasies, nightmares, dreams, what is the worst or the best that could happen?

Dramatic Structures: the orchestration and the organization of conflict. Paradigms: the mountain, the circle, egg shaped ( Campbell monomyth) or wheel stuck in mud (recursive). Classic Aristotelian structure asks a Central Dramatic Question at the Inciting Incident that is resolved by the Climax and Resolution.

Research the World: level of reality, documentary, naturalism, realism, fantasy-enhanced memoir, sci fi, fantasy, use of imagination. Suspending disbelief. Science. Technology.

Story: what happens to specific people at a certain time in a certain space, before it is orchestrated into dramatic conflict.

March 21: Review of Close Textual Analyses, particularly narrative style. I am Charlotte Simmons. Close Textual Analyses due.

March 28: Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. Lecture on Joyce.

April 4: Don De Lillo and White Noise.
Group discussions on "How to find and develop good stories" and "The American Dream."

Is your American Dream just to be-- happy like the characters in Brave New World? In the twenties, the American Dream was Forbidden Fruit for many Americans, as it still is today.. Langston Hughes captures this dilemma brilliantly in his poem, Harlem--

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or does it fester like a sore -
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

DeLillo simply and vividly describes his raison d'etre-- "I am a sentence maker. Like a donut maker, only slower," or "Every sentence has a truth waiting at the end of it and the writer learns how to know it when he finally gets there. On one level this truth is the swing of the sentence, the beat and poise, but down deeper it's the integrity of the writer as he matches with the language. I've always seen myself in sentences. I begin to recognize myself, word by word, as I work through a sentence. The language of my books has shaped me as a man. There's a moral force in a sentence when it comes out right. It speaks the writer's will to live....The words typed on the page have a sculptural quality. They form odd correspondences. They match up not just through meaning but through sound and look. The rhythm of a sentence will accomodate a certain number of syllables. One syllable too many, I look for another word. There's always another word that means the same thing, and if it doesn't then I'll consider altering the meaing of a sentence to keep the rhythm, the syllable beat. I'm completely willing to let language press meaning upon me. Watching the way in which words match up, keeping the balance in a sentence--these are sensuous pleasures. I type rather than write longhand because I like the way words and letters look when they come off the hammers onto the page--finished, printed and beautifully formed."

April 11: Oral Presentations of Creative Projects

April 18: Oral Presentations

April 25: Final Papers due.

Check the following links to help understand genre and structure:Screenwriting versus Personal Writing

Screenwriting Structures

Conventional Dramaturgy

Experiments in TimeSpace

The Biological Rhythms of Drama

Keefer's Advanced Sequencing

Myth and the Movies

Notes on Close Textual Analysis

Dramatic Structure
Aristotle's Poetics
Form and Formula
Twentieth Century Literature
Keefer Poetry Site
Hope DeVenuto's Site
Poetry Site designed by Vilma Perusina: Haikus, Friendshipand Multicultural
Chaos (poetry by Keefer's student Michael Gatlin)

Notes on Literature and Terrorism

Enter the Hell of New York with selections from Camus, Morrison and Lili Tomlin.

Go Red with the Peking Revolutionary Opera. Visit Red Azalea and Brave New World in Self versus State.

Explore Feminism and the Body.

Expand your timespace in Einstein's Dreams.

Camus, Albert. "The Myth of Sisyphus. "The Rains of New York."

Morrison, Toni. Selections from Jazz.

Oates, Joyce Carol. Lethal. (above)

Sartre, Jean-Paul. "No Exit. "

Wagner Jane. (performed by Lili Tomlin) "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe."

Memoirs of Student Refugees of 9/11
a) Near Ground Zero--
i. Einstein's Best Dream by Jane Schreck
ii. Andre Alliance's Journal
iii. Avril Oliver's Journal of Post 9/11 Trauma
iv.From Jersey and Back-- 9/11 by Melissa Rosenblatt
v. 9/11 by Christopher McComas
vi. Fuck the Terrorists by Michael Munves
vii. Alone by Marjorie George
viii. Blue Tuesday by Marissa Alessandria
ix. Marching into the Sea by Philip Simon


WW2Online

Extended Lectures: http://www.nyu.edu/classes/keefer/com/lecture1.html
Sharpen Argumentation at: http://www.nyu.edu/classes/keefer/brain/argue.html and, /argue1.html and /argue2.html, and /basic.html

Reading List:

MLA/APA handbook of your choice
Research Strategies book of your choice or shop online
Swann's Way by Marcel Proust, Dover edition

Content Theme: Higher Education
I am Charlotte Simmons by Thomas Wolfe
The Human Stain by Philip Roth
The Lesson by Eugene Ionesco
Oleanna by David Mamet
See The Human Stain and/or read it
Read Part III of How to Survive as an Adjunct Professor by Wrestling

Objectives:

To complete a 15-20 page college research paper with a 3 page bibliography
To explore a personal methodology for creativity and research from brainstorming
To gather, organize and evaluate primary and secondary sources online, in the library, the community and through empirical research such as interviews and investigation
To engage in close and survey reading and to paraphrase, summarize, and integrate sources into personal research
To develop and refine a thesis
To structure the categories of an outline
To develop and refine critical and argumentative faculties
To establish credibility through research, audience analysis, (beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors), critical thinking, decision making and persuasive tactics
To learn the constructs of classical (Aristotle) and contemporary (Toulmin, Roger, Monroe, Boolean, Cyber) argumentation
To constructively question and defend a claim or syllogism, identifying logical fallacies
To practice debates in workshop (cooperative and adverarial) and improve oral communication skills
To understand advocacy through role playing and argumentative writing in the voice of alter ego
To analyze media, politics, law, current events, religion, philosophy, literature, science, history in terms of controversy, conflict and conversion
To improve writing skills through improvisational, poetic, and personal writing through formal and task-based exercises
To create a distinctive, original expository style, using MLA or APA parenthetical documentation
To increase knowledge and understanding of content theme
To introduce you to great literature
To publish excellent papers in the Online Journals

Requirements:

Weekly writing assignments 2-3 pages each

Weekly attendance and participation

Midterm paper--7-10 pages

 

Weekly writing is pass/fail--you are free to make mistakes, brainstorm, and take chances, but if you submit nothing, you fail. Other assignments have letter grades.

A: Excellent
A-:Excellent effort, attendance, participation, good writing albeit imperfect in some way
B: Good work
C: Satisfactory
D: Only fulfills minimum requirements
F: Unsatisfactory

Oral presentation has a letter grade. Length of presentation depends on student enrollment.

Midterm and Final Papers have letter grades but are evaluated in the following way numerically by professor as well as peers:

25% style--grammar, style, correct APA/MLA format

25% originality

25% depth and diversity of research sources

25% clarity, organization and argumentation

 

Weekly Breakdown:

Centra. Introduce yourselves, your backgrounds, needs, expectations, and goals. Free writing on your utopian educational experience. Read the Lesson and continue free writing for next week. See or read The Human Stain at your leisure. Buy Keefer's book and Oleanna and start reading whenever you want. Begin collecting research.
1/19: Difference between descriptive, dramatic, narrative, expository, and argumentative writing. In-class writing. Write samples for next week on your utopian university. Read Orbiting Global University chapter from Part III of Keefer's book.
2/2: Using Examples. Lecture on thesis development, deductive and inductive reasoning and cognitive domains. Brainstorm possible case studies or field research. Read Oleanna by Mamet.
2/9: Process Analysis. Discussion on how to describe and analyze a procedure based on what you bring to class. In-class writing to develop your individual research topics. For next week, write a procedure related to your research topic.
2/16: Comparison/Contrast. Lecture on comparison/contrast. Bring in two opinionated, very different articles about your research topic to discuss. Discussion of the difference between different kinds of universities: I am Charlotte Simmons, The Human Stain and Keefer's book.
2/23: Division/Analysis. Lecture on critical thinking and use of different kinds of primary and secondary sources. In-class writing on thesis refinement. Prepare midterm.
3/2: Midterm due. 7-10 pages on research topic, albeit imperfect. Cross-editing, discussion, and constructive criticism.  Lecture on classification and how to expand your research. Bring in an interview and analysis for next week. Self-reflective criticism.
3/9: Cause and effect. Lecture on developing your thesis to control wider, deeper research. Go over interviews. For next week, draw up a new outline for final paper.
3/16: Definitions. In-class writing to sharpen definitions. Word games and improvisational writing.
3/30: Argumentation. Lecture on Aristotle, Toulmin, claims and counterclaims,  and fallacies. In-class writing to develop your claims. Prepare debate for next week.
4/6: Argumentation. Debate on your topic with a classmate or two. Continue writing and research and prepare oral presentations.
4/13: Oral presentations. Audience analysis. How does audience change your focus, style and presentation?
4/20: Research paper due. Content analysis and cross-editing.
4/27: Submit final paper in corrected form. 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Lecture Notes

Strength Endurance Coordination Focus Flexibility Speed Posture
The ability to identify, analyse, excamine and lift a thought and defend its meaning against the resistance of argumentation. This skill is best developed through Aristotelian rhetoric. Mental endurance is required to sustain intellectual activity against boredom, lethargy, frustration, hyperactivity, overstimulation. Coordination is the organization of parts into an efficient, working whole, which involves changes in speed, dynamics, resistance, spatial patterning and points of view.

Focus is the ability to concentrate on one idea to the exclusion of others. A dancer focuses on a spot on the wall when executing pirouettes, a useful cognitive application when surfing.

 

Flexibility is the ability to see all sides of an issue, exceeding the limits of dogma, fear, and prejudice. Because of the vast amount of information we must get through, it is important to develop speed. Aerobic training can help increase our ability to read, write and think quickly.

Posture refers to the body's alignment in relation to gravity, space and motion. Mental posture establishes voice or presence.

 

In the Brain Gymnasium, we work on mindbody conditioning, assessing and understanding our cognitive domains, and changing our cerebral grooves for more potent creativity. Creativity has three stages: 1) Childlike play and wonder where we become as free and careless as a child playing; 2) Working in our cognitive domain with the appropriate combination of logical and translogical thinking such as homospatial and Janusian processes, (which can lead to frustration, and angst as repressed unconscious drives are uncovered and designing our structure with right and left brain synchronicity; 3) Completing and presenting our work to an audience which can necessitate courage and fearlessness if the work is truly creative because it would go against the status quo. Creativity is closely related to destruction and therefore the mind must be constantly erased through meditation and cognitive colonics.

Spring 99: How the Internet Changes the Way We Think
Technical Writing and the Internet

 


PROFESSOR KEEFER (COPYWRIGHT 1996)

A COMPARISON OF TRADITIONAL VERSUS CYBER RHETORIC:
  • PREDOMINANTLY LEFT BRAIN THINKING VERSUS RIGHT AND LEFT BRAIN COORDINATION.
  • SPECIALIZING IN AND EXHAUSTING ONE DISCIPLINE AT A TIME VERSUS FINDING THE PATHS WHERE A KALEIDOSCOPE OF DISCIPLINES INTERSECT.
  • CRITICAL THINKING VERSUS WINDOWS THINKING:
  • ANALYSIS VERSUS MULTIPLE SYNTHESES (different paths);
  • EVALUATION (assessing assumptions and discovering logical fallacies) VERSUS OPENING ANOTHER WINDOW.
  • ARISTOTELIAN LOGIC (syllogistic reasoning) VERSUS BOOLEAN LOGIC (intersecting circles of and, or and not):
  • DEFENDING ONE POINT OF VIEW WITH A STRONG THESIS VERSUS JANUSIAN PROCESSES OF LOOKING IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS AT THE SAME TIME.
  • OBSERVING THE UNITIES OF TIME/SPACE/ACTION VERSUS SUPERIMPOSITION OF TIME/SPACE/ACTION (i.e. allowing two or more discrete objects to occupy the same space or time or action).
  • SPECIFIC, DEFINED AUDIENCE VERSUS UNPREDICTABLE GLOBAL AUDIENCE.
  • SELF-CONTAINED ORGANIZATION OF THESIS, DEFINITIONS, DEVELOPMENT THROUGH THIS, THEREFORE THAT, INDUCTIVE AND/OR DEDUCTIVE REASONING AND A CONCLUSION VERSUS INTERACTIVE ORGANIZATION AROUND IMAGES AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING QUESTIONS.
  • TRADITIONAL PARAGRAPHS AND PAGE NUMBERS VERSUS NO PAGE NUMBERS BUT VISUAL BREAKS SUCH AS BULLETS AND DIFFERENT FONTS AND IMAGES.
  • LINEAR READING VERSUS CLICKING ALL OVER THE PLACE!

Keefer's Cyber-Logic Boot Camp

1)Inductive/deductive accordion
2) Pirouettes:Keeping your spot in a nonlinear world, developing speed and focus
3)Weaving: propositional logic through all evidence, refining and developing thesis
4)Searching for the Big 3 fallacies of ambiguity, presumption and relevance
5)Using Boolean logic and Venn diagrams to limit, expand and organize specific areas of research, especially online
6)Analysing the Persuasive Power of Images, including the homospatial imagery of collages
7)Using hypertext to make the surfer follow Your waves


Lecture and Learning Objectives: To understand the origin of claims.

First of all, we must be able to distinguish arguments/propositions/claims from other sentences such as questions (Are suicide bombers ever afraid to die?), proposals (Let's kill them.), suggestions (We recommend that you workout every day.), commands (Don't shop at Shoprite.), and exclamations (The Middle East is a bloodbath!) An argument is a group of statements, one or more of which (the premises) are claimed to provide support for, or reasons to believe, one of the others (the conclusion.) So warnings, statements of belief or opinion, loosely associated statements, reports, expository passages, illustrations, conditional statements and explanations are not arguments by themselves although they may lead to arguments. For example, a conditional statement can form the major premise of a conditional or hypothetical syllogism, but it is not an argument on its own. "If cigarette companies publish warning labels, then smokers assume the risk of smoking. Cigarette companies do publish warning labels. Therefore, smokers assume the risk of smoking."

To find out if we really have an argument we should 1) rule out typical kinds of non-arguments, 2) examine indicators such as therefore, it follows that, because, since etc. and 3) most importantly, the presence of an inferential relationship between the statements. The purpose of logic is to allow us to develop methods and techniques to distinguish good arguments from bad. Here is an example: All crimes are violations of the law. Rape is a crime. Therefore rape is a violation of the law. Symbolically, it is stated as A equals B. C equals A. Therefore C equals B. But the following is bad: Some crimes are misdemeanors. Rape is a crime. Therefore rape is a misdemeanor. This is a valid form: All A are B. All B are C. Therefore, all A are C. This is invalid: All A are B. All C are B. Therefore all A are C. For example: All cats are animals. All dogs are animals. Therefore, all cats are dogs. Remember this again when we go into testing soundness of deductive arguments.

You must be able to distinguish premises or claimed evidence (Toulmin's data or grounds) from conclusion or what is claimed to follow from the evidence. An inference is the reasoning expressed in an argument. Some arguments have more than one conclusion or more than two premises and can be described syllogistically, horizontally, vertically, in clusters, symbolically as alphabetical letters or Venn diagrams. Once we have clearly recognized the argument, it is then important to categorize it into induction or deduction. While some people often generalize and say deduction moves from general to specific, and induction from specific to general, this is not always true.

A deductive argument is one in which the premises are claimed to support the conclusion in such a way that if they are assumed true, it is impossible for the conclusion to be false, so that the conclusion follows by necessity. An inductive argument is an argument in which the premises are claimed to support the conclusion in such a way that if they are assumed true, it is improbable that the conclusion is false. Five examples of arguments that are typically deductive are arguments based on math, arguments from definition, and categorical, hypothetical or conditional, and disjunctive syllogisms. Pure math is deductive but statistics are inductive. Toulmin's method is largely inductive because his system is a rebellion against the rigors of formal logic and his 6 part chain includes a qualifier.
A categorical syllogism is a syllogism in which each statement begins with one of the words "all, no, or some. "All cats are animals. Some cats are black and white. Therefore some animals are black and white." Or use the famous Socrates syllogism "All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal." Socrates falls into the "some" category. A categorical syllogism relates two classes or categories, denoted respectively by the subject term and predicate term, and the proposition asserts that either all or part of the class denoted by the subject term is included in or excluded from the class denoted by the predicate term. We have four forms: All S are P. No S are P. Some S are P. Some S are not P. A hypothetical or conditional syllogism is a syllogism having a conditional statement for one or both premises. A disjunctive syllogism is a syllogism having a disjunctive statement for one of its premises: "Either you are with the terrorists or you are with the US and its allies. You are not with the US and its allies. Therefore you must be with the terrorists." Then try to construct a conditional syllogism to determine how such rogue states might be punished. In everyday conversation it is hard to always detect the purity of syllogistic argument. An enthymeme is an argument missing a premise or conclusion, but usually the missing element is implied. "The corporate income tax should be abolished; it encourages waste and high prices." The missing element is whatever encourages waste and high prices.

In general, inductive arguments are such that the content of the conclusion is in some way intended to "go beyond" the content of the premises. Inductive arguments include predictions about the future, arguments from analogy, inductive generalizations, (because some beans from the bag are chocolate, it is likely they are all chocolate,) arguments from authority (he could be stupid or misinformed in spite of his rep!), argument based on signs (or coexistential as the CT text says), and causal inference which isnŐt exactly the same as a conditional statement or hypothetical or conditional syllogism. In science, the discovery of a law of nature is generally considered to be inductive, while its application is deductive, proceeding from a true, valid premise.

Once we categorize arguments, we must then analyze them. We need to look at two things: the claim that evidence exists, and what kind of evidence that is, and the claim that the alleged evidence actually supports that claim. Deductive arguments are analyzed as valid or invalid, sound, or unsound. To test the validity of an argument, we must examine whether the premises support the conclusion in such away that if they are assumed true, it is impossible for the conclusion to be false. Here is an example of an invalid argument having true premises and a true conclusion: "All banks are financial organizations. Wells Fargo is a financial organization. Therefore, Wells Fargo is a bank." Any deductive argument having true premises and a false conclusion is obviously invalid. But you can have a valid argument that is unsound such as: "All wines are soft drinks. Ginger ale is a wine. Therefore ginger ale is a soft drink."

A sound argument is a deductive argument that is valid and has all true premises.

Inductive arguments are evaluated as weak/strong or cogent/uncogent. Thus, a strong inductive argument is: "This barrel contains one hundred apples. 80 apples selected at random were found to be ripe. Therefore, probably all one hundred apples are ripe." A weaker version is as follows: "This barrel contains one hundred apples. Three apples selected at random were found to be ripe. Therefore, probably all one hundred apples are ripe." Hence, strength and weakness, unlike validity and soundness, relate to degrees. A cogent argument is an inductive argument that is strong and has all true premises, the inductive analogue of a sound deductive argument. Classically it is without qualification, but Toulmin added a qualifier to his reasoning chain. However for classical cogency, the premises must not only be true but also not overlook some important factor that outweighs the given evidence and requires a different conclusion.

When you are debating in a rush, keep asking these two questions: Do the premises (data, grounds) support the conclusion (claim)? Are all the premises true? As you write research papers or debate you will develop extended arguments such as: "American Doctors who attend elderly people in nursing homes in NY State in 2002 often prescribe tranquilizers to keep these people immobile. This practice is often unwarranted, and it often impairs the health of the patients. These tranquilizers often have damaging side effects in that they accentuate the symptoms of senility, and they increase the likelihood of a dangerous fall because they produce unsteadiness in walking. Furthermore, since these medications produce immobility, they increase the risk of bedsores. Doctors at the Center for Aging and Health say that physicians who care for the elderly are simply prescribing too much medication."
Often we get snowed under in our evidence and we drown instead of resurfacing to test the premises or data and use it to back up our claim or proposition.

To review: The Toulmin model--data, warrant, backing, qualifier, reservation and claim--is more flexible and field dependent than formal logic but there are some similarities. The data function like evidence and premises on which the argument is based. The claim is the conclusion. The warrant states the reasoning used to move from the data to the claim, and it functions like an inference. The backing consists of facts or information used to support the inference made in the warrant. The qualifier modifies the claim and indicates the rational strength the arguer attributes to it. The reservation states circumstances or conditions in which the claim would not be true. The Toulmin model often presents difficulties such as misidentifying unstated warrants, confusing the data and the warrant, confusing data and backing, and applying incorrect standards to diagrams of complex and subtle arguments.

Lecture and Learning Objectives: To further your study of argumentation, comparing Aristotle to Toulmin.

In an age when we are submerged with information twenty four hours a day, the study of logic is essential-- not only traditional informal logic, but also simplified formal logic, so that we can evaluate the information we receive and create.The specific nature of web design with complementary graphics, bullets, different colors and fonts emphasizes lists and facts as opposed to linear connected thinking through traditional linguistic syntax has its own persuasive power, but like informal fallacies, it can also mislead and deceive. The hypertext links open up a multidisciplinary world which needs to be defined, limited and organized for purposes of research and understanding. Inter-, cross- and trans-disciplinary approaches can be clarified through Boolean logic and Venn diagrams.

Traditional logic first began with Aristotle (born 384 B.C.) who taught and wrote his treatises to explain his system of thinking and to refute the sophistry of emotional rhetoricians like Isocrates. A student of Plato and the son of a physician, Aristotle had a lifelong interest in empirically-based knowledge. He was a great categorizer and divided knowledge into 4 categories:1) theoretical, physics, math and theology, 2) practical, politics and ethics, 3) productive, arts, crafts and medicine, and 4) organa, or tools of methodology, logic and dialectic. He used his methodology to write the Poetics, the Physic, the Logic, the Metaphysic so that the content was multidisciplinary but his method of inquiry was similar. He divided rhetoric into three species: deliberative (future), judicial (past), and epideictic (not time bound but incite the audience to praise or blame.) Rhetoric was an indispensable part of public life in Athens and remained a potentiality, a way of constantly evaluating knowledge through dialectic, not dogmatic means. Rhetoric deals with probabilities and uses evidence and logic to convince.

Traditional Rhetoric began in a confined place and time-- Classical Athens with a specific audience of free men. Cyber rhetoric exists in perpetual time and malleable space with an unpredictable global audience. The only sure thing is that everyone is trying to sell something-- either a product or themselves or their way of doing things. However rhetoric is still judged in terms of Aristotle's qualities of correctness, clarity, ornamentation and propriety in order to prove, to delight, and to move. (Click here for synopsis and excerpts of Aristotle's work.)

The Syllogism (Deductive): All men are mortal. (the general principle)
Socrates is a man. (the case)
Therefore, Socrates is mortal. (the conclusion)
Premises must follow by NECESSITY, while in Inductive Syllogisms, they follow by PROBABILITY:
These candies come from that bag.
All the candies in that bag are chocolate.
Therefore, these candies are chocolate.

There are often fallacies in inductive syllogisms because that second clause cannot always be proven. One jumps from a case study to a general principle too quickly, as in many clinical medical trials with pharmaceutical sponsorship. As the world becomes more complex and invisible, deductive syllogisms are harder to prove.

Today we use rhetoric to sell our products and ourselves; Aristotle tried to use rhetoric to express logic which sincerely searched for the truth. Since truth in the twentieth century has been relative, to say the least, most leaders are really persuading people to worship the god of consumerism. Logical fallacies are exploited ruthlessly, as in courts of law. (Cases of O.J.Simpson, the Menendez brothers etc.)

Over the years rhetoric has become more complex. Authorities such as the Church, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung et al have had supreme persuasive abilities because of their institutional and/or personal power. "Do what I say because I say it." Rhetoric is also more directly connected to the manipulation of language.

In 1958 the British philosopher Stephen Toulmin realized that this form of argumentation is not what one encounters when listening to a public speech, arguing with a roommate about what music to listen to, or talking politics at a bar. Consequently, Toulmin developed his theory in order to explain how argumentation occurs in the natural process of everyday argument. Consequently, Toulmin wanted to explain how real people (not philosophers) argue. Although Toulmin's position on formal logic -- that formal rules of logic do not fit well with common practices of argument -- may seem obvious, one must remember the time period in which Toulmin developed his theory. Students of public speaking, rhetoric, and logic were only taught formal logic. Using a contemporary example to illustrate: Students were taught how to program a computer before they were taught how to click a mouse. When one recognizes the traditions of the time period, Toulmin's theory of argument seems even more revolutionary.

Toulmin developed his system of argumentation, in part to respond to twentieth century relativity, field specialization, and the need to attach data to every claim, especially in the areas of law and medicine. To understand the Toulmin model, think of the quck chain of reasoning you would need to make in an Emergency Room or a criminal trial, where you would move empirically from data to warrant to backing to qualifier to reservation to grounds to claim. An appropriate claim requires (a) initial grounds for the argument (b) a warrant that allows the speaker to move from grounds to claim (c) a qualifier that states the "strength" of the claim (d) reservations or rebuttals that state the exceptions to the claim. You can also reverse the order as follows:

The first element is the claim. The claim of the argument is the conclusion that someone is trying to justify in the argument.
The second element is the grounds . The grounds of an argument are the facts on which the argument is based.
The third element of the argument is the warrant. The warrant of the argument assesses whether or not the claim is legitimate based on the grounds.
The fourth element is the backing. The backing of the argument gives additional support for a warrant by answering different questions.
The modal qualifier is the fifth element of the argument. The modal qualifier indicates the strength of the leap from the data to the warrant.
The sixth and final element of the argument is the rebuttal. The rebuttal occurs when the leap from grounds to claim does not appear to be legitimate.

By creating this model for argument, Toulmin contradicted what philosophers have believed for centuries. For centuries, philosophers have believed that arguments can either be explained by relative means or by absolute means. Using either of these methods according to Toulmin is irrational to the modern argument. First of all, Toulmin claims that by using a relative method, no standards for the claims are made because the analyis of the argument is only relative to that particular argument. On the other hand, absolutism or foundationalism is irrelevant in the modern era according to Toulmin also. He claims absolutism is irrelevant for several reasons. First of if all is the fact that this absolute logic is based in mathematics and geometry. Therefore the concepts which are contained in them are field dependent. Because of this fact, Toulmin argues that there is no room for these viewpoints in other areas of logic.

Another problem that Toulmin has with absolutism has to do with the fact that answers are either correct or incorrect. Toulmin believes that there is a definite gray area in some arguments that doesn't allow for this absolutism. This gray area has also been developed quantitatively in fuzzy logic. The overall problem that Toulmin has with absolutism is that its rules are so strict that it just doesn't apply to modern reasoning.

Another important belief of Toulmin is his evolutionary theory of rationality. Toulmin believes that ideas are constantly being created. He believes that these ideas are also constantly being argued over and the person who wins the argument persuades others of his beliefs. In this way, new ideas are constantly being evolved. This concept is the most directly applicable theory to rhetoric that Toulmin has. After understanding this theory, it is no wonder why rhetoricians cherish the work of Stephen Toulmin. It is Toulmin's interpretive nature of his concepts coupled with his strong emphasis on persuasion that lend itself so well to rhetoric.. While this chain is still useful in many respects, the vast, unpredictable data of cyberspace, and its nonlinear spatial configuration and diverse global audience make the Toulmin method somewhat limited in the twenty first century. For more extensive study of Toulmin, click here.

Ideally you want to be familiar with Aristotle's more formal reasoning, Toulmin's chain of reasoning from data to claim, and contemporary theories and applications of cyberargumentation.

In cyberspace we can't rely on the pitch and resonance of our voices, the warmth of our facial expression, the impressives stature of our bodies and the expense of our wardrobe to convince people to believe us. We have to convince with the speed, frequency and prevalence of our messages and the hypnotic, timely and informative nature of our web sites.


The following is based on the book With Good Reason by S. Morris Engel.

Fallacies of Ambiguity

Equivocation:
An ambiguity caused by a shift between two legitimate meanings of a term. "If you believe in the miracles of science, you should also believe in the miracles of the Bible."
Amphiboly: An ambiguity caused by faulty sentence structure. "SLOW CHILDREN CROSSING!"
Accent: A statement that is ambiguous because 1)its intended tone of voice is uncertain; 2) its stress is unclear; or 3) it is quoted out of context "President Clinton really knows how to wag his dog."
Hypostatization: The treatment of abstract terms like concrete ones, sometimes even the ascription of humanlike properties to them (similar to personification) "Even when he was home, the job would call to him seductively, asserting its dominance, luring him back to itembrace."
Division: The assumption that what is true of 1) the whole or 2) the group must be true of the parts or members. "This is the snobbiest eating club on campus; John, who is a member of it, must therefore be a terrible snob."
Composition: The assumption that what is true of 1) a part of a whole or 2) a member of a group must be true of the whole or the group. "By the year 3500 the human race will be extinct because we know that all of us now living will be dead."

Fallacies of Presumption

Sweeping Generalization: Applying a generalization to an exceptional case by ignoring the particularities of the case. "Since step aerobics is good for the heart, they should make it mandatory in nursing homes."
Hasty Generalization: Using insufficient evidence or an isolated example as the basis for a widely general conclusion. "I was raped by a black man, therefore all black men are potential rapists." (This fallacy is often the basis for racism.)
Bifurcation: Considering a distinction or classification exclusive or exhaustive when other alternatives exist. "You're either for me or against me!"
Begging the Question: 1) Offering, as a premise, a simple restatement of the desired conclusion. "Immortality is impossible because when we die that's it." 2) A circular argument. "I'm always right." Why/" "Because I'm your mother and I say so." "How do we know that mothers are always right?" "Because I'm your mother and..." 3) (Wider generalization) "He must be depressed: he's an existentialist!"
Question-Begging Epithets: Using strongly emotional language to force an otherwise unsupported conclusion. "Democrats are amoral, lustful, greedy politicians who don't care about foetuses and family values."
Special Pleading: Applying a double standard that is exemplified in the choice of words "Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow."
False Analogy: Reaching a conclusion by likening or comparing two significantly incomparable cases. "How can you tell your children no to take money from others when the government they live under does it all the time?"
False Cause: Inferring a causal link between two events when no such causal connection has been established. "The only reason crime went down was because Agosto became mayor." (Crime also went down in every other city.)
Slippery Slope: Assuming, unjustifiably, that a proposed step will set off an undesirable and uncontrollable chain of events. "Today it's Kevorkian, tomorrow everyone over 65 will be euthanized, and by 2001 we'll have a BRAVE NEW WORLD!"
Irrelevant Thesis: Seeking, perhaps succeeding, to prove a conclusion not at issue. "Hunting isn't cruel because it makes so many people happy and well-employed.

Fallacies of Relevance

Genetic Fallacy: Attacking a thesis, institution, or idea by condemning its background or origin. "Classical Greek philosophy is anachronistic because it was created by Dead White Males."
Abusive ad Hominem: Attacking the character of the opposing speaker rather his or her thesis. "We shouldn't elect her because she's a lesbian."
Circumstantial ad Hominem: Attacking the opposing speaker by implying vested interests.
Tu Quoque: Attempting to show that an opponent does not act in accord with his or her thesis. "How can my father tell me to stop drinking when I know he's an alcoholic?"
Poisoning the Well: Attempting to preclude discussion by attacking the credibility of an opponent. "President Clinton lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky therefore he must be lying about social security, education and the environment as well."
Mob Appeal: Using emotion-laden terminology to sway people en masse. "Stand up for Afro-american civil rights! Acquit O.J.Simpson of murder!"
Appeal to Pity: Seeking to persuade not by presenting evidence but by arousing pity. "Don't send the Menendez brothers to the gas chamber because their father abused them."
Appeal to Authority: Seeking to persuade not by giving evidence but merely by citing an authority, in the form of an: 1) appeal to the one, 2) appeal to the many, 3) appeal to the select few, 4)appeal to tradition. "Use this mouthwash because Madonna uses it." "Everybody owns a car so buy one soon." "If you use this perfume, you will be set apart from the crowd." Marriage is sacred because it's been around for ages.
Appeal to Ignorance: Emphasizing not the evidence for a thesis, but the lack of evidence against it. "There must be an afterlife because no one has proven for sure that there isn't."
Appeal to Fear: Seeking to persuade through fear. "Fuzzy, if you don't stop meowing, Mommy won't give you any yum yum."


Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources
by Esther Grassian, UCLA College Library
The World Wide Web has a lot to offer, but not all sources are equally valuable or reliable. Here are some points to consider. For additional points regarding Web sites for subject disciplines, see Thinking Critically about Discipline-Based World Wide Web Resources.
Content & Evaluation
Who is the audience?
What is the purpose of the Web Page & what does it contain?
How complete and accurate are the information and the links provided?
What is the relative value of the Web site in comparison to the range of information resources available on this topic? (Note:
Be sure to check with a librarian.)
What other resources (print & non-print) are available in this area?
What are the date(s) of coverage of the site and site-specific documents?
How comprehensive is this site?
What are the link selection criteria if any?
Are the links relevant and appropriate for the site?
Is the site inward-focused, pointing outward, or both?
Is there an appropriate balance between inward-pointing links ("inlinks" i.e., within the same site)&
outward-pointing links ("outlinks" i.e., to other sites)?
Are the links comprehensive or do they just provide a sampler?
What do the links offer that is not easily available in other sources?
Are the links evaluated in any way?
Is there an appropriate range of Internet resources -- e.g., links to gophers?
Is multimedia appropriately incorporated?
How valuable is the information provided in the Web Page (intrinsic value)?
Source & Date
Who is the author or producer?
What is the authority or expertise of the individual or group that created this site?
How knowledgeable is the individual or group on the subject matter of the site?
Is the site sponsored or co-sponsored by an individual or group that has created other Web sites?
Is any sort of bias evident?
When was the Web item produced?
When was the Web item mounted?
When was the Web item last revised?
How up to date are the links?
How reliable are the links; are there blind links, or references to sites which have moved?
Is contact information for the author or producer included in the document?
Structure
Does the document follow good graphic design principles?
Do the graphics and art serve a function or are they decorative?
Do the icons clearly represent what is intended?
Does the text follow basic rules of grammar, spelling and literary composition?
Is there an element of creativity, and does it add to or detract from the document itself?
Can the text stand alone for use in line-mode (text only) Web browsers as well as multimedia browsers, or is there an option
for line-mode browsers?
Is attention paid to the needs of the disabled -- e.g., large print and graphics options; audio; alternative text for graphics?
Are links provided to Web "subject trees" or directories -- lists of subject-arranged Web sources?
How usable is the site? Can visitors get the information they need within a reasonable number of links (preferably 3 or fewer
clicks)?
Other
Is appropriate interactivity available?
When it is necessary to send confidential information out over the Internet, is encryption (i.e., a secure coding system)
available? How secure is it?
Are there links to search engines or is a search engine attached to (embedded in) the Web site?


MLA Documentation: Use parenthetical documentation (23) after the quotes: Descartes wrote "I think therefore I am." (23) Then in the bibliography, (make sure it is alphabetized) put in full publication or production details.
Books:
Tannen, Deborah. The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue. New York: Random, 1998.
Articles:
Kaplan, Robert D. "History Moving North." Atlantic Monthly Feb. 1997: 21+.
Cheuse, Alan. "Narrative Painting and Pictorial Fiction." Antioch Review 55 (1997): 277-91.
France, Peter. "His Own Biggest Hero." Rev of Victor Hugo, by Graham Robb. New York Times Book Review 15 Jan. 1998:7.
Online:
Spanoudis, Steve, Bob Blair, and Nelson Miller. Poets' Corner. 7 June 1999. 13 June 1999 <http:www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems>.
Blue Note Records . 9 June 1999. Blue Note Records. 9 June 1999 <http:www.bluenote.com>.
Coontz, Stephanie. "Family Myths, Family Realities." Salon 12 Dec. 1997. 3 Feb.2000 <http://www.salonmagazine.com/mwt/teature/1997/12/23coontz.html>.
Email:
Schubert, Josephine. "Re: Culture Shock." E-mail to the author. 14 Mar. 2000.
Film:
The English Patient. dir. Anthony Minghella. Perf. Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, and Kristin Scott Thomas. Miramax, 1996.
TV: Primates . Wild Discovery. Discovery Channel. 23 Mar. 1998.



Thesis as Steering Wheel for your Research


To avoid datasmog, you must have a steering wheel to drive your car through the data. This is the purpose of the thesis. When students are askedwhat their thesis is, they usually cite a descriptive clause as an answer: "My thesis is how we are addicted to the internet" or "My thesis is abouthow Rastas are different" or "My thesis is about Dorian Gray" or "My thesis is about how prisoners are denied a true home." These are topics, not theses. A thesis should be a complete sentence that contains a question, a statement and a dilemma that is big enough to grow throughout your paper and specific enough to limit your study to avoid excessive generalization. Some of you do have a thesis but it does not develop throughout the paper. A good thesis must weave itself around your evidence, making everything relevant. To do this, you must keep refining your thesis.

Think of a thesis as a long complete sentence: the noun, object and verb describe an action that contains the question and statement designed to solve the problem; the "or" encompasses the dilemma-- the juxtaposition of thesis and antithesis; and the subordinate clauses qualify the study to mitigate the logical fallacies incurred from too much generalization. For example: Should NYU Writing Workshop II Adjunct Professors in 2004 set
high standards, seek to develop intellectual potential and demand rigorous, original work thereby risking bad evaluations, poor attendance, negative transferences to the professor, frustration, complaints to administration, and acting out or should they dumb down and pander to their adult degree students, reduce the complexity and ambiguity of the work and sell their courses like ice cream in order to be as popular as all the other products
of a mass culture? Make sure your thesis is not a question that can be irrevocably answered "yes."
In 2004 very few questions can be answered that way. Even the statement "all men are mortal" can be contested with cloning. Do not pick a thesis and topic that is entirely materialistic. That is the danger and challenge of the home sweet home sweet. Home must be a metaphor, a symbol for more abstract intellectual issues. You are doing academic writing, not business writing or journalism, even though you may be doing timely
interviews and field trips. Your thesis should contain words that are ideas that need defining, that must be interpreted.

Part of your introduction involves defining. In the example, "intellectual potential," "negative transferences," "rigorous, original work" and other phrases must be defined according to what the researcher means. The English language has a huge somewhat vague vocabulary and has been spoken by so many people for so
many years in so many places that defining is essential. You must also look at the implications of the sentence as an action of a subject performed on an object by a verb. Professors are doing something to students and students are doing something to professors.

This complete sentence implies a teaching problem. Students come to a course that demands painful intellectual growth. Adult degree students may not have the time, the background, the aptitude nor the inclination to work as hard as they should. That is the problem. The researcher offers two hypothetical solutions, preferably a thesis and an antithesis in order to clarify the argument, although there are usually more than two solutions.
At the end of the research a compromise, an entirely different solution, or a question could be the new answer. However, working with a hypothesis allows you to explore your problem with a sharp focus, build your arguments and organize your evidence. The adjectives and subordinate clauses of the sentence qualify the study. You must use adjectives to be specific: for example, we are talking about NYU WWII adjunct professors in 1995, not any writing professor anywhere at any time. Most of you forget dates, places and demographics. This does not mean you could not have a historical or conceptual discussion in your paper that encompasses different times and places in order to emphasize the importance of the problem; it just means that your specific research is confined to a specific place, time and group of people.

It would therefore be possible to have a discussion about the theory and history of education, citing Aristotle, Locke, Rousseau, Dewey, contemporary cognitive scientists in order to give your problem depth and perspective. However, when you open up like that you must choose only the aspects of history and theory that relate to your thesis, that is what develops the most successful writing class. The purpose of limiting a study is not just to avoid fallacies but also to develop originality. In this age of recombinant and plagiarized internet culture, originality is increasingly important. We are not interested in how well you paraphrase and regurgitate the work of others-- we want to read about your original contribution to the field through experimental research in the social sciences, which could be qualitative or quantitative, empirical or more theorietical, or fresh interpretations of written material through close textual analysis. Therefore limit your study so that you can control the data, all the while being open to new knowledge and possibilities. In the example given, the researcher will obviously observe writing classes,
interview students and professors, and record changes over a period of time, let's say 1995 to 2001.

You may also want to compare and contrast two or more studies, people, places, works of literature etc. in order to clarify and distinguish characteristics. In scientific drug studies researchers give one group the drug, another group the placebo and then they compare results. Many literary critics compare and contrast different works of literature. You may compare and contrast two or more nursing homes, prisons, hospitals.
In fact it is best if you do so. Likewise in the example, it would be more effective to compare writing classes in 2004 with writing classes in 1980 or writing classes in another country, or follow the same professor for the next 6 years until 2010 which is what we will do in the example, all the while being solicitous of time, place and demographic limitations. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the comparison/contrast is the thesis however. For example, many literature majors say "My thesis is about how Keats differs from Shelley." This may be a good start but it is purely descriptive; it leads to a grocery list of categories, not the development of an argument with thesis and antithesis. If you don't control the comparison and contrast with a thesis, you will lose your focus as you collect more and more information. Remember that a thesis is a ribbon that must be wrapped around all your presents.