Heilker, Paul — Proposal for a Course in Writing, Violence, and Nonviolence

PSVP 3864 (ENGL 3864): Writing, Violence, and Nonviolence

I — Catalogue Description

Examination of the relationships among writing, violence, and nonviolence. Study of major figures and concepts in nonviolent rhetoric, with emphasis on alternatives to traditional argument. Instruction and practice in composing nonviolent texts. Pre: ENGL 1106, ENGL 1204H, or COMM 1016. (3H, 3C)

Course Number: PSVP 3864 (ENGL 3864)

ADP Title: Writing, Violence, Nonviolence

II — Learning Objectives

Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to:

  • Articulate the relationships of writing, violence, and nonviolence as they are enacted in specific genres of writing, such as argument, essay, negotiation, and arbitration;
  • Explain the nonviolent rhetorical theories of key figures such as Deborah Tannen, Carl Rogers, Marshall Rosenberg, Jim W. Corder, and Barry Kroll;
  • Interrogate key concepts of nonviolent rhetoric including empathy, dialogue, reflection, critical listening, and “common ground”;
  • Explain the strengths and limitations of various approaches to nonviolent composition;
  • Apply several approaches to nonviolent writing in contemporary rhetorical situations.

III — Justification

As Lakoff and Johnson noted over 30 years ago in Metaphors We Live By (University of Chicago Press, 1980), traditional western argument forces its users to relate to each other strictly through sublimated warfare: claiming a position, defending it against attacks, then counter-attacking and destroying the opposition. In like manner, in 2009, Deborah Tannen noted that contemporary society has become overwhelmingly adversarial, which has powerful negative effects on our ability to solve problems from the interpersonal to the international level. Students thus need to radically expand their options as scholars, professionals, and citizens to include theories and practices of nonviolent rhetoric and writing. Recent work in psychological counseling, linguistics, rhetorical theory, and composition pedagogy offers learners alternative concepts and tools of discourse with which to create a less hostile and violent future. Students in this seminar will study critical concepts in nonviolent rhetoric, survey a range of approaches to nonviolent writing, and then apply these alternative stances and tools to a significant contemporary rhetorical situation of their choosing.

Because of the emphasis on individualized research, application of theory, and the seminar style of the course, this course is appropriate for the 3000 level.

IV — Prerequisites and Corequisites

ENGL 1106, ENGL 1204H, or COMM 1016

Satisfactory completion of ENGL 1106/H1204 or COMM 1016 will provide students with knowledge and experience in the application of rhetorical theory, writing process, critical reading and thinking, and conventions of Edited American English necessary to engage effectively with the material and assignments in this course.

V — Texts and Special Teaching Aids

Brent, Doug. “Young, Becker and Pike’s ‘Rogerian’ Rhetoric: A Twenty-Year Reassessment.” COLLEGE ENGLISH 53 (1991): 452-66.

Corder, Jim W. “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love.” RHETORIC REVIEW 4 (1985): 16-32.

—–. “When (Do I/Shall I/May I/Must I/Is It Appropriate for Me to) (Say No To/Deny/Resist/ Repudiate/Attack/Alter) Any (Poem/ Poet/Other/Piece of the World) for My Sake?” RHETORIC SOCIETY QUARTERLY 13 (1988): 45-68.

Kroll, Barry M.  THE OPEN HAND: ARGUING AS AN ART OF PEACE.  Logan: Utah State University Press, 2013. 160 pp.

Ratcliffe, Krista. RHETORICAL LISTENING: IDENTIFICATION, GENDER, WHITENESS. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2005. 248 pp.

Rogers, Carl R. “Communication: Its Blocking and its Facilitation.” ON BECOMING A PERSON. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. 329-337.

Rosenberg, Marshall. NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION: A LANGUAGE OF LIFE. 2nd edition. Encinitas, CA: Puddledancer Press, 2003. 222 pp.

Tannen, Deborah. THE ARGUMENT CULTURE: STOPPING AMERICA’S WAR OF WORDS. New York: Ballantine Books, 2009. 384 pp.

VI — Syllabus                                                       

Relationships among writing, violence, and nonviolence — 20%

Major figures in nonviolent rhetoric — 20%

Major concepts in nonviolent rhetoric — 20%

Alternatives to traditional argument — 20%

Composing nonviolent texts — 20%

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