English R1B

Reading & Composition: Language and Power

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
5 Fall 2015 Wilson, Evan
TTh 11-12:30 225 Wheeler

Book List

Graff, Gerald: “They Say / I Say”: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing; Lakoff, George: Metaphors We Live By; Shakespeare, William : Julius Caesar; Williams, Joseph M.: Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace

Other Readings and Media

A course reader, available at the copy center or on bCourses

A film TBD


Language is a tool for expression, but also for manipulation and the exercise of power. In this class, we will be looking at a wide variety of the ways in which power makes itself felt through language, ranging from subtle and ostensibly honest persuasion, to persuasion backed up by force, to the language of direct authority. In the process, we will consider how to decode the assumptions that often underlie such language and shape our responses to it. As we’ll see, the ethics of speaking and writing are anything but simple, and as speakers and writers ourselves, we can’t avoid making compromises.

The subject matter of the course has a direct relationship to your mode of engagement with it: in addition to considering how speakers wield power through language, you will be honing your own skills of argument and persuasion in several papers throughout the semester, most of which you will revise. These writing assignments will allow you to harness your own sources of power (knowledge, creativity, a captive audience) and apply them to the discipline of academic writing.

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