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How to Disagree

If we’re all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well. What does it mean to disagree well? Most readers can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages. So here’s an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy: Truly refuting something requires one to refute its central point, or at…

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Republican National Convention: Scrutiny of Melania Trump’s speech follows plagiarism allegations

As a college English teacher, I come to the table with a nuanced professional stance on the value of originality in writing. In a given discourse community, I can refer to common ideas without making it look like I am claiming original thinking. For example, when I was an undergrad with a work-study job in the theatre department’s scene shop, I saw a tired grad student scowl at the lopsided chicken-wire…

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Watching Shakespeare With Your Kids

My retired parents and bachelor engineer brother came from out of state so they could see Carolyn and me in the Latrobe Cabaret Theatre’s Midsummer. Mom says it was the first Shakespeare play she had ever seen. My family was sitting in the front row, so I could see their reactions from the stage. I’m so glad they could make it! (The show continues Thursday through Saturday.) Shakespeare’s plays—indeed, all…

Your Brain on Books
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What You Read Matters More Than You Might Think

Seton Hill is revamping its freshman writing program, previously implemented as a pair of courses, “Basic Composition” and “Seminar in Thinking and Writing” (STW), and now called “Composition and Culture” (which students can take in one semester or stretch over two). The new design includes more focus on reading, and also seeks to erase what had been a sharp division between an emphasis on the personal essay (in the “Basic”…

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Facebook is predicting the end of the written word

Facebook’s video push threatens the edited TV news package as much as it threatens the written word. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in traffic when I post a YouTube video (which generally gets modest attention on FB but often accumulates views over time) vs when I post similar content directly within Facebook (which FB seems to promote more quickly, but which disappears into the memory hole about 24 hours later,…