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Thursday, January 26

January 26, 2017

Argument: Today we discussed formal systems of argument. The Greek philosopher Aristotle came up with the most basic model; he believed that there are two basic components of argument: the claim and the support.

The claim is what you are arguing. We’ll use Miss Hall’s argument from today: I’m a good driver.

The support (or data) is what you are using to back up this claim: I’m a good driver because I’ve been driving at least six months.

Then we discussed the Toulmin model of argument. It’s named for 20th century British philosopher Stephen Toulmin, who developed a six-point model of argument. It begins with the claim and the support but then adds something important — the warrant.

Warrants are the set of assumptions the person or people you’re arguing with would have have to agree with to accept that your argument is valid. For example, consider the support above: I’m a good driver because I’ve been driving at least six months.

To agree with this argument, your subject(s) would have to agree with one or more of the following warrants:

1. Six months is generally a sufficient amount of time to become a good driver.

2. In those six months, you have gained sufficient driving experience to be considered a good driver.

3. The is some universally accepted standard we can use to evaluate “good driving.”

Etc., etc.

If your audience doesn’t agree with these warrants, you’re probably not going to get anywhere with this line of argument. Warrants are generally where an argument is won or lost; trying to identify them before you engage in an argument can certainly help you be successful.

The other three parts of the Toulmin model, we could consider refinements of the first part:

Backup means additional support for your claim. You’ll generally need it. What if you had a study that helped back up your claim that young drivers can be safe drivers? You’d probably want to use it as backup.

Rebuttal means considering (again) the objections your audience might make to your claim. These can be numerous, but you have to try to think ahead as much as you possibly can. What if your mom says, as is likely, something like, “You have to have years of experience before you can be a good driver.”?

That brings us to the qualifier, which means the ways in which you might have to adapt, or qualify, your original claim to make it more acceptable. You might qualify your original claim of “I’m a good driver” by saying, “OK, I’m probably not a good driver yet — or at least as good as I can be. However, I’m a competent enough driver to make basic trips to and from school unaccompanied.” You still might not win with that more specific claim — but you have a lot less ground to defend.

You don’t want your argument to look like this:


But like this instead:


I passed out packets with the following three essays: “”A Modest Proposal” “Letter From Birmingham Jail” and Common Sense. Wouldn’t hurt to begin reading the first one, although it’ll probably be another week or so before we get to it.

Adaptation: Today we primarily discussed your homework assignment (which was collected in the end) and used this as an entry to talk about what qualifies (or does not qualify) as an “adaptation.” Here is a picture of the  board:


Keep in mind that what is on this board is speculative, at this point – it’s a collection of ideas concerning adaptation and related practices or dynamics. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be further refining and defining these ideas.

You have a response to complete for Tuesday, which can be found here: adaptation-1-26-17-response-1-considering-related-works. Consider this response an additional exploration of some of the issues that were brought up today – there is no right or wrong answer, so don’t feel as though you need to find one. Substantially express your thoughts on the questions posed; play devil’s advocate if necessary.

The reading assignment for next Thursday was also handed out, and can also be found here. Please do the response before reading this. adaptation-1-31-17-reading-task-of-the-translator.

Siren: January issue is out! Good work, everyone.

Prompt: Today’s activity was black-out poetry. When you’ve completed your poem, staple or tape it into your notebook. Be sure to add the required heading (date + activity) to the page for full credit!

Notebooks will be checked on Tuesday. You need five entries – see the syllabus for specific details if you need help remembering what they are!

Publishing: Today we discussed what’s going to happen this semester, and you did made some plans!

Comedy: Today you did an in-class activity – you just had to do something to make other people laugh. This took up the whole block and we will be discussing the results of this activity tomorrow, so try not to erase today from your memory just yet.

Survey: CNF: We talked about the two “building blocks” of CNF, the moment (what actually happened) and the riff (your commentary on what happened). You “mapped” out your afternoon using both terms.

Then we brainstormed a list of firsts — first heartbreak, first act of rebellion, first concert, first pet, etc. Your homework for Monday is to choose one moment from the first of your choice, and write it down on the index card I gave you. Have the card ready to turn in then.

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