Courses: The Language of Argument (WRPRH140B01)

Spring 2010

In this course students will learn how to analyze arguments, compose arguments of their own, and write clear, concise, and elegant prose. The first half of the course will relate principles of argument and composition to principles of textual analysis. A good reader can analyze the logic of an argument, the style of its presentation, and the way it solicits its audience. Similarly, the good writer understands her audience, adopts a style appropriate to the situation, and crafts an argument that establishes grounds for possible agreement. A good writer is a better reader. For example, in Act II, scene ii of Hamlet Polonius wastes time while saying he won�t: ��since brevity is the soul of wit / And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes / I will be brief�� He can�t even speak briefly of brevity but follows his aphorism with a redundant flourish of his own. Like Polonius, when you present your reader with tedious prose you present yourself as tedious. And though few occasions warrant such a presentation, this course will supply students with the power to suit their words to different occasions and the power to read how others in turn both craft themselves and either succeed or fail to convince.The second half of the course will consider the relation between experience and language, between our world and our words. Using the analytic tools assembled during the first half, we will examine works of philosophy and literature that seek to define this relation. Texts will include, Plato�s Gorgias, Friedrich Nietzsche�s early essay, �On Truth and Lying in an Extra-moral Sense,� and Toni Morrison�s novel, Sula. We will evaluate these works on the basis of their claims about language and on the basis of the language of these claims.

Prerequisites: Open only to first-year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing.

Fulfills: HU FW Limit:15


Writing Program (Web site)

Taught By

John Muse (Profile)


Haverford, Shrp 217

Meeting Times

TTh 10:00-11:30