This semester I am taking Advanced Comp II, which focuses on written arguments. Arguing is nothing new to me (I enjoy debating politics and theology with friends, especially after a few drinks), but I haven’t spent much time studying this mode of discourse. When I argue, I try to follow a logical progression in presenting and defending my ideas. I think studying this topic further will increase my ability to do this both orally and in writing.
Obviously, the most direct impact of this course will be on my academic writing. A lot of writing that English majors do is argumentative. We must read and interpret works of literature then write about our interpretations. Our audience is usually a mix of professors and fellow English majors, people who will quickly notice any holes in our arguments.
I wonder how learning more about argument theory will affect my non-academic writing, my poetry and prose. I suppose it will have an impact in helping me write about certain themes. My poem, “On the Closing of Rec Center at Owen Park,” certainly makes an argument about the value of recreation centers in communities, which is both a values argument and a political one.
Political poems aren’t common for me, but there is always a theme or themes in need of support through my use of content and metaphor. Perhaps studying argument will make more more aware of how my content relates to those themes. I hope, though, that I don’t become too didactic in my writing. There’s a difference, I think, between expressing a theme, even one side of a divisive one, and moralizing to your audience.
Now I’m thinking about what role a writer should have in defining morality in society. People do look for expressions or denials of social values in writing, but I think that’s different than what I called “moralizing” to an audience. When I say moralizing, I’m thinking of something like Puritan writing. I’m not really sure I have a conclusion to make about this concept. When I do, I’ll write a fantastic argument about it. ;-)
Well, it’s back to the homework.