Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Art -vs- Polemic

Here's a video clip to a song by Canadian musician: Sarah Slean with "Lucky Me." The lyrics address the dialectic set up in our course, but in an artistic, rather than polemical, manner.

Update: here is a link to a discussion on Sarah Slean's homepage about the dialectic in the song. Note how the dialectic in her lyrics is artistic rather than polemic. (My thanks to "Anonymous" for hard work transcribing the lyrics in the comments here.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lecture Slides

The course lecture slides are available online, here. They are numbered in sequence that they were delivered: and note that some slide sets span two or three lectures.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Last Pair of Essays

A very useful, and markedly dialectical, engagement with the Dawkins position vis a vis politics or religion as the real cause of particular local conflicts is in this article on HuffingtonPost from science journalist Robert Wright: Why the "New Atheists" are Right-Wing on Foreign Policy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Brick Lane

The film version of Brick Lane was released in North American theatres last year, June 20th, 2008.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For Monday

Our Kingdom Come text and the two remaining course essays are on our schedule for Monday. And might I trouble us all to read this very short blog post ahead of lecture: I'd like us to discuss pertinencies to the Waid & Ross comic.

The blog post is by eminent American literary scholar Stanley Fish. And a note that although the subject is two particular politicians, there is no partisan aspect to the piece.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lecture Slides on Comics

The posted lecture slides are updated with the detail on the graphic element of comics. I have included slides from the upcoming lecture in case you wish to get that extra level of preparation on the technicalities.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Good Dialectic on the Religious Question

I have come across this last week or so some engagements with the question of religion that are exceptionally dialectical. (Frequently, at Arts & Letters Daily.) My supposition is that such are now coming into prominence in response to the intensely partisan nature of the recent polemic from the anti-religion side. (In fact, I believe this is said by implication in two the examples here.)
  • The first is an interview on Canada's State media by Jian Gomeshi with the estimable Camille Paglia—who describes herself as a "lesbian, Atheist, sex-positive Feminist"—arguing for the value of the Christian religion. Click here for the podcast. Be warned: Paglia is a force of nature and just listening to her is to stand against a hurricane.
  • The second is an interview in The New Humanist with Economist journalists John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. They have co-authered a secular book on religion, which, as this interview shows, is a textbook case of a dialectic treatment—and an example of the power & glory of dialectic over polemic. Click here for the article.
  • The third is an article by science writer Robert Wright—founder of and—summarising his new book The Evolution of God. Here again, you will see a formal example of a dialectical approach—in this case, actually structured dialectically. Click here for the article.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Blatchford Essay

For the Blatchford essay (our third course essay, R. Blatchford: "Conclusion—Parting of the Ways" from God & My Neighbour) there is a slight trick to getting directly to the specific section which we will be reading -- but your generation is techno-savvy enough to figure it out in any case.

But, for the record, here is the procedure.
  1. The first time you click the hyperlink on the "Assigned Essays" post, you are taken to the Prject Gutenberg page for the e-text.
  2. Under "Formats Available for Download," find the column labeled "Format."
  3. Find the first row labeled "HTML."
  4. Click the "main site" hotlink on that row under the "Download Links" column.
  5. Now, close the bowser window completely.
  6. Open a new browser window and navigate again to the "Assigned Essays" post.
  7. This time, when you click on the hotlink to the Blatchfrd essay you will be taken directly to the "Conclusion--The Parting of the Ways". This is the only section that we will be studying in lecture this week.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rhetorical Appeals

A useful link to a sketch of the three types of rhetorical appeal is available here from Durham Technical College.

More discussion to follow in Wednesday's lecture...

New background article

Today's Arts & Letters Daily has this blurb to a new article online at the New Statesman:
The idea that religion is destined to die out is itself a confession of faith. No evidence will persuade secular believers they are on the wrong side of history... more»
As mentioned in lecture, New Statesman is a credible Left-Centre journal, founded by the Fabian Society, that gives us a trustworthy place to find cultural background to cultural engagements with religion for & against.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Course Reading Break

A Reading Week is a great idea: opportunity during Term to read the course texts for the second time through.

Accordingly, there are no lectures or tutorials in English 105W on the week of May 18th-20th (Monday the 18th being of course Queen Victoria day.)

Grades Incentive

Strong attendance, the politeness of full punctuality, and the courtesy of concentration provided by cell-phones & PDA kept out of sight: these lecture protocols are all not only contributions to effectiveness but standard expectations in professional life.

To promote these, this course will add a class-wide five percent bonus to the Final Exam and retroactively to the Mid-Term revision if these established norms are sustained throughout the Term, based on the Lecturer's observations.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Via today's Arts & Letters Daily, a link to an article on conspiracy theories.

Here is the link to a C. Hitchens' article condemning Dan Brown's writing

The da Vinci Code sequel is being released, and the director approves of it while others don't.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lecture: Slides

This post will be used to link to certain lecture slides periodically uploaded throughout the Term. The full lecture slides will be posted fourty-eight hours before the Final Exam for review.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mid-Term Assignment Criteria

Here is the arrangement and the schedule of dates for the Mid-Term Essay, two thousand words and revision. The assignment is worth thirty-five percent of the Course grade, of which twenty percent is for the Mid-Term essay and fifteen percent for the subsequent revision.
Eight-week writing track:
  1. Wednesday June 9th: choice of topics posted on the website.
  2. Wednesday June 23rd: mid-term essay due in lecture.
  3. Wednesday July 7th: essay returned with comments & grade.
  4. Wednesday July 21st: revision due in lecture.
  5. Wednesday Aug 11th: revision returned with comments & grade.
  • The mid-term essay is an opportunity to get your ideas, argument and structure down on paper. Your Tutorial leader will mark the important errors which require revision. You are encouraged to bring the draft to Office Hours for additional and thorough-going help.
  • The subsequent revision will be graded according to the improvements made to the mid-term essay from the directions made on your mid-term essay by your Tutorial leader.

Proof-Reading Symbols in Mid-Term Marking

Follow this link for a legend of the standard proof-reading and copy-editing symbols. These might be used during the grading of the essay assignments.

More here. And here.