21G.221 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

Communicating in American Culture(s)

Topics to Guide Reading and Discussion

Communicating in the US Education System

Study the materials and be prepared to contribute in an informed discussion of the following topics and questions:

  1. Charles Dorn describes how his history of American higher education differs from histories by other authors. Summarize the major differences.
    • Dorn uses the term “common good” in his discussion of US education. Why can this term seem contradictory?
    • What is the impact of “competing commitments” in American higher education?
    • What is the “grand narrative” of higher education history in the US, according to Dom?
    • What are two or three main differences between higher education in the US and that in your other" culture?
  2. What is the essence of Schiappa and Nordin’s concept of argumentation.
    • What European historical contexts do Schiappa and Nordin reference? Why?
    • What are some of the communication contexts where arguments are central?
    • How does the content of Schiappa and Nordin relate to current events in the U.S.?
    • When is explicit evidence required to support arguments? What form does the evidence take?
    • These two chapters of Keeping Faith with Reason are part of a textbook. As a result, they are highly formatted. For example, many headings and lists break up the density of the text. Try skimming the headings and starts of the paragraphs—can you gather the most important details that way?
  3. In “Agonism in the Academy,” Tanner presents several instances of dueling metaphors: barn raising vs. a boxing match; a doubting game vs. a sniffing game. What does she mean by these metaphors, and how do they help us understand the notion of agonism.
    • What is the relationship between argumentation and agonism?
    • While Tanner’s focus is academia, her observation of ritualized or ceremonial communication can be observed outside of academia. What examples can you think of?
  4. How have cultural forces shaped educational practices—ways of knowing, reasoning and communicating—in your “other country”? Consider education in its broadest sense, encompassing not only schooling, but the impact of extended family and community on shaping social and communication norms.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019