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West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

West Chester University

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001

 

 

 

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Course Information
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements
  LIT 165 Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements
  WRT 120 Assigmments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2005)
  Adieu to Imaginary Worlds
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  ASSIGNMENT SHEET: Paper #3
  Notes on 'Before the Law'
  Samuel Beckett Links
  Notes on 'Waiting for Godot'
  Approaching 'Waiting for Godot'
  Notes on 'Axolotl' by Julio Cortazar
  Notes on 'EPICAC' by Kurt Vonnegut
  ASSIGNMENT SHEET: Paper #2
  DIRECTIONS: Independent Project
  Suggested Readings: Independent Project
  Utopia/Dystopia Links
  Character Analysis: Brave New World
  Analyzing the Brave New World
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on the Brave New World
  A Critique of BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Dante Links
  Inferno: Final Destinations, Cantos XXXII-XXXIV
  Inferno: Malebolge, Cantos XVIII-XXXI
  Inferno: Questions/Analysis, Cantos XII - XVII
  Structure in the Inferno: Analysis, Cantos V - XI
  Inferno: Questions for Analysis, Cantos I - V
  Introducing Canto I
  Approaching the Divine Comedy
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Our Goals for Studying the Inferno
  Assignment Sheet: PAPER #1
  The Birthmark
  Leaf By Niggle
  Responses to Leaf By Niggle
  'On Fairy Stories' by J.R.R. Tolkien
  Notes on Ovid and 'Metamorphoses'
  Analyzing the Mythic Tales
  The Four Functions of Myth
  Myth and Metaphor
  Myth - Links
  Filtering the Introduction to 'Fantastic Worlds'
  Allegory
  'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' and 'The Zebra Storyteller
  Introducing the 'Imaginary Worlds' Theme
  Alice In Wonderland
  The Metamorphosis

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2004)
  Conference Schedule: 4/21 and 4/26
  Commentary: Following Up Your Response
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources
  What is Argument?
  Parts of an Argument
  Casebook Assignment Sheet
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Essay#1
  Expressive Writing
  Short Stories About Identity
  Thoughts on Stories About Identity
  Poems About Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Mind-map: Identity

ENG Q20: Basic Writing (Fall 2004)
  ENG Q20 Syllabus
  Frederick Douglass Excerpt
  Propaganda Analysis
  How to Detect Propaganda
  George Orwell's Politics and the English Language
  Propaganda Analysis Exercise

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

 

~~ Transitioning from the Language of Advertising
to the Language of Propaganda ~~


The border police's german shepherd-
is a sympathetic dog.
I am her friend-
I can pat her and pet her.
but I am sure that she will be nasty to any enemies

RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA POSTER


Studying the language of advertising, we've been studying the language of persuasion. It's not the language of rational argument. It's not persuasion based on clear thinking and logic. We've been looking at the language that persuades by manipulation, the language that reaches out to our emotions, plays on our fantasies, fears, desires.

You noticed in the ads you analyzed how advertisers bend language, distort it by using weasel words, euphemism, or just plain goofy nonsense. Anything to arrest our attention, make us pause and enjoy the image, the feeling. The language of advertising is a language that powerfully (whether we want to realize it or not) engages our emotions and diverts our critical intelligence until we are willing to base our consumer decisions on "feelings" rather than any specific evidence that one product is indeed objectively superior than another. We've allowed advertising to interrupt rational, critical thinking. But by studying these issues, hopefully we've begun to erect some defenses against its relentless efforts. I'm encouraged by the essays you wrote, and I think you all have begun to erect those necessary defenses.

But the persuasion doesn't stop with advertising.

Now we're turning the page and we're going to scrutinize another kind of language that surrounds us daily-especially in election years or during massive military action-as you may have been noticing lately. I'm speaking, of course, about the language of politics, which, like advertising, is everywhere. Just like the language of advertising, we're going to see how the language of politics is also flexible and ambiguous, sometimes (in the case of propaganda) rich and arresting-it's definitely purposeful and edited. The result of its use is all too often the same kind of bent, distorted truth and hopeless illusion we've been fed by advertising. Political language tells us what we want to hear, plays on our emotional weak points or hot spots. It's a language to be wary of, to study, to think critically about, to maintain a healthy skepticism over. It's a language that often blurs the truth by being so vague or general as to be practically meaningless. As the writers of "How To Detect Propaganda" declare, socially beneficial language will never suffer by our scrutiny-but the disastrous, socially harmful type must be exposed for the evil it really is! (I'm paraphrasing.)

It's important to study the way politicians speak because they represent the language of POWER. As a result of what politicians say, and think, and do-as a result of their powers of persuasion-things get done-important things. NATO drops bombs, peace prevails as a result of a summit meeting, social programs are funded or reformed or made extinct, budgets are passed, and billions of dollars are being spent one way rather than another. Political language is Power with a capital P.

And political language, as we'll learn, is shifty, just like the language of advertising. At worst, just like the language of advertising, it seems to serve the needs of its maker, not the needs of its hearer. It serves the needs of the politician, the party, the movement, the one seeking power, seeking re-election; it thrives on its users ability to make it pliable, flexible, and ambiguous. It's evasive, euphemistic, avoiding responsibility and accountability. "Unintended buildings were hit. Collateral damage was done." That doesn't sound too very terrible, certainly not as bad as "U.S. airplanes bombed and destroyed a Red Cross building in Afghanistan which housed humanitarian workers and critical food supplies."

A wholly cynical perspective of the political process sees politicians engaged in the act of selling themselves. But let's give people the benefit of the doubt and recognize that it's not always that bad. Even so, let the buyer beware. Once you begin to look into this, you may feel you need to arm yourself against weasely sales tactics.

When political language ceases to be straightforwardly informative about its record of service or its plan for service-when it ceases (or never begins) to explain ideas, policies, proposals, vision—when it, instead, seeks to influence its audience's beliefs or change its behavior using bald emotion, propaganda is in the air.

 

 

 

 

     

 


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