Guidelines for writing argument essays (and for living life in general)

1. Act charitably to all men and women, especially when dealing with differences of opinion. There are intelligent people out there with hugely varying views. I guarantee it, some of your opponents are smarter than you. A yelling match will not win them over. 2. Be clear about what it is that you’re saying. Find […]

Arguing by rote

My English 102 students are supposed to be constructing argumentative essays. They come in to meet with me, as scheduled, with handwritten outlines and typed-up introductions. They want to argue about wolves, educational policy, abortion, technology, gun control. I sit across from them… the minimal age difference seems acutely obvious, this close… and ask what […]

Making aesthetic judgements about grape taffy

I have a specific taste and consistency lingering on my tongue: Sticky, vaguely brackish, fructose-esque. It is better than the memory of the grape cough drops I was forced at a young and impressionable age to hold in my mouth to alleviate illness: a cure, in my mind, more distasteful than the malady. This lingering […]

Companion to Shakespeare’s sonnets

In honor of long-standing argument that I am going to win one of these days — if the telling of it or the moral itself is of more value; not that these must be mutually exclusive. The beauty of Shakespeare’s originals, I’ll warrant you, however, surpasses these moralistic reductions as the first of May surpasses […]