Winner Take All

Some quick notes about my upcoming composition class:

Even though Michael Bérubé assures us that “this is not a real post to the blog,” the post did remind me that I’d like to include sections of Lani Guinier’s Tyranny of the Majority for class discussion (see his review of Guinier’s Lift Every Voice). The course textbook, Good Reasons, anthologizes a short section, but I’d like to require my students to read a little more, if possible.

Her discussions of citizenship, and the willful mischaracterization of those positions in the media-frenzy confirmation hearings of 1993, should fit very nicely into the course I’m teaching this semseter. I taught a longer section of “Tyranny” when I was at Purdue, and her critique of winner-take-all elections provoked one of the more compelling discussions I had that semester (in a fairly lively class).

I’m also considering revisiting a discussion I had two years ago with my students about citizenship using material from Chris Hables Gray’s Cyborg Citizen, an assignment that worked very well a couple of years ago, but something I’m not sure I’d be able to re-create. One of the most important points raised in Gray’s “Cyborg Bill of Rights” is his stipulation that “Business corporations and other bureaucracies are not citizens, or individuals, nor shall they ever be,” which would allow for a discussion of what it means that corporations, under certain circumstances, can be understood as “persons.”

I know that I should be finished with my syllabus. After all, classes start on Tuesday, but I’m just tinkering at this point, I promise. I’ll try to post my syllabus in the next few days, but I’ve had a bad habit of not posting my new syllabi lately.

Update: Here’s a transcript of George Lakoff’s appearance on NOW with Bill Moyers, which includes a discussion of “framing” that might be useful for my students. In addition, I think I may have my course title (courtesy of Ruth Rosen of the Rockridge Institute): “Demcoracy Matters.”

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