Overview of Unit Two: Arguing about Issues in Language and Culture

In Unit Two you will expand your exploration of language and literacy issues by developing an argument about an issue in language and culture. Our inclusion of the term "culture" reflects our interest in asking how language shapes or is shaped by social context, historical events, technology, gender, and politics, among other forces.

Unit Two begins with three group assignments. Working with two or three other students, you will read the essays in a chapter of Exploring Language (or another reader that your instructor has chosen). As a group, you will identify several issues (debatable questions of interest to a particular group or groups) raised by the readings. For instance, the readings in a chapter on language and gender might call attention to the issue of how language is used to define the roles of men and women in society.

Following your group presentations, you will form issue groups -- groups of classmates who will work together to explore a particular issue in greater detail. As a group, you will compile an annotated bibliography of readings on your issue. Then, as a group, you will define a range of perspectives on the issue (ways of looking at or approaching an issue).

Midway through the Unit, you will begin work on a focused argument about the issue you've been exploring. In your Arguing Essay Proposal Packet, you will define your position on the issue, evaluate the various perspectives on the issue that you'll consider in your argument, and provide an annotated bibliography of at least 10 sources that you'll use to inform your argument, along with copies of those sources.

Your Arguing Essay is the major assignment for Unit Two. In this essay, you'll craft a focused argument about a narrowly defined issue related to language and culture. Your essay will build on the series of assignments you've completed individually and as a member of a group. Throughout the process of developing your ideas for the essay and drafting the essay, you'll be expected to work with your classmates to hone and refine your ideas and to provide adequate support for those ideas. As a result, peer review activities and collaborative work will play a major role in your success on this assignment.

Your goals in this Unit are to familiarize yourself with a specific issue related to language and culture, to gain an understanding of the techniques and skills used by writers who debate that issue, and to hone your skills as a writer of academic arguments. Some of the skills you'll focus on in this Unit include:

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