ENGL-145 - Reasoning, Argumentation and Writing

The principles of reasoning in argumentation. Examination of rhetorical principles and responsible rhetorical behavior. Application of these principles to written and oral communications. Effective use of research methods and sources.

peitho goddess of persuasion
The Greek Goddess of Persuasion, Peitho

Section 01, MW 12:10-2:00 in Kennedy Library 0216A
Instructor: Steven Marx
phone: 756-2411
Office: 47-25E (Faculty Office Building)
Office hours: MW 2:10-3:30


Issues of Sustainability
with special reference to the Cal Poly Campus

Spring 2009 Schedule

Week Date Topic Class activity Work due
I 3/30

Rhetoric and argument

Argument and sustainability

logos, pathos, ethos


Sustainability and the Food System





Sentence, Paragraph, Argument

Toulmin and other models of logical argument.

Outlining in MS Word: creating a new outline and formatting an existing document as an outline


Study: The Toulmin Model (I) and The Toulmin Model (II)

Read: "An Open Letter to the Next Farmer in Chief"(NYTimes Magazine October 2008)

II 4/6

Analyzing arguments


Review Paper 1

Claims, support, warrants, rebuttals in "An Open Letter to the Next Farmer in Chief"

Paper 1--Outlining "An Open Letter to the Next Farmer in Chief"
[due 6:00 AM-- as Word attachment by email] 



Pathos and Ethos



Pollan's rhetoric. Supporters and critics.

The writing process.

Read: "An Eaters Manifesto," and critiques

III 4/13 Critiquing arguments

Review Paper 2

Michael Pollan and Hugh Grant, Monsanto CEO, discuss the food system (video excerpts)

Paper 2--Critiquing Arguments
[due 6:00 AM-- as Word attachment by email] 





Exercise in revising for conciseness

The Monsanto Controversy

Argumentation and persuasion. How deep does one go. Scientific certainty and uncertainty. Belief and action.


Watch: The World According to Monsanto (110 minutes)

Read: Monsanto-- For the Record and Corporate Responsibility


IV 4/20



Review Paper 2 revised

Before and After samples

Monsanto According to Monsanto (company blog)


Paper 2 revised
[due 6:00 AM-- as Word attachment by email]

Study: Fallacies


"Neutral Point of View"


On Neutral Point of View (NPOV)

Revised paper 2 (original)

Revised paper 2 (tracked)

Read: Wikipedia on Monsanto

Wikipedia on Neutral Point of View

Discussion of Monsanto article's neutrality

V 4/27 Entering controversy Review Paper 3

Paper 3 --The Monsanto Controversy--Arguing a Position
[due 6:00 AM-- as Word attachment by email] 


Evaluating sources of information.



Learning about Wikipedia; comparing sources, strengths and weaknesses

Discuss Papers 2 and 3

Wikipedia on Wikipedia

Wired magazine article

New Yorker magazine article

New York Review of Books 2008 article

VI 5/4 Contributing to human knowledge

Discuss Papers 2 and 3

Creating a new entry to Wikipedia



Your first article

Article development

Creating an account

Guide to writing better articles

Tutorial on formatting

Picture tutorial



Collaborative research


Wikipedia research workshop


Your first article

Article development

Creating an account

Guide to writing better articles

Tutorial on formatting

Picture tutorial

  5/8     Paper 3 revised due 6:00 p.m
VII 5/11

Developing Wikipedia article



Wikipedia research workshop

commented samples 1, 2

  5/13 Definition: understanding concepts, defining terms

--in Education
--at Cal Poly and CSU

The Story of Stuff


Study "Sustainability" in


  5/15     Paper 4-- Wikipedia entry
[due online Friday 6:00 p.m.]
VIII 5/18 Primary and secondary research

Cal Poly documents and controversies

Student guest lecturers:



Resources on Sustainability at Cal Poly


Generating topics on issues

Discuss proposals

Paper 5--Research proposal
[due 6:00A.M as Word attachment by email]
IX 5/25 holiday   Revision of Wikipedia articles due
  5/27     Paper 6--Research essay first draft
[due 6:00A.M as Word attachment by email]
X 6/1  

Conferences and peer feedback

Checklist for revision of research papers

Final versions of Wikipedia. articles due for grading 6:00 AM
  6/3   Conferences and peer feedback  
XI Final Exam

6/10 10:10AM-1PM

  Research Paper Presentations Paper 7--Final draft due in electronic and hard copy

Workload and Grading

Paper 1: outline of reading 750-1000 words 10%
Paper 2: Analysis and critique of an argument 1000 words 15%
Paper 3: Discussion of a controversy 1000 words 15%
Paper 4: Wikipedia group project (3 members) 750 words each 15%
Paper 5: Research proposal 350 words 5%
Paper 6: First draft research paper 1250 words 15%
Paper 7: Final draft research paper 1250 words 25%

Course Materials

Course materials will be available online.

Papers graded C+ or below must be revised by the dates indicated. Revised grades are averaged with the originals.

For writing tips see Dr. Marx's Special Formula for Improved Grades on English Papers.

For a complete guide to solving writing problems, see Our Own Online Rhetoric and Style Manual (OOO).

Recommended for discussions and research on issues of Sustainability at Cal Poly is Cal Poly Land: A Field Guide, edited by Steven Marx. It's available for purchase online or at El Corral Bookstore.


Late papers are penalized one full grade for each class session's delay unless a postponement is granted by the instructor in advance.

Attendance is not optional. Each unexcused absence beyond two lowers the grade by one half letter; seven or more unexcused absences result in no credit. Three unexcused latenesses count for one absence. Certified medical absences or job interviews are not counted in these totals and are the only reason for makeups .

Deliberate plagiarism or other forms of cheating result in a failing grade and referral to the dean. Students are responsible for understanding the definition of plagiarism. Please consult the instructor if this linked page on the subject doesn't make it clear to you.