English 1101: Composition 1

The Rhetoric of Evolution in America
Fall 2004

Contact Information:

Instructor: Jonathan Goodwin
School of Literature, Communication, & Culture
Office: Skiles 307
Office Hours: MWF 10:00-10:50 (and by appointment)
Office Phone: 404.894.7626
Email: jonathan.goodwin@lcc.gatech.edu
Course Web Site:
http://www.lcc.gatech.edu /~goodwin/f04/1101.html

Course Description:

General Description

The Goal of English 1101 at Georgia Tech is to improve students' written and oral communication skills through a rhetorical focus on argument. In this course students explore a variety of non-fiction arguments within the discipline of science, technology, and culture studies. Students learn how to read critically and write effectively as they examine how arguments develop within social, political, and historical contexts. To enhance their understanding of a variety of communication modes, students learn how to expand and support their written work with oral presentations, and they explore visual as well as textual arguments. Additionally students learn how to improve their writing through their engagement with a variety of educational technologies. Working independently and collaboratively, students improve their composition skills while gaining a deeper understanding of audience and the contexts that inform effective communication.

Rhetoric of Evolution in America

It seems that every few months or so, an indignant schoolboard decides to ban the teaching of evolution or, more likely, to demand that alternate theories be given equal time. These "alternate theories" are increasingly likely to be of the "intelligent design" species. What this means and why this happens in the United States much more often than anywhere else are two questions we will examine in this course, with others including what is meant by the concept "theory" in science; what kind of science is biology; and what are the contours of the major contemporary debates within evolutionary theory? We will read non-technical essays on the subject by biologists (and gifted expositors) such as Richard Dawkins, Richard Lewontin, and Stephen Jay Gould in addition to influential creationist material. As this is an argumentative writing course, our major concern will be increasing your knowledge of how arguments work and how to write them effectively. To that end, we will also study the general concepts in Faigley and Seltzer's Good Reasons to apply to our specific topic. The St. Martin's Handbook we will use as a reference on grammatical, mechanical, and stylistic matters.

Required Texts:

Assignments Overview and Grading Distribution:

Software/Computing Resources and Requirements:

You will be expected to have access to the WebX software and other electronic resources for the course, including being able to read and print out readings from the electronic reserve and on the web.


I expect you to come to every class on time with your reading, written, and online assignments completed and prepared to participate in class discussions and group work. If a reading is available on-line, you must print it out and bring it with you (any exceptions I will let you know about beforehand). You are allowed up to three unexcused absences over the course of the semester. After that, each absence will lower your participation grade considerably. Every three tardies will count as an unexcused absence. Legitimate emergencies should be discussed with me on a case-by-case basis.

Office Hours and Communication:

Office hours are for you. Please do not hesitate to come and talk with me about whatever is on your mind about the course. Students who come to office hours regularly are uniformly more successful than those who do not (this is also true of most college courses, I believe). If you cannot make my regular hours, please see me after class or send me an email to make an appointment. I am most easily reached via email, and I will make every effort to respond to your emails with alacrity.


Academic Honesty:

All work you turn in for this class must be your own work, with all outside reference sources properly cited and acknowledged. All written assignments for this course will be turned in through the anti-plagiarism program "Turn It In."

The "Student Conduct Code of the Rules and Regulations" (Georgia Institute of Technology General Catalog, Section XIX) states that "academic misconduct is an act that does or could improperly distort student grades or other student academic records" and offers the following descriptive list:

The Code also notes that "while these acts constitute assured instances of academic misconduct, other acts of academic misconduct may be defined by the professor." Consult the Honor Code online at http://www.honor.gatech.edu or in the General Catalog for more information. Students who engage in academic dishonesty may receive no credit for the assignment or fail the course. In addition, the instance will be reported to the Dean of Students who may take further action.

Students with Disabilities:

Any student who feels that he/she may need an accommodation for any sort of disability, please make an appointment to see the instructor during office hours. Students with disabilities should also contact Access Disabled Assistance Program for Tech Students (ADAPTS) to discuss reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor call (404) 894-2564 (voice) / (404) 894-1664 (voice/TDD) or visit Suite 210 in the Smithgall Student Services Building. For more information visit the following website: http://www.adapts.gatech.edu.


Section I: An Overview of Argument: Evolution, School, and You

Week One
M 8/16: Course Introduction
W 8/18: Course Introduction (cont.)
F 8/20: In-class diagnostic essay

Week Two
M 8/23: What We Talk about When We Talk about Arguments, GR: Ch 1
W 8/25: GR: Ch 2
F 8/27: Discussion (cont.)

Week Three
M 8/30: GR: Ch 3-4
W 9/1: Discussion (cont.)
F 9/3: Discussion (cont.)

Week Four
W 9/8: Eugenie C. Scott, "Antievolution and Creationism in the United States" [note: must use prism id to access article]
F 9/10: Discussion (cont.)

Week Five
M 9/13: GR: Ch 8
W 9/15: Discussion of narrative argument
F 9/17: Draft of Paper #1 due for peer review

Section II: Varieties of Creationism

Week Six
M 9/20: Paper #1 (Narrative Argument) due, Introduction to Creationism
W 9/22: Henry Morris, "The Scientific Case Against Evolution"
F 9/24:William Dembski, "Five Questions Evolutionists Would Rather Dodge"

Week Seven
M 9/27: talk.origins FAQ
W 9/29: Discussion (cont.)
F 10/1: Gould "Nonoverlapping Magisteria"

Week Eight
M 10/4: Theism, the American State, and Evolution: A Very Brief Introduction
W 10/6: Discussion (cont.)
F 10/8: GR: Ch 7 [DROP DAY]

Week Nine
M 10/11: Discussion (cont.)
W 10/13: Flex day
F 10/15: Peer Review Paper #2 (Evaluative Argument)

Section III: Punk Eek, Selfish Genes, Darwin Machines, and All That

Week Ten
M 10/18: NO CLASS
W 10/20: Gould & Lewontin "Spandrels of San Marco"
F 10/22: Paper #2 Due; Discussion (cont.)

Week Eleven
M 10/25: Discussion (cont.) W 10/27: Mayr, "How to Carry Out the Adaptationst Program" [WebX]
F 10/29: Discussion (cont.)

Week Twelve
M 11/1: Gould, "Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?" [WebX]
W 11/3: Discussion (cont.)
F 11/5: Mayr, "Speciational Evolution or Punctuated Equilibria" [WebX]

Week Thirteen
M 11/8: Group projects due
W 11/10: (cont.)
F 11/12: Sullivan and Dawkins on "Selfish Gene" [WebX]

Week Fourteen
M 11/15: Daniel Dennett, "Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination" [WebX]
W 11/17: Discussion (cont.)
F 11/19: Cosmides & Tooby, "Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer"

Week Fifteen
M 11/22: Paper #3 Workshop and Discussion
W: 11/24: NO CLASS
F: 11/26: NO CLASS

Week Sixteen
M 11/29: Paper #3 Peer Review
W 12/1: Class Evaluations
F: 12/3: Paper #3 Due