EGL 220: Critical Thinking, Spring 2023

Jan van Grevenbroeck (1731-1807). Alternatively Grevenbroeck, Jan the Younger (fl. 17th cent.) / Public domain

Important Links

Zoom Link


Compare & Contrast Paper Prompt

Rhetorical Terms Glossary

Good Guy/Bad Guy Worksheet

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Course Home

  • Monday, March 13: Compare & Contrast Essay Assigned

    Due Dates:        

    Approved articles due:  Friday, March 24

    First draft due: Wednesday, April 5

    Final draft due: day of final exam (TBD)

    Today’s “Pitch”: Partner/changeover

  • Wednesday, March 1: Cartoons & the Rhetoric of Humor

    Timo Elliott’s AI cartoons

    AI-generated cartoons

    Why would an author/rhetor choose to use humor as a rhetorical strategy?

    Why don’t more traditional means of argumentation work so well in some contexts?

    What “audience problem” does humor attempt to solve?

    What are the implicit arguments behind the funny stuff?

    What can we learn about AI just by looking at cartoons?

  • Wednesday, February 22: Accommodation/Rogerian Argument…and Synecdoche

  • Friday, February 10-Friday, Feb 17: Ad Presentations

    Quiz #3: Take at home before Monday’s class.

  • Wednesday, February 1 & Friday, February 3: Visual Rhetoric (Ad Presentation Assigned)

    Quiz #2

    Ad Presentation

    Dates: February 8, 10, 13, 15, 17.

    11:00 class, sign up here.

    2:30 class, sign up here.

    Directions: Find a partner and exchange contact information. Choose an internet advertisement together and send a link to Plan a 15-minute presentation in which the two of you discuss the following:

    1. Overt vs. implied vs. covert theses
    2. Overall rhetorical strategy (assertive vs. accommodating/deductive vs. inductive)
    3. Visual vs. written rhetoric
    4. Loaded words
    5. Target audience

    You’re going to want to work from smaller details like loaded words to larger, overarching claims like author/thesis/target audience.

    Be sure to support all of your claims with evidence!

    A little hard talk from the U.K.

    Today’s terms (see Glossary on left for definitions):

    ad misericordiam




    existential import


    slippery slope

    target audience

    thesis: overt, implied, covert

    loaded words

  • Friday, January 13 (yikes): Truth, Facts, Reality (Redux)

    Homework for Wednesday: none

    from A Few Good Men (1992)

    Key course points, so far:

    1. Critical thinking is a purposeful act.
    2. The process involves breaking down issues/arguments into pieces, examining those pieces, then reassembling them, to see how whole arguments work.
    3. Our tools will be the terms and concepts of classical rhetoric. The process is called “rhetorical analysis.”
    4. First, though, we must look inward and evaluate our own biases, susceptibility to dogmatic thought and peer pressure. Awareness of these helps us maintain the most accurate analytical stance.
    5. It also helps to be familiar with current political ideologies, for easier identification of patterns in argumentation.
    6. Repeat after me: “Everything’s an argument!”


  • Wednesday, January 11: Deconstructing the Self

    Homework for Friday: none

    Discuss Habits of Critical Thinking Survey

    Discussion Packet #1
    : Deconstructing the Self

    Discussion packet #2: All kinds of stuff about “truth” and bias

    Do you know where you stand on the political spectrum? Take a survey at Political Compass and put your plotted dot here.

    Here’s a handy infographic illustrating the major American political beliefs. We’ll need this when we start looking at arguments.

  • Monday, January 9: Deconstructing the Self

    My name is Dr. Julie Chisholm.  I’ll be your instructor for critical thinking, an important course in your college experience.  This semester, we will first define critical thinking, and look at ways we both encourage and discourage it in our lives.  Then we will go into the gym:  a mental gym, that is, in which we work out with our brains.  We will use a tool called rhetorical analysis, the study of argument, to help get our critical thinking muscles into shape.  Along the way, we’ll look at a current event—one we’ll choose together, and the arguments made around it.  Ideally, you will learn a few things:  not just about the pandemic, but about yourself and the way you think.  Welcome to our class!

    Critical thinking is a purposeful mental activity. ‘Critical’ means to take something apart and analyze it on the basis of standards.” –Michael Baker, Basics of Critical Thinking

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    Discussion Packet: Deconstructing the Self

    Habits of Critical Thinking Survey

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