• Prompts for MLK’s “I Have a Dream” [due by end of day Mon, Oct 5]

What is the dream he argues for in this famous speech?

How is his dream related to “the American Dream”?

What is “the American Dream” to you?

How has “the American Dream” been defined in recent US history and popular culture? (Do a quick Google or other web search for context.)

What do you make of this speech in light of the 1965 debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley on the question, “Has the American Dream come at the expense of ‘the American Negro'”?


• Prompts for Rhetorical Listening, pgs 8-16, due end of day, 9/23

As you read this selection, identify “key terms” you must understand before grasping her arguments [e.g. “gender,” “race,” “cultural logics,” etc.]. Include the key terms you find and her definition for them.

What stands out to you about the history of gender from this section on pages 10-12 that you’d like to discuss in class?

Likewise, what about the section on race on pgs 12-16?

If you were doing a discussion lead on this reading, what question would you pose to the class based on this reading?


• Prompts for Malcolm X’s “Homemade Education” and Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” (due end of day Wed, Sept 2)

  1. How does each writer begin his / her piece? With a metaphor? With an event? How does each end? Why are the beginnings and the endings important?
  2. Before or as you read think about the context for each piece (you don’t need to post a response to this question): Who is the audience for each (the original intended audience, most likely)? What’s the purpose of each piece? What are the historical events that bear on each piece? In the case of Malcolm X, when was the piece published? When was he assassinated? Why is this important? What autobiographical events in Amy Tan’s life have bearing on this piece she wrote?
  3. Think about the style of writing in each. How would you characterize Malcolm X’s writing style? What about Amy Tan’s style? Which kind of English does she write in, using her terminology?
  4. What did you take from these pieces in terms of the relationship of language and identity? Can you relate to them in any way?
  5. If you had to pose a question or point out an insight you had for the class about either of these pieces (or both), what would it be?

• Prompts for Metaphors We Live By (due end of day Aug 31)

Get active with the handout for this text: underline key passages, circle key terms and define them in the margin, put a question mark beside anything that’s confusing (or whatever your usual active reading practices are). We’ll discuss your notes in class and I’ll ask that you turn in the hard copy of this text with your critical reading notes. (Please put your name at the top for this reason.)

  1. How would you have defined metaphor before reading this text?
  2. Comment on this passage from page 3: “We have found…that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.” What do they mean by this?
  3. What is a key sentence, passage, or idea from this text you’d pick to discuss in class?
  4. What is one question this reading raises for you that you’d pick to discuss in class?