Topos : a mental
"place" where an argument can be found or the argument itself
This topos, or site, is occasionally maintained as a service to my students and to students and faculty at Valdosta State University interested in professional writing, linguistics, and/or rhetoric-composition.
PhD Purdue University, 1990; MA, BA Illinois State University, 1983, 1981. Author of articles on language variation and teacher education, applied linguistic theory of rhetorical argument, argumentation theory and research, history of rhetoric, and composition. Scholarly papers on argumentation and composition theory, history of rhetoric, linguistic pragmatics, stylistics, dialectology, and history of English. Areas of interest: applied linguistic theory, argumentation and rhetorical theory, history of rhetoric, and stylistics. Teaching responsibilities at VSU have included first-year composition, advanced writing courses, introductory and applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, history of the language, and grammar of English.
English (ENGL) 1102--Composition II: A composition course focusing on writing skills beyond the levels of proficiency required by ENGL 1101 that emphasizes interpretation and evaluation and that incorporates a variety of more advanced research skills. Students will learn to organize and present ideas and information effectively in research essays. FALL 2013 SYLLABUS
English (ENGL) 2010--Writing in the Professions: Teaches the elements of effective professional writing as students complete weekly editing assignments. Students are introduced to flawed professional documents that are then reverse engineered, the class discussing each document's purpose, content, organization, audience appeal, style, and mechanics. FALL 2014 SYLLABUS
English (ENGL) 2080--Grammar and Style: English 2080 sets two goals. First, it will develop in students an advanced ability to analyze, describe, and discuss the grammar of English as it is actually spoken and written (in various dialects), including morphology (word classes), syntax (sentence structure), and discourse (multiple cohesive sentences). This portion of the course will be devoted to descriptive grammar.
Second, the course will develop students' ability to make linguistically sound and rhetorically effective choices as they compose and edit English prose for correctness (adherence to "standard" American English) and stylistic felicity. This portion of 2080 will be devoted to prescriptive and rhetorical grammar. The ability to describe English grammar supports the ability to make decisions about grammar in the composing process. For example, if a writer wants to know whether to write everyday or every day, he/she needs to know what adjectives and adverbs do; the first is an adjective, whereas the second is an adverbial. In short, the course asks the question, how does the English language work? On the basis of answers to that question, we also ask, what should writers and editors attend to as they write and revise English, and, tangentially, what should English teachers be teaching their students about grammar?
English 2080 is a university course in grammar. This means class members will be challenged to learn some new methods and concepts concerning English grammar, which is an active, evolving study at the present day. We will employ a new way to diagram sentences, for example, as well as the traditional method (which only teachers use); we will study new classifications of the parts of speech, which did not remain unchanged in the previous century; we will investigate new approaches to English sentence structure; we will take some new perspectives on English usage that may well contradict edicts handed down by previous teachers. The course will ask members to learn and to unlearn. Such should be the nature of any university course. The study of grammar is no exception.
English majors and minors should possess an accurate and sophisticated understanding of the language they are majoring in; English 2080 is designed to provide them with the basis of such an understanding. SPRING 2014 SYLLABUS
English (ENGL) 3010--Writing for Business: Aims to improve class members' abilities to produce some common--and very useful--forms of written business communication. It is a practical course not only because the assignments are directly applicable to students' careers, but because class members' writing skills will be improved primarily by practice and critique of real writing rather than by the presentation of theory or by the completion of exercises. Five components of successful business writing will be consistently emphasized: style, chunking (organization and design) of information, audience appeal, message, and purpose. Members will be advised on all phases of their writing processes and will engage in both collaborative and individual work. Secondary aims of the course include raising class members' consciousness of business communication as a critical part of their lives in the workplace and developing members' abilities with word processing software, e-mail, and the Internet. FALL 2013 SYLLABUS
English (ENGL) 4610/6000--History of the English Language: Why do Hamlet and his mother use second-person singular pronouns differently when talking to each other? The Queen, for example, urges her son, "Good Hamlet cast thy nightly colour off, " while he replies, "I shall in all my best obey you Madam." Is it illogical to use a form like yourn or theirn (both based on analogy with mine), as in Wycliffe's Bible (1380): "Blessed be the pore in spirit, for the kyngdam in hevenes is heren [theirn]"? Why do some old timers say holp instead of helped?
These and (billions and billions of) other questions can be answered by the study of the history of the language. On one level, the history of English is simply a fascinating field with which any English or English education major should be acquainted. On another level, knowledge of the history of English is a valuable tool for critical readers and teachers of critical reading and for any writer or teacher of writing. For example, consider the italicized verb in this sentence: I request that the manager write me a letter of apology. Should that be writes because the the subject is singular? Just how "ignorant" is it to pronounce ask with a ks consonant cluster rather than sk? The only way to pass an informed judgment on the matter is to know something about the history of the language.
Using a standard text on the history of English and an accompanying workbook, students--and instructor--will investigate, among other things, the commonly identified periods of English (Old, Middle, Early Modern, Modern), the relationship of English to other Indo-European languages, contemporary changes in English and the general ways in which languages change, and attitudes toward change. Students will do exercises, write a couple of exams, and complete a written project that explains an aspect of Present-day English (such as the plural geese) by tracing the history of the phenomenon. SPRING 2013 SYLLABUS
English (ENGL) 4620/6000--Survey of the History of Rhetoric: Survey of the History of Rhetoric is an advanced introduction to the art(s) of rhetoric. What is an art? An art is a system of guidelines, or heuristics, designed to make the successful production of something more likely (than it otherwise would be without the system). What is rhetoric? Defined by Aristotle (c 335 BCE), rhetoric is the art of finding the popular means of persuasion on any subject and presenting them in a speech. Defined by George Campbell (1776), rhetoric is the art of enlightening an audience's understanding, pleasing its imagination, moving its passions, or influencing its will. These definitions tell us one thing: rhetoric is the wildly ambitious attempt to analyze successful communication in hopes of making it more likely to happen.
Using as our primary text a work that overviews Western thinking on the art(s) of rhetoric from the Greek Sophists to modern rhetoricians such as Chaim Perelman, we will examine portions of selected primary texts for their perspectives on the nature and scope of rhetorical discourse, its arts, and its historical and cultural positions. FALL 2014 SYLLABUS
English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) 4020/6020--Cultural Perspectives for ESOL Teachers: Culture and the relationships between culture, language, and education. Prospective ESOL teachers will investigate theories related to the nature and role of culture and cultural groups in the construction of learning environments that support linguistically diverse learners. The course will address developmental aspects of language and literacy with emphasis upon specific ways in which cultural identities affect language learning and school achievement. This course is designed for ESOL endorsement candidates. SUMMER 2012 SYLLABUS
Linguistics (LING) 4000/ENGL 6000--Principles of Language Study: Introduces students to the objective, quasi-scientific study of the nature, structure, and diversity of language, including English phonology (sounds), morphology (word formation), syntax (sentence structure), and semantics (meaning) contrasted with features of other selected languages and applied to fields such as literary study, written communication, and language acquisition. SPRING 2012 SYLLABUS
Linguistics (LING) 4160/ENGL 6000--Language in Society: Language in Society is a course in sociolinguistics, the study of the relationship between linguistic variables (such as accent, word forms, lexicon, and language use in oral and written discourse) and social variables (such as geographic region, socioeconomic class, ethnicity, age, gender, and situation). FALL 2014 SYLLABUS
The Department of English and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages offer a three-course sequence in linguistics and foreign language education leading to an endorsement in teaching English to speakers of other languages. This is a valuable add-on credential available to any undergraduate or graduate student working toward or possessing certification in a teaching field.
Valdosta State University hosts Chapter 156 of the The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the largest and most highly respected academic honor society recognizing and promoting academic excellence in all fields of higher education. Membership in Phi Kappa Phi is the highest academic honor awarded at VSU. Learn more about PKP at VSU.