My students need 100 copies of The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm for a rhetoric and argument study for the AP English Language and Composition course.
My students know that they are surrounded by language and argument. We will discuss what The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm says about nonfiction writing and look around us for relevant pieces of nonfiction that exemplify how language and argument influence the way we see the world.
My students are 11th graders taking AP English Language and Composition at a magnet school in Brooklyn.
We are a public school and students gain entrance by performing well on an entrance exam. The vast majority of my students are immigrants or the children of immigrants, and many will be the first in their families to attend college. These students are incredibly bright and ambitious, but many do not primarily speak English at home, so our constant challenge is to introduce complex and demanding texts that will enhance their language and writing skills while also connecting to their own lives and interests. Our school focuses on math, science, and technology, so students' academic and career interests usually lie outside English and the humanities. The AP Language course at this school is special because it allows students to appreciate how language, writing, and rhetoric are so vital to what they will do with their lives, no matter what college or career path they choose.
Janet Malcolm's influential 1990 book The Journalist and the Murderer proposes that the work any journalist does is inherently unethical in that it betrays the trust of its subjects for the purpose of creating a compelling story. This book will serve as a jumping off point for a larger discussion of how the media influences us through the use of argument and rhetoric. We will look at an array of different media, including cable news sources, news writing, opinion and feature pieces, and radio/podcast journalism. Our purpose is to engender an awareness of the choices that the author or producer of any piece is making in order to influence an audience's reaction. We will examine how Malcolm weaves a narrative in order to create an argument and whether that argument holds water. Students will analyze the rhetorical choices she and other journalists make in order to influence their audiences, and will synthesize multiple sources in order to create their own research-based arguments.
While this is an AP course that focuses on nonfiction, our school lacks complete class sets of book-length nonfiction.
By looking at a full-length nonfiction work, students will see how a rhetorical project builds and takes on a life of its own over the course of an entire book. Malcolm's book can serve as a fascinating entry point into a larger discussion of the language and argument that surround students and spark an authentic interest in the uses of language in our culture.
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|The Journalist and the Murderer • Amazon||$11.84||100||$1,184.00|
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