General Introduction
– Still in the decimals
– I haven’t the faintest idea
– What’s on the blog?
– Last man standing

Conservatism in The Office of Assertion
– Some background
– Conservative or old-fashioned?
– What should freshmen write about?
– Using Crider effectively
– What is interesting student writing?

Crider vs. Standard Freshman Comp.
– Discovery and persuasion
– The “O” word
– Rhetoric and dialectic
– Is there a middle ground?
– Truth as process and un-ignoring

Organization and Arrangement
– Immanent design
– How Crider helps us teach
– Assembly line writing
– Two models for draft meetings

– Memorization and Delivery
– Clause Combination
– Style in other subjects
– How drafting saves time

Responsibility and Education
– How does The Office of Assertion work at Christian colleges?
– Vocational and liberal arts students
The Office of Assertion and the Phaedrus
– Thanks, conservative youth ministers
– Tedious freshman relativism
Aristotle. Rhetoric. Complete Works of Aristotle. Ed. Jonathan Barnes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1984.

Austin, Michael (ed). Reading the World: Ideas That Matter. New York: Norton, 2010.

Crider, Scott. The Office of Assertion: An Art of Rhetoric for the Academic Essay. Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2005.

Plato. Gorgias. Complete Works. Ed. John Cooper. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997.

—. Phaedrus. Complete Works. Ed. John Cooper. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997.

—. The Republic. Complete Works. Ed. John Cooper. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997.

7 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #67.1: The Office of Assertion”
  1. This looks very promising.

    Michial, what lessons were learned from your your use of the Phaedrus (i.e. its pederasty!) which you previously discussed in “Knowledge vs. Truth: A Cry for Help” in early September? Did it end better than it began? Will you use this format in the future? Did the youth of Christian America respond?

    As I mentioned somewhere in a prior post, I’m a full-time faculty developer and, ergo, these things interest me. All the best, John

  2. Thanks for this episode. I’m on next Fall’s schedule to teach comp for the first time in at least 3 years. I’m going to get this and look it over and possibly use it.

  3. John:

    I’m fairly satisfied with the way things went. I don’t think all of my students realized why I started things off with Plato, but even for students who didn’t “get” base vs. noble rhetoric, it did two things: (a) It let them know my class wasn’t going to be easy; and (b) It got them to read Plato. And some students certainly did make the connection, and I’d like to think the Phaedrus had a permanent impact on those students.

    Thanks for asking!

  4. Hey Guys!

    Just listened to this one. I’m interested in the whole “inherent structure” aspect of constructing an argument. Not enough to read a book, of course, but I’m in the process of unlearning everything that I learned in film school and I think my conclusion about narrative is something along the lines of inherent structure.

    Once I’m done reading the Poetics. I’d be happy to talk about that. I have a theory that if, in a story meeting, one brings up the Poetics, that person votes Republican in secret.

    That’s all. I feel like I’ve added to this.


    1. Thanks for listening, Ryan.

      One thing about the immanent-design idea is that it insists that rhetoric is a tekne, a complex practice that takes experience, reflection, and revision rather than simple formulae. Although I’ve not written any screenplays, I imagine that the best sorts of writing in most genres is the same way.

  5. Interesting, interesting.

    Where I think I hear more of the conversation about experience, reflection and revision (no Oxford comma) is in the world of standup. There’s a big debate in the standup world if jokes have to be forged (kind of the old school idea most articulated by Jerry Seinfeld) or if people are just “fluent” in funny. (That’s a Dave Chapelle term, not mine).

    It’s an interesting debate. From personal experience, I’ve seen 19 year old kids get on stage (no experience), do crowd work (no preparation) and be nineteen years old (no reflection) and KILL. On the other hand, I have friends who have worked on jokes for years. I think both are true. I guess I’m a joke relativist.

    I read a Malcolm Gladwell article once that had the theory that some artists work better with a high amount of info and some work better in a void of info.

    That guy has great hair.


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