What is America
(Who are You?)
Everything is an argument! If you agree, you know what I am talking about. If you don’t, well, then we have an argument on our hands. Every minute of our lives, we fight for position, we fight for decisions, we fight to be heard. We negotiate the temperature of our showers, the taste of our toothpaste, how we will talk to the people we meet first thing in the morning (or the last thing at night). If nobody listens, we speak to ourselves in order to answer life’s most basic question that always boils down to this: “What am I doing here?” and, as Christians, we have to believe the answer to that question lies in how we engage the various conversations going on all around us. Our life, to use argumentative terms, is a collection of forensic (looking backward), demonstrative (present), and deliberative (futuristic) arguments .
Our first unit looks like the negotiation above, except on a large scale; it gives us a picture of America’s awakening, and asks the first big question of American Literature: What is America? In finding the answer, we need to sift through speeches, sermons, essays, stories, poems, and pictures, and guess what? We won’t find an answer. The underlying truth of the statement “Everything is an Argument” presumes that any statement you make is one of fact or faith, yet, in either case, you will find someone who disagrees, and that is what this course is all about: taking a stance and defending it! (known as argumentation).
For the next couple of weeks, you will be listening to Puritans, Farmers, Statesmen, Slaves, and Revolutionaries — all of them immigrants. None of them see the world the same way, and each voice expresses something different. It’s our job to become first-rate thinkers, as defined by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a famous American writer: “The test of a first-rate mind is the ability two hold two opposing views together, and still maintain the ability to function.” As your teacher, I will not assume that you all have “first-rate minds”, but I do guarantee, as your teacher, to fill your minds with as many opposing ideas as I can in order to teach you how to enter into a discussion with the culture from which you have come.
For the purposes of AP Language, you will be reading, writing, communicating, and thinking. You will learn several techniques that help build your understanding and help you to see who you are, where you have come from, what you are doing here, what it means to be American.
As a way to create Global Perspective — opinions and connections about the world we live in — you will be required to watch one documentary from the Approved Documentary List. After watching, you need to complete a Work-Over; if you would like to do one online, you can complete and print the Work-Over Template online (you will not be able to send it).
Due: Wednesday before Teacher’s Convention