Critical Thinking
Catherine Daly

Course Description

The trivium is the three-discipline core of classical education pursued by wealthy young men in Ancient Greece. The trivium consists of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. This course in critical thinking offers, more democratically, practice in the same disciplines of grammar, the art of arranging information tactically and syntactically; logic, the art of reasoning, thinking, and problem-solving; and rhetoric, the art of persuasion. You will learn to think and to show the thought you have devoted to course materials by reading and writing critically.


An edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and/or The MLA Style Manual.

A dictionary. I recommend American Heritage or Webster's Collegiate or Webster's New World. I also recommend you secure online access to these and other dictionaries such as the OED, through LAPL or your own searches on the internet.

A grammar book and writing style book or books. Fowler, Strunk & White, The Chicago Manual of Style.

Supplemental Materials Available Online


Mini papers, five paragraph themes, and essays of 500-1000 words (two to three pages, typed, double spaced) to be written and then revised.
• Essays must be typed.
• Everything must be revised, so it is best to word process them on a computer, rather than using a typewriter.
• Bring multiple copies of essays to class as specified: for me, and for your reader.

Exercises of varying length.

One ten-page research paper, to be outlined, drafted, and then finalized at midterm.

One five-page research paper, to be outlined, drafted, and then finalized at finals.

Over the course of the term, you will be exchanging your work with another student (on a rotating basis) and keeping a record of your own work, your revisions, and exercises, in a PORTFOLIO.
Course Requirements

Antioch LA encourages course attendance with the following policy: after two absences, you will be dropped from the class. These absences include excused medical absences.

Late arrival and early departure from class will be counted as absences.

The midterm and final paper must be completed and handed in on deadline in order to receive credit for them and for the course.

Week One
Structuralism and Writing
Course Policy and Procedures
Groups, Assignments, Grading
Preparation for Assignment
Writing the Five Paragraph Theme

In class, we will review the format of a five paragraph theme, then write one together. As an assignment, you will write a five paragraph theme.

Assignment for Week Two:

Read Geertz, Clifford, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight", WAYS OF READING, pps. 364-398. As you read, make a note of all unfamiliar words, and look up their definitions in your dictionary.

The first part of this essay is available online at:

Read the footnotes to the essay as well. Read "Questions for a Second Reading" on p. 399, then re-read the Geertz essay.

Write a five paragraph theme based on, inspired by, or using Geertz in some way, as discussed in class.
Week Two
Rhetoric and Culture

Geertz is a structuralist anthropologist. He is also a rhetorician.

Rhetoric in Geertz. Artistotle's Rhetoric. Modern rhetorics.

In class reader: Artistotle's Rhetoric and Artistotle's Poetics. Rhetorical modes.

Assignment for Week Three

Analyze Geertz, your essay, and the other student essay you have received. Analyze the student essay and your essay -- including any grammatical, spelling, and typing mistakes -- on the paper itself. Write your analysis in the back of the last page. It is not necessary to type your comments if you have legible handwriting. Handwrite your analysis of Geertz on the analysis handout or on a separate sheet or sheets of paper.

Write a 2-3 page (500-750 word) review (of a CD, book, piece of art, etc.) using one of the rhetorical modes.
Week Three
Poststructuralism and Writing
Thesis statements, pre-outlining, outlining

Read Foucault, Michel, "The Panopticon," WAYS OF READING, pps. 314-342. Re-read Foucault after reading "Questions for a Second Reading" on page 343. After that, read the introduction to the piece, if you haven't already.

Do facts about a writer's life change the way you read the writing? Do these biographical facts change your conclusions about the motivation of the writer?

Assignment for Week Three

Revise your five paragraph essay according to comments you have received. Place a copy in your portfolio.

Analyse your review and the review you have received from another student.

Generate possible thesis statements for papers based on the Foucault reading. Bring to class these statements and your pre-outlines and outlines for each one.

Week Four
Read Anzaldua, Gloria, "Entering into the Serpent" and "How to Tame a Wild Tongue," WAYS OF READING, pps. 22-45.

Plato Allegory of the Cave handout.

Assignment for Week Five:

Revise your review according to comments you have received. Place a copy of your revision in your portfolio.

Bring thesis statement and outline for your midterm paper to class.

Bring five sources for your draft to class, documented using MLA style.

Prepare to present your paper topic, sources, and "slant" to your group. This should include, in addition to your outline and thesis statement, your "log line", Introduction, and key quotes.

Week Five
Complete the exercises, especially the exercise on Malcolm X starting on page 145.

Mind mapping and MOO/Owl handouts.

Present your materials to your group.

Assignment for Week Six:

From your notes and your group's comments, write a ten page paper.
Week Six

Mitchell, W.J.T., "The Photographic Essay: Four Case Studies," WAYS OF READING, pps. 522-559.

Write a 2-3 page essay, as discussed in class.
Oct. 17

Read Bordo, Susan. "Hunger as Ideology," WAYS OF READING, pps. 139-171. Reread after reading p. 172.

Oct. 22
Read THINKING CRITICALLY, Chapter 10, "Composing an Argumentative Paper," pps. 420-445. Read the handout and do the exercises on the handouts.
Week Seven

Read Woolf, Virginia, "A Room of One's Own," WAYS OF READING, pps. 750-775.

Write a short essay.
Oct. 29
Outline of five page mid-term paper due.

Read THINKING CRITICALLY, Chapter 11, "Reasoning Critically," pps. 446-498.
Week Eight
Continued work on Logic.

Do the exercises.
Week Nine
Comments on draft due.
THINKING CRITICALLY, Chapter 6, "Language and Thought," pps. 213-266.
Week Ten
Read Rich, Adrienne, "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision," WAYS OF WRITING, pps. 603-616.

Comment on the paper you have received.
Nov. 28
Read Emerson, Ralph Waldo, "The American Scholar"
Dec. 3
First draft of ten page final paper due. Bring three copies to class.
Dec. 17
Final draft of ten page final paper due.


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