Friday, January 21, 2011

Help Me Find Columnists for My Rhetoric Course

I'm teaching Foundations of Rhetoric, and I'm mixing it up.  We're reading contemporary theorists (Foucault, Scarry, Haraway, Butler) in the first unit.  For their major assignment, I want students to take the theories we've read and apply them to the work of one newspaper/magazine columnist who writes regularly.  I want them to read that person's work for the last couple of months and develop an argument about the extent to which they are an effective rhetorician using the theories we've discussed.  For example, Frank Rich was the first one who came to mind.  But, obviously, I want to get a range of people with some diversity.  Students will choose one, and I want to give them some real choices.  Politically, there is George F. Will. There's Mona Charen and Maureen Dowd.

I will fully admit my embarrassment at not being able to think of racial or ethnic diversity. Maybe Ta-Nehisi Coates?  I don't know if I can get over my personal anti-Andrew Sullivan bias.  Yes, I'm still holding a grudge about the whole barebacking, magic glutes things from the 1990s.

So, when you think of columnists writing regularly today, who comes to mind?  Any and all ideas appreciated.


  1. I don't really follow columnists a lot, but what about movie reviewers (who are often making broader claims about culture in some ways), like AO Scott ( or Manohla Dargis ( )?

    Glenn Greenwald ( ) might be good. or as obnoxious as I think he is, David Brooks ( )

  2. Scott might be good. His work is clearly broader. I worry a little about film mainly if students don't know film and the language of its criticism, how words are meant in those contexts, as opposed to articles that are supposedly aimed at the masses, but I will check Dargis out and the others. Thanks!