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To complete the activity, students view a couple of films (which I usually select). In the past, for example, I have chosen Dead Man Walking and Higher Learning. I try to select films that engage issues of race, gender, class, alienation, and loss. Stu- dents select need help writing research paper a character whom they will rhetorically analyze, look- ing at how he or she promotes, advances, or undercuts the argument of the movie. Students have a lot of latitude in writing their observations of these characters, but because more than one person examines the same character, the class is able to share their differing perspectives.

In addition to emphasizing various rhetorical principles, this assignment encourages students to con- sider what it means to be authentic, how film as text writes and responds to other experiences. Students also, obviously, learn how others, write my psychology research paper who may or may not be similarly situated, view charac- ters, and they encounter other perspectives that might contradict or challenge hegemonic prescriptions. Discussion Initially, I put students into predesignated groups to discuss their analyses with one another before sharing them with the class.

I ask them to consider the following questions when responding to the analyses: (1) Is this character believable? In need help writing research paper the class discussion, students share their thoughts on what they believe motivates their characters and provide a rationale for the conclusions they have reached. Because all the students bring different backgrounds, values, and ways of seeing the world to the experience of the film, they make interesting and varied observations that seldom reach consensus. Students are encour- aged to explain how they arrived at their conclusions. This facili- tates interesting discussions that highlight difference. This prompted a response from a student who was ana- lyzing Malik, the black track star. She noted that Malik was some- one who turned everything into a black or white issue. In discussions like this one, I stress the need for us to see the complexity of the issues surrounding race and gender rather than focus solely on the extreme representations in the film that en- able us to distance ourselves from the possibility of being like some of the characters. I suggest that such distance allows us to leave assumptions unchallenged. I also use my positioning as a person of color to add to the critique, explicitly stating, for ex- ample, that I understand why need help writing research paper Malik sees everything as black or white. Some students note that it is important for them to hear me articulate how and why I read the issue in a particular way, but then they proceed to explain why they think this is a narrow view of the situation. ERIC - 164 - Conflicting Voices in the Classroom Such discussions tease out the issues about which many stu- dents are either ignorant or apathetic. I choose to focus on issues of difference because talking and writing about them helps stu- dents learn how to read and interpret a variety of texts, a rhetori- cal act that eventually leads to the questioning and potential dismantling of the authority guiding the interpretation of estab- lished texts. This rhetorical focus has become the bedrock of my pedagogy, given the ideological stance of the students I teach. When students engage with uncomfortable issues that tradition- ally have been part of the silenced dialogue — e. What are some alternative ways of seeing a particular issue? In order to realize the contact zone, I include issues across a broad spectrum and en- courage students to deal with these issues as they often are — complex and without clear resolution — rather than ask them to argue one position or another.

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My primary focus during class discussions is to engage as many perspectives as possible. I try to neither silence nor celebrate voices of critique or opposition (Miller 1994, 407), but rather to draw students out and have them ex- amine their reading process to determine how they got where they are now. When we confront issues such as gender and class and especially race, the conversation sometimes stops. Everyone is tentative, afraid of offending, and quite simply afraid of con- fronting. Often, much of the discussion goes on without me having to say much. This is significant, especially since my voice, as a woman of color, often seems to influence the analyses my students put forward. As much as possible, I position myself as an observer of these discussions, though at times I interject if I need to get a - 165 - SUPPORTING PRACTICES discussion back on track or if critical issues need to be further developed. In some instances, however, I talk very directly about my response as a person of color to a piece, noting why I see an issue in a particular way. For instance, during a class discussion about how issues of race, gender, and class are interrelated, one student said frankly that she was tired of race, class, and gender.

The class discussion continued as a sharing of how students felt about being confronted by these issues in the classroom and their daily lives. Conclusion My aim in the composition classroom is to develop a dialogue that helps students critically explore — and create — a variety of texts that deal with an amalgam, of issues. The classroom then becomes a site for criti- cal thinking and good writing. When I began my teaching career, I believed like Plato that there are absolute truths and that it was my responsibility to convey them to my students. I do maintain that it is my responsibil- need help writing research paper ity to prepare students to participate in our complex democracy, not necessarily need help writing research paper to ensure that students are situated in a particular political plane, but to make sure they understand the magnitude of this complexity. To do this, I try to make my classroom a place where counterdiscourse occurs, providing an opportunity for multiple voices to be heard so that our writing becomes more critical and more convincing. If my students leave my classroom more politically aware, more tolerant of issues of race, class, and gender, I am thrilled. If students leave my class critically analyz- ing and questioning, they are well on their way to disrupting the status quo. Texts are selected from Rereading America: Cultural Content for Critical Thinking and Writing, 3rd ed.

McLaughlin Georgia Southern University Teaching Context College-level developmental readers and writers frequently stop trying to make meaning of what they read and write because of the significant consequences of being wrong, consequences such as being placed in noncredit college classes, for example. Most first-year students are re- cent high school graduates, and many are first-generation col- lege students. Many of these students report that they hate to read, that they have rarely, if ever, completed the reading of an entire book, and that they have written little other than five-paragraph practice essays to satisfy graduation requirements. I wanted to help students understand that reading is - 168 - 196 The Focused Reading Response much more than being able to regurgitate facts but is in fact a composing process through which each reader constructs his or her own meaning.

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