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230469 Owning your position: Critical argumentation skills for scholars of culture (BS) (SoSe 2020)

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Sexism, racism, homophobia, adultism, ableism, antisemitism, politics of fear, class warfare, climate denial, economic or religious justifications for war and oppression, and so on ... – in our academic studies we have learned to recognize and analyse toxic discourses, to deconstruct them and critically position ourselves toward them in our writing.

But university classrooms can be a bubble: Where we sometimes agree easily in a seminar because we are on the same page intellectually, it is equally often hard to explain our theoretically informed convictions and positions to the people in our lives outside university – in online communities, among friends, or in families.

In this blockseminar we will practice rhetorical strategies to put our expertise in critical cultural analysis to good use in everyday discussions and arguments with non-academics. Each of the five days will be dedicated to one site of cultural conflict and contention, be it identity politics and minority rights or other issues of civil life and ethics.

I have left the exact topics open deliberately because, in preparation for the seminar, I will ask participants for input on the kinds of arguments in which they would like to be able to stand their ground, own their position, and convince others. From this input, I will create a session plan to cater to student interests and expertises.

The focus will not be on content or theory: This seminar is an advanced course and I assume participants to have previous experience with cultural analysis and a fundamental understanding of what critical theory is about – at best even a first expertise in, for example, feminist or queer theory, postcolonial theory, Marxism, or biopolitics, etc. The focus will be on the practical application of your expertise.

We will learn to recognize and employ different types of arguments from classical rhetoric, and part of the classroom action will be stage arguments in groups and factions – so it will help if participants are willing to talk (a lot). :)

Since the entire point of this seminar is interaction, attendance for this seminar is obligatory. You cannot earn a Studienleistung without coming to class.


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