Friday, March 30, 2007


This mini musing is not about Jane Austen's novel Persuasion, but about two books I just got.

First, at the CCCC convention in NYC I got a new book called Thank You for Arguing by Jan Heinrichs (Random House) which is subtitled "What Artistotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion." I just started, and it's pretty interesting. It seems to connect nicely with the textbook I will start using again on Monday Everything's An Argument. In fact, I'm surprised that Heinrichs doesn't mention it. He does make clear the difference between an argument and a fight, and also how to "win." I look forward to reading more. It's just the right sort of bed time reading after a day of teaching argument - really!

And then, a colleague recommended Naomi Klein's book No Logo, about the expanding branding of the world. This is a perfect accompaniment for teaching business writing this term. Klein's website shows her activism against brand bullies. Here's a quote:

Naomi criticized branding in No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies not because there's anything intrinsically wrong with logos, but because brands are developed—and their logos are designed—to market products that are produced through the exploitation and impoverishment of workers and communities in the poorest parts of the world. No Logo condemned the cynicism and dishonesty of companies that get wealthy by branding the commodities they market as representative of values like freedom or youthfulness—values that are starkly contradicted by the lived experience of the workers who produce the stuff they sell. When CEOs turn enormous profits by branding a running shoe to represent 'freedom' while they have that same shoe manufactured by 16-year-old women behind the fences and guarded gates of an Export Processing Zone—well, that's hypocritical.
When my business writing students discuss "organizational culture" and which company you would feel good about working for, they need to read this.

ps: I rather like the term "thoughtcast" that Thomas Burkdall used in his talk at CCCC as noted in Michael's post about the session. That seems a fitting term for my little posts. After all, I am not as extensive as the NPR Commentaries on All Things Considered and not as elegantly crafted as Montaigne's essays.