ENGL 30: Writing the Future
This course will focus on the persuasive and philosophical uses of the future, and on the importance of implicit and explicit claims about the future to so many rhetorical acts. Taking as its thematic content various fictional and nonfictional imaginings of the future—some explicitly argumentative, some less so—we will investigate how visions of the future function rhetorically and how they constitute arguments about and calls to action in the present. In doing so, we will address a wide range of crucial questions about the reading and writing of argument more generally. We will evaluate and produce claims about the future of entertainment and media culture, the future of social and political organization, the future of science and medicine, the future of the environment, the future of education, and so on. We will examine political and theological uses of the future over the years, some utopian and some dystopian, from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” to Ronald Reagan’s “City on a Hill.” We will look at ways in which versions of the future have been used to sell both products and policies. We will wade into debates about contemporary trends, changes, and developments in culture and technology, from e-readers to drone warfare, cloning to file-sharing. We will interrogate various kinds of rhetorics about the future, from the realist and the pragmatic to the science-fictional and apocalyptic. In so doing, we will sharpen both our grasp on the rhetorical uses of the future and our own rhetorical, compositional, and stylistic toolkits.