English 125.2   “Debating Empire”


Fall Term, 2004     Carnegie 13    MWF  noon - 1:10


Professor Jennifer Jackson  637-5278                                  Professor Steve Macek  637-5369

Student Service Center 102                                                     Pfeiffer Hall 40

jajackson@noctrl.edu                                                           shmacek@noctrl.edu

Office Hours:  MWF 10:30 - noon                                          Office Hours:  MWF 10:30 – noon

& by appointment                                                                   & by appointment



Crusius, Timothy and Carolyn Channell. The Aims of Argument: Brief Guide. 4th Ed. McGraw- Hill, 2002.

Brodhead, Judith, ed.  NCC Guide to Writing, Documentation, and Information Resources.  2004-05.

Maimon, Elaine and Janice Peritz.  A Writer’s Resource:  A Handbook for Writing and Research.  McGraw-Hill, 2003.


Course Goals  

This term you will practice critical reading, writing, argument, and research related to the topic “Debating Empire.”  Through intensive reading, frequent writing and discussion, research, and by looking at other sources, you’ll study varying perspectives on the United State’s role in the world.  Along the way, you’ll consider how writers support or question power.  You’ll be expected to examine concepts and keywords that lie at the heart of debates about what people value, believe, and assume to be true; what America has been or is becoming; what we have done, are doing, or plan to do in the world; even how “we” becomes a contested term. 


We will cover three broad themes:  historical contexts, current debates, and writing dissent.  


The course readings encourage you to develop a more complex understanding of the world, For example, what are the consequences of sorting nations or individuals into “evil” or “good”?  Why and how should the U.S. intervene in international issues?  What are the ethics involved?  What helps a struggling world create peace and social justice?  Who hurts? 


You’ll analyze how arguments are made this term, learning to summarize, paraphrase, and evaluate claims.  You’ll locate relevant research in order to write well-reasoned, persuasively developed arguments.  You’ll acquire a language and set of strategies as writers, participating in peer reviews, discussions, and an oral presentation.


This seminar introduces you to ways of arguing and writing in college.  We’ll describe and model “interdisciplinary work,” an essential skill for liberally educated persons.  While “Debating Empire” is our particular focus, your class shares goals with all other seminars:  we support careful reading, arguing to inquire and persuade, a desire to collaborate across disciplines (as evidenced in team teaching), and rigorous practice in writing and research.


You’ll write three formal papers this term, with the goal of becoming a more effective writer and competent researcher.  You’ll prepare short response papers in and out of class on a regular basis, and give an oral presentation on your final research project.  You’ll critique one another’s drafts and contribute to discussions.  We’ll meet with you to provide individual help in a scheduled conference Wednesday of Week Six, but you are encouraged to visit our offices during posted hours or meet with both of us as you wish.  You’ll be required to attend one or more activities sponsored by the Globalization Learning Community and Cultural Events.  You’ll also be expected to visit the Writing Center.



Paper 1 Analysis:                                 50 points

Paper 2 Mediation essay:                     70 points

Paper 3 Research:                              100 points                    

Short responses:                                  40 points        

Presentation:                                      30 points        

Peer review feedback:                         10 points

                                                           300 possible points


Descriptions of  formal papers

#1:  Analysis(4-5 pages)

What is the thesis—what is the argument in play?  How does the writer develop a case?  How is content organized, and with what effects?  What evidence is used?  How does the writer establish credibility?  How are we persuaded to believe claims?  Assess ideas, as well as the rhetoric deployed to advance those ideas.

Draft due:  Monday, 9/27; final version due:  Friday, 10/1.    50 possible points


#2:  Mediation Essay on “Clash of Civilizations” (5-6 pages)

Compare and contrast Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilization with Edward Said’s “The Class of Ignorance.”  What are their disagreements?  What accounts for their different opinions?  What does each seem to believe, value, and assume?  Can these positions be mediated?  If common ground is possible, how to negotiate it?

Draft due:  Wednesday, 10/20; final version due:  Friday, 10/22.   


#3:  Research Paper (8-10 pages) Gather information drawing on at least seven sources;    topics to be discussed as the term unfolds.  Proposal, annotated lists of sources.

            Draft due: Wednesday, 11/10; final version due:  Wednesday, 11/24, exam week


Academic Honesty and Documentation

The work you submit for this course must be your own.  As outlined in the NCC Guide to

Writing, you must cite sources for words, ideas, summaries, uncommon facts or statistics, and references to other works not your own.  Exact wording needs to be placed within quotations. Using someone else’s words or ideas without proper documentation is plagiarism.  Written work that contains plagiarized language or ideas will receive a failing grade.  In addition, you will be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs.   Please speak with us if you have questions, confusion, or concerns about this important matter.


Links and Learning Communities

Please speak with us following class today if you are not sure whether two of your courses have been or should be linked, either this or next term.


Please also note that International Programs is focusing on Cuba this term, a country with whom the U.S. has had empire-related issues.




Ø      If you’re absent more than twice we will lower your final course grade by ½ letter for each subsequent absence.  Late papers will have a 10-point deduction for each 24 hour period beyond the deadline, beginning at the time due. 


Ø      If you must miss class, you’re responsible for that day’s work; we won’t keep track of missed assignments for you.  Be prepared for the next class, and please do not ask if you missed anything important.


Ø      You should be ready to write about and discuss readings assigned each day.  Participation is assumed.


Ø      Incompletes can only be granted if serious illness or situations prevent a timely completion of the work and if you have already completed all work up to the time you request an incomplete.


Ø      We all work hard; we all have multiple commitments.  Anticipate the crunch at term’s end by working systematically on the final project.  Please do not share that you failed to do work for this course because of other classes’ demands, extra-curricular commitments, your job, or miscellaneous pleasures/woes.


Freshman Seminar 125.H2:    Debating Empire


Week One      Defining Terms:  introducing the debates

M 9/13            Intro to course; syllabus; in-class writing.


W 9/15            Intro to rhetoric; overview of keywords; read articles introducing issues: 

                        Niall Ferguson “The End of Power”                                               


                        and “The Reluctant Empire”



                        Arundhati Roy “The New American Century”


                        “Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?”


                        and “An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire.”



F  9/17            Aims of Argument,  Chapter 2, 3-46; discussion; short response to articles due.                      

Week Two      Historical contexts concerning empire/imperialism     

M 9/20           Read essays examining historical responses to empire:

                        Mark Twain  To the Person Sitting in Darkness

                        and “The War Prayer”                                                


                        Rudyard KiplingThe White Man's Burden

   "The White Man's Burden" and Its Critics                                           Kipling, the White Man's Burden and US Imperialism                                        

Jim Zwick  Sitting in Darkness: An Unheeded Message About U.S. Militarism

W 9/22           “Hope and Memory” http://www.adbusters.org/jams/history/flash.html                            

Zoltan http://www.neravt.com/left/invade.htm                                       

            Shalom  http://www.zmag.org/middletimeline.html                          

 F 9/24                      Library session:  meet at Oesterle Library with flash history assignment

Week Three   Historical contexts continued; justifications for empire

M 9/27           Aims of Argument Chapter 6, “Arguing to Inquire” 161-208.

                        Paper # 1 drafts due:  workshop.  


W 9/29           Martin Luther King  Beyond Vietnam



F 10/1             Paper # 1 due; read Huntington and Said (see below; discussion continued 10/4)           

                        Said video viewed and discussed in class



F 10/1 con’t.   Samuel Huntington

                        The Clash of Civilizations (Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993)

                        Edward Said

                        The Clash of Ignorance (The Nation 10/4/01)                      


Week Four     Confronting empire now:  current issues, policies, and critique

M 10/4            Continue discussing Huntington and Said’s arguments; Aims of Argument

                        Chapter 9, “Arguing to Negotiate and Mediate,” 293-339.


W 10/6            Michael Ignatieff

                        America’s Empire is Empire Lite                


                        Recommended reading:  Zakaria:                                                             



F 10/8             Michael Klare           

                        U.S.: Procuring the World's Oil  (Foreign Policy in Focus 4/28/04)

                        The New Geopolitics (Monthly Review, July/August 2003)

                        William Tabb

                        The Two Wings of the Eagle (Monthly Review, July/August 2003)  

Immanuel Wallerstein

                        US Weakness and the Struggle for Hegemony (Monthly Review, 2003)


Week Five      Confronting empire now:  Neoliberal policies.  Henry Giroux lecture 10/14

M 10/11           Read the executive summaries of each of the following:

                        Rebuilding America's Defenses  Project for the New American Century                               

The National Security Strategy of the United States of America

                        Report from the National Energy Policy Development Group          

                        Read all:

Globalization: Threat or Opportunity  International Monetary Fund briefing on "free trade" Distills neo-liberal ideology about benefits of corporate-driven globalization.

                        The Unipolar Moment  Charles Krauthammer

W 10/13          Henry Giroux (visit with class Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday)                                                                                                        Freshman English Anthology, 53-76; further readings to be distributed.

F  10/15          Chalmers Johnson America's Empire of Bases                                

Week Six        Weighing the rhetoric; conferences as scheduled on final project proposals  

M  10/18           How to Judge Globalism        

                        Nawal El Saadawi  War Against Women and Women Against War 

                        Amy Bartholomew and Jennifer Breakspear

                        “Human Rights as Swords of Empire” (to be distributed)                              

                        Recommended:  Jedediah Purdy Liberal Empire: Assessing the Arguments


W 10/20          No class meeting (to accommodate individual conferences)

                        Paper # 2 drafts exchanged for out-of-class peer workshop 


F  10/22          Library session:  meet at Oesterle Library; Paper # 2 due                                                                                     

Week Seven   Researching arguments and writing dissent

M  10/25         Aims of Argument, Chapter 5, “Writing Research-based Arguments” 107-58.

                        Robert Jensen 

                        It's not just the Emperor who's naked, it's the whole Empire

                        U.S. just as guilty of committing its own violent acts

                        Against dissent: Why free speech is important as the U.S. drops cluster bombs on Afghanistan  



W 10/27          Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber How to Sell a War

                       George Monbiot The Moral Myth

F  10/29          Bernardine Dohrn Homeland Imperialism: Fear and Resistance

Annotated sources (3 minimum) for Paper # 3 due.                     

Week Eight

M 11/1             Aims of Argument, Chapter 8, 251-292.


W 11/3            Omar Barghouti  Whither Empire?              

                        Annotated sources (3-5 additional) for Paper # 3 due.


F  11/5            Writing for social change (packet to be distributed).              


Week Nine

M 11/ 8           Aims of Argument, “Appendix::  Editing and Proofreading,” A1-A-18.


W 11/10           Paper # 3 drafts due; peer workshop (review Aims of Argument, 244-45)    


F  11/12           Presentations (4)        


Week Ten

M 11/15           Presentations (4)        


W 11/17           Presentations (3); class evaluations.


F  11/19           Presentations (3); summary of course.


Exam Week  

W 11/24          Paper # 3 due    10:00 - noon (final exam) 




English 125 H2:  Debating Empire

Keywords and Contested Terms


The following terms will come up in our class with some regularity; we’ll discuss these and others.  Add to this list from our readings, discussions, lectures, and other Learning Community linked courses (if applicable) as the term progresses.  Be sure to have a working definition for each.
















Neoliberalism/Free Market Capitalism





Western Civilization and its Others