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WRIT 116.219 | Eco-Terrorism


WRIT 116.219 | Eco-Terrorism

Jacqueline Bailey | Fall 2013 | MTWThF 8:00-8:50 AM

"Deconstructing the Rhetoric of Eco-Terrorism"

This Blugold Seminar section is part of the "Nature Bundle." You'll be learning about ways to conserve or preserve the environment – and the difference between those two things – in your Geography class with Dr. Running. In your ENPH course in the Spring, Dr. Crispin will help guide you through environmental issues from the viewpoint of public health issues. And in this class, we'll view Nature with a focus on how people persuade others to sometimes go to extreme ends to preserve Nature, and how they justify encouraging others to break the law in order to maintain "pure" Natural environments.

We'll do this by learning to recognize the rhetoric used to encourage others to engage in acts of civil disobedience with a specific focus on Eco-Terrorism. We'll be reading and studying the rhetoric of texts, images and videos that will help us understand and come to some definition of Eco-Terrorism. We'll explore questions that challenge us to consider ways in which some people choose to defend the Environment. In some cases, Nature "activists" encourage people to engage in acts of non-violent civil disobedience, such as sit-ins on construction sites or tree-sitting. Other activists insist we should go further, and advocate illegal but non-violent acts of sabotage, such as disabling construction machinery, tree-spiking or freeing zoo and/or laboratory animals. Yet other activists insist that none of the above actions "say" enough about preserving Nature. These most extreme of Nature activists support and encourage acts of "Eco-Terrorism," such as arson or planting bombs to destroy buildings that house a wide variety of operations, from corporate and university research laboratories to car lots which sell SUV's and recreational vehicles.

How do we critically navigate written or visual texts that promote extreme actions? What rhetorical moves do Nature activists use to encourage others to acts of Eco-Protest or Eco-Terrorism? Are actions themselves a rhetorical statement? How can we tell when our emotions, our logic or even our own common sense is rhetorically influenced by language that calls us to action? And perhaps most interestingly, how do those labeled by the government as "Eco-Terrorists" justify breaking the law to make a point about the preservation of Nature?

We'll spend our semester learning how to critically "deconstruct" any text or any visual image in any discipline that we encounter by learning the rhetorical moves that people use to construct a persuasive argument. We'll learn to gauge how to identify target audiences (some of which include ourselves!) and we'll also learn to realize how the writers, graphic designers, film-makers and government officials seek to appeal to (or sometimes manipulate) our emotions, our logic, our values or even just our own common sense.

In the process, we'll encounter and critically discuss everything from posters, Public Service Announcements and recent news articles and broadcasts to essays encouraging and justifying illegal acts and government documents that seek to outline and define this thing called "Eco-Terrorism." And in the end, we'll use everything we've learned about rhetoric to create a final project that seeks to argue for and justify an our own (albeit imaginary!) acts of Eco-Terrorism.