11/2/17 – Bullshit!

Following the taking of attendance, the class viewed a clip from the cult British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf titled “It’s a Banana” in which a human attempts to teach a robot how to lie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB-NnVpvQ78

Today was focused on an analysis of bullshit, as provided in Smagorinsky, et al., “Bullshit in Academic Writing: A Protocol Analysis of a High School Senior’s Process of Interpreting Much Ado about Nothing” (Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 44, No. 4 (May 2010), pp. 368-405).   The students wrote in their daybooks on two times they encountered bullshit in their life, one where bullshit harmed them in some way and one where it saved their bacon.  The students then interviewed each other in pairs about their experiences with bullshit.  Then the class as a whole debated the merits of bullshit in one of the liveliest discussions of the semester.  Two students insisted that bullshit was an irredeemable evil, one argued that it could be useful, and many other students added to the debate.

The instructor may have inadvertently suggested that bullshitting a school paper was a genre response situation that could benefit from a writing research approach.