Course Texts and Teaching Resources

Course Texts

These are provided in MLA format, as I would list them on a syllabus for a composition course.

Cerulli, Tovar. The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance. New York:
Pegasus, 2012. [ISBN: 1-60598-277-6]

Cerulli’s creative nonfiction account of a young man’s search for an ethical way of approaching his food is an excellent example of the inquiry cycle (ask, investigate, create, discuss, reflect) as well as of readable, vivid prose and careful source use. It is so carefully thought out that it sometimes makes the reader want to scream and bang her head against something hard, but the class discussions and student work performed in connection with reading this text show real understanding of the systemic impact of an individual’s choices on the lives of other humans, animals, and plant life.

begin quote largeEven the students who hated this text commented on how much better the class discussion was as a result of these readings.end quote large

Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in
Academic Writing. New York: Norton, 2010. Text. [ISBN: 039393361X]

This short text is an outstanding explication for undergraduates of the rhetorical circumstances of academic reading and writing. The principles of audience analysis and message structure are laid out in such a way that they are obviously applicable to writing for many different audiences, not just academic ones.

Hayakawa, S. I., and Alan R. Hayakawa. Language in Thought and Action. New York: Harcourt, 1990. Text. [ISBN: 0156482401]

One of the classic linguistics texts of the last century, Language in Thought and Action lays out the rhetorical tools by which we communicate every day and also by which we create, receive, and resist the messages that orchestrate social control, including the current polarization of American society. It clearly lays out the dangers and opportunities of language in a way that is especially helpful to minority students who are attempting to master the niceties of majority culture.

begin quote largeSeveral of my low-income, minority students have told me that this book changed their lives.end quote large

Keillor, Garrison, ed. Good Poems. New York: Viking, 2002. Text. [ISBN: 0142003441]

The poems included in this volume speak to the realities of everyday life, and so provide a doorway into various topics close to students’ hearts that can be developed into interesting research questions. When I use this text in a composition class, I assign one student to choose and read a poem at the beginning of class each day. We never analyze the poem the way you would in a literature course. Instead, I ask why the student chose the poem and what the poem reminded him of. Then, I ask the rest of the class what the poem made them think of. I lead a discussion of the results until we find a few topics that can be developed into appropriate questions for a research project, and I give a brief overview of how such questions could be investigated. These readings and discussions take about 20 minutes, and students love them.

The Purdue OWL MLA Formatting and Style Guide is a high-quality, free, online English grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting handbook for student work in MLA and APA formats.

Also used in limited situations:

Dogs Decoded, a documentary film that uses the same outline as a formal research paper, providing good practice in identifying key ideas and supporting testimony.

Things I Used to Know, a song by James Casto illustrating the fluidity of knowledge in a way that college students can easily relate to.

Into the Woods, a musical theatre program by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, illustrating many of the learning processes involved in growing up, interacting with others, and defining personal priorities and standards.

Studs Terkel’s Working from the Broadway Theatre Archive, a musical theatre program based on Studs Terkel‘s 1974 nonfiction text, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. Great accompaniment to the Cerulli text (above), to stimulate discussions about the use and abuse of human beings in a consumer society.

Teaching Resources

Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. Second edition. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Text. [9780470532904]

Buehl, Doug. Classroom Strategies for Interactive Learning. Third edition. Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 2009. Text. [ISBN: 9780872076860]

Murray, Donald M. The Craft of Revision. Fifth edition. United States: Heinle, 2004. Text. [ISBN: 0838407153]

Supplementary Resources for Students


Reading Your Textbooks Effectively and Efficiently, from Dartmouth College

How to Improve College Reading Skills

How to Improve College Reading Skills in 10 Steps

Townsend Press Online Learning Center

10 Basic Steps to Reading a Poem

How to Read a Poem Out Loud, from Poetry 180

Taking Notes

Listening, from Dartmouth College

Taking Research Notes for a Paper


Common Words that Sound Alike, from the Purdue OWL

Guide to Grammar and Writing, from Capital Community College


A Way with Words, a radio and podcast program on language

The Writer’s Almanac, a daily dose of poetry


U.S. Copyright Office Factsheet on Fair Use

Music United for a Strong Internet Copyright (M.U.S.I.C.) answers the question, “Is it legal to make copies of music for friends?”

Creative Commons


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