1. In Woodward and Denton’s chapter on the “The Advocate in an Open Society” they discuss the importance of public opinion.
Many Sophists believed that some questions of public dispute were not solvable by application of rigorous reasoning; they were better determined by appeals to public opinion. For instance, the question of who would be most qualified to lead a government could not be settled by reference to one single standard. There is a range of acceptable options based on the specific interests and priorities of different people. One leader may be better for one group but not another. On policy issues, “good” solutions may change as public attitudes change. (31)
Think about the above quote in light of the recent town hall meetings held on health care reform. Most meetings have been peaceful, but many have not. Take a look at the following article regarding New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone: http://www.nj.com/ledgerlive/index.ssf/2009/08/health_care_reform_town_hall_n.html. What do you think about the health care reform debate? Should there be room for public opinion on this debate or should policy decisions be left to our political leaders?
2. In chapter one of the course text Woodward and Denton note characteristics of the persuasive process (pp. 14-18). Woodward and Denton suggest that “Persuasion is Difficult,” “Persuasion Outcomes are not very Predictable,” and “Even Minimal Effects Can be Important.” In light of the recent world track championships where Caster Semenya, a South African female runner, was subjected to “gender” testing after winning the gold in the 800 meters, what is important about gender distinctions in sports competition? Take a look at the following article on Semenya and comment on her performance of femininity: http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/blog/fourth_place_medal/post/Embattled-track-star-Caster-Semenya-gets-new-coa?urn=oly,187999. What are the minimal effects of her appearance on the cover of You magazine? How might some resist Semenya’s gender performance?
3. Over the last few years there has been a steady increase of interest in food: cooking shows, food magazines, food blogs, recipe books, and food movies (e.g., Julie & Julia; noting Julia Child’s influence). If we are to consider Barthes claim that the rhetoric of the image is a “re-presentation, which is to say ultimately resurrection” (33) of meaning related to lived experience, then what is it that fascination with food imagery “re-presents” and “resurrects” in our lives? Think about this question in light of your own individual response to food imagery as well as what food might illuminate about communal and national identity. Here is the website to food network to give you an idea of the imagery: http://www.foodnetwork.com/.