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Teaching Critical Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News

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Edited By Ellen C. Carillo and Alice S. Horning

This collection offers support for instructors who are concerned about students’ critical literacy abilities. Attending to critical reading to help students navigate fake news, as well as other forms of disinformation and misinformation, is the job of instructors across all disciplines, but is especially important for college English instructors because students’ reading problems play out in many and varied ways in students’ writing. The volume includes chapters that analyze the current information landscape by examining assorted approaches to the wide-ranging types of materials available on and offline and offers strategies for teaching critical reading and writing in first-year composition and beyond. The chapters herein bring fresh perspectives on a range of issues, including ways to teach critical digital reading, ecological models that help students understand fake news, and the ethical questions that inform teaching in such a climate. With each chapter offering practical, research-based advice this collection underscores not just the importance of attending to reading, particularly in the era of fake news, but precisely how to do so.

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4. Search(able) Warrants: Fostering Critical Empathy in the Writing (and Reading) Classroom

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WILLIAM T. FITZGERALDRutgers University-Camden

A naive assumption informed the assignment sequence for Writing 101 when, in 2015, I took on the role of writing program director at Rutgers University-Camden. It was in many ways a quaintly conservative approach to composition that I would articulate, akin to models of rhetorical argumentation fashionable a generation or more ago (Fulkerson, 2005). My assumption was that students benefit from a curriculum in which civility and civic responsibility are paramount. What made it naive is that our culture pays lip service to norms of civility. Read comments online, watch cable news. The exchanges one finds are anything but civil or responsible. Public discourse grows ever more partisan. We are endlessly recapitulating battles between present-day Cavaliers and Roundheads. I suspect many of us routinely wonder of those we meet: one of us or one of them?

Today, 2015 seems so long ago. If anything, we have grown even further apart as a polity, our norms of civility not even given lip service. Yet the model adopted then no longer strikes me as quaint. In fact, I believe it is just the opposite. The election, in 2016, of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States has reinforced for me the notion that developing capacities for listening and for reflecting on the nature of how beliefs are formed, held, and subject to change is something vital for our moment. These capacities are vital for the rhetorical education we...

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