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Dr. Lydia Wilkes

Writing the Forever Wars

The post-9/11 conflicts, known as the Forever War(s), have produced their share of poets, fiction writers, playwrights, and artists since 2001. This short course introduces students to major writers of the Forever War via poetry (Brian Turner, Benjamin Busch), fiction (Phil Klay, David Abrams), and fiction dramatized for a documentary (Operation Homecoming). Each piece offers answers to questions civilians often have about the Forever Wars: What’s it like to go to war? What are we fighting for? What happens when someone comes home from war? How have people made sense of the wars since 9/11?

Rhetoric: Not Just For Liars Anymore! College Edition

This short course introduces students to the ancient art and study of rhetoric, which refers to the wide array of communicative devices we have at our disposal to create effects on each other. While “rhetoric” is often used today to refer to lies, style instead of substance, manipulation, or deceit, rhetoric developed all over the world as a way of ethically communicating with others to decide how we should live together when we can’t be certain about truth. This course focuses on the rhetoric surrounding college to engage high school students’ beliefs and help them sort out myths and realities.

Bad Ideas about Writing: Myths that Need to Die

Never use “I” in your writing. Never start a sentence with “and” or “but.” The passive voice should be avoided. You can learn to write in general. Only bad writers need to revise. Texting ruins literacy skills.

These are all bad ideas, or myths, about writing: many people believe them but they simply aren’t true. Drawn from the open access textbook, Bad Ideas about Writing, this discussion busts common myths about writing and engages high school students in dialogue with an expert in writing studies to help them learn what really matters in writing and how to go about writing effectively. High school teachers are strongly encouraged to use readings from Bad Ideas about Writing in any class that discusses writing.

State Standards

These presentations meet the following state education standards for high school students:

English Language Arts

Key Ideas and Details

RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.


Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.



Writing the Forever Wars

English Language Arts


CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key
supporting details and ideas.

CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a

CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical,
connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions
of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or
to compare the approaches the authors take.

RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as
well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RL.11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a
story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and

RL.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative
and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including
words with multiple meanings or powerful language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.
(Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)

RL.11-12.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the
choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to
its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

RL.11-12.6 Analyze a case in which grasping point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated
in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).



Rhetoric: Not Just For Liars Anymore! College Edition,
Bad Ideas about Writing: Myths that Need to Die


English Language Arts


CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are
appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a
new approach.

CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of
formal English when indicated or appropriate.

CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to
make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word

CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases
sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate
independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to
comprehension or expression.