Inquiry: Questioning, Reading, Writing (2nd Edition)

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9780131823716: Inquiry: Questioning, Reading, Writing (2nd Edition)

This cross-curricular composition book emphasizes the idea of writing as thinking. Maintaining its core theme that good questions are at the heart of good writing, this Second Edition is organized around six thought-provoking questions intended to motivate contemplation and inspire prolific writing: 1) How do I know who I am?; 2) How do we know what we know?; 3) What principles do, and should, govern our personal lives?; 4) What are human rights and responsibilities?; 5) What can we learn from the past?; 6) What will the future be like? The reading selections in each chapter offer a variety of approaches to the chapter question, with representation from many different social perspectives. A host of new readings have been added, including selections that relate to current issues such as war and terrorism, business ethics, computers and artificial intelligence. For professionals with a career or interest in writing, teaching, journalism, editing and/or publishing.

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From the Back Cover:

"How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" – E.M. Forster

Good questions are at the heart of good reading and writing. Inquiry: Questioning, Reading, Writing focuses on key issues for writers by posing six major questions intended to stimulate critical thinking, to encourage thoughtful examination of what others have to say, and to develop independent ideas.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The title of this book, Inquiry, reflects the process at its heart. In Inquiry, a wide variety of writers are searching, from a wide range of academic and social perspectives, for answers to important questions. The book, in fact, is filled with questions: Questions define and organize the chapters, questions stimulate thought before and after the readings, and questions call for connections at the chapters' ends. Inquiry is, by definition, a process of asking questions and trying out answers. Active reading demands the same kind of process. So does writing. Our hope is that students using this book will produce writing that is worth reading, because it will be writing based on inquiry. Long after the completion of the course using Inquiry, the process of inquiry, so central to reading and writing, should remain with the students.

Organization

Good questions are at the heart of good reading and writing. Thus, this book focuses on key issues for writers by posing six major questions of perennial interest:

  1. Identity: How do I know who I am?
  2. Thinking: How do we know what we know?
  3. Ethics: What principles do—and should—govern our personal lives?
  4. Values: What are human rights and responsibilities?
  5. Reinterpretations/Contexts: What can we learn from the past?
  6. Predictions: What will the future be like?

These questions differ significantly from many questions we commonly ask, because they have no right answers. The questions are intended to stimulate critical thinking, to encourage thoughtful examination of what others have to say, and to help develop independent ideas. Each chapter's readings, by significant writers—from Plato to Stephen Hawking, from Frederick Douglass to Leslie Marmon Silko—approach a central question, from many different fields of study and many different social perspectives. Students pursuing the ideas that the questions pose will be considering their own views in light of what these other writers have had to say.

The central question of each chapter is subdivided into three more specific subquestions. Thus, Chapter 1—Identity: How Do I Know Who I Am?"—has three groups of readings centered on the following subquestions: (1) What is my physical self? (2) Who am I in relation to others? (3) How do language and literacy affect my identity? The readings grouped under each subquestion present different approaches to the topic, different perspectives and positions. Active readers will need to examine not only the readings, but their own lives for possible answers, perspectives, and parallels.

Readings

Inquiry by definition is open to many methods of pursuit and many individual perspectives; therefore, we have included a wide variety of authors taking differing approaches to the specific chapter questions. In our choice of readings, we have been particularly attentive to the various discourse communities that make up the American university. Although some readings do not fit neatly into such categories, of course, and some fit approximately into several, almost every student will find some readings in or very close to his or her major field of study. Approximately half of the readings are from the humanities, including philosophical and reflective writing and such literature as autobiography and personal essays. Many of the readings are from the social and behavioral sciences, including anthropology, economics, history, political science, psychology, and sociology. Likewise, the natural sciences are well represented, with readings from astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry, environmental studies, computer science, and medicine. In fact, in preparing this book, we have consulted with our colleagues in a variety of disciplines to ensure cross-curricular perspectives, although we have included only readings appropriate to our audience of undergraduate students.

Inquiry also represents the diversity of American culture. Almost half of our authors are women, and wed Strong representation from many of the ethnic communities that make up the United States today. Issues of ethnicity and gender recur throughout, as is appropriate for a book whose opening chapter asks, "How Do I Know Who I Am?"

Chapter Introductions

The introduction to each of the six chapters provides background for the question and subquestions, an overview of that chapter's readings, a discussion of a specific rhetorical concept for writers, and preliminary questions for discussion and writing. Each of these four sections has a distinct purpose.

"Why Consider This Question?" opens each chapter introduction by discussing the meaning of the chapter question. For example, the second chapter asks, "How Do I Know What I Know?"—very different from alternative and simpler versions of the question such as "What Do I Know?" We begin each introduction by emphasizing the complexity and challenge of its central question, which governs not only the choice of reading selections, but also the direction of all the other questions in the chapter.

The second section of each introduction presents the three subquestions that shape the chapter, with a brief commentary about each reading. Here, we give an overview of the chapter's contents and discuss how the readings relate to one another and to the chapter's questions.

Rhetorical concepts are best taught in context, as a way of addressing the reading and writing problems that emerge from engagement with a text; therefore, the third section of each introduction defines and exemplifies a rhetorical concept appropriate to the chapter question. Notice how the sequence of six rhetorical concepts, each loosely related to the central question of its chapter, covers the rhetorical issues associated with most college writing courses:

  1. writing for an audience
  2. writing as a means of learning: the writing processes
  3. definition
  4. argument and evidence
  5. use of sources
  6. discourse communities

The "Questions for Discovery and Discussion" that conclude each introduction ask students to begin thinking about the central question of the chapter in light of what they already know. Students who discuss or write about the question prior to their reading are in a better position to read actively; the readings become encounters with the ways other writers have dealt with the same ideas and issues.

Questions

The "Responding to Reading" questions that follow each reading are also meant to be used for discussion or writing. Some of these are designed to deepen students' understanding of the particular reading, while others ask students to make connections between that reading and other readings, or between that reading and their own lives. At the end of each chapter are "Questions for Reflection and Writing," pertinent to the entire chapter, that ask students to consider the ways that the selections have enriched and deepened their own thoughts. In keeping with the concept of inquiry, the book contains over four hundred questions of one sort or another; our hope is that every instructor will find ample materials for discussion and writing, whatever the level of the students and goals of the class.

Headnotes

We have taken special care with the headnotes that precede readings. Each headnote provides a ready biographical reference to the author (concise, incisive, and humanizing) and key concepts and terms associated with that author's work. The headnote also serves as an introduction to the reading, identifying its significant intellectual and rhetorical features and providing a lead-in to the "Responding to Reading" questions that follow.

Alternative Ways to Use This Book

The movement from chapter to chapter is a natural one, outward, from one's physical self to the future of the world. Nonetheless, instructors using this book may want to make reading and writing assignments in a different order. Our purpose is to create a textbook that presents a clear curriculum, but that also allows a considerable amount of flexibility to instructors with different students, different curricular goals, and different amounts of class time. Instructors interested in grouping the selections by field of study or by rhetorical concept will find alternative listings at the back of the book to support such rearrangements. We know that many instructors share our belief that inquiry must lie behind both reading and writing, and we urge these colleagues to use the book imaginatively, to ask their own questions, to explore their own answers.

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