Civil Word, A

Elizabeth C. Long  
Total pages
May 2002
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A Civil Word is a contemporary issues-based reader rhetoric with a focus on the issue of civility, designed for the advanced developmental writing or freshman composition course.

Civility is a growing problem in classrooms around the nation-high school, college, and beyond. The readings in A Civil Word raise students' consciousness about their own actions and the actions of those around them while sharpening their critical thinking skills through synthesis of outside sources and analysis exercises. Pre- and post-reading questions and group activities are included for every reading.


  • Readings centered around the theme of civility give teachers and students an opportunity to explore and address civility as a common problem in and out of the classroom.
  • Multiple skill level, multicultural readings allow students to experience easy-to-follow texts as well as more complex essays written by writers of all backgrounds.
  • Pre-reading critical thinking and writing exercises allow students to consider a topic without the pressure of a formal assignment.
  • Vocabulary activities as both pre- and post-reading activities enhance students' comprehension and sentence-variation skills.
  • Post-reading questions encourage students to consider civility as a possible discussion topic but allow for other discussion possibilities as well.
  • End-of-chapter synthesis questions provide opportunities for students to integrate chapter readings into formal writing assignments.
  • Guide to argument offers brief overview of elements of persuasion.

Table of Contents


A Brief Guide:

Reading Critically and Writing Well.

Writing Argument.

Evaluating Internet Sources.

Overview: Defining Civility: Different Views.

“Money for Morality,” Mary Arguelles.

“Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” Robert Fulgum.

“Nonmoral Nature,” Stephen Jay Gould.

“Manners Matter,” Judith Martin.

1. Everyday Incivility.

“The Ways We Lie,” Stephanie Ericsson.

“Four-Letter Words Can Hurt You,” Barbara Lawrence.

“Black Men and Public Space,” Brent Staples.

“My Mother's English,” Amy Tan.

“The American Uncivil Wars,” John Marks.

Argument Pair:

“Road Rage,” Jason Vest and Warren Cohen.

“Road Rage: Just the Same Old Risky Driving.”

2. Civility in Pop Culture?

“Profits by the Gross,” Robert LaFranco.

“TV Talk Shows: Freak Parades,” Charles Oliver.

“Signs of Intelligent Life on TV,” Susan Douglas.

“The Return of Doris Day,” Sandra Tsing Loh.

Argument Pair: What's the answer to ending violent and misogynistic themes in gangsta' rap?

“Bum Rap,” Michael Eric Dyson.

“Bad Sistas,” Tricia Rose.

3. Civility in the Media.

“On Heroes and the Media,” Jean Picker Firstenberg.

“Kelley's Shows Give Media a Fair Trial,” Brian Lowry.

“Marilyn Monroe,” Paul Rudnick.

Argument Pair: Does the media do more harm than good?

“Out of the Closet and Into Your Livingroom,” Patrick McCormick.

“The Diana Aftermath,” Jacqueline Sharkey and Lara M. White.

4. Civility on Campus.

“Freedom,” Joyce Jarrett.

“Musings in the Wake of Columbine,” Mary Anne Raywid and Libby Oshiyama.

“Aria: A Memoir of Bilingual Education,” Richard Rodriguez.

“Of Academic Fraud and the Education Crisis: Confessions and Revelations.

From an Ivy League Whore,"

Iain Steinberg.

Argument Pair: Where do the greatest school problems lie: in the classroom or out?

“Insubordination and Intimidation Signal the End of Decorum in Many Classrooms,” Alison Schneider.

“Welcome to Animal House,” Anna Quindlen.

5. Civility and Technology.

“The Plot Against People,” Russell Baker.

“Anywhere but Here: More Connected but More Alone,” Anne Taylor Fleming.

“The Telephone,” Anwar F. Accawi.

“My First Flame,” John Seabrook.

Argument Pair: Should the Internet be regulated?

“The Internet: A Clear and Present Danger?” Cathleen A. Cleaver.

“Cyberspace: If You Don't Love It, Leave It,” Esther Dyson.

6. Civility in the Workplace.

“'Desk Rage' takes toll in workplace,” Lisa Girion.

“The Reasonable Woman Standard,” Ellen Goodman.

“The Nanny Track,” Susan Cheever.

“How Cops Go Bad,” Michael Kramer.

“How Five Thrive by Striving to Serve,” John Manners and Suzanne Opton.

Argument Pair: Are the benefits of affirmative action worth its drawbacks?

“Reverse Racism, or How the Pot Got to Call the Kettle Black,” Stanley Fish.

“The Price of Preference,” Shelby Steele.

7. Civility Toward the Environment.

“Saving Nature, But Only for Man,” Charles Krauthammer.

“Am I Blue?” Alice Walker.

“The Great American Desert,” Edward Abbey.

“Unchopping a Tree,” W.S. Merwin

Argument Pair: Does nature need saving?

“A Logger's Lament,” Leila Kysar.

“The End of Nature,” Bill McKibben.

8. Civility in Our Heroes.

“Why Homer's My Hero,” Elizabeth Austin.

“Heroine Worship: The Age of the Female Icon,” Holly Brubach.

“Bad Sports,” Mariah Burton Nelson.

“See No Evil,” Terrence Rafferty.

Argument Pair: What defines a “hero” today?

“Larger Than Life,” Phil Sudo.

“A World Without Heroes,” George Roche.

9. New Millenium Incivility: Are Manners a Generational Phenomenon?

“Crimes Against Humanity,” Ward Churchill.

“The Good Marriage,” Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee.

“The Unspeakable Pleasure,” Leonard Sax.

Argument Pair: Are teens' manners worse than they used to be?

“Enfants Not-So-Terribles,” Alex Beam.

“Etiquette Is Lost on a Generation of Teens”

10. Can Civility Go Too Far?

“Service with a Forced Smile; Safeway's Courtesy Campaign Also Elicits Some Frowns,” Kristin Downey Grimsley.

“Border 'Samaritans' risk the law to offer aid; Humanitarian crisis prompts more Arizona residents to feed, shelter illegal immigrants,” Tim Vanderpool.

“Mrs. Post Enlarges on Etiquette,” Dorothy Parker.

“The Civility Glut,” Barbara Ehrenreich.

“Who Will Heed the Warnings of the Population Bomb?” Patt Morrison.

Argument Pair: How sensitive should we be in our use of language?

“We Need Bias-Free Language,” Rosalie Maggio.

“The Word Police,” Michiko Kakutani.

Instructor Resources