definitions: marriage

Tomorrow in class we’re talking about definitions. In particular, there are four ways you might define a term in an essay: formal (like a dictionary) extended, historical, negative (what it’s not), and stipulative (“for the sake of this essay, I will define…”). I thought the following examples would help.

Jon Stewart uses a historical definition:

Keith Olbermann also uses a historical definition. Additionally, he uses classification by defining it as a right:

Dee Garrett uses an extended negative definition (it’s not a civil right):

Americans for Marriage have a formal definition of marriage, but also define gay marriage with an extended discussion of its effects:

I’m not sure which videos I’ll show tomorrow, and I do have some hesitancy showing the videos (because they might offend students or silence students on any side of the “debate”). I wish there was a better video from the pro-Prop 8 side that incorporated a definition of marriage besides a quick “marriage is between a man and a woman.” (Of course, a historical definition of marriage from a conservative point of view is impossible, if it’s historically accurate, because marriage has always shifted throughout history. Although I’d love to be proven wrong here.) But I think it’ll reinforce the point that the textbook makes fairly well: that definition is very important to argument. Hopefully, we can analyze these arguments for what they do (the moves they make) in class tomorrow.

This entry was posted in Queer issues and theory, Teaching Composition. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>