conversation is an engine

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Risky and Risqué Reading for Christian Copywriting Students

with 5 comments

Reading is dangerous. And profitable.

On Tuesday I start teaching Freelance Copywriting (Eng3316) at Northwestern College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. These are junior and seniors largely from the English department, but also from Journalism, Communications and Business. They are generally excellent writers and engaged students—people eager to take their faith into the street. We’ll use a few thought-provoking texts that deal with the business side of copywriting, along with the what to expect as a copywriter and how to get better at producing salable ideas (Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer, Iezzi’s The Idea Writers, Young’s A Technique for Producing Ideas). But I’ve become convinced the real-time critiques of working copywriters around the web are just as helpful if not more useful than our texts. It’s just that the language and images used in the critiques often veer outside the lines of nice and polite, though I would argue the critiques follow the line of conversation Jesus the Christ encouraged with regular people like me.


I’ve devised a warning:

Question: Is this overkill? My goal is to help prepare thoughtful writers who fold God’s message of reunion into their communication work and live it out in a world that operates on a very different basis. I think students will understand. I’m not sure the administration will.

What do you think?


Image Credit: Chris Buzelli via 2headedsnake

5 Responses

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  1. It’s difficult for me not to give an opinion, so I’m sure not going to pass up the opportunity when somebody’s asking for an opinion.

    No. I do not think your warning is overkill. IMHO your warning serves several purposes:

    1. Covers your backside
    2. Serves as a teaching opportunity: a little red-light reminder that foul and abusive language doesn’t reflect a Spirit-filled life. My observation is that most Christians – student, faculty, or staff – don’t even know their language matters anymore. And many of us, including me, are getting a bit lazy about it.
    3. Gives you an indication of whether the administration is even paying attention to what you’re doing in class. Let me know how that goes.
    4. Warns your students what the real work environment is going to be like. Not everyone is a big, warm, fuzzy.

    Wendi Marshall

    March 15, 2012 at 10:25 am

    • Thanks for the response. I like your answers, but in particular I’m curious about the notion that language matters. The words we use say so much about us and about how we understand our roles and our goals. We constantly make word choices as we decide whether we are reaching in or reaching out.


      March 15, 2012 at 10:37 am

  2. … [Trackback]…

    […] Informations on that Topic: […]…


    March 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm

  3. […] finished our last session of freelance copywriting at the University of Northwestern—St.Paul. And now, after all the boring, blathery […]

  4. […] of my copywriting students were eager for more direction on how to use the forms of communication. Some were eager to […]

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