Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xvi

...I had a severe speech impediment. My words were slurred and indistinct. After much therapy, my enunciation improved to the point that past difficulties were not noticeable. When elected president of my high school debating club, my parents were justifiably proud, recalling...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-18

...I became interested in this project—the analysis of high school debate— from the increasing interest by humanists and social scientists in narrative and discourse. I wished to examine how a community explicitly and self-consciously immersed in issues of talk developed verbal skills. Some argue, passionately, that rhetorical skills have...

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One: Learning to Talk

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pp. 19-37

...with bumper stickers or other markers referring to their home schools or the tournaments that they have attended. This is the early November weekend of Harrison High’s annual debate tournament, part of a debate “season” that begins in early October and continues until February. As in years past, the school expects about sixty varsity...

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Two: Rites of Arguments

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pp. 38-66

...Policy debate represents a special case of argumentation. As in the law, and, similarly, as in much of American politics, the activity is based on an oppositional structure. Two competing sides are established, and outcomes depend on the facility of adversaries to persuade others. As is well established in the theory of argumentation, people may disagree about empirical truth claims (statements about the nature of...

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Three: Evidence and the Creation of Truth

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pp. 67-96

...Adults knowledgeable of policy formulation realize that evidence is critical to the arts of persuasion, but what are the implications of evidence for adolescent debaters? What is evidence, under what circumstances should it be used, and how should it be evaluated? While debaters distinguish between arguments and evidence, this division is not what it seems...

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Four: In the Round

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pp. 97-132

...how students actually debate: the practice of competitive high school debate. Opening one high school tournament, the principal of the host school, welcoming the participants, began his remarks: “As one talker to another group of talkers . . .” (field notes). To understand this world is to understand talk, although it is not only the “quality” of talk that...

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Five: Our Team

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pp. 133-161

...Within policy debate, the most important and delicate relationship is with one’s partner. For adolescents, this is uncomfortably close to being a marriage. Success in this competitive world depends on taking into account the interests and concerns of another person. Some partners develop close relationships; others have relations that...

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Six: Debate Culture

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pp. 162-189

...knowledge (creating niche marketing for film, music, and clothing) and economic responsibility (becoming wage earners with access to disposable cash), and changes in institutional commitment (dropping out of high school and being treated as adults by the criminal justice system). Although changes are not simultaneous, comparing a thirteen-year-old with an eighteen-year-old is startling. While biologically...

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Seven: Teachers and Coaches

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pp. 190-216

...schools is essential to understanding how the activity operates. This is an activity that schools teach and in which their teams compete. In contrast to many forms of voluntary adolescent activity, forensics is controlled by teachers, school-hired coaches, principals, school boards, and state educational agencies. In this, it contrasts with Babe Ruth baseball, Eagle Scouts, religious assemblies, gymnastic clubs, fantasy gaming...

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Eight: Gifted Leisure and the Politics of Debate

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pp. 217-240

...debate vital to the future of the American polity, is it merely an odd expression of adolescent enthusiasms, or, worse, could the gamelike argumentation divert us from the serious consideration of public policy? Is high school debate a form of gifted education? Is it an educational tool that is valuable for every educated citizen? Is it a...

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Nine: Debate and the Adolescent Toolkit

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pp. 241-251

...setting aside the details of field notes and interview abstracts. My fundamental claim is that high school debate is a social world that, like any community, establishes its own moral order, addresses its divisions, and shares boundaries with related social worlds. Although for those outside its boundaries, high school debate seems an amusingly esoteric...

Appendix: Communities of Debate

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pp. 252-270

Notes

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pp. 271-296

Glossary of Debate Terms

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pp. 297-298

Index

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pp. 299-301