This course focuses on the elements that constitute a strong writing style and on how writers concerned with political and cultural issues use various structural and rhetorical techniques to entertain and outrage, provoke and inspire. We will look closely at texts by a variety of cultural critics, including Matthew Arnold, Mark Twain, W.E.B. DuBois, H.L. Mencken, George Orwell, Lionel Trilling, Jessica Mitford, Joan Didion, and Edward Said, focusing especially on the relation between form and content, analyzing why authors make the stylistic choices they do, and how these choices help determine readers' responses. We will also focus on putting these lessons into practice; students will write several essays, and we will often look at samples of student writing in class.