Teaching Tools

Subversive Re-Writing

Find a short passage of text in print (an advertisement, an editorial in a newspaper, etc.) which is either positive or neutral toward a particular subject. Have students rewrite the passage by changing the word choices but maintaining the overall direction of the message. Their goal is to make the message unclear, or to make the message seem to support the opposite side, simply by replacing selected words.

For example, consider the following passage: Turkey lovers far and wide insist upon the freshest possible bird. This could be subversively re-written like so, Those scattered people who enjoy ingesting the dead flesh of a Turkey want to consume that carcass as soon after it is killed as possible.

The general statement is the same, but the word choice makes it a different message altogether.