Revolution Lullabye

May 18, 2009

Pugh, Instinctual Ballast

Pugh, Christina. “Instinctual Ballast: Imitation and Creative Writing.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 114-121.

Pugh, a teacher of poets, explains how she structured a creative writing course around imitation, an approach widely discouraged in contemporary creative writing pedagogical practices. She cites the importance of writers being avid readers who can read as writers and claims that her students were able to expand their ability as writers in her course, in which students only read and did imitations. She argues for imitation and apprenticeship to become a more intregal part of writing curriculum, as mimesis is with other creative arts (dance, fine arts.)

Quotable Quotes

“An imitation course thus refines the boundaries of what we categorize as ‘the creative.’ It requires a student to do something more dangerous than to trust his own experience or to tell the story she thinks she wants to tell. Imitation unmoors the writer from her comfort zone.” (119).

Notable Notes

it’s perfectly OK to publish an imitation – it is still your own.

May 12, 2009

Howard, Standing in the Shadow of Giants

Howard, Rebecca Moore. Standing in the Shadow of Giants: Plagiarists, Authors, Collaborators. Stamford, CT: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1999.

Howard advances a new theory of authorship that contests current understandings of plagiarism and the construction of the student-plagiarist-criminal. Patchwriting, a term she coins for writer-text collaboration (likened to imitation, mimesis, re(formation)), is not a cheating behavior that should be punished and labeled as plagiarism. Rather, it is a necessary and acceptable way of learning, a method used and endorsed throughout history as a way for novices to learn the langauge needed to enter a discourse community. Students who patchwrite in their essays and papers with the intent of understanding difficult texts, of learning, not deceit, and are doing something all writers do – collaborate with texts – except that these novice students aren’t as adept at covering their traces as professional authors are. Her theory of authorship stands in opposition to the notion of the autonomous, original author and seeks to disrupt the liberal cultural hierarchy that maintains the current power structure that has an interest in keeping students, the masses, from finding a voice. Howard argues for a pedagogy based in summary-writing as a way to teach students what patchwriting is (and to use it towards pedagogical good) and ends the book by calling for a revision of current college plagiarism policies.

Quotable Quotes

definition of patchwriting = “copying from a source text and then deleting some words, altering grammatical structures, or plugging in one synonym for another” (xvii)

“The inclusion of patchwriting in the category of plagiarism denies students opportunities to become scholars” (xx)

“The prospect of decriminalizing patchwriting causes seismic disturbances in composition studies” (xx).

“We do not write alone, and often it is texts, not people, with whom we collaborate” (8).

Patchwriting is “a discursive operation not against the source author but toward the content in which the operation occurs” (19).

Need to teach students “how to manage their patchwriting in ways that are stylistically sophisticated and academically acceptable and that contribute to the writer’s understanding of the source text” (140)

“Let ‘patchwriting’ describe the act of enthusiasm in which students collaborate with their source texts for the purposes of understanding them and entering their discourse. Let us respond pedagogically to that phenomenon” (166).

Notable Notes

four properties of authorship: autonomy, proprietorship, originality, morality (77)

move from neutral mimesis/originality binary to a hierarchal plagiarist/author binary

do not conflate plagiarism and copyright. Copyright is state regulated, legal norms to protect the individual author. Plagiarism rules are locally regulated, societal norms to protect a community….you can change plagiarism rules without changing copyright law

there is allowable plagiarism – ghost-writing, Teflon, great-wit, postmodern (104) also traditions of African American folk preaching, non-Western education and rhetoric, digital hypertext

long list of theorists, philosophies: Locke, Descartes, Hobbes, Foucault, Addison, Emerson, Wordsworth, Edward Young, Bahktin, Quintilian, Plato, Homer

plagiarism dectection software: “This technology would freeze and reassert the notion of authorship in which writing is unitary, originary, proprietary, and linear, and in which the text is the locus and sole arbiter of meaning” – not allow for meaning in context, in the reader, in the author’s intent (131)

patchwriting has a ton to do with reading comprehension (cognitivist) and entering an intellectual community (social constructivist) (145)

Her breakdown: plagiarism – act of intention for deceit (buying a paper, on-purpose-cheating); failure to cite – failing to cite out of ignorance of academic citation conventions; patchwriting – a transitional stage

both failure to cite and patchwriting are pedagogical opportunities, not occassions to terrorize and punish students.

trying to rid patchwriting from students is asking them to be less complex, polyphonus, and honest & true

February 19, 2009

Scott, “The Practice of Usability”

Scott, J. Blake. “The Practice of Usability: Teaching User Engagement through Service-Learning.” Technical Communication Quarterly 17.4 381-412.

Teaching about user-centered design and usability is different from practicing it. This article, categorized as teacher research by the author, centers on the author’s introductory technical writing students, who are asked to enact user-centered design principles in their service learning projects at an Orlando-area HIV planning council (which distributes services to HIV patients in the area.) The students demonstrate knowledge of user-centered design principles, which (like participatory design) integrate the user in the process of design, treating the user(s) not as clients but rather as collaborators. This kind of design process is complex, messy, and complicated, and the author finds that even though students intellectually understand the merits and values of the process, they do not succeed in enacting it. Scott concludes that more time is needed in the classroom – and in the scholarship of the field – dedicated to discussing and talking about the practices of user-centered design. These practical issues, which he describes as metis (flexible intelligence) are breezed over, but they (how to gain access to users, how to communicate with them, how to set deadlines, how to research the institution and the potential users) are the key to implementing a user-centered design and having a successful service-learning experience for both the students and the community organization.

Quotable Quotes

The study shows how his students “gradually came to understand usability as a situated, dynamic, messy, and difficult process and set of practices involving various user-engagement challenges and requiring the flexible adaptation of usability methods” (384).

Our scholarship on user-centered design or service learning “often stop short of foregrounding or even addressing practice-level issues” (406). We need to make “such practices visible” (406)

“By foregrounding the context-specific, complex, difficult, and dynamic practice of usability for students, we can help them develop a flexible intelligence that can serve them as technical communicators and rhetors more generally” (406).

Notable Notes

Cited works: Spinuzzi, Robert Johnson (user-centered design), Huckin (service-learning and technical writing), Linda Flower, JT Grabill

connection between participatory design and user-centered design

data included student assignments, interviews with the students, and pre-and post-course questionnaires, coding responses

25 students from two sections of introductory technical writing in Spring 2005 (research done the following semester)

best to introduce concept of usability in advanced technical writing class or as part of a two-semester sequence because of how much time a complicated service project takes incorportating user-centered design.

ease-based v. user-based design (401)

focusing on practice-level issues is like the classical pedagogical technique of imitation (mimesis) – not straight imitation but rather “a creative process of rearranging and reconstructing rhetorical elements in light of kairos” (404)

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