Revolution Lullabye

June 6, 2009

Yancey, Made Not Only in Words

Yancey, Kathleen. “Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key.” CCC 56.2 (Dec 2004) 297-328.

This is Yancey’s 2004 CCCC Chair’s address, which was billed more as a multimedia, multivocal “performance” because, in conjunction with her speech, she had a slideshow that displayed images and quotes that did not directly illustrate her speech but rather interpreted her thoughts in a new way.

Her address asks compositionists to reimagine the content, structure, and location of the field of rhetoric and composition. Pointing out that digital technology has created a writing public in the same way a reading public was created in the late 19th century, she argues for changing composition curriculum that more accurately reflects the kinds of writing students are already doing on their own, the kinds of writing that are requried for 21st century lives. In order to teach students how to write and develop multimedia, multigenre literacies, a vertical undergraduate major must be developed, one in which courses focus on the intertextual, dialogic circulation of composition, the interrelatedness of the canons of rhetoric, and the effect and the deicity of technology on literacy. Finially, this “new key” of composition requires faculty to be willing to change their curriculum structure and embrace this new literacy space to live and work in.

Quotable Qutotes

“Composition in this school context, and in direct contrast to the world context, remains chiefly focused on the writer qua writer, sequestered from the means of production” (309) – solitary, tutorial model vs. social, productive model.

“Never before has the proliferation of writings outside the academy so counterpointed the compositions inside. Never before have the technologies of writing contributed so quickly to the creation of new genres” (298)

“Literacy today is in the midst of a tectonic change” (298)

Notable Notes

problem….training teachers


May 31, 2009

Erikson et al, A Web We Can Weave

Erikson, et al. “A Web We Can Weave: Considering Open Source Technologies in Our Classrooms.” Comupters and Composition. (Spring 2009)

This collaborative article, written by Erikson and his graduate studetns, investigates different Web 2.o interfaces and technologies the authors (who took a grad seminar class with Erikson) used in the seminar and also in their teaching. Erikson argues that it’s important for those in composition and rhetoric to become familiar with and be able to use the many Web 2.0 technologies students are using, the technologies that are part of their everyday litearcy activities. Drawing on Selber’s three-part literacy framework, Erikson advocates for more productive, rhetorically literate assignments and classroom teaching practices to make composition more relevant and answerable to the multiliteracy needs of today’s students. The graduate students each wrote a section about a different technology – YackPack, Facebook, GoogleDocs & GoogleGroups, podcasting, and wikis.

Quotable Quotes

“the use of Google and many other tools of the digital age are an integral part of the history of literacy in Western culture; to ignore this fact and to bridge the gap between students as digital natives and faculty as digital immigrants certainly calls the question about which group is truly more ignorant and less literate”

Questions teachers need to ask before adopting a Web 2.0 technology: 

What are my course goals for using this technology?
What goals can this technology help me accomplish?
What do I want my students to do with technology?
What are the ethical questions to consider when implementing any new media technology into the writing classroom?
How can I expect my student population to respond to new media?
Are there issues of access, funding, literacy, time, or space that I need to examine beforehand?

“the constant reminder that these tools were the ones in use by our students, and lest we consider those irrelevant to the concerns of English studies in general and Rhetoric and Composition in particular, we can only turn to the current national election process to see the role of tools like YouTube in the candidate debates, blogs in disseminating political views by pundits and citizens alike, and how can one forget Barack Obama’s early morning text message to his supporters about his Vice Presidential choice. Because these tools are ones in the hands of today’s students, defined as digital natives (Prensky, 2001), they should be ones worthy of functional, critical, and particularly rhetorical literacy education within graduate programs in Rhetoric and Composition, not only to transform the undergraduate writing curriculum but also to change the presumption that all academic discourse is print in nature, particularly in light of concerns by the Modern Language Association (2006) about the crisis in scholarly publishing and the impact on print production processes as well as on the academic reward system for faculty caught within the paradigm shift between the print and the digital.”

Notable Notes

see what the students are using and use that – don’t just rely on Blackboard because it’s safe and easy

great YouTube video by Michael Wesch at Kansas State University

March 18, 2009

Bolter, Critical Theory and the Challenge of New Media

Bolter, Jay David. “Critical Theory and the Challenge of New Media.” In Eloquent Images. Eds. Hocks and Kendrick. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003. 19-36.

Bolter argues that writing teachers have a unique position in the university for approaching new media as a critical practice, distinct from the critical analysis done in the humanities and the practice of new media done in graphic design and fine arts. His chapter explores the binaries present in the study of new media (dichotomies present in other areas of the university as well): theory/practice; critique/production; the ideological/the formal; the verbal/the visual, seeing how the critical practice of design in new media challenges them. Bolter shows how his department at Georgia Tech plays with the tensions in these dichotomies in an eclectic, multidisciplinary way.

Quotable Quotes

“The World Wide Web and other new media challenge not only the form of the book, but also the representational power of the printed word.” (21)

repurpose v. remediate: repurpose = “pour content from one media form into another, while attempting to replicate the earlier medium’s definition of the authentic.” (29) remediate = “to borrow the sense of the authentic from one media form and to refashion it for another” (29), what good Web designers do.

“a new critical theory is needed that can make us aware of the cultural and historical contexts (and ideologies) without dismissing or downplaying the formal characteristics of new media” (34)

“design in context must be critical and productive at the same time” (34)

Notable Notes

can the Internet replace printed books? is that the goal?

new media as a critical vehicle, you do something with it, not just talk about it or critique it.

educators are trying to close that theory/practice binary

January 29, 2009

Newkirk, To Compose

Newkirk, Thomas. To Compose: Teaching Writing in High School and College. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1990.

This, an expanded edition, contains essays by both compositionists and teacher-practicioners (high school and college) about teaching the writing process. It focuses on seeing students as writers and working as teachers to give them latitude to work as writers do, experimenting with style, finding entry points for starting to write, using journals to practice and learn knowledge, and developing their own critical lens through which they can revisit and revise their own writing.

Here’s an overview of the sections and the notable (to me) essays in each one:

1. Prologue: Arthur Daigon, comparing the writing process to current-traditionalist model of writing instruction (product-based)

2. Getting Started
2 essays about writers and their own individual writing process, emphasizing trusting your own instincts (Stafford and Cormier)
Donald Murray – the forces that help a writer get started: finding more information, caring more about the subject, having a audience waiting, and having a deadline
Sondra Perl – the recursive nature of writing, how writers negotiate through the forces of retrospection and projection, moving by felt-sense between the two

3. Responding
Donald Murray – the teacher’s job is to help students devleop the “other self,” teaching them how to critically analyze and understand their writing from outside themselves. We model this through our own writing and by responding to students in conferences, in class, and in discussions.
Linda Flower – the importance of writer-based prose at the beginning of the writing process, allowing an intimate personal connection to the writing and opportunities for invention and conscious thinking about writing. The shift then must happen to reader-based prose, as writers must concern themselves with how their writing is received and understood by the audience.

4. Writing and Literature – four essays about using writing as a driving force in teaching literature, making the learning of literature not just about reading texts.

5. WAC
Bryant Fillion – Canadian school survey that showed skills like reading and listening are emphasized over productive activities like speaking and writing in classrooms, the need for a shift to using language for productive ends – learning through writing across the curriculum
Toby Fulwiler – how student journals can be used across the curriculum as a commonplace notebook for students to gather and mine ideas for both personal and academic growth.

6. Style and Grammar
Tom Romano – a unit about teaching students to explictily break “Grammar A” (referencing Winston Weathers) rules and encourage the conscious development of style through innovation and experimentation.

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