Week 15 and Finals Week: Wrapping Up the Semester

The end of the semester is upon us, which can only mean one thing: crunch time. I know how busy you are with all of your other classes, so I have cleared the schedule in this class to allow you to focus solely on your final paper. Here’s how we’ll spend our time between now and finals week:

  • On Tuesday (5/1), we will devote the entire class session to a writing workshop. Please bring your laptop to class and be ready to put the finishing touches on your paper. If you have specific questions about small issues in your paper, I can help you answer them during class, but please don’t expect to cram five hours worth of work into a one-hour class session. In other words, when you come to class your paper should be almost ready to share with your peers. And, in fact, that’s exactly what we’ll do at the end of class. Each person will send an electronic copy of their paper to two classmates, who will review the paper before class on Thursday. If you would like to be grouped with specific classmates for this review activity, please let me know before class on Tuesday.
  • On Thursday (5/3), you will work in small groups to share your feedback on each others’ papers. Please take this review assignment seriously by making substantive comments and edits on your peers’ papers before you come to class on Thursday. You will also have a chance to complete course evaluations on Thursday, and if time allows, I can meet with you individually to offer suggestions about how best to implement your peers’ suggestions as you work on the final draft of your paper.
  • Your final paper is due no later than Tuesday, May 8, at 1:15 p.m. You can bring your paper to my office during our officially scheduled final (11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.), or if you would like to turn it in early, you can slide it under my office door (211 Premont Hall). In addition, please submit an electronic copy of your paper either by emailing it to me or by sharing it with me on Google Docs (share the file with email hidden; JavaScript is required and be sure to give me editing privileges). Once you have submitted your final paper, you can bid fond farewell to Current Theories of Rhetoric and Composition. *sniff*

I have loved teaching this class (especially our class discussions!), and I hope you’ve gotten something out of it, too. I always get a kick out of hearing about my former students’ successes, so please feel free to drop me a line every so often to let me know how you’re doing. I wish you all the best, and I have nothing but confidence in your abilities to do amazing things, so go change the world with rhetoric!

Week 14: Swales Introductions, Drafting Academic Prose

I’m glad we took the time to hear about each of your research projects in class yesterday, and I hope you left class with a few new ideas that you can apply to your project. Next week, we will focus wholeheartedly on generating a paper from your raw data, so you should make significant progress on analyzing your data over the weekend.

Here’s how we’ll spend our time next week and what you need to do to prepare for our in-class writing workshops:

  • On Tuesday (4/24), we will talk about how to frame your research in the introduction of your paper. We’ll work through some exercises in class, so before you come to class, please print out and read the selection from Aspects of Article Introductions, by John Swales (linked as a PDF file on the Readings page), and “Making Rhetorical Moves in Academic Writing,” compiled by Dr. Loewe.
  • On Thursday (4/26), we will conduct the first of several peer-review exercises to help you revise and polish your final paper. The assignment sheet states that you should have a draft of your paper by this date, but I recognize that might be wishful thinking. For Thursday’s activity, please come to class with two printed copies of your draft-in-progress, which should contain, at minimum, an introduction, a methods section, and a results section. (We’ll save the discussion section, the works cited, the abstract, etc., for the following week.)

Finally, just a quick reminder that I won’t have office hours on Monday, due to the Edward Tufte workshop I’m attending. If you need to talk to me about your project, please email me and we’ll find a time to meet on Tuesday, either before class or in the afternoon.

Week 13: Sapienza, Smith, Wiki Deadline, and Data Collection Deadline

Next week we will put our wiki assignment to bed, which will allow us to focus wholeheartedly on the final project for the remainder of the semester. As you finalize your work on the wiki project over the weekend, please review the assignment guidelines and remember that when I evaluate these projects, I will rely heavily on self-documentation each of you have written on your RhetorClick user pages. The deadline for this assignment is Tuesday morning, so please make sure you have completed all of your work on the wiki before you come to class.

Here’s our game plan for next week:

  • On Tuesday, we will discuss “Ethos and Research Positionality in Studies of Virtual Communities,” by Filipp Sapienza [DWR 89–106], and “Researching Hybrid Literacies,” by Beatrice Smith [DWR 127–49]. As you read these pieces, focus on the practical application for your research studies. (Also, please note that this will probably be the last day of readings, so if you haven’t completed ten reading responses, don’t miss this one.)
  • Thursday is the data collection deadline for the final project, so we will spend the class period presenting our data and getting feedback about any methodological challenges we might be having. Come to class ready to share your initial findings with the class and ask any questions you have about analyzing your data. Plan to take five minutes for this informal presentation.

As always, if you have any questions about these plans, or if you want to talk about your research project, just let me know.

Week 12: Hawkes; Reilly and Eyman; and Wiki Workshop

I hope you’re all enjoying your Easter break. When we return on Tuesday, we will be entering the home stretch of the semester, and we have a lot of ground to cover in the last four weeks. My goal is to spend at least part of every class period for the rest of the semester on our two big remaining assignments: the wiki project and the final paper. Here’s how we’ll proceed next week:

  • On Tuesday (4/10), we will discuss “Impact of Invasive Web Technologies on Digital Research,” by Lory Hawkes [DWR 337–51], and “Multifaceted Methods for Multimodal Texts,” by Colleen Reilly and Doug Eyman [DWR 353–75]. I will lead the discussion and Susie will take notes. In addition, the annotated bibliography for your final paper is due before you come to class. To submit your bibliography, please upload it to Google Docs and share it with email hidden; JavaScript is required (and be sure to give me editing privileges). Each of your 8-10 entries in the bibliography should begin with a full citation in MLA format, followed by a ~200 word annotation, which should summarize the source and explain how you plan to use it in your final paper.
  • On Thursday (4/12), we will spend the entire class session working on the RhetorClick wiki, so if you have a laptop, please bring it to class. Your only homework for Thursday is to add a draft of your wiki contributions to the site before you come to class.

Due to Easter break, I won’t have office hours on Monday, so if you have any questions about your annotated bibliography or the wiki assignment before class on Tuesday, please email me and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Week 11: Hart-Davidson, McIntire-Strasburg, and Annotated Bibliographies

I hope our discussion about the practical aspects of online research helped you think about the steps you need to take and the tools you need to use to collect and analyze the data for your research projects. Because we have a shortened week next week, we’ll need to cover a lot of ground on Tuesday:

  • Before you come to class, please read “Studying the Mediated Action of Composing with Time-Use Diaries,” by William Hart-Davidson [DWR 153–70], and “Multimedia Research,” by Janice McIntire-Strasburg [DWR 287–300]. Trevor will lead our discussion and Kenny will take notes.
  • Your annotated bibliography (containing at least eight sources, with ~200 words per annotation) is due on Tuesday, April 10th, after we return from Easter break. A printed list of the sources you plan to annotate is due at the beginning of class on Tuesday, April 3rd. Some of these sources may come from our readings this semester, but several should be specific to your topic. It’s OK if you add or replace a couple of sources after turning in this list (you will likely discover new sources as you read items for your bibliography), but please do your best to develop a finalized list before Tuesday.
  • If you have any additional questions about the logistics of collecting your data, please be ready to ask them so we can resolve those issues before you leave for Easter break.

Last but not least, this is my broken-record reminder about the April 17th deadline for contributions to RhetorClick. After my friendly reminder last Friday, a grand total of one student in the class added content to the site this week, so consider this a slightly more stern warning: The wiki assignment counts for 15% of your semester grade. Neglecting this assignment will significantly reduce your final grade in the course. Please act now!

Week 10: Sidler, Kimme Hea, and Rickly

I really loved talking with each of you about your research projects over the past two days. I can’t wait to read these final papers! Over the next couple of weeks, we will be reviewing some specific tools and techniques that you can use to collect and analyze your data, but if you ever feel like you’re getting lost or falling behind, please let me know. I am happy to readjust some of our class sessions to make sure that everyone feels confident about this assignment.

In addition to talking about research methods, next week we will read three excellent articles. Here’s the day-by-day plan:

  • On Tuesday (3/27), we will read “Playing Scavenger and Gazer with Scientific Discourse: Opportunities and Ethics for Online Research,” by Michelle Sidler [DWR 71–86], and “Riding the Wave: Articulating a Critical Methodology for Web Research Practices,” by Amy Kimme Hea [DWR 269–86]. Meg will lead our discussion, and Trevor will take notes.
  • On Thursday (3/29), we will read “Messy Contexts: Research as a Rhetorical Situation,” by Rebecca Rickly [DWR 377–97]. I will lead the discussion, and Katie will take notes.

Finally, this is another reminder that the final deadline for contributions to RhetorClick is three weeks away (April 17). A few of you (a very few of you) have been making solid progress on this assignment, but most of you need to dig into this project. Don’t let the deadline creep up on you!

Week 9: Blythe, Plus Individual Conferences

We have reached the midpoint of the semester, so it’s probably a good time to step back and see how much you’ve accomplished this semester. To help you do that, I have updated your grades in Blackboard, so each of you can get a sense of where you stand right now. Your wiki and class participation grades are tentative grades, designed to help you see where you would be if the semester were ending right now. I will catch up on grading your reading responses over spring break, but you should be able to get a fairly good sense of where you’re headed in that category by checking your scores in Google Docs. As always, if you feel like you’re not where you want to be in terms of your grade, please come see me during office hours; I would be happy to help you develop a plan to get back on track before the semester ends.

Next week we will all be enjoying a well-deserved spring break, but when we return, we’ll be diving into the research paper project. If you haven’t thoroughly read the assignment description for that project, please do so ASAP. When we see each other again, here’s how we’ll proceed:

  • On Tuesday (3/20), we will read “Coding Texts and Digital Multimedia,” by Stuart Blythe [DWR 203-27]. Katie will lead our discussion, and Ryan and Chloe will take notes. We will also spend some time talking about how to draft a research plan, so please come to class with at least two (preferably more) ideas for your final research paper.
  • On Thursday (3/22), we will not meet as a class; instead, I will hold an individual conference with each of you to discuss your proposal for the final paper. I will distribute a sign-up sheet for conference times on Tuesday. When you come to your conference, you should bring a written proposal that follows the format discussed in class on Tuesday. (If you’re worried about this, don’t be — we will cover everything you need to know after spring break. During the break, you just need to start brainstorming ideas for your project.)

Last but not least, this is a gentle reminder that you should be making steady progress on the wiki assignment. The final deadline for contributions to the wiki is April 17, but please don’t postpone your work on that assignment until Week 13!

Week 8: Downs and Wardle, McKee and DeVoss, DePew

Each week, I think our discussions can’t get any better, but you keep proving me wrong. I really loved our conversations about Corder and Brent, and even if you didn’t agree with those authors, I hope you found some value in their alternative approaches to argumentation. As we move into the second half of the semester, I hope we’ll be able to keep raising the bar when it comes to reading and analyzing the assigned texts.

Due to a guest speaker coming to class next Tuesday, I had to make a few minor modifications to the syllabus. Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll be doing each day:

  • On Tuesday (3/6), we will meet with Dr. Loewe’s class in RCC 231, so please do not come to our regular classroom. A guest instructor will lead our discussion on “Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions: (Re)Envisioning ‘First-Year Composition’ as ‘Introduction to Writing Studies,’” by Douglas Downs and Elizabeth Wardle, which is available as a PDF file on the Readings page.
  • On Thursday (3/8), I will introduce our new textbook and the guidelines for the final paper, which is connected to the new book. Jennifer and Katie will be our note takers on Thursday. Before you come to class, please read the “Introduction” to Digital Writing Research, by Heidi McKee and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss [DWR 1–24], and “Through the Eyes of Researchers, Rhetors, and Audiences,” by Kevin Eric DePew [DWR 49–69].

One final note about the wiki assignment: Yesterday I emailed each of you with some feedback about your proposal for the wiki. If you have not read that feedback yet, please do so this weekend, and if you’d like to discuss or modify your proposal at any point during this assignment, please let me know.

Week 7: Corder and Brent, Taking Stock of Where We Are

I hope you enjoyed our class session on the lawn as much as I did, and I hope you’ll keep thinking about your ideal version of a rhetoric and composition curriculum. We’ll come back to that discussion several times this semester, so you’ll have plenty of chances to articulate the hows and whys of your perfect plan for teaching rhetoric and composition to undergraduate students. (Hint: the wiki is another great place to articulate these ideas!)

Next week, we will discuss two articles that present very different approaches to rhetoric. Here’s the day-by-day plan:

  • On Tuesday (2/28), we will “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love,” by Jim W. Corder [PNR 412–28]. Jennifer will lead our discussion, and Rebecca will take notes.
  • On Thursday (3/1), we will discuss “Rogerian Rhetoric: An Alternative to Traditional Rhetoric,” by Douglas Brent. (Please print out this reading and bring it to class.) I will lead the discussion, and I’m still looking for someone to take notes. (Anyone looking to switch days?) In addition, we will spend some time on Thursday taking stock of what we’ve covered so far this semester and discussing what you would like to do for the remainder of the semester. I am open to making modifications to our syllabus based on your feedback, so please come to class ready to discuss any ideas you have for making this course more relevant and useful.

One final reminder: Your proposals for the wiki assignment are due no later than Monday evening. After you have reviewed the assignment guidelines, please send me an email with your proposal. This proposal constitutes only a small portion of your grade for the wiki project, but it will determine your trajectory for the rest of the assignment, so please take it seriously.

Week 6: McKeon, Ohmann and Scott

This will be a brief update, with just a couple of quick reminders and an overview of our plans for next week. First, the reminders:

  • As of today, I am caught up on grading your reading responses, so if you’re curious to know how you’re doing on that portion of the class, you can login to your Google Docs account to see my feedback on your responses. To stay on track, you should have completed approximately five responses by this point in the semester. If you’re behind schedule on these responses, please don’t let too many additional reading days slip by without writing responses.
  • As we discussed in class on Thursday, your proposals for the wiki assignment are due no later than Monday, February 27. During Week 6, you should be drafting your plans for this project and/or collaborating with your classmates to determine who will be doing what on the class wiki. I will try to reserve a little time during class on Tuesday for you to discuss your proposals with one another, but you don’t need to wait for class to team up with other people in the class.

And here are our plans for Week 6:

  • On Tuesday (2/21), we will discuss “The Uses of Rhetoric in a Technological Age: Architectonic Productive Arts,” by Richard McKeon [PNR 126–44]. Rebecca will lead our discussion, and Elisabeth and Meg will take notes. In addition, you should come to class with a rough outline of what you want to do for the wiki assignment.
  • On Thursday (2/23), we will discuss “In Lieu of a New Rhetoric,” by Richard Ohmann [PNR 298–306], and “On Viewing Rhetoric as Epistemic,” by Robert L. Scott [PNR 307–18]. Susie will lead the discussion, and Jennifer will take notes.

If you have questions about these plans, or if you want to meet with me to discuss your plans for the wiki assignment, feel free to stop by my office (211 Premont) during my office hours (Monday 9-12 or Wednesday 1-4).

Week 5: Weaver and Toulmin

I have enjoyed meeting with several of you during office hours this week to discuss your ideas for the short paper assignment, and I get the sense that most of you are on the right track. As you work on your papers, let me offer a few reminders and/or cautions:

  • This is a short paper, so you should not try to summarize the field of rhetoric or make broad pronouncements about a particular author or theoretical model. Be as specific and focused as possible — the narrower, the better.
  • It is not enough to summarize or review the ideas of others; you need to advance an argument of your own. Again, this argument doesn’t need to be all-encompassing, but you do need to take a stance and make a point.
  • Remember that this is a class about current theories of rhetoric and composition, so your paper should be grounded in the field(s) of rhetoric and composition. It’s OK to make connections with creative writing, literature, art, etc., but make sure you don’t go too far afield.

Other than the short paper, here’s what we’ll be doing next week:

  • On Tuesday (2/14), we will discuss “The Cultural Role of Rhetoric,” by Richard Weaver [PNR 75–89]. Kenny will lead our discussion, and Rhiann and Ryan will take notes. Your short paper is due at the beginning of class, so please review the assignment details before you put the finishing touches on your paper.
  • On Thursday (2/16), we will discuss “The Layout of Arguments,” by Stephen Toulmin [PNR 105–25]. J.R. will lead our discussion, and Susie and Kenny will take notes. In addition, we will carve out a few minutes to talk about the wiki assignment before we begin that project in earnest during Week 6. In preparation for this discussion, your homework assignment is to make contributions to at least three different pages on the wiki before you come to class on Thursday. These contributions can be big or small, but I would like to see everyone getting some experience with how the wiki works.

If you have any questions about these plans, let me know. Otherwise, good luck with your papers, and enjoy your weekend!

Week 4: Saussure and Bakhtin, Foucault and Barthes

This week we started hitting our stride with our class discussions, and I hope we can maintain (and even improve) the high quality of these conversations. Those of you who are skipping or skimming the reading assignments, please get back on track this week. In order for this class to work, all of us need to show up prepared to say something interesting about the texts we’ve read. Completing the readings will be even more important next week, as we dive into some complicated theoretical texts. Prepare to have your minds blown in the following fashion:

  • On Tuesday, we will discuss “Nature of the Linguistic Sign,” by Ferdinand de Saussure [PNR 3–15], and “Toward a Methodology for the Human Sciences,” by Mikhail Bakhtin [PNR 63–74]. Elisabeth will lead our discussion, and Stephen and J.R. will take notes.
  • On Thursday, we will read “What Is an Author?” by Michel Foucault [PRN 178–93], and “The Death of the Author,” by Roland Barthes [linked on the Readings page]. Ryan will lead our discussion, and Nicole and Meg will take notes.

As we discussed in class on Thursday, your first short paper is due in ten days, on February 14. Please review the assignment details and come talk to me during office hours if you’d like some help settling on a topic for your paper.

Finally, remember that now is the time to start contributing to pages on the RhetorClick wiki. If you have led a discussion or taken notes in class, you should try to add or edit any pages related to your topic. Even if you haven’t taken an official role in our class discussions, you should feel free to add material from your personal notes and research to the wiki. We will start pursuing a more formal wiki assignment in a few weeks, and you should be comfortable editing the wiki by then.

Week 3: Bryant and Perelman

Our class discussions continued to go well during Week 2, although I would like to hear more from a few of you. (If you’re sitting through an entire class in silence, I’m talking to you!) As I mentioned in class on Thursday, I’m going to keep pushing us back into the texts we’re discussing, so when you come to class next week, please be ready to point to a specific passage in each text that you would like to discuss in greater detail.

Here’s the lineup for next week:

  • On Thursday (1/31), we will discuss “Rhetoric: Its Function and Its Scope,” by Donald C. Bryant [PNR 267–97]. Stephen will lead the discussion and Elisabeth and Katie will take notes.
  • On Thursday (2/2), we will discuss “The New Rhetoric: A Theory of Practical Reasoning,” by Chaïm Perelman [PNR 145–77]. Chloe will lead the discussion and Rebecca will take notes. We will also discuss the parameters for your first short paper, which is due on February 14.

Finally, a couple of quick reminders:

  • If you have taken notes for one of our class sessions, please remember to email me your notes within a couple of day after the class session so I can add them to our list of Class Notes. For details about what these notes should look like, please refer to the Assignments page.
  • If you have not submitted at least one reading response, please make sure you respond to Tuesday’s reading assignment before you come to class. For those of you who have already written a reading response or two, I will be looking at them over the weekend. Again, if you have questions about the reading responses, please check the Assignments page.

Week 2: Ehninger and Burke

I was very pleased with our first class discussion on Thursday, and I hope we will be able to keep raising the bar as the semester moves on. As you read these articles (especially the long or difficult ones), keep a running list of vocabulary words and new concepts, and remember that it’s OK to feel confused at the end of an article. Often, it will help to read the article a second time, and writing a reading response to the article will definitely help, too.

Here’s our plan for next week:

  • On Tuesday (1/24), we will meet jointly with Dr. Loewe’s class in RCC 231, so please do not come to our regular classroom. We will discuss “On Systems of Rhetoric,” by Douglas Ehninger [PNR 319–30]. Dr. Loewe will be our discussion leader, and J.R. and Chloe will take notes. Before you come to class, please spend some time getting familiar with the RhetorClick wiki. Together with Dr. Loewe’s class, we will make some plans for improving the wiki over the coming weeks.
  • On Thursday (1/26), we will discuss Kenneth Burke’s “Definition of Man” [PNR 40–62]. Rhiann will serve as our discussion leader, and Stephen will take notes.

By the end of Week 2, you need to complete at least one reading response. Please remember that these responses must be completed before you come to class. When you write a new reading response, all you need to do is add it to your document in Google Docs. (When I login to Google Docs, I will be able to see that you have added text to the document since I last checked it.) I will do my best to respond quickly to these first few reading responses, but if you have any questions about them, please come talk to me.

Finally, please review the updated Calendar page, just to make sure that you have signed up for one day of discussion leading and two days of note taking. I am happy to meet with you about your class presentation, but try not to put off those meetings until the last minute. Meeting with me well in advance of your presentation day will help you succeed on that assignment.

As always, if you have any questions, just let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you next week.

Welcome to Current Theories of Rhetoric and Composition!

Welcome to ENGW 4341: Current Theories of Rhetoric and Composition. During the semester, this site will serve as an online syllabus, a repository for assignment descriptions, and a place to share resources related to student research projects. There isn’t much here right now, but this site will expand as the semester progresses. Each Friday, I will post an update about the coming week, so if you ever have questions about what you should be reading, when assignments are due, etc., just check this website.

In addition, we will be developing another website, RhetorClick.com, to collect and share our research with students of rhetoric and composition at other universities. If you visit the site, you’ll see that another group of students (my ENGW 4341 students from last spring) have gotten the ball rolling, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. During the next 16 weeks, you and your classmates will revise and polish the content that’s on the site right now, add the findings of your individual research, and organize it all into a website that will serve as useful resource to anyone working in the fields of rhetoric, composition, and new media. A daunting task for a small group of undergrads? Definitely. But I have no doubt that you’ll rise to the challenge!

On Tuesday (1/17), we will review the course policies, get to know one another, and, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, attempt to diagram your “known knowns” and “known unknowns” about rhetoric and composition. (Given that it’s the first day of the semester, we’ll leave what Rumsfeld called the “unknown unknowns” for another time.) After I gather your input in class on Tuesday, I will finalize the course calendar and bring it to class on Thursday so we can finalize the assignments for leading class discussions and taking notes.

Between now and Thursday, here’s what you need to do:

  • Read “On Distinctions between Classical and Modern Rhetoric,” by Andrea A. Lunsford and Lisa S. Ede [PNR 397–411]. I will serve as the discussion leader for this first reading, but I will be looking for two volunteers to take notes on our class discussion. UPDATE: Trevor and Rhiann will take notes on Thursday.
  • Create an account on RhetorClick.com and add a brief biography to your user page. (See my user page for an example.) For your username, please use your first name, your full name, or some combination thereof. Don’t forget to write down your username and password! (This site is public, so if you are concerned about your privacy, I suggest using only your first name. If you want to use a pseudonym for your username, please contact me to explain your situation.)
  • Create a Google Docs account, if you don’t have one already. (If you have a Gmail account, this will work for Google Docs, too. Whatever email address you use, it should be one that you check regularly.) In Google Docs, create a new document named “Full Name 4341 Reading Responses” (e.g., “Quinn Warnick 4341 Reading Responses”), then click the “Share” button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and type my email address (email hidden; JavaScript is required) into the “Add people” field. Make sure the “Can edit” option is selected and the “Notify people via email” box is checked, then click “Share & save.”

Please complete these tasks before you come to class on Thursday. If you encounter any technological problems along the way, please let me know.