ENG 594: August Orientation Schedule

Hi all. Below is the rough schedule for our orientation next week. As I mentioned in the email, it would be great if you can bring a laptop to our session so we can work directly in Canvas setting up the course and reviewing some writing technologies.

Monday, August 14th 1:00-3:00

Today’s plan:

  • 1:00-1:20: General Introductions
  • 1:20-1:45: What it Means to Teach Writing
  • 1:45-2:15: Looking at the Syllabus
  • 2:15-2:30: Setting Up Google Drive Accounts
  • 2:30-3:00: Setting Up Medium Accounts, Homework [Haswell reading, sent via Canvas], Questions

Thursday, August 17th 1:00-4:00

Today’s plan:

  • 1:00-1:45 Reviewing Discourse Community Homework
  • 1:45-2:30 Working with Canvas,
  • 2:30-2:45 Minimal Marking and Meaningful Feedback
  • 2:45-4:00 Practice Providing Feedback, Questions part 2
  • Homework: Strategies for Workshopping Writing

Two things for homework: 1) work a bit on the discourse communities. What is something you think students could write about, and where are a few places that people write about it? 2) contribute to the Canvas discussion forum on “Strategies for Workshopping Writing”

Friday, August 18th 1:00-4:00

Today’s Plan:

  • 1:00-2:00 Responding to Questions / Quick Hits (Plagiarism, Attendance, First Day Attendance, etc), Signing the Book to Reserve the Computer Lab
  • Thinking about the First Day
  • 2:00-2:30 Signing Up for Teaching Concepts Assignments
  • 2:30-3:30 Practice Providing Feedback part 2
  • 3:30-4:00 Strategies for Workshopping Writing

First Day

Hi all. I wanted to spend a bit of time today thinking about the first day of class. Let’s look at my course plan from the first day of class last semester.

Here’s what is on the schedule:

Monday August 21nd
Class: “Introduction to Argument” Class notes
Remember to take attendance.
Read Timothy B. Lee’s “Pokemon Go is everything that is wrong with late capitalism”. Complete response sheet. Discuss in groups.
Read Michael Farren and Adam Millsap’s “Pokemon Go represents the best of capitalism”. Complete response sheet. Discuss in groups.

Home: Read They Say, I Say preface and introduction. Post a 3-5 sentence response to either article read in class to Canvas using a template from They Say, I Say.
NOTE: you can get instructions for logging into Canvas here.

Because I want them to write all the time, I have them go into Canvas for homework and write a few sentences. This also makes sure that 1) they know how to get into Canvas and 2) that they know how to post to a discussion forum.

First class–writing and argument thought. Open of second class–writing as style and communication.

Your Questions:

  • What should we do if an argument gets out of hand?
  • What happens if we need to miss class
    • Unplanned Absence
    • Planned Absence
  • How much time should we give students to do readings?
  • Should we provide PDFs of first week readings if students don’t have the books? How do we do this?
  • What should our signature on our emails to students look like?
  • Using the department printer
  • Creating an environment in which revision doesn’t mean “just fix the comments”
  • New DDS statement?
  • How to discuss grades with students? Should I wait 24 hours?

    Working With Canvas

    Hi all. Today I want to take some time to help you get to know Canvas.

    • Home > Settings > Student View
    • Home > Settings > Navigation
    • Home > Settings > Quiz
    • Home > Settings > Assignments
    • Home > Settings > Attendance
    • Reminder to set up discussion
    • NOTE: First Day Attendance
    • NOTE: Syllabus change, word count for posts up to 800-1000

    Homework: Contribute to the Canvas discussion on Strategies for Workshopping Writing

    Providing Meaningful Feedback

    • Talk about Haskins
    • Talk about Sommers
    • Write about Elbow
    • Paper #1: Scientology
    • Paper #2: Tattoos
    • Paper #3: BLM
    • Paper #4: Serial Killers
    • Paper #5: League of Legends
    • Other comments: TB, MW3, RBThesis

    What it Means to Teach Writing

    Walking into the first day of orientation, it is hard for me to imagine what you know about writing instruction, or what your experience as instructors of writing might be. I thought the best way to open this conversation might be to ake a look at a group of recent articles on writing instruction, most from the Washington Post. Generally, these kinds of articles make folks in Rhetoric and Composition groan, because while they often cite research on the failures of writing programs, they rarely if ever acknowledge the large body of research on how we can (and do) improve writing instruction. The failures research documents aren’t failures of R/C scholars to identify how to improve writing so much as failures of institutions to invest the time and resources it will take to enact such improvements. But that’s another conversation.

    So let’s take a look at a few links, a collection of what I might term the “usual suspects” of the national “why Johnny can’t write” argument (note, this argument isn’t new–you can look back at 400 years of writing about writing and quickly learn that Johnny could never write; universtiy faculty have complained about the quality of student writing since the invention of universities. But I digress. Digression will be a theme, maybe even a strategy).

    Let’s meet an example of the Codger. John G. Maguire will fill that role today. In “Why So Many College Students Are Lousy At Writing–And How Mr. Miyagi Can Help,” he draws upon Arum and Roksa’s 2011 Academically Adrift to lay out his problem: “Arum and Roksa found that 45% of 2,300 college students at 24 colleges showed no significant improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing by the end of their sophomore years.” His solution, however, is enough to make most writing scholars pull their hair out:

    Why aren’t they learning? There are multiple causes. One is that schools admit students who can’t write and then pack them into comp courses taught by adjuncts. But the main problem, I think, is that the colleges are not really trying to teach students to write clear sentences. Not anymore.
    First semester writing courses now cover rhetorical strategies, research, awareness of audience, youth civic activism–everything except the production of clear sentences.

    His evidence to support this claim (laden with dog whistles) is one anecdote from one other professor. He goes on to praise his own textbook, developed as an improvement over the venerable Strunk and White, which fetishizes emphasizes clarity . His warrant:

    Professional writers and editors know readability can be learned. They have learned how to be vivid and interesting, what to do when a sentence is screwed up by a bad verb, and why one controls sentence length. Why not teach these skills to college freshman?

    I don’t mean to come off as too snarky. That’s a bad way to introduce myself. But these “back to basics” arguments (whether couched in the language of style or grammar) are infuriating to researchers in rhetoric and composition because so many studies have proved the futility of such an approach. As you’ll see when we look at the syllabus, I do invest class time on thinking about style, syntax, choice of subject and verb. These are important parts of a writing class and should not be overlooked. However, it is unproductive to focus on these skills in isolation. It is disingenuous to pronounce that focusing on them will “fix” writing instruction. Research consistently reveals that the most effective approach to writing instruction is one that helps a student recognize the complex dynamics inherent in any communication situation and reinforce all five rhetorical canons: invention (thinking, argument, evidence, appeals), arrangement (genre), style (diction, voice, revision, decorum), memory (tricky after orality), and delivery (to an actual, responsive audience).

    John Warner highlights this research in his direct response, “We Are Teaching Kids How to Write All Wrong — and No, Mr. Miyagi’s Rote Lessons Won’t Help a Bit.” Unlike Maguire, who cites evidence to establish his problem but relies on artistic invention and anecdote in defense of his solution, Warner stresses that “the reason there is limited current scholarly writing on student prose is because the direct instruction of grammar as a method for teaching meaningful writing practice has been discredited for more than 50 years,” including “a 2007 meta-analysis of 11 different teaching methods found the only one that was ineffective was direct grammar instruction.” Warner’s response helps to explicate some of those complex dynamics that I raised in the previous paragraph:

    If we want students to truly write well, rather than settling for surface features either through a “readability” approach, or one rooted in the necessity of passing a standardized assessment, we must require students to engage in a much more rigorous curriculum centered on the most important skill all writers must practice: making choices.

    Writers choose what they want to write about (subject), who they want to write to (audience), and why they’re writing (purpose). In composition circles we call this the “rhetorical situation,” and without it, you’re not really writing. Instruction that ignores these dimensions will prevent students from developing meaningful writing practices.

    While I think Warner frames writing a bit too static for my tastes (in that he treats writing as a product, something that happens in a moment at a computer and then gets passed to someone else), I agree that writing requires the experience of negotiating a rhetorical situation, of making significant choices. We, as instructors, cannot construct an environment in which we make those choices for them. We, as instructors, cannot be the sole evaluator of whether those choices were effective.

    I wanted to point at another couple of essays that shed light on the difficulty of teaching college writing. Part of Maguire’s diatribe against contemporary writing courses concerned as emphasis on “civic youth activism.” While he doesn’t come out and say it, we might charitably surmise that such a lofty goal, in his opinion, lies beyond the scope of a first-year writing class. Joseph R. Teller comes right out and forefronts this claim in “Are We Teaching Composition All Wrong?” In a 1600 word piece devoid of even a single reference, Teller, the cynic, dismisses 30 years of writing research in order to endorse a different kind of “back to basics”–a return to a current-traditional approach of instruction focused on having students write short, argumentative pieces; he writes “students need to spend less time on difficult texts and more time writing arguments. The more time one spends on content, the less time one has for structure and form.” As much as I find Teller’s dismissive tone annoying, I will admit I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea that challenging content can complicate composition instruction. I agree that when we ask students to read complicated texts, texts that challenge their ideological commitments and or tax their cognitive capacities, then they will (obviously) struggle with writing (especially with logical development). It is a disciplinary and programmatic question as to whether we want students to focus on arrangement, style, and coherence or on invention and critical/analytical ability. I do believe that we must try to do both–and that here at UNC ENG 122 should focus on the former while ENG 123 should focus on the latter.

    But I am afraid I have strayed a bit off topic. I wanted to talk about the radical demands often hurled on first-year writing courses. Teller addresses these in his conclusion:

    My job is not to save my students from cultural impoverishment. It is to teach them how to express themselves effectively in writing. The development of cogent, clear prose is at the heart of freshman composition. For too long, I have deluded myself into thinking that my job in a composition course was to introduce students to a rich academic topic, make them read difficult texts, make up for years of barely more-than-functional literacy and book aversion, teach them to be critical thinkers, and help them understand the oppressive structures of late capitalism–all while helping them write focused arguments, revise, polish paragraphs, and edit sentences. Should college students be expected to read difficult texts? Sure. Should students develop a love of reading? Absolutely. Should students learn to express their views and persuade others in cogent, clear prose? Without question. But that last one is the only unique provenance of a composition course.

    The comment section of this article is an English Department bloodbath. Rhetoric and Composition folks respond critically to Teller’s argument here, and (as I imply above) I don’t think his dismissive tone throughout the piece helps. Some of their animosity is based off of histories too complicated to cover here. I would highlight how, traditionally, rhetoric has concerned itself with how to do things in the world. While it involves critical analysis, it is ultimately a civic and pragmatic discipline. Rhetoric is an art of persuasion, an art of engagement, an art of facilitating change. For many in the field, first-year writing courses must maintain this underlying importance on civic engagement (and here we touch upon the academic vs. non-academic arguments regarding first-year writing).

    I myself have struggled with the scope of a first-year writing classroom throughout my career. Prior to entering a PhD program, my background was in 18th century British Literature with an emphasis in theory and cultural studies. I entered my PhD program at Purdue planning on continuing these lines of study. But as my interest in theory developed, I was drawn more to rhetoric; in rhetorical theory I saw a pragmatic application of postmodern, feminist, and materialist ethics spurred by the rapid development of new, digital, communicative technologies. Like Teller, there was a time when I thought the purpose of composition meant exposing students to a particularly critical way of engaging the world. Now, after working with postpedagogical theory, I am more interested in exposing my students to ways in which they can engage their world. I am less confident in the idea that *my* critical orientations can, or should, be *forced* upon them. I am cognizant that they might enter the classroom expecting me to indoctrinate them. I am fearful that they might perform a kind of liberal expectation and that such a performance might create resentment for the very politics that I would want them to support. I don’t want student writers to perform an idea (ideology) that they think I want to see. I don’t want students to anticipate and try and answer my questions about the world. I want them to start asking questions that authentically matter to them.

    Once again I have strayed off topic. When thinking about the purpose(s) of first year writing, it is easy to stray, because there is so much one might want to do. Let me move to conclusion by calling attention to a recent piece by John Duffy, “First-Year Writing Classes Can Teach Students How to Make Fact-Based Arguments,” written last May. This piece spoke to me because it begins by establishing why the purpose of first-year writing seems so important lately. It highlights what is at stake. Let’s take a look at the introduction:

    Perhaps the greatest challenge to academe in the current political environment is the ascendancy of a “post-truth,” “alternative fact,” “fake news” culture, in which claims are detached from evidence and words do not necessarily bear any relation to reality. In the culture of post-truth, social institutions formerly seen as mainstays of objective information — the judiciary, news media and, not least, the university — are widely regarded with skepticism, if not hostility, and their adherence to fact-based argument dismissed as elitism. Indeed, the very concept of a fact may have already become a casualty of the post-truth era.

    “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts,” Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes declared on Diane Rehm’s NPR show in December. “And so Mr. Trump’s tweets amongst a certain crowd,” Hughes continued, “…are truth.” Hughes was widely reviled for her assertion, but she appears to have correctly assessed the temperature of the times.

    How should those of us in academe respond? How do we prepare our students to respond?

    I offer here a modest suggestion: support your local first-year writing program.

    For much of its history, the first-year writing class has been an arena for teaching values and virtues like honesty, accountability, fair-mindedness and intellectual courage that serve as the foundations, indeed, the essence of academic argument. Moreover, the first-year writing class promotes those values in thousands of institutions across the nation, serving tens of thousands of students each semester by introducing them to principles of ethical argumentation. In so doing, the first-year writing class offers a robust defense against the post-truth culture and provides a model for constructive, fact-based public discourse.

    Duffy’s my utopian. His modest suggestion isn’t actually that modest. To suggest that first-year writing is the site from which we can combat the disintegration of epistemology? With students who might struggle to compose a coherent paragraph? Not modest. But I do like so much of what Duffy offers–his idea that FYC introduces students to the most basic philosophical/rhetorical principle–the centrality of claims and evidence. And his corresponding idea that it also inculcates the importance of balancing skepticism, trust, and honesty to facilitate productive dialogue. His idea of radical humility deserves close attention:

    Finally, argument in the first-year writing class teaches practices of intellectual humility. Many people have noted how academics represent argument in the language of conflict and war. We attack others’ ideas. We gain and lose territory. We are victorious, or we are decisively defeated. This is the language of intellectual domination.

    But argument can equally be understood as a practice of radical humility, in the sense that to argue is to submit ourselves to the judgment of others, offering up our ideas for scrutiny, criticism and rejection. Moreover, while argument in the first-year writing class is frequently taught as the practice of persuasion, it is just as often represented as a process of inquiry, exploration and the reconciliation of diverse views. Understood this way, argument functions not as a truncheon for dominating others but rather as an invitation to collaborate, to reason together and, perhaps, to find and inhabit common ground.

    Duffy sees the University’s Enlightenment foundation under attack (from a very different opponent than Derrida or Lyotard), and frames the first-year composition classroom as the battle line. High stakes indeed.

    So, how do I begin to situate myself amongst these positions? What kind of introduction to the field will I offer you? One of my aims is to develop writing courses in which students experience writing ecologically. By this I mean experiencing writing as an active, ongoing process [communication], not as the generation of some stable, accountable object [paper]. Experiencing writing ecologically, as communication, means following writing along all three of axes–writer [ethos, who the writer is, more importantly how she relates to expected communities], text [logos, the evidence she provides, the arguments she invents], and audience [pathos, the audience’s emotional predisposition to the subject matter, their willingness to engage the writer’s arguments]. We cannot treat the text as a finished product, an object, produced by the writer. We cannot think of rhetorical situations as static moments in time that can be frozen, analyzed, and addressed. Rather, we should create environments in which the writer has the opportunity to see how the text affects others, how they receive it, (mis)interpret it, respond to it (or not). We should develop writing courses that attempt to let writing move around, and do our best to let our writers follow that movement. This ecological emphasis aims to invest writing with a more affective dynamic: writers improving as writing as they become more invested in the impact of their writing. Real, responsive audiences are essential to developing this investment. And I believe interacting with other people not only helps to benefit students’ growth as writers, but also pushes us closer to the world Duffy imagines and that fascists revile–one in which people approach each other skeptical but cooperative, thoughtful but uncertain, engaged but unperturbed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off on ENG 594: August Orientation Schedule

ENG 420 14.2: Final Presentations

Today’s Plan:

  • Canvas: Two assignments
  • Presentations
  • Visual Rhetoric Crash Course

Canvas

There’s two new assignments up, the final paper draft (1 point) and the final paper (200 points).

Presentations

First, let’s look to the syllabus:

In our last week, I will ask everyone to give a 10 to 12 minute presentation on their end of semester research, complete with handout. This is to prepare you for academic conference presentations.

First, let’s note length: 10 to 12 minutes means 5 to 6 pages double-spaced.

Second, let’s talk handout. That is a one-page overview of your paper. Here’s some examples I have used:

Computers and Composition, Rhetoric Society of America

Third, let’s talk presentation. You have two options:

  • To give a live presentation accompanied by a slide presentation
  • To show a short documentary style movie

Regardless of which option you choose, I am going to require the presentations to (loosely) follow the Pecha Kucha format.

Because our presentations are capped at 5-6 minutes, I will ask you to make a presentation that is 20-24 slides at 15 seconds each. So, if you are talking live, the slides will play in the background.

This might seem like a lot of work, but it shouldn’t be.

Crash Course in Visual Rhetoric and Presentation Design

Today I’m going to try and cram as much substantive frames for thinking about presentation design as I can into one lecture.

Bullets are Bad I want to start with Edward Tufte’s classic “PowerPoint is Evil.” Tufte provides us with a sense for what *not* to do.

Images Spur Emotions I also want us to think about the substance of Dan Pink’s presentation above: the emotive potential of images to augment talks (and to think stylistically about the way he oscillates between photos that compliment his content and slides with words that amplify his central points).

The Basic C.R.A.P. One of the first books on design I encountered was Robin Williams’ Non-Designer’s Design Book. In it she offers four basic design principles: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. Let’s look at a PowerPoint.

Let’s look at how Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen, expands on Williams’ principles.

Typography It strikes me as a little ludicrous to try and explain typography in five minutes, but let’s give it a go. Let’s start with the basics (serif or sans-serif). Let’s look at some more advanced ideas.

Perhaps the best way to think about typography is to look at a few pechakucha presentations and pay attention to the kinds of fonts we see.

Color Just as images have the potential to trigger enhanced emotional responses, colors have the ability to influence our emotional states. Let’s turn to Maria Claudia Cortes’ Color in Motion.

An example of how I put this stuff into practice.

Presentation Expectations Take 2

Now that we have talked about visual rhetoric and design, let’s think about the rubric for the final presentations:

  • Presentation Content: The material presented was meaningful and concise. As a listener, I could identify the speaker’s argument. The speaker provided evidence to support her claims
  • Presentation Delivery: If a live presentation, then the speaker was able to give her talk while maintaining eye contact with the audience (some reading is ok, simply reading is not). If a video, the audio quality was sufficient that we could hear and enjoy the video. In both cases, the speaker was articulate, engaging, and well-paced.
  • Presentation Design:
    • The presentation follows Williams’ C.R.A.P. rules< (emphasis on contrast)/li>
    • The typography looks contemporary; the presentation uses typography in an interesting way; the typography is engaging, not distracting or ugly
    • The presentation uses images (if using a template, the presentation uses different images and not the stock images)
    • The colors used in the presentation make rhetorical sense (rhetorical here means that the colors are used in a way to produce a particular effect on the audience that enhances/compliments/supports the presentation’s argumentative goals)

Homework

We will meet back in this lab on Tuesday to work on putting together Pecha Kucha’s using Windows Moviemaker (it is *really* easy).

Posted in teaching | Tagged , , | Comments Off on ENG 420 14.2: Final Presentations

ENG 123 Digital Video Workshop (Take 2)

Today’s Plan

  • Brief Introduction (2 minutes)
  • Upload Video (5 minutes)
  • Principles of Video Composition (5 minutes)
  • Quick Tutorial: Using Moviemaker (5 minutes)
  • Edit Videos (20 minutes)
  • Save, Compress, Share (5 minutes)
  • Quick Favor: Take a Survey (3 minutes)
  • Watch Videos (5 minutes)
  • Contact (2 minutes)

Brief Introduction

Hi! I’m Marc. This workshop aims to show you how easy it is to shoot and edit videos with a smart phone.

If you like what you learn today, then I highly encourage you to minor in Writing. The writing minor will equip you with the composing and technology skills you need to apply for a wide range of jobs, including technical writer or social media manager. I’m teaching ENG 229 Introduction to Professional Writing and Document Design in the fall.

Principles of Video Composition

I’m going to (very quickly) present 3 principles of video composition, and then 3 tricks for improving the quality of your videography.

By composition, I mean what you are looking at when you point the camera. Here’s what I want you thinking about:

Additionally, I want to cover a few things that can dramatically improve your video quality:

  • Shot Length
  • Find the light (always shoot with the light behind you, illuminating the subject)
  • Shaky cameras ruin everything. Buy a tripod, or better yet, check one out of the library!
  • Don’t move the camera while it is filming
  • Don’t zoom the camera

Upload Videos and Quick Tutorial

I want to go over some of the features of Moviemaker and familiarize you with the interface. Then I’ll ask you to spend about 15-20 minutes editing your commercial

  • Step One: Populating the timeline
  • Step Two: Trimming clips
  • Step Three: Adding a title screen
  • Step Four: Making a still image (great way to end the commercial), adjusting image time
  • Step Five: Adjusting Volume
  • Step Six: Transitions
  • Step Seven: Adding Background music. Bonus points if you can adjust the volume

Anything else? You’ve got about 10 minutes to edit your videos!

Sharing

For today’s class, I think the easiest way to share the videos is for you to upload them to Youtube. Because they are short, they shouldn’t take very long to upload. Have someone in your group log into a gmail account and upload the videos to YouTube (via File > Publish).

Send an email with a link to your movie to: insignificantwrangler@gmail.com

Saving: Don’t Lose Your Work

Finally, when working with video, it is extremely important to stress file saving and storage. While programs like MovieMaker claim to “import” files, they are actually only creating paths to other media. This means that when you save a movie file, you are saving paths to other files. If you then move the movie file, you have invalidated all the paths (the dreaded Microsoft Red X’s of death). In plainer language, you’ve lost your whole movie.

This is especially an issue for students working in computer labs and saving files on a flash drive. The easiest way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to create a folder when you start a movie project and save all image, audio, and video files in the movie in that folder. That way, all the files move at once.

Saving: Formats and Venues

When you are working in an editing software like Moviemaker or iMovie, the file you save will be a “raw,” working file (the .wlmp in Moviemaker). When you *publish/export* your movie, you will need to select a file type (called codecs). While there are a lot of choices, I recommend MP4, if only because it is the most widely supported file type.

If you are planning on working with video projects, then you should plan ahead for how you will receive the projects. As I said above, file sizes for video files can be very large (in the multiple GB). One possibility is to share the work publicly via YouTube, Vimeo, or another video sharing site.

  • YouTube; Vimeo
    • Pros: Public, Free, Easy to use
    • Cons: Public (though videos can be made private), Severely Limited File Sizes will degrade video quality
  • Dropbox
    • Pros: Private, Freemium, Relatively easy to use
    • Cons: Limited server space (so it is temporary storage at best)
  • Zip and Email
    • Pros: Private, Free, Relatively easy to use
    • Cons: Email clients (e.g., gmail) increasingly limit file uploads to 25mb, .zip files can be disorienting to some less tech-savvy students
  • CD-Rom
    • Pros: Private, Virtually unlimited file size
    • Cons: Increasingly, laptops no longer come with CD-R/DVD-R drives, CD-Roms cost money
  • Google Drive / One Drive
    • Pros:Free. Private. Efficient
    • Cons: You only get 15gb of free storage space. That can fill quickly.

    BEFORE YOU LEAVE

    Take one of these surveys:

    1. Catie on life / school / work balance: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TG5T3Z9

    2. Cassie on undergraduate intellectual life: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YD8XPQ2

    3. Kelly on the “best class” question: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/27R7LPM

  • Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on ENG 123 Digital Video Workshop (Take 2)

    ENG 123 14.1: Final Presentations

    Today’s Plan:

    • Attendance
    • Gradebook Questions
    • Final Presentation Expectations
    • Visual Rhetoric Crash Course
    • Calendar Vote

    Final Presentation Expectations

    The final component of this class asks you to transform your longer research project into a concise presentation of 5 minutes. You have two options:

    • To give a live presentation accompanied by a slide presentation
    • To show a short documentary style movie

    Regardless of which option you choose, I am going to require the presentations to (loosely) follow the Pecha Kucha format.

    Because our presentations are capped at 5 minutes, I will ask you to make a presentation that is 20 slides at 15 seconds each. If you simply pre-record a read-through of the paper, then you should follow the strict 20 slides for 15 seconds each.

    If you make a movie that uses mostly live action video, then I will ask that you keep your presentation to around 3-4 minutes. It takes significantly more energy to “think in shots” (as we will discuss in next Tuesday’s class, depending on the outcome of the vote at the end of today’s class).

    Crash Course in Visual Rhetoric and Presentation Design

    Today I’m going to try and cram as much substantive frames for thinking about presentation design as I can into one lecture.

    Bullets are Bad I want to start with Edward Tufte’s classic “PowerPoint is Evil.” Tufte provides us with a sense for what *not* to do.

    Images Spur Emotions I also want us to think about the substance of Dan Pink’s presentation above: the emotive potential of images to augment talks (and to think stylistically about the way he oscillates between photos that compliment his content and slides with words that amplify his central points).

    The Basic C.R.A.P. One of the first books on design I encountered was Robin Williams’ Non-Designer’s Design Book. In it she offers four basic design principles: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. Let’s look at a PowerPoint.

    Let’s look at how Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen, expands on Williams’ principles.

    Typography It strikes me as a little ludicrous to try and explain typography in five minutes, but let’s give it a go. Let’s start with the basics (serif or sans-serif). Let’s look at some more advanced ideas.

    Perhaps the best way to think about typography is to look at a few pechakucha presentations and pay attention to the kinds of fonts we see.

    Color Just as images have the potential to trigger enhanced emotional responses, colors have the ability to influence our emotional states. Let’s turn to Maria Claudia Cortes’ Color in Motion.

    An example of how I put this stuff into practice.

    Presentation Expectations Take 2

    Now that we have talked about visual rhetoric and design, let’s think about the rubric for the final presentations:

    • Presentation Content: The material presented was meaningful and concise. As a listener, I could identify the speaker’s argument. The speaker provided evidence to support her claims
    • Presentation Delivery: If a live presentation, then the speaker was able to give her talk while maintaining eye contact with the audience (some reading is ok, simply reading is not). If a video, the audio quality was sufficient that we could hear and enjoy the video. In both cases, the speaker was articulate, engaging, and well-paced.
    • Presentation Design:
      • The presentation follows Williams’ C.R.A.P. rules< (emphasis on contrast)/li>
      • The typography looks contemporary; the presentation uses typography in an interesting way; the typography is engaging, not distracting or ugly
      • The presentation uses images (if using a template, the presentation uses different images and not the stock images)
      • The colors used in the presentation make rhetorical sense (rhetorical here means that the colors are used in a way to produce a particular effect on the audience that enhances/compliments/supports the presentation’s argumentative goals)

    A Really Quick Introduction to Windows MovieMaker

    Maybe?

    Let’s Vote

    Let’s return to the question of the remaining calendar. As I laid out at the end of last class, we have two options:

    A. Do the MLA/APA workshop on Thursday April 13th and have the presentations start Tuesday April 18th. This means we will be done with the course by the 27th (and more likely the 25th), but also means you will only have a weekend to put together your presentation. It also means that I can go over how to use Moviemaker in class on Thursday, but you won’t have a chance to play with it in the lab.

    B. Do the MLA/APA workshop on Thursday April 13th. Meet in Ross 1240 for a one-day workshop on Moviemaker on Tuesday the 18th. Start the presentations on Thursday April 20th. This will give us a chance to go over Moviemaker. If we take three days to go through all the presentations, then we would be finished by the 27th. If we required a fourth day (which is unlikely), we would meet the Tuesday during exam week at our regular time.

    C. Do the MLA/APA workshop on Thursday April 13th. Meet in Ross 1240 for a one-day workshop on Moviemaker on Tuesday the 18th. Class would be optional on Thursday the 20th for those who want to talk about the papers or need help with their presentations. Presentations would begin on Tuesday April 25th. We would certainly have to meet on the Tuesday of exam week (May 2nd), and might have to meet the Thursday of exam week (May 4th).

    Homework

    Since the computer lab is signed out on Thursday, we will meet in our regular classroom on Thursday. We will be working on the MLA and APA workshop–so if possible please bring a laptop to Thursday’s class. Remember that if you don’t have a laptop, you can sign one out via the library.

    Posted in teaching, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , | Comments Off on ENG 123 14.1: Final Presentations

    ENG 420 14.1: Peer Review #1

    Today’s Plan:

    • Calendar
    • Peer Review Criteria

    Calendar and Final Paper Expectations

    First, let’s take a look at the calendar.

    I also wanted to visit the final paper expectations:

    Final Research Paper: Final research papers should be 12 to 15 pages in length (3000 to 3750 words). I recognize that writing a longer paper can seem intimidating, but we will write these papers in stages. I will help you break down a longer paper into a series of research questions. I will review and comment extensively on drafts of these papers before final grading.

    I’ve decided to lower the word count on the final paper to 2200 to 2500 words. That’s a pretty specific page range–but the specificity is intentional. Given your collective level of academic performance and career trajectories (as scholars and teachers), I want to prepare you to present at academic conferences. The standard conference allots each speaker between 15 and 20 minutes to present. That means that the standard academic conference paper, if read at a reasonable speed, should be 8 to 10 pages typed and double-spaced. If we estimate 250 words a page, then that gets us to 2000 to 2500 words (not including the works cited, footnotes, etc).

    Peer Review Criteria

    Throughout my career I have wavered on the usefulness of peer review. My (cynical) and pragmatic side sometimes says that the best part of peer review is combatting procrastination by making the writer produce pages well before a final deadline. Good writing takes time, because difficult ideas require marination.

    I do think the feedback that writers receive through peer review can be value if the reviewers are focusing on epistemic and rhetorical elements, rather than stylistic or grammatical ones. Rather than acting as a copyeditor, act more as a managing editor. Your job isn’t to clean up the prose, but to inform the reader how much of their argument you understand, where you are confused, where you think they are wrong, where you think they should better define a term or further explicate a reference.

    With that in mind, here is a checklist of things to pay attention for as you read:

    • Make sure each paragraph has a claim, and that you know why you have to read it. These are two different things! Sometimes a paragraph can have a very clear topic sentence, but rhetorically, as a reader, I am unsure why I need to know the information it provides. If you get a few sentences into a paragraph and aren’t sure how that paragraph advances the argument, then write “how does this advance the argument?” in the margins. Let’s look at an example from my other class.
    • Make sure the writer provides enough contextual information about a source that you know why you should trust it. Sometimes credibility can come from a name (Freud, Derrida, Kristeva, etc). But most sources/scholars don’t have that kind of immediate recognition. If you see a statistic, then check that you know the methods that produced that statistic. If you see a conclusion, then check that the writer has provided the grounds upon which that conclusion is based.
    • Make sure paragraphs end rhetorically (by this term I mean connecting to the audience by showing them how something advances the argument). This means making sure that 1) paragraphs don’t end with quotes. Ever. and 2) making sure that a paragraph ends by “wrapping up” an idea and/or transitioning into the next idea and/or letting a reader know where we are with an argument. The last sentence of a paragraph is just as important as the first in helping a reader follow a train of thought.
    • “The period check.” When I am reading writing in a professional capacity, I tend to read slowly. I stop after every sentence, examine it, and try to identify a question generated in its predicate. For instance, lets try two examples:
      • To commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of “The Star Spangled Banner,” its lyrics composed by Francis Scott Key in September 1814 following the failed British bombardment of Fort McHenry outside Baltimore, the Smithsonian Institution asked a group of artists to reflect on what the American flag means today.
      • The surfaces of another, which can be scrutinized as an expanse of symptoms of the inner musculature, glands, and nervous circuitry of the functional organism, double into a face.

    What I don’t want you to waste time on today is grammatical errors. We are going to use a system called “minimal marking,” developed by Richard Haswell, to deal with any such errors. According to Haswell, writers can fix most grammatical errors, which are products of under-attention as the writer is invested in more epistemic dimensions of the writing process (it is hard to “think clean”). He developed a system grading papers in which he put check marks in the margins to denote a sentence that has a grammatical error. He would then leave students to identify and fix the error on their own (and to show him if they couldn’t identify the mistake.

    Similarly, we are just going to use the highlight feature in Google Docs to highlight a grammatical error. We don’t want to waste screen space with comments.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on ENG 420 14.1: Peer Review #1

    ENG 420 13.1: Final Papers, University in Ruins

    Today’s Plan:

    • Booth’s Craft of Research
    • Bill Readings’ University in Ruins
    • Homework

    Booth’s Craft of Research

    As students are drafting papers, I like to share the following exercise from Wayne Booth’s The Craft of Research. I often use this exercise myself as I am drafting in order to make sure I understand the focus, value, and/or purpose of my own work. Booth offers a 3 part heuristic for clarifying the aims and audience of one’s research:

    • I am studying X
    • Because I want to find out Y
    • In order to convince A to Z
    • (My addition: This is important given P)

    While it might seem simple at first, it pushes you to be more specific in targeting an audience and a purpose. Here’s an example for a theoretical article I am working on:

    • I am studying feminist notions of listening
    • Because I want to find out how they articulate its importance
    • In order to convince rhetorical scholars to develop more ontological (and ethical, in Levinas’s sense of the term) notions of listening.
    • This is important given our increasing political polarization and inability to engage arguments that fall out of our ideological comfort zones.

    Here’s an example for a qualitative article I am working on:

    • I am studying job ads for professional writers from MediaBistro
    • Because I want to identify what soft, social, and technical skills employers are targeting
    • In order to help influence what skills and technologies professional writing teachers integrate into their syllabi
    • This is important given the decreasing enrollments in English departments spurred by student perception that liberal arts such as English will hurt their chances to get a job after graduation.

    Bill Readings’ University in Ruins

    Some set up:

    • From the Excellent Student (Subject) to Excellence
    • The Nation-State (Culture, Bildung, Isocrates’ Legacy)
    • Rationality (Reason, Kant’s Legacy)

    Homework

    For homework, I would like you to finish drafting the first 3-4 pages of your paper (double-spaced). We will meet in the computer lab (Ross 1240) on Thursday for some peer review (which we will do via Google Docs).

    Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on ENG 420 13.1: Final Papers, University in Ruins

    Red Sox 2017 Thoughts

    Yes! Another baseball season. Last year was better than I expected–Rick Porcello’s turn around and the early emergence of Steven Wright gave the Sox a deeper rotation than we might have excepted (even if David Price’s performance was something of a disappointment). While the Sox might be missing Big Papi, they still look solid offensively going into 2017. And, even if Price doesn’t throw a pitch this season, the starting rotation looks better than it did a year ago thanks to the acquisition of Chris Sale.

    I’ll Miss Papi

    It is cliche but I’m going to miss Papi. For nearly the last decade, I was able to catch 2-3 Sox games a year in Tampa. There was a silence, an energy, an anticipation when Papi stepped up to the plate. For a few at bats a night, he changed the atmosphere of a stadium. And I really think that he was a symbol of everything great about professional sports. Boston is his fucking city. And it always will be.

    Sale vs. Moncada

    This is a fascinating trade. I admit that I was a Epstein/Cherington guy, and believe in the strategy that a team should grow as many position players as possible in order to invest free agent money in pitching. But 3 years of Chris Sale at an average of 11 per season is an unbelievable steal in this market. And, speaking of this market, there wasn’t an ace pitcher in sight this off-season (the closest thing was Rich Hill, who will get paid twice what Sale will make over the next three years).

    But I will go on record that I think Moncada is a generational player–a guy who could go 30/30 and put up a .380 plus OBP (I’m less sure he can sustain a .280+ BA, given that he tends to swing and miss, but he has demonstrated a great batting eye in the minors and generally doesn’t chase balls).

    I think the White Sox probably won this trade, because I think Kopech will at least develop into an elite reliever. But, as a friend said, if Sale helps win a title in the next three years, then the trade will be worth it. If he doesn’t, and if Moncada does become a Cory Seager/Manny Machado level player, then Dombrowski will get trashed for this one.

    Why is Drew Pomeranz Still on this Team?

    Again, I’m a fan of prospects, but I recognize when a market deficiency calls for trading them. But I’m not a big fan of trading prospects when you could just spend money. And I’m certainly not a fan of trading prospects for a player who is having the proverbial “one career year” in a pitcher’s park with a history of injury. And said player is having said career year by throwing an inordinate amount of curve balls (a la Rich Hill).

    And you know what I’m really not a fan of? When said pitcher turns out to be injured.

    And you know what drives me batshit crazy? When MLB finds out that the Padres lied to your team and misrepresented a player’s health and offers you an opportunity to reverse the trade but your team says “nah, we’re good giving up one of the best pitching prospects in baseball for 3 years of a guy who is mediocre, injury-prone, and actually fucking injured. Let’s do that.” For. Fuck’s. Sake.

    At this point it won’t even matter to me if Anderson Espinoza turns out to be a bust (which I don’t think he will–at worst he’s an Edison Volquez type starter or a Betances style reliever–18 year olds who have a 2.86 k/bb ratio in A ball don’t often flame out). Sigh.

    The AL East is Weird this Year

    How good is the AL East? That’s a really tough question to answer. Boston’s the clear favorite–but who is the second best team? Can the Rays pitchers stay healthy? Can they score any runs? Can the Orioles starters pitch enough to keep them in games? After Machado, do they have another bat (will Trumbo be the next Davis, can Davis be the good Davis again?)? Can the Yankees pitch? (probably not) Are their youngsters for real? What will Toronto’s offense look like without Edwin? I do think the Jays rotation is great, so they’re my pick for second.

    My point is that I think that any of these teams could win 90 games if everything breaks right. But they could just as easily win 80 games. And, in the Yankees and Orioles cases, one injury or subpar pitching means they could win 70 games. I can’t think of another division with that much volatility. It should be a fun ride.

    Some Predictions

    Division winners:

    • AL East: Red Sox
    • AL Central: Indians (Adding Edwin to this team? Crazy)
    • Al West: Rangers
    • AL Wild Cards: Seattle, Toronto
    • NL East: Mets
    • NL Central: Cubs
    • NL West: Dodgers
    • NL Wild Cards: Cardinals, Rockies

    I think the Rockies might actually be able to pitch this season. And, hey, there’s too much chalk up there–I needed one odd ball projection.

    Awards:

    • AL MVP: Donaldson (I just don’t think they’ll give it to Trout two years in a row if that team stinks)
    • AL Cy Young: Sale (he’ll have the run support for wins, an improved defense, and improved personal investment via playing for a winning team)
    • Al ROY: Moncada (comes up in early May, hits .265/.365/.495 with 20 steals and 15 homers)
    • NL MVP: Harper
    • NL Cy Young: Kershaw
    • NY ROY: Swanson
    Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Red Sox 2017 Thoughts

    ENG 123 Digital Video Workshop

    Today’s Plan

    • Brief Introduction (2 minutes)
    • Principles of Video Composition (5 minutes)
    • Run and Shoot (15 minutes)
    • Upload Videos (5 minutes)
    • Quick Tutorial: Using Moviemaker (5 minutes)
    • Edit Videos (10 minutes)
    • Save, Compress, Share (5 minutes)
    • Quick Favor: Take a Survey (3 minutes)

    Brief Introduction

    Hi! I’m Marc. This workshop aims to show you how easy it is to shoot and edit videos with a smart phone.

    If you like what you learn today, then I highly encourage you to minor in Writing. The writing minor will equip you with the composing and technology skills you need to apply for a wide range of jobs, including technical writer or social media manager. I’m teaching ENG 229 Introduction to Professional Writing and Document Design in the fall.

    Principles of Video Composition

    I’m going to (very quickly) present 3 principles of video composition, and then 3 tricks for improving the quality of your videography.

    By composition, I mean what you are looking at when you point the camera. Here’s what I want you thinking about today:

    Additionally, I want to cover a few things that can dramatically improve your video quality:

    • Shot Length
    • Find the light (always shoot with the light behind you, illuminating the subject)
    • Shaky cameras ruin everything. Buy a tripod, or better yet, check one out of the library!
    • Don’t move the camera while it is filming
    • Don’t zoom the camera

    Run and Shoot

    So, working in teams of 2-3, I want you to film a commercial for something you carried into this room.

    Requirements:

    • Shoot at least 10 different shots
    • Pay attention to lighting
    • Compose according to the rule of thirds
    • Keep your camera steady
    • Think about what your establishing shot could be

    You have 15 minutes to shoot your ad, when you are done, come on back so we can begin uploading your video to the computer.Take a few minutes to brainstorm your ideas, then get out there and shoot.

    Upload Videos and Quick Tutorial

    While everyone comes back and we are uploading videos, I want to go over some of the features of Moviemaker and familiarize you with the interface.

    • Step One: Populating the timeline
    • Step Two: Trimming clips
    • Step Three: Adding a title screen
    • Step Four: Making a still image, adjusting image time
    • Step Five: Adjusting Volume
    • Step Six: Transitions
    • Step Seven: Adding Background music

    Anything else? You’ve got about 10 minutes to edit your videos!

    Saving: Don’t Lose Your Work

    Finally, when working with video, it is extremely important to stress file saving and storage. While programs like MovieMaker claim to “import” files, they are actually only creating paths to other media. This means that when you save a movie file, you are saving paths to other files. If you then move the movie file, you have invalidated all the paths (the dreaded Microsoft Red X’s of death). In plainer language, you’ve lost your whole movie.

    This is especially an issue for students working in computer labs and saving files on a flash drive. The easiest way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to create a folder when you start a movie project and save all image, audio, and video files in the movie in that folder. That way, all the files move at once.

    Saving: Formats and Venues

    When you are working in an editing software like Moviemaker or iMovie, the file you save will be a “raw,” working file (the .wlmp in Moviemaker). When you *publish/export* your movie, you will need to select a file type (called codecs). While there are a lot of choices, I recommend MP4, if only because it is the most widely supported file type.

    If you are planning on working with video projects, then you should plan ahead for how you will receive the projects. As I said above, file sizes for video files can be very large (in the multiple GB). One possibility is to share the work publicly via YouTube, Vimeo, or another video sharing site.

    • YouTube; Vimeo
      • Pros: Public, Free, Easy to use
      • Cons: Public (though videos can be made private), Severely Limited File Sizes will degrade video quality
    • Dropbox
      • Pros: Private, Freemium, Relatively easy to use
      • Cons: Limited server space (so it is temporary storage at best)
    • Zip and Email
      • Pros: Private, Free, Relatively easy to use
      • Cons: Email clients (e.g., gmail) increasingly limit file uploads to 25mb, .zip files can be disorienting to some less tech-savvy students
    • CD-Rom
      • Pros: Private, Virtually unlimited file size
      • Cons: Increasingly, laptops no longer come with CD-R/DVD-R drives, CD-Roms cost money
  • Google Drive / One Drive
    • Pros:Free. Private. Efficient
    • Cons: You only get 15gb of free storage space. That can fill quickly.

    BEFORE YOU LEAVE

    Take this survey:
    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YD8XPQ2

  • Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off on ENG 123 Digital Video Workshop

    ENG 123 12.2: Writing an Introduction

    Today’s Plan:

    • Attendance
    • Advising and ENG 229 Professional Writing
    • Introductions
    • Peer Review Final Round

    Advising and ENG 229 Professional Writing

    Two things: first, a few of you have approached me about serving as an academic advisor. I am more than willing to do this, and have found out how the system works–if you want me to serve as your academic advisor, just send me an email with your Bear Number and I can pass that on to the English office staff.

    Second, the English department offers a writing minor that helps people get jobs like this one, or this one, or this one. I’m offering ENG 229 Professional Writing and Document Design in the fall, which can help you go after those kinds of jobs.

    Writing an Introduction

    As you move toward completing your final papers, I wanted to spend some time considering introductions. As I’ve said repeatedly throughout class, the introduction is always the last thing you should write: its primary job is to provide a reader with an overview of what is coming and you won’t know yourself what is coming until after you have written the paper. Today I want to break introductions down into three primary parts: kairos, the thesis “statement,” and road mapping. 

    Kairos

    Literally, kairos translates as “opportune moment,” the right time to do or say something. 

    Scholars debate the implications of kairos–generally, there’s two schools of thought. First, there are those who frame kairos as a kind of recognition: a talented writer will be able to recognize a moment of opportunity and act accordingly. Second, there are those who frame talent with kairos as the ability to create moments of opportunity; for these scholars kairos isn’t merely a matter of chance, but rather one of skill and force. 

    Either way, when it comes to writing or communicating, you want your audience to have a sense of why now is the opportune moment for action. The best writers are able to do this subtly. This is one thing your introduction needs to address: why are you writing this now? Why am I reading this now? What can be done now that either/both couldn’t be done yesterday or/and tomorrow? As Booth et al address, there is the question of “why care about this?” In short, attending to kairos means making the relevance of your writing apparent. What is the problem or opportunity this writing seeks to address?

    The Thesis “Statement”

    The reason I highlight statement here is because I want to emphasize that the thesis isn’t always a stand alone sentence. Rather, it is the section of the introduction that makes clear the claim that the paper will argue. What are you trying to prove?

    What specifically are you trying to prove? This is the point of the Booth et al reading–the best paper’s are able to narrow their focus as much as possible. As Booth et al explain, a focused thesis can rarely be explained in five words. Examining his example topics (page 43), we see how he recommends focusing on one event. Don’t study “the history of commercial aviation.” Rather, examine “the crucial contribution of the military in the development of the DC-3 in the early years of commercial aviation.”

    Note that the second topic narrows its scope in terms of who (the military), the what (only the DC-3), and the when (the early years of aviation).

    Road Mapping

    Booth et al comment that you should be prepared to do a lot of writing as you figure out what you are trying to say. Essentially, everything you have written thus far this semester is this kind of inventive writing, “writing to understand” (38). Not all of this writing should be in the final draft, because much of it is there to help you discover your thoughts.

    As you move into the final drafts of a paper, then you are ready to organize or arrange it in a way that makes sense. Only after you have done all that work are you ready to craft a road map for your introduction. To get a sense of what I mean by road mapping, look at the introduction to this article I wrote with my grad students. Or the final paragraph of the introduction to the “Postpedagogy and Web Writing” article you read early in the semester. Or, for a “softer” version, look at the very short introduction to my essay on ethics, social media, and my experiences with my daughter’s cancer. I end the introduction to these works by laying out the major sections of the essay, letting the reader know where we will go, and often giving a sense of why I am going in that order. This provides a reader with a sense of direction and purpose–two things that help them digest and engage your writing. (Nigel did a great job of this in his third medium essay). 

    Of course, you can’t road map a paper like this unless you have written it in a way that makes purposeful, rhetorical sense (first I need to x, then I can argue y, finally I suggest z). As you synthesize the material you have already read this semester, and add more (I hope) into the mix, you will need to think about how those things fit–what is the narrative trail you want, or need, your readers to follow?

    Some Templates

    Here’s some potential bridges:

    • This paper uses X to reassess Y
    • This paper surveys research on X to suggest that Y implement more Z
    • In short, X differs from typical understandings of Y because of Z1, Z2, and Z3.
    • If X research on Y problem is correct, then GROUP will need to CHANGE how they do A and B

    Also, when writing a research paper, I generally think of 4-5 needs (not necessarily areas or parts–but things a paper has to do) of the paper. You might loosely think about these as sub-headings:

    • [Problem] What is the problem? What is at stake? Why is this important?
    • [Lit Review] What is the dominant way of thinking about your object of study? Who introduced that way of thinking? Who else still thinks that way? How does the general audience (which can be popular culture, which can be the news media, which can even be other scholars and the scholarly community) think about your object?
    • [Methods] How did you organize your research? If you did a survey, then what did you use to generate questions (an older survey, two older surveys, questions raised in a research article, etc). Where did you give your survey? NOTE that not all papers will have methodology sections.
    • [Theory] What new way of thinking/seeing/doing are you introducing? How did you discover this new way? Who else has talked about this new way? Note that not all papers will have theoretical lenses.
    • [Results and Recommendations / Application] If you did a qualitative or quantitative project, then show me the results and tell me what they indicate we need to do differently. If you did an analytical project, then show me what the theory suggests and show me how to use the new way. Show me what it does/reveal differently. Use it. Deploy it. Make it count.

    Booth’s The Craft of Research nd Refutation

    A final thought before I ask you to finish drafting your final paper: the quality of a piece of writing is often directly related to the consideration and care of its refutation. Ancient Roman rhetoricians conceptualized a speech in seven parts. Here I am concerned with the fifth part, refutation, in which a speaker/writer addresses the arguments of her opponents. It is not only the content of your counterarguments, but also their character, that often determine how an audience reacts to your writing. In short, if you are a jerkface, then you can expect harsh criticism (even when your audience largely agrees with you). 

    Booth reminds us that all writing is part of a conversation of voices and sources. Often, our judgement of a writer is a measure of three questions: “do they listen carefully? make claims thoughtfully? answer questions directly?” (17). In other words, how fair are you to your opponents? Does your writing indicate that you know their arguments intimately? Are you able to concede that they make worthy points requiring address? Or do you present “straw man” versions that exist only to be knocked down?

    Let’s say I wanted to argue that conservatives do not support racial diversity. Who do I select as representing conservatives? This is a meaningful choice. If I end up selecting only the most radical of the voices (say Ted Nugent), then have I fairly depicted my opponents? If I wanted to argue against liberal economics, and I chose Elizabeth Warren as representative of the democratic party, then have I fairly depicted my opponents? In either case, I would say that you have chosen someone from the fringe who by and large does not resemble the “mainstream.” Part of being fair is reading sources carefully. But part of being fair is making sure that you are choosing the right representatives in the first place. 

    Homework

    I’ve set up an assignment portal on Canvas for you to submit a link to a Google Doc. Please make sure your complete draft is in there by Tuesday.

    In Tuesday’s class I’m going to go over formatting Works Cited / Reference lists, and talk a bit about paper titles.

    I also hope to review thesis statements and introductions to show strong examples that provide a reader with specifics up front.

    Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on ENG 123 12.2: Writing an Introduction

    ENG 123 12.1: Peer Review Workshop #3

    Today’s Plan:

    • Attendance
    • Emailing Me
    • Review Peer Workshop #1 Criteria
    • MLA / APA format
    • Peer Review
    • Homework

    Emailing Me

    It is the time of the semester when I know many people are stressed and feeling overwhelmed. I’ve gotten a few emails touching on this. I am pretty flexible when it comes to working with students regarding missing work, crunched schedules, etc. Feel free to email me.

    However, a few people have been emailing my insignificantwrangler at gmail dot com account. Don’t do this. That account is primarily for students handing in work via Google Drive–and my Google Drive settings send me an email whenever a student shares something with me, responds to a comment I’ve put in their work, and/or in some cases edits a document. It is way too easy for me to lose an email in all that chaos. So, if you want to talk (or just need some moral support), email my UNCO address (or just send the message via Canvas).

    Peer Review Workshop #1 Criteria

    Let’s take a look.

    MLA / APA Format (Other Formats)

    Today I want to focus a bit of attention on MLA and APA format. Specifically, I want to highlight both citation format and paper format. We will talk about Works Cited / Reference format in a later class.

    Whether we are talking about MLA or APA, I’m looking for a few paper formatting concerns:

    • Page Margins
    • Line Spacing (and paragraph spacing thanks to Microsoft Word)
    • Paragraph Gutters
    • Page Numbers / Headings

    I’ll also be looking for a few citation concerns:

    • In-text citations, quotation marks, and periods (emphasis: dates in APA have to be incorporated into the sentence after the name)
    • Block text citations, quotation marks, and periods (any quote over 3-4 lines should be blocked)

    You can easily find more information about formatting from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab’s pages on MLA and APA format (or just google a question with OWL MLA or OWL APA).

    I want to stress that in terms of the final grade, these things are not as highly weighted as the more substantive concerns we discussed last week: making claims, providing evidence, transitioning into evidence, explicating evidence, and finishing paragraphs making explicit connections between a paragraph’s specific idea and the paper’s larger purpose. However, just about every paper rubric you encounter during your University education is going to address MLA and APA format.

    Homework

    Continue to revise and write your paper. Remember that a complete draft of the paper is due by Tuesday, April 4th. I will award extra credit to anyone who gets me a complete draft of the paper before that date (the sooner they start rolling in, the sooner I can provide feedback and you can revise).

    Checking the syllabus, I see that the original requirement for final papers was 2,500-3,500 words. I thought the final papers were intended to be longer, so I think many of you will be able to reach that word count pretty easily.

    Posted in teaching | Tagged , , | Comments Off on ENG 123 12.1: Peer Review Workshop #3