Mashup Scholarship, updated winter 2012 #112cwr

In "The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism," Jonathan Lethem pulls from an incredible variety of sources to make an argument about the nature of originality. Part of what makes his argument so compelling has to do with how he makes it, drawing from the work of others and relying very little on his own words. Lethem does, of course, acknowledge his source material, but in a way contrary to established academic forms. Instead of proper citation format, Lethem offers a "key," combining partial quotes and authors' names in red along with the occasional anecdote about a particular source. Like VH1’s Pop Up Video, Lethem's mashup essay is another kind of writer/text collaboration that involves more than one kind of text and more than one kind of author. Mashup is a further invitation to make and see connections between texts, to make something cohesive out of things not our own.

The Assignment

Craft an essay of at least 800 words using 5 strong sources. Potential reference points for this assignment include Jonathan Lethem's "The ecstasy of influence," Danger Mouse's The Grey Album, Wugazi's 13 Chambers, and Wikipedia. Look at how these works are derivative of their source material. Note the revisions made to establish transitions between hooks and lyrics, sentences and paragraphs. Take inspiration from previous mashups; allow them to influence the construction of your own work. You have the opportunity to flex your MLA citation muscles with this assignment, but I encourage you to design a "key" as Lethem does or some other method of giving credit where credit's due.

Part 1. (online, due Tuesday, 2.21.2012) Select 5 strong academic sources from journals and magazines related to your area of interest and mash 'em up. Don't just throw the sources together; make a cohesive argument out of them. Don't pull 5 paragraphs at random and simply list them; integrate at the sentence level. Keep your own words to a minimum. 

Part 2. (online, due Tuesday, 2.21.2012) Use Part 1 as the basis for an additional Pen.io page. How you construct the page is up to you. I encourage you to provide a simple walkthrough of your mashup process, a conventional collection of bulleted/numbered points of interest, or a scan/upload of the mashup itself accompanied by your own further commentary. No matter your choice, be sure to be reflective and draw some conclusions about the following:

  • mashup in general (or specific to academic writing, e.g., should it be allowed?)
  • plagiarism in general (or specific to academic writing, e.g., how should it be addressed?)
  • what your mashup (or those by your peers) reveals about academic discourse

Major Media Representations (MMR), updated winter 2012 #112cwr

Movies, television, and other media can be very influential in representing particular professions. For example, we have Robin Williams as the creative, exciting (male) teacher in Dead Poet’s Society and Barbra Streisand as the unattractive, sex-starved (female) teacher in The Mirror Has Two Faces. We even have Arnold Schwarzenegger, the tough narcotics cop undercover as the angry, bumbling elementary teacher in Kindergarten Cop. From such examples, what sort of precedent do various media set regarding male and female positions in a particular profession? Only by watching and evaluating different media can we attempt to answer this question.

The Assignment
So, watch at least three different movies, television shows, or other media related to your intended major/profession. The relationship can be direct (Glengarry Glen Ross for real estate, Black Hawk Down for military, E.R. for medicine), peripheral (Kindergarten Cop for education, The Shining for creative writing, High Fidelity for small business) or even absurd (Harvey Birdman for law).  Unlike these examples, keep your selections timely; of major concern should be more current representations of your major/intended profession. Be sure to either take notes or “live-tweet” while viewing or engage in reflective free-writing as the end credits roll (we may share these in class).  Should you have any trouble getting started, let me know.  

Part 1 (pecha kucha, due 1.17, 1.19, 1.24, 1.26). In a 6-minute, 40-second presentation, summarize your media selections and address the questions below.

Part 2 (online, due 1.24). In a series of Pen.io pages totaling at least 800 words, explain further and in greater detail the questions below and draw some conclusions about how the media represent your intended major/profession.

The following questions are intended to provide guidance in putting together both the pecha kucha presentation and your Pen.io page(s):

  • Are those of your major/intended profession predominantly male/female, young/old, upper/middle/working class, African/Asian/European/Mexican American?
  • How do you compare/relate to the media’s representation(s) of your major/intended profession?  Do you see yourself as part of the majority/minority?  How/why?
  • In the media viewed, are representations of your major/intended profession more glamorized, romanticized, satirized, or criticized? 

PK presentations should adhere to the regular pecha kucha requirements. The comparative analysis should be 800-1200 words in length. Be sure to create at least one Pen.io page for this assignment.

ENG 112 Critical Writing & Reading schedule, updated winter 2012 #112cwr

All due dates are tentative.

Week 1 - Expectations & Introductions
1.3
Expectations and introductions
On quality and expertise

1.5
Due: Twitter and Pen.io account creation and first tweet/page
Read: grading contract, syllabus, penapp guidelines, Twitter guidelines

Week 2 – Major Media Representations
1.10
Due: Pen.io page(s)
Read: IN DEFENSE OF TWITTERWRITING IN THE AGE OF DISTRACTIONA CASE FOR WRITING THINGS OUT 

1.12
Pen.io page(s) discussion and visitation
Introduction of MAJOR MEDIA REPRESENTATIONS (and pecha kucha)

Week 3 - Major Media Representations
1.17 
Due: Pen.io page(s) 
MMR PK presentations - Ken K., James W., Nick H., Karli H., Jake, Tiffany B.

1.19
MMR PK presentations - Kayla M., Alicia, Shelby C., Thomas M., Ali A.

Week 4 - Major Media Representations
1.24
Due: Pen.io page(s) (Major Media Representations)
MMR PK presentations - Evan P., Tamarah C., William M., Raneka D., Joe A., Wolfgang M.

1.26
MMR PK presentations - Michael L., Patty T., Natasha R., Garret C., Sam B. 

Week 5 – Twitter Evaluation / Pop Up Scholarship
1.31
Due: Pen.io page(s) (Twitter evaluation)
Open debate: Twitter ends (or does it?)
Introduction of Pop Up Scholarship

2.2
Group facilitation: Sam B., Shelby C., Thomas M., Natasha R., Raneka D. - Research skills

Week 6 – Pop Up Scholarship
2.7
Due: Pen.io page(s) (Pop Up Scholarship Parts 1 & 2)
Pen.io page(s) visitation and discussion

2.9
Group facilitation: Ken K., Karli H., Tiffany B., Jake H., James W. - Audience awareness

Week 7 – Pop Up Scholarship / Mashup Scholarship
2.14
Due: Pen.io page(s) (Pop Up Scholarship Part 3)
Introduction of Mashup Scholarship

2.16
DEFINING AND AVOIDING PLAGIARISMWHAT PLAGIARISM LOOKS LIKETHE ECSTASY OF INFLUENCE: A PLAGIARISM 

Group facilitation: Tamarah C., Wolfegang M., Nick H., Michael L., Evan P., Alicia S. - Plagiarism

Week 8 - Mashup Scholarship
2.21
Due: Pen.io page(s) (Mashup Scholarship)
Pen.io page(s) visitation and discussion

2.23
Group facilitation: Ali A., Kayla M., Joe A., Garret C., William M. - MLA

 

Week 9 - SPRING BREAK

 

Week 10 - Discipline-Specific Scholarship
3.6
Due: Pen.io page(s)
Introduction to Discipline-Specific Scholarship

3.8
Research day

Week 11 - Discipline-Specific Scholarship
3.13
Due: Pen.io page(s)
Due: DSS PK proposals - James, Thomas, Joe, Ken, Alicia

3.15
Due: DSS PK proposals - Shelby, Karli, Wolfegang, Ali, Nick

Week 12 - Discipline-Specific Scholarship
3.20
Due: Pen.io page(s)
Due: DSS PK proposals - Evan, Jake, Tiffany, Tamarah, Raneka

3.22
Due: DSS PK proposals - Michael, Natasha, William, Kayla, Sam, Garret

Week 13 - Discipline-Specific Scholarship
3.27
Due: Pen.io page(s)
Due: DSS drafts - James, Thomas, Joe, Ken, Alicia, Shelby, Karli, Wolfegang, Ali, Nick

3.29
Due: DSS drafts - Evan, Jake, Tiffany, Tamarah, Raneka, Michael, Natasha, William, Kayla, Sam, Garret

Week 14 - Discipline-Specific Scholarship
4.3
Due: Pen.io page(s)  
Due: DSS drafts - James, Thomas, Joe, Ken, Alicia, Shelby, Karli, Wolfegang, Ali, Nick

4.5
Due: DSS drafts - Evan, Jake, Tiffany, Tamarah, Raneka, Michael, Natasha, William, Kayla, Sam, Garret

Week 15
4.10
Due: All revisions to Pen.io page(s)

4.12
Due: Self-evaluative essay (email to instructor) 

grading contract, updated winter 2012 #112cwr #342vs

[amended from Peter Elbow] 

I often find grades to be distractions from learning. This course places a strong emphasis on participation and I'm concerned that grades might get in the way of that. Conventional grading often leads us to think more about grades than about learning and writing, to worry more about pleasing or fooling a teacher than about figuring out what you want to say or how to say it, to be reluctant to take risks. Sometimes grades even lead to the feeling that you are working against the teacher. Instead, I want to create a culture of support, a culture where we function as allies, fellow travelers with various experiences and skills that we can offer to the group, rather than as adversaries working against each other for grades.

Rather than giving individual grades for each assignment and basing them on an arbitrary point system to be tallied at the end of the semester, I will instead provide substantive comments on the majority of work performed this semester. I will also provide individual midterm progress reports. However, these assessments will not affect your overall grade in the course. Instead, they should function as guides to how you need to revise or rethink your course performance.

Through the use of this grading contract, I'm asking for a reconsideration of how you work, what your role is as a student, and what your relationship to one another is as peers. All of this really boils down to rethinking "responsibility." Traditional grading by a teacher alone keeps students from having much responsibility by instead assuming students can only be motivated by grades, not by learning or actual coursework. Grades create systems of accountability instead of providing environments for personal and social responsibility.

In this course, the grading contract asks you to have responsibility to yourself and to the class to do the work required, to attend and participate during class time, to ask questions of me or your classmates if you're confused, and to know what assignments have been turned in and where you stand in relation to the contract. As the teacher/guide, I have the responsibility to be prepared for every class, to answer any questions and consider any feedback, to provide helpful and honest suggestions on your work, and to make myself available for questions and concerns outside of class.

Therefore, the default grade for the course is a "B." If you do all that's asked of you in the manner and spirit it is asked, if you work through the processes we establish and the work assigned during the semester, then you'll earn a "B." If you miss class, turn assignments in late, forget to do assignments, etc., your grade will drop.

“B” Grades
You are guaranteed a course grade of “B” if you meet all of the following conditions:

  1. Attendance/Participation/Presence. You’ll attend and fully participate in at least 86% of our scheduled class sessions and their activities and assignments (that’s at least 24 of 28 scheduled sessions). You may miss (for whatever reason) 4 class sessions. For our class, attendance equates to participation. Therefore, it is not enough for you simply to come to class. If you come to class unprepared in any way (e.g., without work done, assignments read, etc.), it will be counted as an absence, since you won’t be able to participate fully in our activities. This means any informal assignment given, or ones not outlined on our syllabus, fit into this category of attendance. 

    Assignments not completed because of an absence, either ones assigned on the schedule or ones assigned on earlier days in class, will be late, missed, or ignored (depending on when you turn it in finally, see the guidelines #4, #5, and #6 below). 

    Any absence due to an university-sponsored group activity (e.g., sporting event, band, etc.) will not count against the student as long as the student has FIRST provided written documentation in the first 2 weeks of the semester of all absences. This same policy applies to students who have mandatory military-related absences (e.g., deployment, work, duty, etc.). Again, the student must provide written documentation, stating the days he/she will be absent beforehand. This will allow us to determine how he/she will meet assignments, participation, and the responsibilities of our contract, despite being absent. 

  2. Lateness. You’ll come on time or early to class. Walking into class late 2 or 3 times in a semester is understandable, but coming habitually late every week is not. If you are late to class, you are still responsible to find out what assignments or instructions were made, but please don’t disrupt our class by asking about the things you missed because you were late.
  3. Sharing/Collaboration. You’ll work cooperatively in groups. Be willing to share your writing, to listen supportively to the writing of others, and, when called for, give full and thoughtful assessments that consistently help your colleagues consider ways to revise. 
  4. Late Assignments. You will turn in properly and on time all assignments. Because your colleagues in class depend on you to get your work done on time so that they can do theirs on time, all late assignments are just as bad as missed assignments. 

    Twice during the semester, you may turn in a late assignment. All “late assignments” are due 2 days after their initial due date, no exceptions. Please note that a late assignment may be due on a day when our class is not scheduled to meet. 

  5. Missed Assignments. A missed assignment is NOT one not completed; it is one that has missed the guidelines somehow but is still complete and turned in. In order to meet our contract for a “B” grade, you cannot have any “missed assignments.” Please note that assignments not completed at all are considered “Ignored Assignments” (see #6 below). A missed assignment is usually one completed after the 48 hours that would have made it only a “late” assignment, but it is complete. 

  6. Ignored Assignments. Any assignments not done period, or “ignored,” for whatever reasons, are put in this category. For Eng 111, this means an automatic "N." For ENG 252, this means an automatic "D"; two ignored assignments means an automatic "E." There are no exceptions.


All Compositions need to meet the following conditions:

  • Complete/On Time. You’ll turn in on time and in the appropriate manner completed work that meet all of assignment guidelines. 
  • Revisions. If/when the assignment is to revise, you will reshape, extend, complicate, or substantially clarify your ideas – or relate your ideas to new things. You won’t just correct or touch up. Revisions must somehow respond to or consider seriously your colleagues’ assessments. 
  • Copy Editing. When the assignment is for the final publication draft, your piece must be free from almost all mistakes in spelling and grammar.  It's fine to get help in copy editing.
  • Thinking. Use your work to do some figuring out. Make some intellectual gears turn. Your work needs to move or go somewhere, to have a line of thinking. It shouldn’t be formulaic, random or freewritten. 

All Assessments and Peer Responses need to meet the following conditions: 

  • Complete/On Time. All assessments should be complete and submitted on time and in the appropriate way so that your colleagues will get your assessments of their writing the way the class has predetermined. 
  • Content. All assessments should focus their comments on our rubrics, following the directions established by our evolving class discussions about them. 
  • Courtesy/Respect. All assessments should be courteous and respectful in tone, but honest. It’s okay to say something doesn’t seem right in a draft, or that something doesn’t really work. Respect means we are kind and truthful. It’s not the “golden rule” (treat others as you would have them treat you), but a modified one: treat others as you believe they want to be treated. 


“A” Grades
The grade of "B" depends on behaviors. Have you shown responsible effort and consistency in our class? Have you done what was asked of you in the spirit it was asked?

However, the grade of "A" depends on acknowledged quality. Thus, you earn a "B" if you put in good time and effort; we should push each other for a "B." In order to get an "A," you have to make your time and effort pay off into writing of genuine, recognizable excellence that responds in some concrete way to your colleagues' and my concerns (and also meets the conditions for a "B"). This means that not only is revision important, but a certain kind of revision, one demonstrating a reflective writer listening, making decisions and moving drafts above and beyond expectations. Writing in the "A" category will respond to assessments and be reflective of itself.

For grades up to "B," you don't have to worry about my judgment or my standards of excellence; for higher grades, you do. But we'll have class discussions about excellence in writing and we should be able to reach fairly good agreement.

Knowing Where You Stand
This system is better than regular grading for giving you a clear idea of what your final grade looks like at any moment. Whenever you get feedback, you should know where you stand in terms of meeting the expectations of the course. I will also guide some of these discussions in class, but if you’re doing everything as directed and turning it in on time (no matter what anyone says), you’re getting a "B." As for absences and lateness, you'll have to keep track of them, but you can check with me any time. 

 

Grades Lower Than "B"
I hope no one will aim for lower grades. The quickest way to slide to a “C," "N," or "E" is to miss class, not turn in things on time, and show up without assignments. This much is nonnegotiable: you are not eligible for a passing grade of “C” unless you attend at least 86% of the class sessions and meet the guidelines above. And you can't just turn in all the late work at the end. If you are missing classes and behind in work, please stay in touch with me about your chances of passing the course.

 

The Breakdown
So, here’s the way grading works. In order to get the grade on the left, you must meet or exceed the requirements in the row next to it. I’ve embiggened and italicized the default grade that you achieve if you meet our contract obligations. 

For ENG 112

 

# of Absences

# of  Late Assigns.

# of Missed Assigns.

# of Ignored Assigns.

A

0

2

0

0

B

4

2

0

0

C

4-6

3

1 or 2

0

N

6-8

4

3

1

For ENG 342

 

# of Absences

# of  Late Assigns.

# of Missed Assigns.

# of Ignored Assigns.

A

0

2

0

0

B

4

2

0

0

C

4-6

3

1 or 2

0

D

6-8

4

3

1

E

8 or more

4 or more

4 or more

2 or more

All assignments that are turned in as “late” after the 2nd are considered “missed.” All “missed” assignments after the 2nd are considered “ignored.” 

 

Pleas 
Each student may use one plea to the class in order to receive a special dispensation or exemption from the contract, or to be given a temporary break from the contract. A plea can only be used in extraordinary circumstances, those beyond the student's control or that are special in some other way and that have kept her/him from doing assigned work. Each plea will be voted on and a 2/3 majority is needed for approval. 

Option 1: Public Plea

This is the default and the one I'll push for in 99% of all cases. 

Option 2: Private Plea

As contract administrator, I will decide in consultation with the student whether a private plea is warranted. In rare and unusual cases, there may be extreme, extenuating circumstances that keep an individual student from meeting the contract's stated responsibilities. In such cases, the student must come to the teacher as soon as possible, and before breach-of-contract, so that s/he and the teacher can make fair and equitable arrangements, ones that will be fair and equitable to all in the class and still meet the university’s regulations on attendance, conduct, and workload in classes. In these special cases, the class will not vote on the issue (and may not even know about it).  

My first recourse in most matters will be to take all issues to the class for a plea, not to make special arrangements with individual students who cannot meet the contract requirements. The contract is a public, social contract, one agreed upon through group discussion and agreement, so the majority of negotiations must be public negotiations. This caveat to the contract is NOT an “out clause” for anyone who happens to not fulfill the contract; it is for rare and unusual circumstances out of the control of the student, and usually so personal in nature that a plea to the class is not doable or reasonable. If I (the teacher), in consultation with the student, decide that a private plea is warranted, then the class will be informed that a private plea has been made and decided upon via email. 


By staying in this course and attending class, you accept this contract and agree to abide by it, as do I (the teacher). 

ENG 112 Critical Writing & Reading syllabus, updated winter 2012 #112cwr

Course: ENG 112 Critical Writing & Reading
Semester: Winter 2012
Teacher/Guide: Dr. James Schirmer
E-mail: jschirm@umflint.edu
Office: 320D French Hall
Hours: Tues/Thurs by appointment
Mailbox: 326 French Hall
 
Writing Center: 559 French Hall
Writing Center Phone: 810.766.6602 (call ahead to make an appointment)
Writing Center Website: http://www.umflint.edu/departments/writingcenter/

Course Description:
The focus of English 112 is to help students be more comfortable in not only writing but also critical thinking and analytical skills. In English 112, students will receive guidance and gain focused practice with proper citations and conventions, read scholarly articles, write critiques, and make logical connections between several sources.  During the research requirement, students will gain further experience in utilizing the library’s resources while working to incorporate a variety of credible sources in writing. Skills gained in this class will be important outside of the classroom, as the ability to communicate effectively in a variety of ways is a requirement of most professional careers.

In particular, this is a course designed to encourage  exploration of what is quality and expertise within a particular writing context, that of a major/intended profession.  By first building on present cultural knowledge and then expanding beyond, this course provides the opportunity to work in greater detail with pieces of writing influential to one's major/intended profession. It also calls for students to reflect on their major/intended profession and its discourse as well as practice such discourse themselves. Students will thus further their understandings of voice, tone, purpose, style, audience, and the importance of research within a particular discipline. This course challenges students to identify, analyze, and synthesize their understandings of quality, expertise and what makes “good writing” in regards to the discourse particular to their major/intended profession.

Required Texts:
All reading materials will be available online or provided via email.

Course Contributions: 
The grading contract outlines many parameters for the course, but not all. Below is more information about the contributions required from all students:

Presence (in class): I expect you to come to class on time, prepared, having completed the assigned reading and writing, and ready to contribute thoughts to class discussions, to listen with attentive respect to the thoughts of your peers, and to participate in all in-class work. This includes the regular, required writing in instructor-provided Field Notes memo books. I urge you to attend every class, as most of the work done in class is necessary for successful completion of the course. 

Presence (online): To create and sustain further conversation this semester, all students are required to create and maintain Pen.io and Twitter accounts. At least one Pen.io page is due every week for the duration of the semester. One “tweet” per weekday is required for at least the first four weeks of the semester. Further details on Pen.io are available here. Further details on Twitter are available here.

Sequences: For particular course themes, there are some longer assignments (800-2400 words). Unless otherwise specified, work for each sequence will be posted online via Pen.io. These sequences provide opportunities for not only greater attention and focus but also practice and preparation for the final sequence. They are as follows:
  • Major Media Representations (800-1200 words) - due Week 4
    Movies, television, and other media can be very influential in representing particular professions. What sort of precedent do various media set regarding male and female positions in a particular profession? Only by watching and evaluating different media can we attempt to answer this question. 
  • Optional: Major Online Presence (800-1200 words) - due TBA
    This assignment is for those students fed up with Twitter after four weeks of honest use. There are myriad other opportunities for online engagement, including blogs, forums, social bookmarking and networking sites, and wikis. Many of these are subject-specific or oriented to a particular profession and involved in providing information, networking, and/or recruitment. So, how is a particular profession represented online? Again, only by researching and evaluating different online spaces can we attempt to answer this question.
  • Pop Up Scholarship (800-1200 words) - due Week 6/7
    We have the ability to engage in a dialogue with a text, not only noting its unique, stylistic features but also amending/changing the text itself. This assignment emphasizes Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on dialogism and that “all discourse is a response” (Ewald 88). It also stresses the creativity of the reader in the act of making meaning, encouraging an abandonment of “the notion that the text is the sole, even primary, repository of meaning in written discourse” (88).
  • Mashup Scholarship (800-1200 words) - due Week 8
    Beyond one-to-one dialogue with a text is, of course, dialogic multiplication, the cacophonous implementation of many texts together. This means realizing and showing how well a variety of works relate to each other in terms of argument and meaning, thereby mirroring Danger Mouse's The Grey Album and Jonathan Lethem's "The ecstasy of influence." Like "Pop Up Scholarship," this assignment emphasizes reader as well as writer creativity, encouraging a plagiarism of sorts to promote better understanding of textual construction.
  • Discipline-Specific Scholarship (2400 words minimum) - due Week 15
    Having read, researched, compiled, annotated, commented, presented and reflected on academic sources directly related to your major/intended profession, we should have a better foundational knowledge of what constitutes quality and/or expertise within a specific field of study. Part of this greater understanding of the field also concerns expectations of quality and/or expertise in writing for future courses. Now is the time to directly apply that knowledge toward a specific end.


Class Facilitation
: Each student group is responsible for facilitating 60 minutes of class once during the semester. Student groups will meet with the instructor at least one week prior to their facilitation to finalize readings and discuss approaches. 

Facilitation readings should be given to the instructor in time to allow for copies to be made (or PDFs to be loaded). Facilitation readings should be relevant to and provide insight on some aspect of the course.

The class facilitation should begin with a group-led pecha kucha presentation, but what follows that is for each student group to decide. Beyond the presentation, the facilitation can take whatever format is comfortable for the student group presenting (discussion questions, in-class activities, online activities, etc.).


On Technology:
Because an increasing amount of writing occurs in an online format, we will engage a range of computer tools and web-based applications. No prior skill is needed, however, only a willingness to engage and learn. I am more than willing to take extra time; all you need to do is ask.

A majority of the tools we will be using in and outside of class are web-based, so you will not need any special software. I might, however, have some recommendations (not requirements). Furthermore, you should have an email address that you check regularly for this class. I prefer to contact students via university email, but I am open to other email addresses.

While technology makes life easier, it can also be difficult (computer crashes, deleted work, unavailable Internet connections, etc.). So, plan accordingly. "The computer ate my homework" or "the Internet was down" are not reasons to forgo the work assigned. It is in your best interest to leave extra time, especially in the first few weeks, to ensure that technology does not get in the way of your coursework.


How to Reach Me: 
The best way to reach me is by email <jschirm@umflint.edu>. You can also find me online via Twitter <twitter.com/betajames>. I am online almost every day. If you email or @ me and do not receive a response within 24 hours, please feel free to email or @ me again (as I might not have received your first message). I promise not to consider this harassment.

If you are more comfortable with face-to-face communication, you are welcome to schedule an appointment Tuesday/Thursday. My office is 320D French Hall.

Final Note: 
Should any aspect of class confuse/concern/trouble you, don't hesitate to contact me.

tweeting guidelines, updated winter 2012 #112cwr #342vs #513dr

[amended from Brian Croxall]

 

Twitter is a writing platform, but simpler. It's similar to a Facebook status update, except you're only allowed to post entries that are 140 characters long. This is because Twitter was designed to work via cellphone text messaging. You can update Twitter from your phone as well as "follow" people on Twitter (and they can follow you back). Updates come to your phone (or online) instantly. You get real-time updates from peers and others you are interested in knowing what they are doing. 

To create and sustain further conversation this semester, all students are required to maintain active presence on Twitter for a minimum of four weeks. One post (or tweet) per weekday is required, but there is freedom regarding content. Students are welcome to post original thoughts, "retweet" classmates' updates, @ (mention/reply to) classmates, and share course-relevant links with the course hashtag. Posts unrelated to course content are okay, but these will not count toward the requirement. I am very active on Twitter, so I encourage all students to check my profile (as well as those I follow) for potential models of engagement.

But why are we doing this? Because this is a writing course and Twitter is sort of a new kind of writing. Perhaps Twitter can help us learn better clarity and concision. Furthermore, employers in a variety of fields and industries are interested in hiring employees who are social-media savvy. Knowing how to use Twitter could even help you get a job. I'm also curious, though, to see if using Twitter changes the culture or society of the class in any appreciable way. 

So, if you haven't joined Twitter, join Twitter. You should also:

  1. Create a profile. In your username or bio (or both), use your real name (e.g., my username is "betajames," but have my real name in the bio section). Don't forget to upload a picture!
  2. Make your profile public. If you already have a Twitter account that is private and would prefer to keep it that way, create a new account for this class. (If your profile is private, classmates cannot search for you and your course-related tweets won't appear in the archive I set up.)
  3. Find and follow all members of our class (students and professor). (I'll try to make this easier by sharing a full list of users.)
  4. Search for and follow some other interesting people, such as @barackobama, @ConanOBrien, @shakira, and/or @TheScienceGuy. Consider following different services that provide updates, too, like @CNN or @FOXNEWS.
  5. Post at least once a weekday from Thursday, January 5 to Tuesday, January 31. When posting about our class, please use the course hashtag. This will allow us to better track one another's tweets. 
  6. Consider connecting your cellphone or smartphone to Twitter to get real-time updates. Having phone updates is not required for this assignment, but it could be helpful. Regular text messaging fees do apply. 
  7. Get into the habit of checking Twitter at least once a day. (Don't worry about keeping up, though. Just see what's happening when you check in. Think of Twitter as a river of information. Dive in and you might get swept away; stick in a toe, or even a whole foot, and you should be fine.)
  8. Post an evaluation of Twitter (and how we used it) on your blog (due Tuesday, January 31). As a class, we will decide whether or not to keep using Twitter for the rest of the semester. This assignment and the subsequent evaluation will be assessed on the same basis as everything else in this class, i.e., if you make an honest effort to play along, you will be in accordance with the grading contract.

Here are some other interesting ways to use Twitter:

  • There are a number of desktop and smartphone applications for using Twitter. They’re very easy to find and most are free.
  • You can sync your Twitter updates to your Facebook status. Just install the Twitter application on Facebook.
  • Use your cellphone camera in conjunction with Twitpic, Yfrog, Instagram, or other such services.

@penapp guidelines #112cwr #342vs #513dr

[amended from Delia DeCourcy, Alan Jacobs, and Bill Wolff]

Your Pen.io account is a place to create simple pages that explore ideas we discuss in class, to write about related concepts of interest, and to ask questions about them. When creating, designing, and writing your Pen.io page(s), please complete the following:

  1. Sign in using the Twitter account created for this class. 
  2. Choose a professional and meaningful title, subtitle, and web address for each page. That is, don't use "English-Assignment-1.pen.io" as an address or title.
  3. Compose a brief, but detailed summary of each page, i.e., provide potential readers with contextual information so they understand what the page is about. 
  4. SPECIAL TO #342VS & #513DR: Write a 50-word summary of the arguments, narratives, or discussions you read. (Scroll to page bottom for further details.)
  5. Email the instructor a link to each completed page.
  6. Share a link to each completed page on Twitter.

There is no set requirement for the length of a Pen.io page. One of the features of the web medium and the characteristics of individual pages is that length and quantity are determined by content and goals. However, each page you make should be thorough in discussing the subject at hand. 

During the weeks regular Pen.io pages are required, be sure to create either a page that extends the class discussion or a page that explores an area of course-related interest particular to you. These pages should serve as exploratory, introductory writing and thinking toward larger, later assignments. I encourage you to interpret, question, link to, quote from, and respond to anything and everything we read this semester, including peers' Pen.io pages.

Again, Pen.io pages in this course should be concerned with the regular examination of ideas and provide concise arguments via unique viewpoint and voice. With that in mind, I encourage you to:

  • Experiment.
  • Find new ways of saying what you think you want to say.
  • Try PenZen, a distraction-free writing tool built on the Pen.io engine. 
  • See how Pen.io works and what happens when you make changes.
  • Make clear to readers that there is substantive thought behind the ideas presented. 
  • Push yourself to explore the ways you can get at ideas through the use of different media.
  • Have specific references (audio, hyperlinks, images, video) as means of support.

The more you engage with, customize, and explore Pen.io, the more effective it will be and the more you will get out of this semester-long assignment.

----

SPECIAL TO #342VS & #513DR

[amended from Alice Robison]

As detailed on our syllabus, you are expected to complete a good amount of reading every week for class. Our larger, longer sequences are based on these readings. In order to help you keep up in class participation and to prepare you for these larger, longer sequences, you must complete a short writing assignment.

This assignment requires you to begin each Pen.io page with a summary or analysis of all the readings for that week. In a single sentence of no more than 50 words, write a summary of the arguments, narratives, or discussions you read. Each single sentence should summarize or analyze the week's readings. Please do not provide criticism of the text—we'll save that for class.

Now, what's the difference between a summary and analysis? A summary offers a short description of the topics or positions discussed and offered by the authors of the texts. An analysis seeks to find a common thread among the texts and shows their relation to one another. It may seem at first that a summary is easier to write than an analysis, but don't be fooled! Both are equally difficult, especially when you're limited to 50 words.

grading contract, updated winter 2012 #513dr

[amended from Peter Elbow

I often find grades to be distractions from learning. This course places a strong emphasis on participation and I'm concerned that grades might get in the way. Conventional grading often leads us to think more about grades than about learning and writing, to worry more about pleasing or fooling a teacher than about figuring out what you want to say or how to say it, leaving us reluctant to take risks. Sometimes, grades even lead to the feeling that you are working against the teacher. Instead, I want to create a culture of support, a culture where you, your colleagues and I function as allies, fellow travelers with various skills, experience and talents that we can offer to the group, rather than as adversaries working against each other for grades. 

Rather than giving individual grades for each assignment and basing them on an arbitrary point system to be tallied at the end of the semester, I will instead provide substantive comments on the majority of work performed this semester. I will also engage you in conversations about performance via progress reports. However, these assessments will not affect your overall grade in the course. Instead, they should function as guides to how you need to revise or rethink your performance. 

Through the use of a grading contract, I'm asking for a reconsideration of how you work in our classroom, what your role is as a student in a classroom, and what your relationship to one another is as colleagues. All of this really boils down to rethinking "responsibility." Traditional grading by a teacher alone keeps students from having much responsibility by instead assuming students can only be motivated by grades, not by learning or actual coursework. Grades create systems of accountability instead of providing environments for personal and social responsibility

In this course, the grading contract asks you to have responsibility to yourself and to the class to do the work required, to attend and participate during class time, to ask questions of me or your classmates if you're confused and to know what assignments have been turned in and where you stand in relation to the contract. As the teacher/guide, I have the responsibility to be prepared for every class, to answer any questions and consider any feedback, to provide helpful and honest suggestions on your work and to make myself available for questions and concerns outside of class. 

“A” Grades 
You are guaranteed a course grade of “A” if you meet all of the following conditions:
  1. Attendance/Participation/Presence. You’ll attend and fully participate in our scheduled class sessions and their activities and assignments. For our class, attendance equates to participation. Therefore, it is not enough for you simply to come to class. If you come to class unprepared in any way (e.g., without work done, assignments read, etc.), it will be counted as an absence, since you won’t be able to participate fully in our activities. This means any informal assignment given, or ones not outlined on our syllabus, fit into this category of attendance. 

    NOTE
    : Assignments not completed because of an absence, either ones assigned on the schedule or ones assigned on earlier days in class, will be late, missed, or ignored (depending on when you turn it in finally, see the guidelines #4, #5, and #6 below). 

    Any absence due to an university-sponsored group activity (e.g., sporting event, band, etc.) will not count against you as long as you FIRST provide written documentation in the first 2 weeks of the semester of all absences. This same policy applies to those who have mandatory military-related absences (e.g., deployment, work, duty, etc.). This will allow us to determine how you will meet assignments, participation, and the responsibilities of our contract, despite being absent. 
  2. Lateness. You’ll come on time or early to class. Walking into class late 2 or 3 times in a semester is understandable, but coming habitually late every week is not. If you are late to class, you are still responsible to find out what assignments or instructions were made, but please don’t disrupt our class by asking about the things you missed because you were late. 
  3. Sharing and Collaboration. You’ll work cooperatively in groups. Be willing to share your writing, to listen supportively to the writing of others, and, when called for, give full and thoughtful assessments that consistently help your colleagues consider ways to revise. 
  4. Late Assignments. You will turn in properly and on time all assignments. Because your colleagues in class depend on you to get your work done on time so that they can do theirs on time, all late assignments are just as bad as missed assignments.
    Exception: twice during the semester, you may turn in a late assignment. All “late assignments” are due 2 days after their initial due date, no exceptions. Please note that a late assignment may be due on a day when our class is not scheduled to meet. 
  5. Missed Assignments. A missed assignment is NOT one not completed; it is one that has missed the guidelines somehow but is still complete and turned in. In order to meet our contract for a “A” grade, you cannot have any “missed assignments.” Please note that assignments not completed at all are considered “Ignored Assignments” (see #6 below). A missed assignment is usually one completed after the 48 hours that would have made it only a “late” assignment, but it is complete. 
  6. Ignored Assignments. Any assignments not done period, or “ignored,” for whatever reasons, are put in this category. One of these means an automatic “C.” Two acquired gives you an “F”  – no exceptions. 

All Compositions need to meet the following conditions:

  • Complete and On Time. You’ll turn in on time and in the appropriate manner completed work that meet all of assignment guidelines. 
  • Revisions. If/when the assignment is to revise, you will reshape, extend, complicate, or substantially clarify your ideas – or relate your ideas to new things. You won’t just correct or touch up. Revisions must somehow respond to or consider seriously your colleagues’ assessments. 
  • Copy Editing. When the assignment is for the final publication draft, your piece must be well copy edited – that is, free from virtually all mistakes in spelling and grammar.  It's fine to get help in copy editing.

All Assessments and Peer Responses need to meet the following conditions: 

  • Complete and On Time. All assessments should be complete and submitted on time and in the appropriate way so that your colleagues will get your assessments of their writing the way the class has predetermined. 
  • Content. All assessments should follow the directions established by our evolving class discussions about them. 
  • Courtesy and Respect. All assessments should be courteous and respectful in tone, but honest. It’s okay to say something doesn’t seem right in a draft, or that something doesn’t really work. Respect means we are kind and truthful. It’s not the “golden rule” (treat others as you would have them treat you), but a modified one: treat others as you believe they want to be treated. 


Clarification on "A"
A particular passing grade depends on behaviors. Have you shown responsible effort and consistency in our class? Have you done what was asked of you in the spirit it was asked?

However, the grade of "A" depends on acknowledged quality. Thus, you earn a "B" if you put in good time and effort; we should push each other for a "B." In order to get an "A," you have to make your time and effort pay off into writing of genuine, recognizable excellence that responds in some concrete way to your colleagues' and my concerns (and also meets the conditions for a "B"). This means that not only is revision important, but a certain kind of revision, one demonstrating a reflective writer listening, making decisions and moving drafts above and beyond expectations. Writing in the "A" category will respond to assessments and be reflective of itself.

Notice that for grades up to "B," you don't have to worry about my judgment or my standards of excellence;  for higher grades, you do. But we'll have class discussions about excellence in writing and we should be able to reach fairly good agreement.

Knowing Where You Stand
This system is better than regular grading for giving you a clear idea of what your final grade looks like at any moment. For whenever you get feedback on any essay, you should know where you stand in terms of meeting the expectations of the course. I will also encourage and guide some of these discussions on an individual basis in the form of progress reports. But if you’re doing everything as directed and turning it in on time (no matter what anyone says), you’re getting a "B." As for absences and lateness, you'll have to keep track of them, but you can check with me any time. 

Grades Lower Than "B"
I hope no one will aim for lower grades. The quickest way to slide to a “C" or lower is to miss class, not turn in things on time, and show up without assignments. This much is nonnegotiable: you are not eligible for a passing grade of “C” unless you have attend at least 86% of the class sessions and meet the guidelines above. And you can't just turn in all the late work at the end. If you are missing classes and behind in work, please stay in touch with me about your chances of passing the course.

The Breakdown 
So, here’s the way grading works in our class. In order to get the grade on the left, you must meet or exceed the requirements in the row next to it. 

 

 

# of Absences

# of  Late Assigns.

# of Missed Assigns.

# of Ignored Assigns.

A

0

2

0

0

B

0

2

0

0

C

2

3

1 or 2

0

D

3

4

3

1

E

4 or more

4 or more

4 or more

2 or more

 

 

All assignments that are turned in as “late” after the 2nd are considered “missed.” All “missed” assignments after the 2nd are considered “ignored.” 

 

Pleas
Each student may use one plea to the class in order to receive a special dispensation or exemption from the contract, or to be given a temporary break from the contract. A plea can only be used in extraordinary circumstances, those beyond the student's control or that are special in some other way and that have kept her/him from doing assigned work. Each plea will be voted on and a 2/3 majority is needed for approval. 


Option 1: Public Plea
This is the default and the one I'll push for in 99% of all cases. 


Option 2: Private Plea.  
As contract administrator, I will decide in consultation with the student whether a private plea is warranted. In rare and unusual cases, there may be extreme, extenuating circumstances that keep an individual student from meeting the contract's stated responsibilities. In such cases, the student must come to the teacher as soon as possible, and before breach-of-contract, so that s/he and the teacher can make fair and equitable arrangements, ones that will be fair and equitable to all in the class and still meet the university’s regulations on attendance, conduct, and workload in classes. In these special cases, the class will not vote on the issue (and may not even know about it).  

Please note: the first recourse in most matters will be to take all issues to the class for a plea, not to make special arrangements with individual students who cannot meet the contract requirementsThe contract is a public, social contract, one agreed upon through group discussion and agreement, so the majority of negotiations must be public negotiations. This caveat to the contract is NOT an “out clause” for anyone who happens to not fulfill the contract; it is for rare and unusual circumstances out of the control of the student, and usually so personal in nature that a plea to the class is not doable or reasonable. If I (the teacher), in consultation with the student, decide that a private plea is warranted, then the class will be informed that a private plea has been made and decided upon via email. 

By staying in this course and attending class, you accept this contract and agree to abide by it. 

Approaches to Digital Rhetoric #513dr

Digital rhetoric is more of a disciplinary nebula than a field. We can gather as much from James Zappen, who summarizes it as “an amalgam of more-or-less discrete components rather than a complete and integrated theory in its own right” (323). And while Liz Losh takes some issue with this description, she also observes that digital rhetoric “operates at number of different registers and includes messages to, from, and within the personal, the governmental, the academic, and the scientific public spheres” (95). Since the publications of these summations, Zappen, Losh, and a great many others have continued to work around, in, and with digital rhetoric. This proliferation has resulted in lively, ongoing conversations in academic journals and online about aspects and issues of digital rhetoric. The following assignment provides an opportunity to explore this conversation and to read deeper a couple of articles that you find compelling or engaging. 

 

The Assignment

 1. Browse various journals and find two articles you think are worth deeper, more attentive reading. Here are some of the best sources for digital rhetoric work:

Check out different issues and volumes of these journals in order to get a sense of the breadth and depth of their coverage, the kinds of issues they tackle, and the approaches they adopt. In time, hone in on two articles that resonate with you, that you find worth reading and sharing. 

2. Read your chosen, primary articles with care and thoroughness. Then, prepare a response of at least 1000 words to the articles and address these questions:

  1. What is the context of the journal or publication? Who publishes it? Who is the primary audience?
  2. What particular scholarly conversation or debate is the article intervening in? That is, what previous findings or theories is this article attempting to refute, refine, or broaden? How do you know?
  3. What is the central claim or question of the article?
  4. What’s at stake in the article? Why is the finding important and what are its implications?
  5. What is your response to the article’s argument? Do you find it persuasive, unpersuasive, interesting, uninteresting? What part of the article seems the least convincing and what part makes the strongest case?
  6. What methodological approach does the researcher take? What kind of disciplines does he or she draw from? Can you imagine another approach to the same issues and questions?
  7. What questions come to mind as you read the article?
  8. How does the article’s claims give you traction for your own interests? Are there ways to play off, build upon, or refute the argument?

 

Be sure to include a full citation for each article at the beginning of your response (including the URL). Your response is due as a Pen.io page by Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

semester-end project options #513dr

Given the nebulous nature of working around, in, and with digital rhetoric, I think it only makes sense that we have some options for the semester-end project. Note: all project options have the same deadlines. That is, all project proposals are due March 27, all project drafts are due April 3, and all project revisions are due April 10.

 

Option #1
Compose a professional article in accordance with the submission guidelines of one of the following journals:

 

 

 

Option #2
Use at least three kinds of digital media and/or online technologies to present a unified, purposeful identity. Of course, pre-existing accounts (Pen.io, Twitter, and otherwise) are off-limits for this option. This identity should represent a facet of the user of a client chosen by the user. Given our various and sundry areas of interest and backgrounds. I want there to be as much creative opportunity with this option as possible. A focus on professional or other uses of digital media to create a portfolio appropriate for a company, freelance agency, or non-profit organization is welcome. A more internal focus and use of the project as a means to represent a certain aspect of identity (gamer, reader, student, teacher, writer, etc.) is also welcome.

Strong consideration should be given to a singular facet of identity. Be aware of how the specific use of a particular digital medium/technology is indicative of a certain part of your unique identity. 

Necessary to this option is a written component of at least 1500 words to accompany the portfolio. This reflective piece of writing should be a commentary on the identity performed as well as the decisions made during the portfolio’s construction. The written component should also discuss the media/technologies used and why as well as consider color, font, overall design, and other factors contributing to the identity performed. Discussion of possible changes in the future and/or notes on what could have gone better should also be included in the written component. 

 

Option #3
Design a significant digital document. The content of the document is up to you, but it should be a self-aware effort that incorporates, reflects upon, and even challenges what we’ve discussed this semester. If you choose to design a significant digital document, please run your ideas by me sooner than later.

If you decide to pursue this option, you will also need to write a statement of intent/introduction for your significant digital document. This statement will be of at least 1500 words and outline the goals of your document. In your statement, please consider the following questions:

  • What were you trying to achieve? 
  • What effect or meanings were you after? 
  • What subtextual meanings were you trying to evoke? 
  • Why did the project take the form it did? 
  • What was your decision-making process regarding design? 
  • Why did you do what you did and how do those choices mesh with the themes or goals of your work? 
  • What difficulties and/or epiphanies occurred as you created your project? 
  • What would you do differently next time?

With your document and your statement, I’ll be looking for evidence that you absorbed and thought about many of what we’ve discussed this semester regarding digital rhetoric.