rethinking research as engagement: pop up scholarship

In A Guide to Composition Pedagogy, Rebecca Moore Howard's chapter "Collaborative Pedagogy" explains writer/text collaboration as when "a writer overtly collaborates with a written text" (66). Howard uses the term (re)formative collaboration to further describe such pedagogy as the facilitation of exercises in which students have more freedom to play with language without regard for singular ownership. While evident in online communicative technologies like Facebook and YouTube, VH1's Pop Up Video was an even earlier example of (re)formative collaboration. Presenting music videos from various genres and offering up little windows of information, Pop Up Video was a kind of writer/text collaboration that involved more than one kind of text and more than one kind of author. The show itself was also rather
light-hearted and all about linguistic play.

It is from Pop Up Video and Howard that I drew inspiration for "Pop Up Scholarship," a three-part writing and speaking sequence that asks students to engage in a dialogue with a particular text. "Pop Up Scholarship" suggests students not only make note of discursive features but also amend and comment on their selected text(s). Doing so emphasizes Bakhtin's work on dialogism and that, as Helen Rothschild Ewald paraphrases in her chapter contribution to Landmark Essays on Advanced Composition, "all discourse is a response" (88). It also stresses reader creativity in the act of meaning making, encouraging abandonment of "the notion that the text is the sole, even primary, repository of meaning in written discourse" (88). As a past student explained in their reflective essay, "By doing this assignment, not only did we learn about different types of articles, but we also learned about our own writing in general."

In past courses, this assignment occurred later in the semester, often marking the point at which students were more familiar with the discursive practices associated with their major fields of interest and study. While this made it easier for students to articulate such practices to colleagues, I now think it might be more beneficial to introduce "Pop Up Scholarship" earlier and sustain such engagement throughout the semester. Rather than suggesting students follow some formulaic method of annotation, I think this assignment has the potential for greater worth, advocating instead a more individual and unique way of interacting and understanding sources academic and otherwise. I also plan to make various and sundry amendments to "Pop Up Scholarship," tailoring it more or less to first-year, advanced and technical writing students as I think all could benefit from this kind of reflective research engagement. To eliminate any confusion, though, I present an overview of the assignment as it existed for my ENG 112 Critical Writing & Reading course at the University of Michigan-Flint:

Pop Up Scholarship

By engaging in “Pop Up Scholarship,” students will:
• work in greater detail with a major piece of writing in their field of study
• showcase awareness of discursive practices within that field of study
• present knowledge to an audience of colleagues
• reflect on these discursive practices (perhaps even draw some comparisons)

Part 1
At this point in the semester, you should have some knowledge of the discursive practices associated your major field of study. In order to demonstrate this to your instructor and to your colleagues, choose a recent article from a journal/magazine oriented to your major field of study. After conversion from .pdf to .doc (or a simple cut & paste action), go under the Tools menu in Microsoft Word and select “Track Changes.” Go through the entire document as you would in peer review. In other words, make observations on format/style, ask questions oriented to the text/field of study, delete unnecessary sentences, insert new sentences and be sure to give justification for all changes. Track/insert at least 3-5 changes/comments per page and insert a brief end comment after the concluding paragraph.

Part 2
Upon completion of Part 1, use it as a basis for developing a presentation on particular discursive practices within your major field of study. How you present the information is up to you. Possibilities include a walkthrough of the “track-changed” document or a more conventional collection of bulleted points. Make sure to have some conclusions about the nature of the discursive practices in your major field of study, if you see any problems or if you think all disciplines should adopt them (and why).

Part 3
Having finished your PowerPoint presentation and been an audience for others, compose a piece of writing in which you reflect further on not only the discursive practices within your own major field of study but also the discursive practices of others. Ask yourself about similarities and/or differences and what this might reveal about the very nature of academic discourse. Think as well about whether or not you look forward to writing in such a style/format and if/how this will change the way you currently compose.