Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Delivery and New Media Workshop

Catrina Mitchum, Cheri Lemieux Spiegel, Wil Laviest, & Mathieu Reynolds

In his preface to Rhetorical Memory and Delivery, John Frederick Reynolds explains that delivery and memory are classical rhetoric’s two “‘problem canons’”(vii). He maintains that although these two are often overlooked, they are certainly important. Today’s workshop will focus on delivery specifically.
James Porter, in his “Recovering Deliver for Digital Rhetoric” traces the history of this neglected canon. Naturally, he begins his history of rhetorical delivery with a look at classical Greek and Roman rhetoric, wherein delivery was characterized primarily as an emphasis upon the role of the voice, body and emotional impact of a speaker. Issues of delivery were equated largely with these matters of decorum throughout the classical times until a shift in treatment was seen in the 15th century, along with the invention of the printing press.
The printing press itself, Porter argues through the lens of Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, created a new form of delivery. Regardless of this new, non-oral form of delivery, scholars continued to refer to delivery as a physical concern (with emphasis on voice and body), and, for reasons he doesn’t elaborate upon, discussions began to overlook the role delivery played in addressing the emotional needs of an audience. This truncated view of delivery as related to these physical characteristics caused it to be seen as irrelevant to printed discourse.
However, Porter, Reynolds and others such as Paul Prior et al are now arguing for renewed attention to the canon of delivery. Porter argues for how this canon can be seen as important to contemporary rhetorical study and how the digital age, in particular, makes this allowance. His framework is composed of five components which he names “Body/Identity,” “Distribution/Circulation,” “Access/Accessibility,” “Interaction,” and “Economics” (208). Body/Identity refers to concerns over the representations of one’s self in an online environment; for example, how one’s gestures, might be represented through online correspondence. Distribution/Circulation addresses technical aspects of delivery related to publishing and distributing texts. Access/Accessibility raises questions of how a population might be able to connect to web-based information, while Interaction refers to the engagement between people and information in the digital space. Lastly, Economics accounted for a concern over issues of information policy, such as fair use, copyright and the like.
Paul Prior et al’s “Re-situating and Re-mediating the Canons: A Cultural-Historical Remapping of Rhetorical Activity” the authors suggest that delivery might be “reconceived as mediation” (6). Their use of the term “mediation” is rooted in the theories of Bolter and Grusin, Vygotsky and Latour and allows the canon to account for far more than psychical characteristics of communication.
The authors suggest that the canon of delivery, conceived in this way, might include two major sub-headings: mediation and distribution. Characterized in this way, delivery might be said to prompt the following kinds of questions:
What mediations, what kinds of detours, might delivery of a text involve? Do we write a text to be read silently, read aloud (as a speech), recorded on a DVD, or performed by various groups of actors on a stage? What typeface do we use? What color? Do we deliver the document on paper, on the screen, or in some other medium? If on paper, by mail or by hand? If by hand, do we do it ourselves or do we have someone else do it? Do we synchronize the delivery with some other event? Or perhaps we deliver it by allowing others to find it in another place. Do we need to deliver the text first to an intermediary (editor, publisher, boss) for review to get it out to a public of some size? Or do we want the text to be distributed in encrypted formats to a small select distribution list? Or do we divide up the delivery of the message so that the chances of illicit use are limited? (Prior et al 6-7).
It is in this vein, with these sorts of rhetorical choices in mind, that we believe that delivery (call it mediation if you will) ought to be brought into the composition classroom.

Relevance to the modern Classroom

The writing classroom today is approached from many different ways pedagogically. Some instructors teach and assign strictly alphabetic text, others teach and assign multi-modal texts, and still others teach and assign a combination of the two. Everything from assessment to how writing should be taught is debated in the field. However, despite these debates over the details of how to teach writing, the constant in these classrooms is the computer. Instructors no longer require (in fact will not accept) handwritten assignments. With the computer (and nowadays be default the Internet) and other digital devices as a central part of our writing culture today, writing classrooms have to consider a wider audience than the instructor and fellow students. This expanded audience and new mediums for delivery require us to rethink what delivery entails.
This digital age has opened up the floor for new ways of delivery, and it’s important to teach these new ways in college comp classrooms because students need to be able to use all “available means” and consider what those means will do for the message they are trying to convey. The modern writing classroom goes beyond the classroom in more ways than one. Students are often in rooms with computers, and if they are not, they are still required to use computers to do their work. Computers (and the World Wide Web by default) facilitate these new delivery opportunities by not only allowing students to rethink what a text is, but also by allowing them to participate in the wider culture.
With so many choices, the concepts of access, support and appropriate media become key to communication with new media. We can’t assume that students know how to produce digital communication simply because they’re exposed to it (Brumberger). The way delivery is taught changes when you consider new media simply because it’s not a last minute thought. The delivery has everything to do with the composition itself. Students need to consider who will be able to access their message based on their mode of delivery, what is being added to the message by the mode, how the audience will (and can) take the message (and in some cases the composition itself) to “recompose” (Ridolfo and Devoss) or “remix” it to create a new message.
Sample Applications
The canon of delivery within the context of digital media combines design, style and presentation. It retains the classical definition of delivery, which is about voice, body gestures and movements, while integrating audio, visual, text and screen design in what has been coined “textured literacy” (Yancey 2004).
Podcasting is one of the obvious areas where new/digital media and delivery come together. Document design can evoke mood in terms of, for example, use of color or font styles (O’Donnell 1998). Others are new media’s ability for collaboration (wikis), immediacy (twitter) archiving for future audiences.
The following are potential exercises/assignment in which delivery could be addressed in new media text:
1. Take a passage of existing text and create hyperlinks on words or phrases that you believe are the authors intended points of emphasis. Explain the choices you made. Compare choices with other classmates.
2. Create a passage of text and incorporate hyperlinks on words or phrases for emphasis. Explain the choices you made.
3. Take an existing passage of text and insert video or photos within the appropriate sections of text where the video or photo expresses the content.
4. Create a slide show with video and text that delivers a message.
5. Create a wiki entry of about 200 words and choose a font style that best represents the tone of the delivery. Explain your choice.
6. Create a wiki that will be a collaborative story. Choose font styles that reflect particular characters in the story as their dialogue appears.
7. Reduce a paragraph down to the length of a max 140-character tweet.
8. Listen to a podcast with an accompanying transcript. Highlight the matching points of emphasis in the text, such as with font changes or hyperlinks.
9. Create a podcast of an oral address that is intended to persuade. Provide an accompanying transcript that includes visual points of emphasis, such as hyperlinks, that match the points of emphasis in the audio version.
10. Review a passage of text and add appropriate sound files to words within the passage.
Brumberger, Eva. “Visual Literacy and the Digital Native: An Examination of the Millennial Learner.” Journal of Visual Literacy. 30.1 (2011): 19-46. Web.
Porter, James E. “Recovering Delivery for Digital Rhetoric.” Computers and Composition 29 (2009): 207-224. Print.
Prior, Paul, et al. “Re-situating and Re-mediating the Canons: A Cultural-Historical Remapping of Rhetorical Activity” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy. 11.3 (2007). Web.
Reynolds, John Frederick. Rhetorical Memory and Delivery : Classical Concepts for Contemporary Composition and Communication. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Eribaum Associates, 1993. Print.
Ridolfo, Jim and D├ánielle Nicole DeVoss. “Composing for Recomposition: Rhetorical Velocity and Delivery.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy. 13.2 (2009). Web.
Yancey, K. (2004). Using Multiple Technologies to Teach Writing. Educational Leadership, 62(2), 38.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Graffiti and the Unpopular or Intolerant Sentiment

Gonos, George, Virginia Mulkern, and Nicholas Poushinsky.  “Anonymous Expression:  A Structuralist View of Graffiti.”  The Journal of American Folklore 89.351 (1976):  40-48.  Print.  
This article presents research into the content of bathroom graffiti in a variety of contexts.  The authors collected graffiti examples from universities, high schools and public locations.  They specifically examined the occurrence of these stall scrawls that contained racist or homophobic language.  Their findings suggest that this anonymous form “serves a special expressive need for some of its users” (47). 
They demonstrate that graffiti on these specific topics is more commonly present in contexts wherein the social norm is intolerant of public displays of these offensive types of language.  They explain that during times when racism and homophobia were considered accepted by the majority, there was no need to express these sentiments in an anonymous medium.  
The authors acknowledge that their research provides only a glimpse into the complexity of the issue of these special expressive occasions and only examines the occurrences in select contexts.  They suggest that to create better understanding of this issue they would need to continue this type of study as society values and acceptance continue to evolve.
This article gives a unique look into the exigence of graffiti.  It clearly demonstrates that at least one motive for graffiti writing is to give individuals an avenue to express the unpopular or unheard opinion.  Unfortunately, this article, like many others, focuses on graffiti used for unflattering purposes.  Since one of my interests is in re-imagining how we talk about graffiti work, I chafe at this article’s emphasis upon these graffiti writers with negative messages.  However, it does make me ask an important question:  what types of graffiti occur during times of uniform tolerance of a oppressive concept?  are positive graffiti instances always a sign that something negative is occurring in society at large?  Overall, I think this article gives me a firm starting place from which I can continue to explore the exigences that motivate graffiti writing.  
Recently in one women’s bathroom stall at the college where I teach numerous graffiti scrawlings have appeared over a short period of time.   Their appearance has been the subject of a number of office discussions about graffiti and the need to control it.  What interests me about these discussions (which I have yet not participated in) is that I have not heard anyone address the fact that the expressions are largely of a positive nature, including quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt, for example. I wonder what the exigence for this positive expression might be, but more so, I wonder what is implied in the desire to censor positive messages.  It seems that McLuhan is right in these contexts:  the medium is the message.  The content is overlooked as a result of the form.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Roundtable Presentation Handout

To access my handout for today's English 821 roundtable presentation, click the image below.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Texts in the City--a clever title. See what she did there?

Carrington, Victoria. “I write, Therefore I am: Texts in the City.” Visual Communication 8.4 (2009): 409-425.

The piece explores the means in which graffiti texts are linked to key issues in contemporary urban life as well as how these texts create narratives about communities and places where they reside. To make her argument, Carrington first briefly overviews the history of graffiti. She acknowledges the fact that while graffiti is often seen as a sign of “urban decay and a youth culture spiraling out of control” (411) this form of expression actually dates back to a least the Roman Empire (which is why I think I will order the disks of Rome from Netflix, watch them and call it “research”—thanks, Kevin! ☺). Her point in addressing the roots of graffiti is to indicate the way texts have always been used as an urban message system.

Next, she addresses the multiple genres that fall under the umbrella term. She then explores different types of “tags” (calligraphic vs. “throw ups”) and the more all-encompassing term of “street art,” which includes expressions that are stencil or sticker-based, or include street furniture or other types of urban fixtures.

Drawing on comments from graffiti artists and scholars, she paints a picture of how graffiti operates within the city. Carrington demonstrates how graffiti is unwelcome and contested and how those qualities are what make it useful to study. Through examining graffiti we can raise important questions about private/public space and identity. For example, she quotes an interview with graffiti artist Swoon who addresses the complexity of public versus private space when she says “I want to be a part of the town center that I live in” (417). While she belongs to the space, the space does not belong to her. How can this be? Swoon also points to her work as a response to commercial expressions in the city. She hopes to create something that, unlike advertising, does not ask for something in return (417).

The way in which Carrington constructs graffiti paints it not as urban decay, but rather an artifact “of a DIY narrative” (420). This construction is, in part, a result of the way in which she uses the phrase “I write, therefore I am” to explain how graffitists write themselves into existence.

Thus, her argument demonstrates the cultural value of graffiti—in helping urban citizens to construct identity and navigate the contested spaces they inhabit. One particularly valuable piece of her argument is in the way she constructs graffiti in a positive light. Commentaries that continue to focus on the illegal quality of graffiti are short-sighted in their ability to fully address graffiti as a text. I think it’s important to understanding the role of graffiti in studies of composition and rhetoric to understand graffiti as a text that happens to be illegal, rather than an illegal text that resembles text. When we look at graffiti in the later sense, it seems that it is more difficult to access it as a rhetorical practice.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Rhetoric of Graffiti...hypothetically.

Banksy's "Brinngg"
D’Angelo, Frank. “Sacred Cows Make Great Hamburgers:  The Rhetoric of Graffiti.”  College Composition and Communication 25.5 (1974):  173-180.  Print.
Like “Oscar Mayer Ads Are Pure Baloney:  The Graffitist as Critic of Advertising,” an article that D’Angelo published a year after this one (see my previous blog entry), this article addresses the means in which the aims of graffiti parallel those aims of other forms of communication.  While his subsequent article compared graffiti to the work of critics of advertising, this piece puts graffiti in comparison with proverb writing. 
D’Angelo explains that both proverbs and graffiti, at least propositional graffiti, are  “concise, direct, pithy, and incisive” (173).  While the two types of writing have similar traits, graffiti is said to make its point through “ridicule” rather than “folk wit” (173).  The author argues that because graffiti’s approach is entertaining, it can be an effective vehicle for teaching students style.
He suggests that while rhetoricians of the Middle Ages used proverbs to teach style, our contemporary cultural equivalent for teaching stylistic matters might be found in works of graffiti.  As a result, his article first comments upon multiple rhetorical strategies used by graffiti artists, and then discusses how those techniques operate as instruments of satire.  Specifically, he examines following techniques (which he calls “figures of style”): allusions, puns, irony, alliteration, rhyme, antithesis, parallelism, apposition, and parody.
In the end of his article, D’Angelo begins to explore the means in which these observations might be applied to the teaching of writing.  While the promise of this application was of most interest to me in selecting to read this article, it is the portion that is least developed.  This discussion of application accounts for one paragraph of the article—the concluding paragraph.  In this paragraph, D’Angelo states that the analysis of graffiti can be useful in linguistic and social criticism, and that it can help students understand stylistic choices.  He suggests that we help students understand their rhetorical choices more thoroughly through the analysis of these choices and by urging them to make their own such choices “conscious and meaningful.”   
Much in the way that I felt after reading his piece on the graffitist as critic of advertising, I am once again underwhelmed by the evidence D’Angelo provides to convince his reader.  The article contains multiple “graffitos,” an apparent blending of the word motto and graffiti, which provide examples of how a graffitist might write a proverbial statement with a satirical undertone.  However, there is, once again,  no proof that any actual graffiti has taken place in this manner.  In this article, like his other, the graffitist still seems theoretical.  In addition to the lack of evidence, that graffiti operates in this manner, the piece begs for further elaboration into why graffiti is an effective tool for introducing linguistic and social criticism and how it can be of used to help students understand rhetoric choices in a practical manner.  The practitioner in me wants examples, lesson plans or at least a detailed praxis oriented discussion.

The Graffitist as Critic of Advertising Least Theoretically

Banksy's "Because I'm Worthless"

D’Angelo, Frank. “Oscar Mayer Ads Are Pure Baloney: The Graffitist as Critic of Advertising.”  College Composition and Communication 26.3 (1975):  263-268.  Print.
In this piece, Frank D’Angelo makes the argument that graffiti artists sometimes operate as critics of advertising.  He explains that they reveal the subliminal messages made by the
advertising industry.  Of course, these artists construct their critiques through edgy parodies of the ads, rather than using genres that other critics of advertising might select.

D’Angelo’s article walks through various types of appeals that are made through advertisements and explains how graffiti artists might critique those appeals.  The author examines, for example, appeals to sex, adventure, and, fears and anxieties.  For each type of appeal, the author provides examples of an ad that uses the type of appeal in question, explains the type of subliminal message at work, and then suggests the type of response a graffitist might have.
For example, D’Angelo discusses the Virginia Slims ads that included a the line “You’ve come a long way, baby—Virginia Slims” and argues that the word choice (come, long and baby in particular) is meant to be sexually suggestive.  He then says that the graffitist wishes to make the audience aware of the subliminal sexual message by creating a parody of the original such as “You’ve come a long way, baby—Vagina Slims.”
This article is useful in depicting the means in which graffiti might accomplish tasks similar to those who select other genres for expression.  However, the article falls short in terms of building credibility for its argument through evidence.  While the author cites specific advertisements to deconstruct, his treatment of the graffiti artist is less specific.  Has an artist ever actually made the above parody of the Virginia Slims ad?  It’s unclear.  He speaks throughout the article of a nameless graffitist and the way in which this individual (presumably male) might treat or parody various ads, but gives no evidence that actual graffiti artists ever have parodied ads.  His argument is disconnected from the practice of graffiti and seems to only imagine a theoretical graffitist. 
Rather than providing evidence of this connection, he ends his article by saying that we ought to “study the appeals and the language that advertisers use to shape public tastes and desires and to look carefully at the graffiti which criticizes these appeals” (268).  His rationale for this recommendation is rooted in his sense of morality and a hope that graffitists can bring about social change by unveiling immoral usage of rhetorical appeals.  While he seems convinced that graffiti can “save” us (--of course I still believe it will be Rock 'n' Roll, not graffiti…), the strength of his article comes from its ability to draw our attention to how graffiti artists respond to exigencies that other communicators also address.  I believe it leaves contemporary readers in a position to seek out examples to serve as evidence for his claims, and to consider what this might mean for the composition classroom.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Graffiti As a Case Study for a Revised Writing Model

Edbauer, Jennifer H.  “(Meta)Physical Graffiti:  ‘Getting Up’ as Affective Writing Model.”  JAC 25.1 (2005):  131-159.  Print.

Jennifer H. Edbauer expands compositionists’ understanding of writing models through her analysis of graffiti and affect. She attempts to use graffiti writing as a case study to argue that traditional models of rhetoric and composition are lacking.  In particular, she aims at demonstrating how the rhetoricity of texts results from an interplay between signification and affect, despite the fact that affect is often neglected in traditional characterizations of what writing does.  She reveals the role of affect in writing through her analysis of “three familiar topoi—context, style, and signification” (134).   This analysis reveals how the concept of affect is inherently tied to what writing does and how it should not only exist in the theoretical discussions of composition, but also in conversations about praxis.

Edbauer explains how context is often examined by considering the circumstances that brought about a particular instance of writing.  Rhetorical scenes, she explains, are the product of conversations within discourse communities.  However, she maintains that we ought to consider that which “calls” one to write in addition to that which “culls” one to write.  She explains that being “culled” means being “involved in the writing, which allows for the ‘call’ to get heard in the first place” (139).  It refers to the way in which viewing graffiti might captivate a viewer and to the bodily sensation, the affect, that causes a rhetorical scene to “strike” an individual.

In discussing style, Edbauer explains that it addresses “certain rhetorical goals by answering the call to write” (142).  Drawing from Strunk and White she indicates that style is a matter of being distinguished.  For the graffiti artist, accomplishing this task is done in opposition to the suggestions of Strunk and White—through overdoing it.  By “getting up” their work in as many places as possible, they create an “aggregate of sensation” (144).  In this way, the style of graffiti artists is seen as experiential. 

To introduce the idea of signification and affect, Edbauer builds upon one answer to the question “what does writing do?”  Graffiti, she explains, has multiple layers of significations.  However, she explains that graffiti does something beyond signification—it creates a visceral effect outside of its meaning. 

Her treatment of these topoi demonstrate “’other processes’ that are present to the writing scene” (153) that our pedagogies have previously ignored.   She proposes that an affective writing model would serve to purposes—exploring the meaning and the impact of sensation that are brought about through rhetorical scenes. 

This article provides an example of how nontraditional rhetorical scenes can inform the composition classroom and deepen understanding of how composition practices take place.  In an age when new genres are quickly evolving and becoming important to public rhetoric (e.g. Twitter), I believe it is important to understand how we might evolve our praxis through consideration of what we might learn from the “strangeness” of genres we do not often invite to our classrooms.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ePoster Session!

To view the "hands free" version of my ePoster, click here.  (auto-play)

To view the presentation at your own pace click here. (self-paced)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rhetorical Canons in the Age of Hypertext and Beyond!

Bolter, Jay David.  “Hypertext and the Rhetorical Canons.”  John Frederick Reynolds. Rhetorical Memory and Delivery : Classical Concepts for Contemporary Composition and Communication. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Eribaum Associates, 1993. 97-111. Print.

In this piece, Jay David Bolter considers the ways in which our understanding of the rhetorical canons must be adapted to consider hypertext writing.  As he explains, the very nature of hypertext alters the way the canons of rhetoric operate.  For example, while in traditional word processing and oral composition, delivery is always the last stage of development, delivery is central to the composition of hypertext.  Other canons of rhetoric, arrangement in particular, are approached differently as a result of the means in which the text will be delivered.

Bolter’s piece is useful to help readers begin to think about the way in which web-based tools alter the composing process and the rhetorical canons as well.  It helps reiterate the importance of understanding composition as a recursive non-linear process and demonstrates the importance of viewing the process in a less linear fashion.

Of course, it cannot be ignored that the piece has become a bit dated.  Bolter mentions, for example, that embedding video into a web-text is becoming possible at the time of his writing.  Today, the ease and frequency of video usage on the web is overwhelming.  Not only is it becoming increasingly easy to incorporate video into compositions, the creation of video itself has become increasingly easy.

While this text is useful in helping scholars begin to examine the means in which we might consider the role that web-based texts will have upon composition, it only  begins this important conversation.  I believe it would be extremely useful to revisit and update this article considering the widespread advances in technology that have taken place since this piece was first published.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Webtext on Re-Mediating the Canons

Prior, Paul, et al. “Re-situating and Re-mediating the Canons: A Cultural-Historical Remapping of Rhetorical Activity” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy. 11.3 (2007). Web.

In this article, the authors argue that the traditional canons of rhetoric are in need of updating. Rather than proposing ways in which the traditional canons can be re-interpreted as others have (see my prior posts on Reynolds and Porter), these authors propose an altogether new theory.

This new framework emphasizes a full range of rhetorical activities and demonstrates the means in which the classical canons can be seen as limited in their coverage. The authors emphasize that this expanded framework is not necessary only to account for new rhetorical situations brought about by digital media; instead, they maintain that these activities were always in existence, but simply not acknowledged by the cannons addressed by the ancients.

To develop their argument, the authors first identify what concepts are overlooked by traditional canons of rhetoric. First, they problematize the canon of delivery indicating that it might better be reconceived through the use of two terms: "mediation" and "distribution" because these terms would better allow "us to take a broader view of the rhetorical landscape" (8). The authors also point out that the rhetorical canons focus strictly upon the rhetor and not the audience or receiver of the message. Therefore, they explain that "reception" should also be accounted for in a framework for rhetorical activity.

Additionally, the authors explore the means in which socialization plays a significant role in the rhetorical situation; one that has previously been neglected through the traditional canons. They emphasize the need to see "making people," in a Marxist sense of understanding how people are "made in historical conditions, as shaped, though not determined, by social relations," as part of rhetoric (15).

By blending this understanding of the need for mediation, distribution, reception, and socialization with the existing features of the rhetorical canon, the authors propose a new "Map of Literate Activity" that consists of seven categories: production, representation, distribution, reception, socialization, activity, and ecology (20-21). The identification of these seven new categories then link (as it is a web text) to eleven data nodes that "present some of the spaces and paths this new mapping makes more visible and navigable” (25).

This selection opened my eyes to a decidedly different approach to the canons of rhetoric and their purpose. However, I am not yet ready to accept the proposed categories as a replacement for the classical canons. While I appreciate the argument being made, I’m not certain I yet accept one of the authors foremost assumption, which is that while the ancient rhetoricians gave us other rhetorical maps, such as ethos, pathos, and logos, the canons are unique as the only one to address rhetorical activity rather than types of discourse (2). I believe these additional rhetorical devices also contribute to the mapping of rhetorical activity because they chart rhetorical “moves”. For example, ethos, pathos, and logos are quite tied to reception in that they inspire rhetorical moves that addresses the audience’s needs.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Openings for New Media

Wysocki, Anne Frances. “Opening New Media to Writing:  Openings and Justifications.”   Writing New Media : Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition. Anne Frances Wysocki et al. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2004. 2%-17%.  Kindle Edition.
In this piece, Anne Frances Wysocki provides a framework for how individuals in the field of Rhetoric and Composition might understand the place of new media in contemporary classroom.  She develops this framework by outlining the ways in which “what we know about writing can usefully affect how we approach new media” (4%).  Through this framework, Wysocki is able to meet skeptics of new media where they are.  She is able to draw on beliefs they already hold about writing instruction to provide the foundation for argument for how new media might be treated in the classroom. 
Her foundation and argument are presented through five “openings” wherein writing and new media meet.  Opening 1 argues for the need to use what we know about writing already to inform our way of thinking about new media.  In particular, she argues that writing teachers already examine texts and the means in which people use texts.  This knowledge should be married with what we know about new media to approach the these texts most effectively.  Second, she argues that we should consider the role the materiality of the text plays in our meaning making, both for writing and new media.  

Next, she outlines the need to define new media in terms of its materiality and to understand that new media does not only refer to digital text, but texts made out of anything.  As a forth opening, she outlines the value in having composition students create new media texts as a means for helping them understand the role of materiality in composition.  Lastly, she acknowledges the need for “generous reading;” this receptive form of reading is encouraged to account for the fact that if we are to be open to these first four notions, we must be prepared to read the resulting texts without casting premature judgement based upon their non-traditional form.
In addition to this theoretical framework, however, Wysocki also gives suggestions for praxis.  Rather than leaving her reader to imagine how these ideas might be brought into the classroom, she gives specific examples to help get the reader started.  These examples include in-class activities, suggested discussion topics, paper assignments and homework activities.  
These activities are well suited for the new teacher just beginning to learn to produce lesson plans and prepare classroom materials to meet specific outcomes because they are specific and include clear goals for each activity.  However, these activities are also valuable for the seasoned practitioner who might be interested in the value new media might bring to his or her classroom, but also unsure of where to begin.  Rather than having to begin with experimental activities, the seasoned practitioner might first attempt integrating new media concepts using activities developed and vetted by experts in the field.  

Pedagogical Tool Review: Waypoint Outcomes

Waypoint Outcomes is web-based interactive rubric software designed to make assessment easier.  The product’s website boasts that “Waypoint Outcomes builds software that streamlines the interactions between learners and teachers. The results can mean a dramatically improved dialog about outcomes and rich data on student learning.”

Figure 1 (Click to Enlarge)
With Waypoint, faculty can generate feedback for each student using a customizable rubric.  The end result is a detailed memo for each student that explains the level of achievement in each area specified by the rubric (see Figure 1).  The feedback can be delivered through the course management system used by the professor’s institution, via email, or simply printed and distributed.

I have elected to take part in their Fellowship program, which has allowed me access to the software for free for one year. They have three additional license levels, as described in Figure 2.

Figure 2 (Click to Enlarge)
One very useful quality about Waypoint is the support that is provided for users as they begin to use the software.  As part of the fellowship program, I was promised four hours of web-based support and training, my own rubric built into the software by a professional at Waypoint and access to the course management system building block.  In addition, built into the software is an extensive support page that includes a quick start guide, video tutorials, best practices, and FAQs.  The client services representatives at the company are also both available and eager to help.

Working within the software and viewing the tutorials, however, I began to see clear strengths and weaknesses.  Although Waypoint makes an appealing promise, the software is not infallible.

One strength of the software is that the rubric can be used easily and customized.  To grade a student’s paper, the teacher can quickly go through the rubric (see Figure 3 for an example) and select the radio button that corresponds to the student’s achievement in each category.  Each radio button will automatically add a “boilerplate” comment to the student’s memo outlining their grade achievement.

Figure 3 (Click to Enlarge)
If the prewritten feedback doesn’t suite the student’s paper perfectly, the assessor can select the “edit” button below that category and completely customize the feedback the student will receive, making it personal and tailored specifically to the student’s writing.  This flexibility in the rubric helps anticipate what every faculty member dreads:  those moments wherein the rubric doesn’t fully capture the complexity of an issue one might see in student writing.

 One trouble with this set up, however, is that my current rubric (Figure 4) does not transfer easily to the Waypoint format.  My rubric does not assume all papers begin as an A; instead it starts with all papers being assumed to be a C until proven otherwise.  I take this approach because, as Glenn and Goldthwaite explain assuming all papers begin as an "A" requires that assessment focus only upon seeing "what is wrong is wrong with essays" (115).

Figure 4 (Click to Enlarge)
The rubrics that seems most conducive to the structure of Waypoint's rubric are those where students begin with full points and points are removed until the grade is reached.  As a result, when I tried to develop a Waypoint rubric to represent my personal rubric, I struggled.  Luckily for me, however, as part of opportunity of the Fellowship program I am able to have the staff at Waypoint design a Waypoint version of my rubric, which I have just recently requested.  However, I am not sure what such a rubric will look like in their system.

Even so:  where’s the student’s actual paper throughout all of this, you might ask.  What about in-text annotations?  The current Waypoint Outcomes software adds very little to this process of in-text annotation.  At the bottom of the rubric, they have an “Attach” button wherein the faculty member can attach a document with in-text comments.

The professor has two options:  he or she can use a word processor like Microsoft Word to add comments that stand out (i.e. with visual markers like highlighting) and then copy and paste the marked document into the Waypoint Outcomes and attach it.  Or, the grader can use a Waypoint tool that operates much in the way the comments feature in Word.

Unfortunately, the process and time needed to add in-text comments is essentially the same as it is without the software--but in this case the faculty member has to additionally copy and paste the document into a new system. One of my chief complaints about grading is the time it takes me to add in-text comments.  I would most value a tool that would help me in this area.  An upcoming version of Waypoint Outcomes is rumored to have a more robust in-text editing component, which might help in this matter.  I look forward to reviewing the tool’s effectiveness again at that point.

Another advantage of this software, however, might be its ability to let one rubric be shared across numerous users within one institution.  As Glenn and Goldthwaite explain, often grading standards are established by "a serious attempt to reduce grade inflation and standarize grades within the composition program" (114).  If everyone were using the same rubric as the means through which grades were determined it might help ensure grade standards were more uniform.  However, it could be argued that the same norming could be achieved through a common printed rubric.

Perhaps the tool’s greatest strength, however, is not in the day-to-day ease of grading.  Instead, it is in the ability to collect data about student outcomes.  In the premium versions of Waypoints data can be collected on the achievement of students in specific areas or outcomes.  Pedagogical interventions might then be planned for the areas with the lowest achievement scores.  Likewise, administrators within the department would be able to examine the greatest areas of need within the department as a whole.  Workshops and professional development opportunities might then be planned to help generate discussion and strategies for increasing achievement in those areas where the greatest weakness are identified.

Works Cited

Glenn, Cheryl, and Melissa A. Goldthwaite. The St. Martin's Guide to Teaching Writing. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. Print.

Waypoint Outcomes. nd. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Role of Delivery in the Digital Age

Porter, James E.  “Recovering Delivery for Digital Rhetoric.”  Computers and Composition 29 (2009):  207-224.  Print.
This article by James E. Porter takes on the same argument and purpose posed in Reynold’s “Memory Issues in Composition Studies,” but for a different neglected rhetorical canon:  the canon of delivery.  Similar to Reynolds, Porter argues that delivery is relevant to the contemporary classroom.  To present his argument, he first traces the history of rhetorical delivery, then he proposes five areas wherein delivery is of relevance in the digital age.  
Naturally, Porter begins his history of rhetorical delivery with a look at classical Greek and Roman rhetoric, wherein delivery was characterized primarily as an emphasis upon the role of the voice, body and emotional impact of a speaker.  Porter demonstrates how concerns of delivery were equated largely with these issues of decorum throughout these classical times until a shift in treatment was seen in the 15th century, along with the invention of the printing press. 
The printing press itself, he argues through the lens of Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, created a new form of delivery.  Regardless of this new, non-oral form of delivery, scholars continued to refer to delivery as a physical concern (with emphasis on voice and body), and, for reasons he doesn’t elaborate upon, discussions began to overlook the role delivery played in addressing the emotional needs of an audience.  This truncated view of delivery as physical characteristics was then seen as irrelevant to printed discourse.    
To combat this truncated view, Porter turns his discussion to an argument for  how this canon can be seen as important to contemporary rhetorical study and how the digital age, in particular, makes this allowance. His framework is composed of five components which he names “Body/Identity,” “Distribution/Circulation,” “Access/Accessibility,” “Interaction,” and “Economics” (208).  Body/Identity refers to a concerns over the representations of one’s self in an online environment; for example, how one's gestures, might be represented through online correspondence.  Distribution/Circulation addresses technical aspects of delivery related to publishing and distributing texts.  Access/Accessibility raises questions of how a population might be able to connect to web-based information, while Interaction refers to the engagement between people and information in the digital space.  Lastly, Economics accounted for a concern over issues of information policy, such as fair use, copyright and the like.  
As the structure of Porter’s text mirrors that of Reynolds, the uses and limits of the text are quite similar.  Once again this text serves as a solid overview of the history of the usage of this canon of rhetoric and provides a strong framework for understanding the role of this canon in the digital age.  However, one additional asset to Porter’s discussion is his treatment of the real stakes of neglecting an important rhetorical cannon.  While Reynolds argued for it’s importance by outlining areas wherein room could be made memory, Porter outlines the means in which a weakened emphasis on one or more cannons of rhetoric can put specific populations at a disadvantage.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Remember Memory.

Reynolds, John Frederick. “Memory Issues in Composition Studies.” Ed. John Frederick Reynolds. Rhetorical Memory and Delivery : Classical Concepts for Contemporary Composition and Communication. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Eribaum Associates, 1993. 1-15. Print.

In this chapter, John Frederick Reynolds makes a case for the place of memory in Composition Studies. He argues that the fourth canon of rhetoric has been neglected unjustly by the field, noting its absence or flimsy treatment in almost all textbooks in the discipline.

Drawing from Thonssen et al, Reynolds explains that the rhetorical canons “constitute ‘the basic pattern of all theoretical and critical investigations into rhetorical art and practice’” (1). He explains that while their collective relevance remains constant, over time the perceived importance of individual canons fluctuates. As a result of these shifting values between the different canons, textbooks produced for the field often neglect or only briefly cover those canons not perceived as most important.

Memory and delivery, in particular, are often glossed over. Memory historically received the least attention, despite being what Carruthers described as “the noblest of the canons” (qtd in Reynolds 3). Reynolds attributes this neglect to a misunderstanding that memory concerns only the “‘memorizing of speech’” (4).

Understanding memory as a mere tool for memorizing speech is reductive and unimaginative. As society has shifted from an oral one to one that is literate, a shift in memory’s interpretation is also needed. The four “interpretive options” for memory, as described by Reynolds are “memory as mnemonics, memory as memorableness, memory as databases, and memory as psychology” (7).

Memory as mnemonics refers to the manner in which textual cues (such as color, headings, and even topic sentences) can be used as memory devices to aid reading. Drawing on the role of narrative writing and memorable language in effective writing, Reynolds describes memory as memorableness as the importance of creating texts that resonate with readers and are, therefore, more likely to recalled by readers. Memory as databases refers to the type of memory that would retain knowledge about style guides and formatting, for example. It might also address knowledge of how to recall information from library databases and the like. Lastly, memory as psychology refers to the connection, observed by many scholars, including Plato, of memory to the idea of "psychological consciousness" (12). These interpretations start to demonstrate how memory can be rendered an effective and even vital canon to consider.

Renyold's piece serves as a detailed historical overview of the role of memory in the field. It provides a abundant “database” of resources for developing one’s understanding of memory’s history and potential. In some ways this overview might seem rather shallow because most concepts are not dealt with in great depth. If someone were looking for a more exhaustive overview of memory, he or she might look instead to Carruthers’s The Book of Memory; however, for someone looking for a place to start building a reading list on the topic, this piece provides a rich starting place.