Write – Be Published

Queen City Writers: A Journal of Undergraduate Writing and Composing is a new reviewed journal specifically for undergraduate writers.

We seek thought-provoking pieces from any disciplinary perspective that explore questions and problems related to writing, rhetoric, reading, literacy broadly conceived, popular culture and media, community discourses, and multimodal and digital composing.

This is another great place for you to get published.

Right off the bat, I can imagine some of us submitting one of our papers from the class for possible publication in their “Storming the Gate” category specifically intended for first year writers.

Interested? Talk with me. Let’s get your work out there.

High School vs. College Writing – Check it out!

The University of Chicago’s Writing Program has a very nice web resource on Writing in College  that helps students start to understand the ways that writing expectations in college are different from those in high school. I highly recommend giving it a read, particularly part 1 on “some crucial differences.”

In brief, part 1 offers students some guidance on the following issues:

  • Argument. A Key Feature of College Writing
  • Interpreting Assignments
  • What’s Your Point?
  • Finding/Building a Good Point

In our class, I do want you to make arguments, to support them with evidence from the texts, and to build good points by bringing texts together in interesting, productive ways. Even our blogs should have our viewpoint.  Stand up, speak out!

Most of us have done a little writing in college at this point, and we’ll be doing more.  I’m interested in your thoughts on Williams and McEnerney’s guide.


Debate – Blogging in College Writing?

Across the country, blog writing has become a basic requirement in everything from M.B.A. to literature courses. On its face, who could disagree with the transformation? Why not replace a staid writing exercise with a medium that gives the writer the immediacy of an audience, a feeling of relevancy, instant feedback from classmates or readers, and a practical connection to contemporary communications? (Matt Richtel)

On Friday, January 20, 2012, Matt Richtel wrote in The New York Times about the “debate” between assigning blogs and assigning academic papers in college classes.

In the article “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” he captures a few schools of thought on the value of the blog in a college classroom.

One school sees the blog as a way to get the sort of thinking and reflection professors often want from students without burdening students with the relatively odd format of the academic/research paper.

The other school of thought views the blog with suspicion.  For this group, blogging is a kind of giving in to what they see as the less rigorous, the personal and expressive, and the casual off-the-cuff commentary we often find in chat rooms, Facebook posts, or even text messages.

Our course makes a nod in the direction of both schools of thought here.  We’re doing the “academic” writing stuff in class BECAUSE I know you’ll need to be able to handle that kind of intellectual and stylistic work in other courses throughout college.  But we’re also doing the “blog thing,” though not in quite the same way captured by the article.

Richtel’s piece, it seems to me, largely misses the key idea that 21st century writers need to be able to work in multiple genres and formats.  Frankly, the quotes he features in his article set up the blog as a digital writing “log” or “journal,” a 21st century equivalent of the homework questions professors have long required of students.  We do THAT work on the course website in a blog platform.

But if that’s our idea of the “blog,” we’re missing a big piece of the blog genre. For this reason, you actually take up YOUR OWN blogs in this course. You choose a topic for your blog and your purpose. You’ll be thinking about your audience, and working to be part of the blogosphere that goes far beyond OUR class.

If I had to “align” our approach with one expressed by a professor in Richtel’s article, I would say that we’re doing something akin to what Andrea Lunsford articulates in the piece.

Check out the article. Weigh in with a comment.

Whipping Freshman Writing?

I have my own tips for getting through English Composition.  They’re built right into the syllabus as requirements, and I’ll sprinkle them throughout the course as we work together. But maybe I’m just another crazy professor.

Everyone takes U.S. News so seriously when it comes to college rankings (Best Colleges in …), making it seem appropriate to share some tips on how to “whip” freshman composition that come right from U.S. News. So, here we go.

10 Ways to Whip the Freshman Composition Requirement (Jeremy Hyman and Lynne Jacobs) details the following 10 tips.  Check out the article for the details. (I’ve added commentary in parentheses.)

  1. Go to class. (Yup. I require it.)
  2. Do all the work assigned. (Yup. I require it. Miss 2 homeworks and start to feel the pain where it counts – in the grade.)
  3. Talk to your teacher. (Please, please talk to me if/when you have concerns or issues.)
  4. Finish your drafts early. (Great advice. The “first” draft due for me is not a “rough” draft. It is a finished draft into which you’ve invested some real time and effort.)
  5. Be sure to understand the assignment. (This is sometimes harder to do than it seems, but it’s good advice.)
  6. Offer up a good thesis. (Yup. But don’t just “start” with a thesis that you prove or you’ll risk taking a simplistic route.  Complexity is also a key factor.)
  7. Be sure to prove what you’ve claimed. (We’ll talk about evidence, support, and textual engagement as we discuss “proving” claims.)
  8. Go beyond your conclusion. (Yup. This isn’t high school and the 5-paragraph essay. Don’t just say what you’ll say, say it, and remind us that you said it. Think about the implications of your ideas.)
  9. Imaginatively use campus resources. (Consider the LAC. Talk with me and I’ll work with you to help you get the support you need.)
  10. Present good-looking work. (I call this “Presentation” because it is how you present yourself. You don’t go out to dinner in your PJs. Why would you hand in a formal paper that looks like it belongs in a “drafts” folder?)

By the way, why is it that so many people writing on the web seem to need to work with 10?  Is it the 1s and 0s in the binary system? Some strange conflation of writing and the metric system?

Need proof that we do not live in a world based on 10s? In the article, Hyman and Jacobs have a need to add 5 bonus tips and three five-star pointers, practically screaming that the web is “making” them work in tens. I think that makes for 17 tips. Thoughts?