2. TRENDS IN WRITING STUDIES SCHOLARSHIP:
THE THEORY INFORMING OUR APPROACH
“A full theory of writing constructs writing as situated and
mediated activity distributed across temporal, cognitive, social,
and material environments…The future of research on writing
needs to begin with a recognition that writing entails activities as
well as artifacts and that both activities and artifacts are
irredeemably embedded in full semiotic ecologies.”
(Prior & Thorne, 2013)
3. IMPLICATIONS FOR STUDENT WRITERS
• Students should see themselves as already writers—they
should see themselves as literate people who use writing in
their daily lives in a variety of “ecologies.”
• Students should view writing as more than composing an
essay for their college writing course—they should see writing
as a way to make things happen in the world.
4. PUTTING THE APPROACH INTO PRACTICE WITH
ENGLISH 1010 STUDENTS
explores how and why language matters in a variety of
emphasizes that writing is about more than an academic
gives students the opportunity to think on a meta level about
themselves as literate people.
5. MY LITERATE LIFE: A SELF-STUDY OF LITERATE
This assignment asks students to:
• Look closely at how they use/have used a variety of literacies in
order to communicate, think, and act.
• Examine those practices in any number of ways (to be determined
by student) using auto-ethnographic research methods.
• Compose reports of their self-studies that present several critical
insights about what they found.
6. EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH METHODS
Culture-gram: to visualize social selves, literate activities, audiences, and
Self-observation: to examine and reflect on the processes of participating in
Context analysis: to examine textual artifacts and their contextual influences
Audience interview: to gain new insights about textual practices and
participation in literate activities through multiple perspectives
7. STUDENT CONCLUSIONS
“When I post something [on my social media personal sites], depending on if it
gets ignored, passed around, commented on—that influences what I post about
next, and so on. Depending on the feedback, I started talking more about some
things and less about others, until I found out my passion coincided with the
acceptance people showed and the image they had been building about myself:
According to this, it seems to be an invisible network as well: the more I post
about myself, the more feedback I get; the more feedback I get, the more it
shapes what I post...and, ultimately, who I am, referring this to the initial “I am
what I post.”
Finally, we all could think none of this is new, because consciously or not we’re
all constantly shaping who we are and evolving ourselves based on feedback,
even if we recognize it or refuse to do it. Despite that, I conclude my [literate]
practices have made this idea more imperative; it has made me more conscious
of it, it has given me more fuel for it, and it has, somehow, put me in greater
control of it. It was really interesting and even challenging putting what I daily do
more in perspective, to slow it down and analyze how I end up being what I do
and how what I do shows what I am.”
8. STUDENT CONCLUSIONS CONTINUED
“My self study challenged me to question the occasion that brought my text into
existence. Why am I passionate about sharing delicious recipes with my family and
close friends? For what reasons am I sharing my healthy cooking recipes on social
media? What am I trying to convey when sharing my healthy cooking recipes on
social media? What messages am I trying to convey when sharing Facebook posts
involving the corruption of today’s food system?
I concluded that these literate mechanisms are a constant reminder to myself and
those around me that eating healthy makes a difference in your health, community,
and planet as a whole. Furthermore, eating healthy accelerates my drive to do well
in my passion and striving degree, which is Environmental Sustainability Studies.
By sharing these recipes, pictures, and posts, I am reminding myself daily that I am
pursuing my passion to spread awareness, as well as better the human population
and their relationship with the environment and their bodies. The purpose is to shed
light on issues that should be of an importance to every community in the United
By being a literate human being, I have the ability to help others become aware of
these detrimental issues that go by unnoticed in today’s society. The purpose in
these posts solely relies on the audiences’ reaction and willingness to accept and
change their habits to better themselves and the planet they inhabit.”
9. STUDENT CONCLUSIONS CONTINUED
“The Dungeons and Dragons game is a literate practice, but when analyzed,
reveals that it is a combination of a number of other literate practices.
Storytelling, role-playing, writing, and game design combine to create a
wonderful experience for the players and for the Dungeon Master (DM). It is a
literate practice for the DM and for the players, as everyone role-plays and
tells the story in their own way, whether they are the one making the
decisions or if they are the one simulating the consequences, and whether
they are playing as a hero or a villain. D&D is a literate practice that brings
people together to create a unique story, and the literate life of the Dungeon
Master is certainly a good one.”
Hinweis der Redaktion
I’m Justin Jory english faculty at SLCC and this is Marlena Stanford who is also english faculty at SLCC. The title of our presentation today is . . .
Today, we will present and discuss an academic unit that we’ve designed in our first-year writing curriculum. Before we talk about the unit, Marlena is going to lead us through an activity that we do in our classroom with students to kick off this academic unit. This will take about 15 minutes.
Abstract: Much scholarship in writing studies has pointed to the ways writing is situated in and connected to the many literacies we use in our daily lives. Understanding the multiple writing connections humans make and encounter every day is especially valuable in encouraging student writers who may not identify as “good” writers, or as writers at all. But how do we facilitate students’ understanding of writing as an activity connected to the everyday literacies they participate in? In this session, we make a case for challenging student expectations about what writing entails. We will overview an engaging instructional unit in which students used auto-ethnographic research to study their literate activities and will share 1-2 class activities with the audience.
Before we talk about the academic unit we’ll share today, we want to contextualize it in the writing studies scholarship that informed its design and in the first-year curriculum/class it appear within.
We’ve noticed a trend in recent writing studies scholarship in the last 5 years or so. Paul Prior and Stephen Thorne wrote a really great article that captures the essence of this trend we see across several areas of scholarship … [READ].
We see a clear call to expand our focus in writing studies beyond singular texts and even beyond texts more generally. There is a call to Behaviors and cognitive and social processes along with the texts. Examining texts in context of behaviors and choices and personal and social processes. Recent scholarship in writing studies shows an interest in understanding writing in the ecologies of production, distribution and circulation. Instead of looking at writing aside from its context, or looking at composing as a linear process, scholars of writing have been concerned with studying literate activity, mediation, and how texts are embedded in complex ecologies.
WE ASKED, HOW DOES WRITING CONCEPTUALIZED IN THIS WAY WORK IN THE WRITING CLASSROOM?
Students should see themselves as already writers—they should see themselves as literate people who use writing on a daily basis in a variety of writing “ecologies.”—THIS IMPLICATION REITERATES THAT WRITING COMES FROM A LOT OF PLACES. IT CAN COME FROM SOCIAL MEDIA AS MUCH AS IT CAN COME FROM POETRY, AND WE WANT STUDENTS TO GET THIS BROAD UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT WRITING IS. ALSO, WE HOPE THAT STUDENTS WILL BE ABLE TO CONSIDER HOW WRITING WORKS IN COMPLICATED ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS. IF I PRODUCE A TEXT, IT SHAPES WHAT GOES ON IN THE SYSTEM, AND THE RESPONSES OF OTHERS WHO ENGAGE WITH THE TEXT ALSO SHAPE IT, AND SO ON. TEXTS WORK IN SYSTEMS OF ACTIVITIES TO SHAPE US, OUR COMMUNICATION PRACTICES, AND OUR COMMUNITIES.
Students should see writing as more than composing an essay for their college writing course—they should see writing as literate activity.
STUDENTS’ THINKING ABOUT WHAT CONSTITUTES WRITING IS OFTEN LIMITED. WE HOPE STUDENTS AT ALL LEVELS WILL IMAGINE WRITING TO BE MORE THAN A 5 PARAGRAPH ESSAY, OR EVEN ANY SINGULAR PRODUCTION OF A TEXT. WRITING IS A BIG PART OF HUMAN INTERACTION AND A POWERFU TOOL FOR MEDIATING HUMAN ACTIVITIES. WE THINK AN IMPLICATION OF THE RESEARCH JUSTIN JUST DISCUSSED IS THAT STUDENTS SHOULD SEE A BIGGER PICTURE OF WHAT WRITING IS, AND AS AN ACTIVITY THAT ISN’T NECESSARILY A LINEAR PROCESS—IT IS AN ACTIVITY THAT THEY CONTINUALLY AND RECURSIVELY ENGAGE IN.
IN ORDER TO COME TO PERCEIVE WRITING AS A WAY TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN, AND IN ORDER GET STUDENTS TO SEE THEMSELVES AS WRITERS IN A VARIETY OF CONTEXTS IN THEIR DAILY LIVES, STUDENTS NEED NEW WAYS TO THINK ABOUT THEMSELVES AS LITERATE PEOPLE. SO JUSTIN AND I SET OUT TO CREATE AN EXPERIENCE FOR STUDENTS THAT WOULD WORK TOWARD THESE GOALS.
From Bazerman and Russell: Activity Theory is a set of related approaches that view human phenomena as dynamic, in action. Human-produced artifacts, such as utterances or texts, or shovels or symphonies, are not to be understood as objects in themselves, but within the activities that give rise and use to them. Their meanings are found in these dynamics of human interaction. Things human exist in an evanescent world held up by focused consciousness and attention and activity. The objects created and used in action then are studied as mediating artifacts rather than things in themselves, having rules of objects. The principles by which they are formed and maintained and changed are those of activity. Texts—alphanumeric marks on surfaces—are one material tool or technology among many. But texts powerfully and pervasively mediate and re-mediate human activities.
The assignment we’ll introduce in a moment appears in one academic unit (of three) in an introduction to writing course focusing on the idea that “language matters”; this is, in fact, the title of the sections we teach and students grapple with what it means throughout the semester.
When we got together to conceptualize what a course would look like that attends to these theories of writing, we decided we could do this work best by having students engage with signature assignment activities that encourage them to think meta-cognitively about their textual practices and about their language use, as well as taking a critical look at how others do so. This is the major work of the course, the major focus. Our course puts the key knowledge domains of literacy and rhetoric at the center of the curriculum and draws connections between these domains. So, for instance, rhetorical terminology like occasion, exigency, kairos, audience, purpose and appeals provides a common vocabulary to think about and discuss literate practices (such as reading and writing) as well as the activities these practices sustain. Rhetoric is about the ways we move as communicators/literacy is about being a participant already in effective forms of communication, effective systems of communication with others.
I want to give you one example to bring some of these concepts down to the ground so to speak. Some of our students were interested in examining their textual practices related to athleticism and performance and routines; so they were led to look at and think about texts like fitness logs, written and verbal interactions with coaches and workout partners, facebook posts that detail their completed workouts and running routes, daily food logs, the use of inspirational quotations that appeared in all kinds of places (e.g., computer screens, car dashboards, lockers, etc.). Rhetorical terminology provided a way to examine these texts and practices systematically.
This assignment asks students to:
Look closely at how they use/have used a variety of literacies in order to communicate, think, and act with others.
Examine those practices in any number of ways (to be determined by student) using auto-ethnographic research methods.
Compose reports of their self-studies that present several critical insights about their data.