WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image

Concluding thoughts

“One purpose of a liberal arts education is to make your head a more interesting place to live inside of for the rest of your life.” —Mary Patterson McPherson, President, Bryn Mawr College

“I thought that the future was a placelike Paris or the Arctic Circle. The supposition proved to be mistaken. The future turns out to be something that you make instead of find. It isn’t waiting for your arrival, either with an arrest warrant or a band; it doesn’t care how you come dressed or demand to see a ticket of admission. It’s no further away than the next sentence, the next best guess, the next sketch for the painting of a life’s portrait that may or may not become a masterpiece. The future is an empty canvas or a blank sheet of paper, and if you have the courage of your own thought and your own observation, you can make of it what you will.” —Lewis Lapham 

“It ain’t where ya from, it’s where ya at!” —KRS-ONE, Ruminations

May 31, 2012

Memorial Day

“The night before the burial of her husband’s body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the coffin, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her.”

From “As Memorial Day Nears, a Single Image That Continues to Haunt”:

In the run-up to every Memorial Day weekend, for the past several years, a certain photo takes top spot in those most circulated among my fellow military and veteran wives. On blogs, on social media sites, it is shared and “liked” over and over. Taken by the photographer Todd Heisler, from his 2005 award-winning series for the Rocky Mountain News, “Jim Comes Home,” which documents the return and burial of Marine Second Lt. Jim Cathey, who lost his life in Iraq, the photo shows his pregnant widow Katherine lying on an air mattress in front of his coffin. She’s staring at her laptop, listening to songs that remind her of Jim. Her expression is vacant, her grief almost palpable.

Also see Memorial Day in Times Topics.

May 26, 2012

Potential portfolio topics

From our class notes today — possible topics for your course portfolio:

“A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself” 
– Arthur Miller, 1961

 Contextual analysis: the ability to contextualize: review checklist; being your own research filter for knowledge and for information — discuss the wide, carefully selected sources in your project, how you assessed their credibility, and thoughtfully integrated a judicious selection from books, scholarly sources,  trade publications, and internet sites. Show how your range of sources fairly represents the stakeholders in your contextual-analysis map. Think about the contextual-analysis method as a meaning-making activity — what does this mean? How does it mean that? — and how your analysis brings something new to the table.

 Writing process: topics, drafts (3), revising, editing, proofreading, peer reviews

  • Rhetorical précis
  • OED
  • No BS: believing in what you write; caring what you write about; taking risks and allowing for perplexity; no BS-ing the teacher
  • Conventions: academic, professional, creative, community
  • Ideology: see esp, sense #4: “A systematic scheme of ideas …”
  • * Editorial peer reviews: your thoughtful uses of St. Martin’s 4b: Reviewing peer writers
  • Op-Eds: both reading & writing
  • Letters to the Editor: both reading & writing
  • “Page One”: the NYT documentary
  • One-on-one conferences
  • Editing: visual and logistical coherence
  • Digication: print & digital literacies
  • Mid-term reflection
  • Purpose of college: what is college for?
  • Daily reading of the NYT; making personal and professional connections
  • Professional development
  • Obama’s Barnard Commencement speech
  • Bill O’Connell’s visit
  • Three sides to every story
  • Critical thinking & Epictetus: “neither desire nor aversion”
  • Class discussions — making meaning together
  • Vitamin water
  • Memes
  • Problem-solving
May 24, 2012

Thanks, Katarzyna (11:20 section) for finding this and sending it along:

“The Most Comma Mistakes” — NYT

May 23, 2012

Toward Perfection

May 21, 2012

Maybe that word doesn’t mean what you think it means

Followup to our discussion on “marriage” and the OED:

“On May 26, Justice Stephen G. Breyer made a similar point in criticizing Chief Justice Roberts for turning to a dictionary in a case about tough penalties for businesses that hire illegal workers. ‘Neither dictionary definitions nor the use of the word ‘license’ in an unrelated statute,’ Justice Breyer wrote, ‘can demonstrate what scope Congress intended the word ‘licensing’ to have as it used that word in this federal statute’.”

“That same day in another case, Justice Breyer cited the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary to help determine what Congress had intended when it used the word ‘prevent’ in a federal statute. (An article in Brigham Young University Law Review last year speculated that Justice Breyer, who attended Oxford, may turn to the O.E.D. ‘out of nostalgia for his alma mater.’) 
Justices Turning More Frequently to Dictionary, and Not Just for Big Words (NYT, June 13, 2011)

And from Slate:

image title“Opponents of gay marriage generally have relied on two authorities, the Bible and the dictionary—the divine word and the defined word. A 2006 friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of anti-gay-marriage organizations in a Maryland marriage case cited no fewer than seven dictionaries to make its point. And when the Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay marriage last week, it ignored the state’s plea to abide by a dictionary definition that limited marriage to “‘the legal union of a man and a woman’.”

“But in their latest editions, the dictionaries have begun to switch sides—though until recently, no one seemed to have much noticed. The American Heritage DictionaryBlack’s Law Dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary  and Webster’s have all added same-sex unions to their definitions of marriage.”

May 17, 2012

Putting NATO events into context for discussion

Have other resources to add here? Please send them to me.
May 15, 2012

Do Birds Have Emotions?: A Contextual Analysis

“Like some of his predecessors, Darwin considered the vocalizations of birds an expression of their emotions.”

Here’s another good contextual analysis based on an inquiry question — “Do Birds Have Emotions?” 

“Emotions, feelings, awareness, sentience, and consciousness are all difficult concepts. They are tricky to define in ourselves, so is it any wonder they are difficult in birds and other nonhuman animals? Consciousness is one of the big remaining questions in science, making it both an exciting and a highly contentious area of research.”

You can see the writer’s contextual-analysis map:

“Biologists, psychologists, and philosophers have argued over these issues for years, so I cannot hope to resolve them. Instead, I have adopted Darwin’s approach—thinking about what might be going on in a bird’s head and imagining a continuum, with displeasure and pain at one end and pleasure and rewards at the other.”

May 13, 2012

Data & comments visualization

Here is the real-time comments and data visualization that we discussed today — it’s still active, and you can add your own:

Note the ability to filter results by demographic.

May 10, 2012

Obama and the OED on same-sex marriage

Anticipating that we might talk about President Obama’s interview on same-sex marriage, how it’s covered in the New York Times, and reading how people invoke what marriage “means,” I did what you do when you encounter a word whose meaning seems less than stable: I looked it up in the OED

First: wow, that is a lot of Middle English forms. But then also notice the additionial note in a smaller font under sense #1: “The term is now sometimes used with reference to long-term relationships between partners of the same sex.”

Finally, if you are interested in the visual display of quantitative information — and who isn’t? — click here.

Another good example of a contextual-analysis essay

Framed around inquiry — or possibly, rhetorical — questions:
Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?
Big Changes in Black America?

Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now
Note how the writer weaves sources and examples throughout: quoting, delivering statistics, wrestling with contradictions, integrating a range of voices, all in the service of a single line of inquiry.

May 7, 2012

This would make a great final exam

“A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.”
Arthur Miller, 1961


May 4, 2012

OED example: kritikos, critic, critical, criticism

We can talk about this good etymological example in class:

And note how at the bottom of entries, the OED provides you with a citation:

critic, adj.
Second edition, 1989; online version March 2012.
< http://www.oed.com.ezproxy1.lib.depaul.edu/view/Entry/44589 >; accessed 04 May 2012. 

Chloé Poizat and the NYT

If you have not yet had the opportunity to view the short video Op-Ed at 40: A Brief History of the Art, the illustration image titleby Chloé Poizat that accompanies today’s Op-Ed, “Homophobic? Maybe You’re Gay” is a remarkable example.

Not only is the article fascinating and provocative, but the accompanying illustration does the work that a sophisticated text-and-image integration is supposed to do, does it not?

And we get to learn about an amazing new artist.

April 30, 2012

Examples of Contextual Analyses: Politics, Literature, Culture, and Law

Note how each of these projects uses contextual analysis as a method — as a lens:

  • Sample: The Contextual Effects of Race on White Voter Behavior: The 1989 New York City Mayoral Election
  • Sample: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time” (Op-Ed) and Letter
  • Sample: Evaluating the Framing of Islam and Muslims Pre- and Post-9/11: A Contextual Analysis of Articles Published by the New York Times
  • Sample: Who Survives on Death Row?: An Individual and Contextual Analysis (PDF)
And the best one-sentence example comes from this NYT article on public confusion surrounding the rhetoric and the science of climate change (“Climate Experts Tussle Over Details. Public Gets Whiplash”) NYT, July 29, 2008:

April 27, 2012

WP and National Gallery

Washington Post: “National Gallery’s ‘I Spy’ examines the assumed reality of candid photography”

“Much of the social despair, isolation and pathology once seen as particularly urban has gravitated out of the cities, to the lands where people bowl alone and cook meth in beat-up trailers.”

“But perhaps to some extent, they are collectively registering the annoyance of being women in a world of the male gaze. They don’t respond directly to Callahan’s camera, but they wear the protective mask of women who are used to being stared at, registering existential annoyance at a world in which men play games like the one Callahan is playing.”

National Gallery

Admitting that he was “a penitent spy and an apologetic voyeur,” Evans believed that one should “stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something.

In this “grim, abusive, violent, and often beautiful reality of the subway,” he wrote, “we confront our  mortality, contemplate our destiny, and experience both the  beauty and the beast….Trapped inside” the moving train, “we all hang on together.”


April 24, 2012

Professional research and plagiarism

Since we’re working on our contextual analyses and research this week, I thought you might be interested in this article from the Washington Post, which raises interesting questions about both academic and non-academic research and writing:

“Flock says that in haste she read about 10 stories about Mars life, including some of the research papers, and forgot to credit and link to the originator of the story, Discovery News. It appears that she copied, pasted and slightly rewrote two paragraphs from the Discovery story. Plagiarism perhaps, but also a perpetual danger in aggregated stories.

“After Discovery News raised objections, Flock resigned voluntarily. She said that the mistakes were hers. She said it was only a matter of time before she made a third one; the pressures were just too great.”

April 22, 2012

Mark Twain

 “Thoughts after reading this morning’s newspapers: If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.” ― Mark Twain

April 20, 2012

If you’re thinking of doing your Contextual Analysis on “Hunger Games”

… you should probably have a look at this:

“I was pumped about the Hunger Games. Until I learned that a black girl was playing Rue,” wrote @JohnnyKnoxIV.

White Until Proven Black: Imagining Race in Hunger Games (“Hunger Games” and Trayvon Martin)

For Thursday, 4/19

Sample Inquiry Questions for our Contextual Analyses, with potential sources:

April 18, 2012

Congratulations, Maddie (11:20 section)

Well done.
PDF link.
Direct NYT link.

Look at the company Maddie is keeping:

  • The writer, a Jesuit priest, is a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University.
  • The writer, a social entrepreneur, is founder and chief executive of Agora Partnerships.
  • “As a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs …”
April 17, 2012

Times Skimmer and Typography

April 14, 2012

Leaves of Grass

Depending on the device that you read this on the first time, the formatting may have been wildly distorted, so here it is again:

Preface to Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman (1855)

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.

From Leaves of Grass
# 231. To a Pupil

Is reform needed? Is it through you? The greater the reform needed, the greater the personality you need to accomplish it.

You! do you not see how it would serve to have eyes, blood, complexion, clean and sweet?

Do you not see how it would serve to have such a Body and Soul, that when you enter the crowd, an atmosphere of desire and command enters with you, and every one is impress’d with your personality?

O the magnet! the flesh over and over!

Go, dear friend! if need be, give up all else, and commence today to inure yourself to pluck, reality, self-esteem, definiteness, elevatedness;

Rest not, till you rivet and publish yourself of your own personality.

April 11, 2012

Mary Ellen Mark

image title

 Mary Ellen Mark’s Photo Essay in last week’s Sunday Review that we looked at just briefly — too briefly — is the subject of two followup entries on Lens: NYT Photography and Visual Journalism:

— Simple Portraits, Complex Camera
— Young Lives, Big Night 
Mary Ellen Mark home page 
Mary Ellen Mark on Facebook 

And this interesting reader comment from the first Lens post:

“Not that I’m an expert, but I’ve been exposed to a certain amount of American high school culture. For me, these images sum up the mocking, elitist, bullying side of these institutions. Is the photographer aware that she is merely becoming a part of that culture through this project. I see no compassion in these portrayals only judgement and prejudice… “

April 4, 2012

The Pentagon Papers, Wikileaks, and the NYT

image title

There seemed to be some interest in class today about the Pentagon Papers case, Wikileaks, and the Times in those segments of the movie that we watched. (What I found particularly interesting was how, the night before publication, some senior editors at the Times had never even heard of Wikileaks.) Here’s some background information:

“Twenty-five years ago this month, The New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers, a documentary history tracing the ultimately doomed involvement of the United States in a grinding war in the jungles and rice paddies of Southeast Asia. They demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance. 

The Government sought and won a court order restraining further publication after three articles had appeared. Other newspapers then began publishing. They, too, were restrained, until finally, on June 30, 1971, the United States Supreme Court ruled, by a vote of 9 to 0, that publication could resume.” (R.W. Apple, June 23, 1996 — “Lessons From the Pentagon Papers“.)

April 3, 2012

Page One: Inside the New York Times

We’ll be watching the documentary Page One: Inside the New York Times this week. Some background info:

image title

David Carr — Business majors note: Carr appears in the Business section
Today in the NYT: “A Shooting, and Instant Polarization”
Background on Carr: Times Topics

Bill Keller — Former Executive Editor, now on Op-Ed
Today in the NYT: “Tyler and Trayvon”
Background on Keller: Times Topics

Brian Stelter — PR & Advertising majors note: Stelter appear in “Media & Advertising”
Media Decoder Blog
— Stelter’s Twitter

Jill Abramson — Current Executive Editor
“Changing Times: Jill Abramson takes charge of the Gray Lady” (New Yorker Magazine, October 24, 2011)
— Background on Abramson: Times Topics 


April 2, 2012

Interesting to consider along with Isabel Wilkerson’s “In Florida, a Death Foretold” (Sunday Review, p.8).

April 1, 2012

“We are what we find, not what we search for.”
– Piero Scaruffi

Welcome to WRD104 — Spring Quarter 2012

In WRD 104 we focus on the kinds of academic and public writing that use materials drawn from research to shape reasonable conclusions based on supportable facts and convincing, defensible arguments. As the second part of the two-course sequence in First Year Writing, WRD 104 continues to explore relationships between writers, readers, and texts in a variety of technological formats.

You’ll be happy to note, I hope, that we build on your previous knowledge and experiences; that is, we don’t assume that you show up here a blank slate. We assume that you have encountered interesting people, have engaging ideas, and have something to say. A good writing course should prepare you to take those productive ideas into other courses and out into the world, where they belong, and where you can defend them and advocate for them.

If you have a project from another course that you would like to continue, or a community project that would benefit from rigorous research, or a professional aspiration that needs research-based support, this is the course for you.

WRD 104 has the following learning outcomes:

 Rhetorical Knowledge, which includes focusing on defining purposes, audiences, and conventions

 Critical Thinking, Reading, and Writing, which emphasizes writing and reading for inquiry, thinking, and communicating; finding, analyzing, and synthesizing appropriate primary and secondary sources; exploring relationships among language, knowledge, and power

 Composing Processes, which includes practice in using multiple drafts to create and complete a rhetorically appropriate audience-based text and the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes

 Knowledge of Conventions, in which we employ a variety of genre and rhetorical conventions in order to appeal to a variety of readers and audiences

You can read the First Year Writing Learning Outcomes in more detail here.

Your digital portfolio

This is a portfolio-based course, which means that you will collect, organize, reflect on, and showcase your work at the end of the quarter in a digital portfolio format.

As a DePaul student, you will be able to keep your portfolio and have access to it during your time here and after you graduate, as alumni. I mention this now because we can take the time to think about, and to work on, different purposes and audiences for our portfolios: for colleagues, classmates, instructors — academic purposes — and for creative, professional, career, and non-academic purposes and audiences.

Writing Center

Finally, it’s no secret around here that students who take early and regular advantage of DePaul’s Center for Writing-based Learning not only do better in their classes, but also benefit from the interactions with the tutors and staff in the Center.

March 13, 2012