WRD 104: Composition & Rhetoric II Rotating Header Image

Custom Portfolio Banners

You can use Pixlr.com, an emerging alternative for the soon-to-close Picnik.com to create a banner for your digital portfolio.

  • Go to Pixlr.com
  • Open an image from your computer
  • Resize for appropriate Digication dimensions: 779 x 200 pixels
  • Add effects and/or text
  • Save banner to your computer
  • Insert your new banner via Portfolio Settings > Customize
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March 11, 2012

When parents text.

March 6, 2012

“Cultural scripts of college life”

This article — “Our Universities: Why Are They Failing?” — appears in a publication, The New York Review of Books, that we’re not reading, but I was struck by how closely it resembles our ongoing conversation on “what is the purpose of college?” With your permission, and then with your help, I’d like to find a way to integrate this concept of “cultural scripts of college life” in your portfolios: do you have a cultural script of college life in your head? What does it look like? How does it affect your approach to your work generally, and to reading the New York Times in particular?

March 4, 2012

The digital version of this article gives us a much better image, in color:  From the 5th paragraph:

But contrary to conservative rhetoric, studies show that going to college does not make students substantially more liberal. The political scientist Mack Mariani and the higher education researcher Gordon Hewitt analyzed changes in student political attitudes between their freshman and senior years at 38 colleges and universities from 1999 to 2003. They found that on average, students shifted somewhat to the left — but that these changes were in line with shifts experienced by most Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 during the same period of time. In addition, they found that students were no more likely to move left at schools with more liberal faculties.

Memes, continued

From this week’s DePaulia, more claims to consider:

Read the article.

March 1, 2012

Weeks 8 & 9: The Remix

“Writing in the digital age increasingly requires remixing, that is, the transformative reuse and redistribution of existing material for new contexts and audiences. Creation, innovation, and invention in the digital age demand that information be widely shared and widely reused; digital writing practices require ‘plagiarism’ (in some sense).”

“Remixing — or the process of taking old pieces of text, images, sounds, and video and stitching them together to form a new product — is how individual writers and communities build common values; it is how composers achieve persuasive, creative, and parodic effects. Remix is perhaps the premier contemporary composing practice.” — DeVoss & Ridolfo, “Composing for Recomposition: Rhetorical Velocity and Delivery,” 2009.

Examples for class:

February 20, 2012

Can we use first-person pronouns in our writing? Yes.

It seems to me that if it was good enough for Watson & Crick — they discovered the molecular structure of DNA, the Double Helix — it’s good enough for you:

Watson, J. D., & Crick, F. H. C. (1953) A structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA). Nature 171, 737–738.

February 17, 2012

Example of a Contextual Analysis: “A New Obama Cinema?”

From the New York Review of Books, February 11th, note how the writer integrates argument with contextual analysis:

In its casting, content and positioning (little more than an hour after Obama told a pre-Super Bowl interviewer that he deserved a second term because of his successful economic policies, in the midst of the most widely watched telecast in American history), “It’s Halftime in America” was a most effective bit of political theater—maybe the best of its kind since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America.” 

 But note how he also draws on textual analysis along the way:

  • “A lone lean figure strides purposefully through a dark tunnel, maybe a highway underpass.”
  • “The music is solemn, soothing, just short of uplifting, and Eastwood’s narrative is suddenly specific”
  •  “Cue rusty factories. ‘But we all pulled together—now Motor City is fighting again.’
  • “That’s what we do. The spot has a sense of gentle but firm forward motion, created by slow dolly shots and moving cars.”
February 12, 2012

In the Spirit of the Holiday … from the NYT

February 5, 2012

Exploiting Digication: integrating visuals and providing links for readers

This week we will take some time to consider some more differences between print and digital literacy, when we integrate links and visual images in your ongoing projects. 

  • To add an image from your computer, select Insert Media on your toolbar:

  • To create a link, select text that you’d like to highlight, select the link tool, and enter a URL: 



February 2, 2012

Scott Turow and Judge Richard Posner at the Newberry

Wednesday, February 22 6 pm Scott Turow and Judge Richard Posner will talk about the future of books, authors, and libraries in the digital age at the next “Conversations at the Newberry,” a new series of discussions to generate thought-provoking discourse for and frame important questions about enduring issues that are timely today.

An attorney and author of nine best-selling works of fiction, including his first novel, Presumed Innocent (1987), Scott Turow has written numerous op-ed pieces and conducted interviews about the future of libraries and the digitization of books. The New York Times has called Judge Richard Posner “the most influential jurist outside the Supreme Court.” The author of more than 2,500 published judicial opinions and 30 books, some of Judge Posner’s current research focuses on intellectual property, a field that has become particularly contentious in light of the ease with which intellectual property is digitally disseminated, and of evolving notions of artistic integrity and engagement.


Yet another angle

… maybe too late to use as a source, but still a good read:

On the other hand …

Interesting, since we met last …

Psychology Majors, rejoice:

WSJWhat’s Wrong With the Teenage Mind?
NYTHysteria and the Teenage Girl 


NYTThe Mixtape of the Revolution 
NYTContraception Ruling Draws Battle Lines at Catholic Colleges 
WP: Studying the purpose of college


January 30, 2012

Congratulations, Daniel, on getting into the New York Times

January 20, 2012

Week Four: Op-Ed Essays

In preparation for our Op-Ed essays, it’s interesting to reflect on some of the conventions of the Op-Ed essay versus, say, the academic essay.  

Who writes academic essays, for whom, and why?
Who writes Op-Ed pieces, for whom, and why?

January 18, 2012

When Moms Cite Research

January 16, 2012

“What Is College For?” in the NYT

 So that we have these in the same place:

December 14, 2011: What Is College For?
April 11, 2011: Burden of College Loans on Graduates Grows (and Letter to Editor)
January 11, 2012: What Is College For? (Part 2)
August 23, 2011: Do We Spend Too Much on Education?
January 11, 2012: Getting a Degree: Less Rigor, More Value

You can also use the NYT search database, which goes back to 1851, to explore other possibilities, like this one from 1948:

January 12, 2012

Course Introduction & Background

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

Welcome to WRD104 — Winter 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.

November 23, 2011