From the category archives:


Why Teach English?

by Dr Davis on August 5, 2014

There are often editorials about it, but I like this one.

“English departments democratize the practice of reading.” from the article Why Teach English? in The New Yorker


Intersection of Genres

by Dr Davis on July 22, 2014

Intersections of Genres: Genre-lizing
FenCon10 notes

bisect codes (paranormal werewolf)

gothic romance
science fiction
noir mystery
dark fantasy
urban fantasy
detective mystery
science fantasy
historical romance

iconic covers?
mainstream and genre
Star Wars poster re-dos
George R. Martin cover
single object in a landscape

Goblin Fruit is an online fantastical magazine with mythological elements.
–muse immigrating to Australia
daughter of the muse of poetry attempting to produce art


Sir Walter Scott at the Royal Society of Edinburgh

by Dr Davis on June 16, 2014

Sir Walter Scott and the New Science of Reading, a discussion forum
Royal Society of Edinburgh
June 16, 6 pm

Sir Walter Scott, 1771 - 1832. Novelist and poetWhat caught my attention on the small sandwich board announcing the forum was the idea of brain science and “online” perception and the idea of virtual realities created by our brains for us as we read. This is not my experience with reading, but it sounded interesting and I thought I might be able to use some of the information, if it was, in fact, digital.

Having re-read the sandwich board, I don’t think there is any digital aspect, but it will be interesting nonetheless and I am interested in what Scottish academics have to say about Sir Walter Scott.

I went inside and signed up, as registration was required. They wanted my name, my address, and my email. I gave them that and was glad they didn’t want my phone number.

I wish I had make-up in my backpack today, as I’ve sweat the makeup off, but it appears that academics here don’t wear much makeup. I guess that means I’m good to go.

It appears to be an older crowd, most grey-headed, except for a couple of us with dyed hair. At 15 till, there are 26 people seated in the room, including myself. … It looks like there are 75 or so folks here as we begin.

I asked permission to drink my water and take notes on my computer during the address. Both of those, they assured me, are allowed.

The president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh is introducing. The RSE was formed in 1873, eight years after the birth of Scott. Scott served for 13 years as the president of RSE.

Dr. Elspeth Jajdelska, English Studies, U of Strathclyde
Sir Walter Scott’s Legacy and the New Science of Reading

Scott, and others, today and think about why he is not as popular as he once was. Example, Sir Walter’s Scott’s Ivanhoe was shortened and recently republished.

What about Scott’s day?
Reading for the plot… “Read the conclusion for the 50th time.” Byron
great descriptions, “as Claude (Village Fete is one of his paintings) L… on skies” Ruskin

history of reading itself
Abigail Williams, Leah Price—both worked on anthologies in the 19th C, the use of portions of writings instead of the whole thing (extracts)

amberg_wilhelm_lecture-from-goethe-value-ago_1870 book reading pd due to ageShared reading, family reading was common.

Folks “dipped into the Waverly Novels” as children…
shared versus silent reading
Showed images of lots of women/girls/children reading together.

performing works dramatically, but for your friends and family at home
no shame in just picking out the good bits
It is part of why the anthologies/extracts were popular.Tihamér_Margitay_Exciting_story 1898 boys reading author life+70 WC pd

What did they get from description?
Ruskin said he liked the descriptions…
But it’s not just like going to a gallery and seeing a picture.

neuroscience… evidence from brain scanning degree to which when we imagine things, we use the same resources as when we see them, taste them, touch them…

movements v action words
performing an action and hearing the words that depict that action

literature can create an embodied experience.
Description potentially can create these rich, embodied experiences.

almost literally a picture of the image seen is in the brain (cat research)

are they getting a simulation?
no. It’s complicated.
normal object perception—upside down—They look identical.
But right way round we can tell one of them is frowning evilly.

object agnosia see only facesobject agnosia (see only faces) illness
Face agnosia (see only objects)
While looking for images of these to post, I found a set of lecture notes that more fully develop the non-Scott related ideas the professor presented.
describing faces can mess with the problems
If the victims describe the face of the bad guy, they will have a harder time recognizing the face.
face is stored holistically as a single unit

Rebecca Ivanhoe
“turban of yellow silk suited well with the darkness of her complexion. The brilliancy of her eyes, the superb arch of her eyebrows, her well-formed aquiline nose, her teeth as white as pearl, and the profusion of her sable tresses…” broke the parts of her face into other sensations… brilliance was associated with diamonds… molded nose
Rebecca_Gratz by Thomas Sully 1831 model for Ivanhoe Scott WC pd
Rebecca Gratz was supposedly Scott’s model for Rebecca in Ivanhoe.

sable hair, pearl teeth (doll—Is this relevant? Does someone discuss?)

a sequence of perceptual manipuatlions relying heavily on other sensations

reconstruction and performance, how to reconstruct audience

How can we use this research?
Perhaps re-create Scott’s audiences’ experiences:
shared oral readings of extracts
science as a hook to enter the mind of the past
permission to cherry pick
permission to go slow (over a year to a class)


Digital Literacy Pedagogy

by Dr Davis on June 12, 2014

“Digital Literacy Pedagogy: An Experiment in Process-Oriented Publishing” at the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy has some very interesting information.

I particularly like the interactive timeline. That is very impressive.


Collective Memory

by Dr Davis on May 23, 2014

Discussion of collective memory is at Helmers 1612-1633 in
Helmers, Marguerite. “Framing the Fine Arts Through Rhetoric.” Defining Visual Rhetorics. Eds. Charles A. Hill and Marguerite Helmers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. 1323- of 6169. Ebook.

“Reading material memory and the rhetoric of exhibition spaces demands that all signifiers be examined, from ambient noise to the announced “subject” of the exhibition” (Helmers 1641 of 6169).

May need this for a chapter I proposed.


Literature of 9/11

by Dr Davis on May 14, 2014

I saw this recently and thought it was an exceptional project. The Literature of 9/11 was compiled by a graduate class at the University of Maryland College Park. They also mapped the literature of 9/11.

The professor supplied the syllabus, too.


N/A at Library

by Dr Davis on May 9, 2014

I want to list sources that I could not find at our library. Then when I am out in the world, I can check other people’s libraries and possibly read them there.

I wish I had started done this online earlier, rather than just in print, because I’ve been in Houston, Austin, Albuquerque, and Lubbock in the last two months.

Miles, Libby, Michael Pennell, Kim Hensley Owens, Jeremiah Dyehouse, Helen O’Grady, Nedra Reynolds, Robert Schwegler, and Linda Shamoon. 2008. “Thinking Vertically.” College Composition and Communication 59: 503 – 11.

Rice, Jenny Edbauer. 2008. “Rhetoric’s Mechanics: Retooling the Equipment of Writing Production.” College Composition and Communication 60: 366 – 87.

Sheppard, Jennifer. 2009. “The Rhetorical Work of Multimedia Production Practices: It’s More Than Just Technical Skill.” Computers and Composition 26: 122 – 31.

{ 1 comment }

Rhetoric of Typography: Appropriateness

by Dr Davis on April 26, 2014

Brumberger, Eva. “The Rhetoric of Typography: The Awareness and Impact of Typeface Appropriateness.” Technical Communication 50.2 (May 2003): 224-31. Web. 1 February 2014.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0evidence for the notion that typeface personas have impact (224)
typeface suitability studied (224)
typefaces vary in appropriateness based on text (225), study done by Haskins
typeface appropriateness based on sharing features with text (225), study done by Walker, Smith, and Livingston

UG students in intro psych course
gender potentially important variable
ethnicity, first language, internet usage, age, major collected
36 participants (18 male, 18 female) (226)
students had very clear preferences for appropriateness of typeface (226)
none of the demographic information that was usable (large enough sample) made a difference (227)
EXCEPT gender (229)

For the professional text males preferred the friendly font (Bouhaus) while women preferred the elegant font (CounselorScript).

People had strong views of appropriateness of typeface to text (230).
Typeface persona did not need to correlate with text persona (230).


Rhetoric of Typography: Reading

by Dr Davis on April 25, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Brumberger, Eva. “The Rhetoric of Typography: Effects on Reading Time, Reading Comprehension, and Perceptions of Ethos.” Technical Communication 51.1 (February 2004): 13-24. Web. 12 February 2014.

Visual rhetoric, Brumberger says, should include a discussion of typography.

verbal/visual, thinking/seeing rhetorical division (13)
“Ong also argues that writing makes possible context-free language–verbal discourse that can be separated from its author, and, by virtue of that separation, can be read in a greater number of ways than can oral language” (Brumberger 13).

printing extended this

McLuhan and Fiore (1967) say these shifts in communication play huge role in shaping of society (14).

McLuhan argues “interaction with texts shapes readers’ thoughts” (Brumberger 14).

“visual structure of a document contributes to readers’ meaning making” (Brumberger 14).

graphic design argues design serves rhetorical purpose
Hurlburt says: persuade, inform, identify

designers began to re-conceive design process once it moved onto computers

Arnheim studied interactivity and visual rhetoric
thinking and seeing cannot be separated” (Brumberger 14, describing Arnheim’s position)

assume verbal and visual language as complementary (Brumberger 15)

visual rhetoric is mediated, just as verbal rhetoric is mediated

Kostelnick 12-cell matrix of visual communication
–we need to interrogate visual comm as we do verbal

visual rhetoric is inherently non-neutral (15)

two theories of reading:
context-driven (apply info to map already have in head)
feature-driven (see letters, then comprehend)
I would say both of these.

individual letters are better recognized in context of four-letter words (16)
if reading for meaning, typos are ignored (17)

perception impacts memory and interpretation (17)
if paralinguistic (typographical) info =/= linguistic (verbal), then longer reading and comprehension times (17)
?true or not true? That is the point of the research.

took UG students (not those from previous study) (18)
used three typefaces, seen as elegant, friendly, and direct by earlier study
used three texts, seen as professional, violent, and friendly by an earlier study
= 9 conditions

used Nelson Denny Reading Test, part 2, nationally normed, designed to evaluate comprehension and reading rate (19)

expected biggest effects where typeface persona least matched text persona (19)

ethos question was how much the author knew about the subject (20)

Text passages were normed before the test, but saw significant variance in the testing from the norm.
Typeface did not impact reading comprehension or time, even across persona. (20)
Typeface DOES impact ethos. (21)


Rhetoric of Cool: Ch 4 Juxtaposition

by Dr Davis on April 16, 2014

Rice, Jeff. “Juxtaposition.” The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2007. 73-92. Print.

As I was reading the highlights and notes I wrote in the book for this, I kept thinking of the digital presentations my second semester fyc course does. It seemed like juxtaposition would help make those more interesting. I may write about that more later…

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0“Any object, feeling, odor, word, image in juxtaposition with any other object, feeling, word or image will be associated with it” (Burroughs qtd in Rice 73).

“Douglas Engelbart proposed that juxtaposition be the focal point of writing with computers” (Rice 73).

McLuhan thought composition should include juxtaposition, because it promised depth of involvement and expression (Rice 74).

“the idea that disturbances motivate new media writing” (Rice 74)
I noted Lauer’s preference for dissonance here–and many other places in the text.

Kaleidoscope clip ShD orig by Koperczak releasedkaleidoscope approach

We do not want simple. We want interesting. (Rice 76)
Juxtaposition helps create/provide/reveal that.

“Trimbur and George proceed to highlight the field’s declining interest in those elements that comprise communications studies, like media studies” (Rice 77).
We are definitely coming back to this, though.

[standard] research paper results from organization into linear argument (Rice 78)

outline organization contrasts with juxtaposition (Rice 79)

“layers of text and image, may be removed and added to at any given moment within the composing process” (Rice 79)

“The real job of the computer is not retrieval but discovery. Like the human memory, the process of recall is an act of discovery” (McLuhan, Hot and Cool, 294, qtd in Rice 81).

“notions of individual authorship belongs more to premises native to print” (Rice 82)

“New media extends writers’ sense and observations outside of self” (Rice 82)

“composition studies still legitimizes the sequentiality of thought” (Rice 82)

“[in print media] that which cannot be classified or categorized does not belong in the writing” (Rice 83)

“outline’s function is meant to situate invention” (Rice 83)
Really? Wow. Not for me.

“writing proceeds based on that initial vision or goal. Anything not initially conceived as relevant to one’s purpose should be discarded” (Rice 83).
That is not how I think of writing, but I do wonder if that is how my students think of writing. This belief/attitude may be one reason why I am willing to wait for a well-crafted thesis till towards the end of the writing process for a paper, rather than creating a “research question” thesis statement at the beginning. Or, of course, it could be that I misunderstand how crafting a thesis works for other people.

Regarding hypertext, Rice says it is a process that is “meant to forge associations” (83), as opposed to being preplanned.

“the nature of print is closed” (Rice 83)

“the link’s ability to join a variety of authorial positions” (Rice 83)
This caught my attention for T&P reasons. When you create a blog post, then linking others extends your own authority or adds to the ethos with credibility from other sources. I wonder how much of this is useful/usable in the T&P online portfolio.

When I was first reading the quote above, I thought of the students’ digital presentations. Now, I am having trouble remembering why I thought the authorial positions in particular was relevant. I will have to think about that and add it to the discussion on this chapter for digital presentations.

“print-based emphasis on theses or topic sentences” (Rice 84)
I do like/recommend these, for academic writing.

Rice says theses are “restrictive” and act almost like miniature outlines (84).
I call them maps to the paper, in case I get lost in the direction the student was intending to take.

“[t]he potential of opening up writing to discovery and invention” (Rice 84).
He is talking about Nelson on hypertext, but I think that this is what juxtapositions can offer the students and what–when they are done at the same time/together–digital composing with/for the research paper offers. It is part of why I fiddled again this semester with when the paper and digital presentations are due.

“When writers expand connections, when they begin to include a variety of material into the writing process…, writers begin as well to move beyond immediate controlling situations” (Rice 85).

He then says they often discover conflicts–what Lauer encouraged as dissonance, I think.

George Landow “The Paradigm Is More Important than the Purchase” argues that “new media shapes educational outlooks and pedagogical positions” (Rice 85).

“web of information one encounters in media where juxtapositions not only foreground conflict but make finding one conclusion to a situation conflicted as well” (Rice 86).

“[J]uxtapositions are meant to introduce conflict as a response to information and cultural overloads” (Rice 86).
This is Lauer again, but it was not comfortable for me and I am still unsure how I would go about teaching it. –I think it might be interesting, but I would work on this in an Advanced Composition course, rather than a freshman writing course, at least at first, because (one hopes) advanced comp writers already have a standard repertoire and can use a little shaking up without becoming totally lost. That way, if it didn’t work like Rice says, or I couldn’t figure out how to explain/teach/model it for students, we could throw it out without ruining the work of a semester.

“radical innovations proposed by Engelbart or by Nelson… conflicts Bourroughs suggests… are all central to new media rhetoric” (Rice 87)

Geoffrey Sic, English Composition p. 18 “pedagogy as dare” (Rice 87)

DJs and hypertext “strive to forge connections among disparate material through various types of appropriations and juxtapositions” (Rice 87).

metaphors, “importants of assemblages,” samples (Rice 88)

“tops of digital sampling” (Rice 89)
“digital sampling extends itself rhetorically so that the tops transforms into the remix” (Rice 89)

“Writing does reorganize and rework source material… yet writing also strings together found compositions based on the intricate ways each connects or doesn’t connect with the others” (Rice 89)

metaphor? “confusing whirlwind… inciting discomfort” (Rice 90)

“translate the theoretical principles of composition to a pedagogy appropriate for digital writing” (Rice 91)
“produce a writing composed of juxtapositions. It would be, therefore, performative” (Rice 91).