From the category archives:


Rhetoric of Cool: Ch 1 History 1963

by Dr Davis on April 13, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Rice, Jeff. “The Story of Composition Studies and Cool.” The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2007. 11-29. Print.

The first chapter introduces the history of Composition Studies, when it first began being written with a capital C. According to Stephen North, Eric Havelock, and James Berlin, Composition began in 1963, though Jim noted that it was a re-birth.

Rice delineates the factors which make most composition theorists choose 1963 as the renaissance of composition theory and practice. One includes McCrimmon’s 1963 textbook Writing With a Purpose, which focuses on writing as process. Forty years after the book came out, I was using it in a college classroom; we as practitioners have seen process as a focus. Another is the revival of classical rhetoric, a bit of neo-neo-classicism, spearheaded primarily by Edward P.J. Corbett. A third is the focus on empirical research, participant observation, with the student as variable and an emphasis on control.

So, what, exactly is Rice encouraging or focusing on or uplifting or point out? McLuhan mentioned cool. Weathers’ Grammar B is somewhat related to Rice’s ideas.

Rice says the focus is not on the tools of the trade, not on the computer and the fingers and the motions of hitting the keys, but on the practices that result from the technological means we use to compose. These practices or rhetorical principles he lists as:

Like Lev Manovich, Rice calls attention to “specific rhetorical features conducive to new media” (Rice 28).

Rice ends with the idea that movement, change, fluidity, and malleability are emphasized. Chora, his first rhetorical principle, focuses on the instability of rhetorical meaning–its inevitable, though not always slow, change.


Seeing Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on April 11, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Allen, Nancy. “Seeing Rhetoric.” Writing the Visual: A Practical Guide for Teachers of Composition and Communication. Ed. Carol David and Anne R. Richards. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2008. Print. 32-50.

“Visual rhetoric refers to the visual communication of features and the effects they have on readers/viewers” (Allen 33).

Allen uses specific examples to argue that visuals provide information, make rhetorical appeals, and add nuance.

“To use visual rhetoric effectively, then, we must be careful to consider each item’s appropriateness to our audiences and purpose” (Allen 38).

“A good source for finding examples of the appeal through ethos is personal websites” (Allen 39).

Quotes 2002 website credibility study from Stanford, saying 46% of participants rated credibility of a site based on visual aspects (Allen 39).

Allen suggests that students be required to design their own website, to practice developing ethos (39). She also says that visuals often present the emotional appeal. “[W]e are often swayed more by our passion or emotions (Corbett 34), and it is emotion that inspires us to take action (99)” (Allen 40).

Allen says that images are a good invention strategy. “When students in my classes are developing ideas, with the goal of preparing a recommendation report, I ask them to create visual representations of the problem as part of the development process” (41). She says she actually requires multiple visual representations, in order to facilitate movement beyond “linear matrices and flow charts to sketches and visuals based on freer types of associations” (41).

“[V]isuals translate relations over time into relations in space” which, she argues, helps them to be more easily understood (42). She notes that search engines have become forms of invention and that they have also become more visual.

She notes that “headings in the center are more important than those on the side, and items in a list are related” (44), which we know from stylistic guides but they are rhetorical strategies that can be used effectively. I think this is something that résumé conventions do not strictly follow (at least on center headings). It is, however, interesting to think about whether or not a name centered seems to have more importance than a name to the left side.

“When text becomes art” (46) I noted as a great tag line.

Is this a goal for digital presentations? Text becoming art?

She quotes Donald Norman’s discussion of usability design that visuals provide memory aids. This is the same thing that Jesse Schell argues in The Art of Game Design.

Visuals evoke curiosity. People want to know the story behind images that catch their attention (48).

“Visual thinking during our writing process expands our reservoir of ideas” (Allen 48), which is why the digital presentation should come during or within the writing process, according to a CCTE presentation I attended several years ago.

male studying computerThis is harder to do than I expected, as it seems like students are working on disparate projects. However, I know that doing the digital project does enhance the writing project. Should I revise the 112 schedule to reflect that? Or is having them do two kinds of composing at the same time asking/requiring the students to work with mental overload?



Literary Practices and Digital Textuality

by Dr Davis on April 9, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Lasmana, Viola. “A Time of Opening: Literary Practices in the Age of New Media and Digital Textuality.” Interdisciplinary Humanities 27.1 (2010): 70-78. Web. 1 May 2012.

Arguing that there is more digital presence, more digital writing, and that multimodal approaches have transformed words, sounds, and images, Lasmana says that we are in a time of change, even a “democratization of textual production” (71). A comparison of the print revolution to the digital revolution is made and the call for the humanities to engage in and with technology is echoed (71). The transformation of writing (from speech to print to digital) is discussed and Lasmana argues that digital text simulates and recreates earlier forms of text (72). She describes digital as playful and says we are moving away from linearity (74). The main theorist for the work is Derrida and she quotes him for everything from prescience about the internet (72) to replacing nature (76).

The article seems to use Derrida to support every point and the points are not particularly clear. If I were looking for an application of Derrida to digital composition, this might be useful.

Once again I have a theoretical article which does nothing to move my studies forward. I am starting to be concerned that it’s not about them, it’s about me.



Business Comm and New Media

by Dr Davis on April 7, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Cardon, Peter W. and Ephraim Okoro. “A Measured Approach to Adopting New Media in the Business Communication Classroom.” Business Communication Quarterly 73.4 (December 2010): 435-38.

The article states that instructors rush technological change in the classroom and gives three questions to ask before adopting new tech. “Does our emphasis on various communication technologies in theclassroom mirror the use of these technologies in the workplace?” (Cardon and Okoro 435). The most common technology used in the workplace is email, with as much as 15 hours/week being spent (435), then simple phone calls; other technology is significantly less common (436). “Do the technologies we adopt in the classroom mirror those best classified as business communication and help the field retain a unique identity?” (436). While social media is used in business, it is primarily in marketing, and blogs are primarily concentrated in leadership education (437). “Does the use of technology in the classroom complement and encourage rich, face-to-face communication?” (437) Technology should not, the article argues, replace f2f communication.

The first and third questions are good ones and though the article may not give strong arguments for them, there are strong arguments. The second question, however, is not even addressed in terms of unique field identity. The article would have been stronger without the second question, which brings in tangential rather than germane arguments.

The high use of email is a good point and one I had not thought of. I do use email a lot in my B&P Writing class and most of my students email their homework. They also usually email questions (rather than texting).



Critical Literacy for New Media

by Dr Davis on April 6, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Monnin, Katie. “Developing and Envisioning a Critical Literacy Perspective in a New Media Age.” The NERA Journal 44.1 (2008): 39-46. Web. 15 January 2014.

The article looks at English Language Arts (6-12) and its place in critical literacy studies. Monnin gives a history of critical literacy in the ELA classroom. She introduces the Great Books movement, intended to show students how great people thought and encourage them to think that way, too (40). Then NCTE advocated for a wider range of readings (41). She then moves through the New Critics and reader response theorists. She argues that critical literacy in ELA is multimodal (42). Then she suggests an assignment, which is describing character development in a new media composition. Her second assignment is to infer themes. Basically she says to treat new media as if it were old media and let the students read/watch it and write the same sorts of compositions they were writing.

Since I know that character development is not taught or learned well, due to the large number of searches on TCE for this information, I am skeptical of the first assignment and as she does not develop any new media centric assignments, even as simple as show how the music contributes to whatever or examine the costumes for xxx…, I would say this is neither useful nor credible. Thankfully my blog is self-published, so null findings still go up.



Facebook in Bus Comm

by Dr Davis on April 3, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Decarie, Christina. “Facebook: Challenges and Opportunities for Business Communication Students.” Business Communication Quarterly 73 (2010): 449-52. Web. 15 January 2014.

The article argues that the ability to use Facebook well and wisely is essential. It says that Facebook encourages strong writing, interpersonal communication skills, and Web 2.0 literacy. To show how Fb encourages strong writing, the author points out poorly written status updates and asks students what opinion they form about the writer. For interpersonal communication skills, she arrived at school one day and saw that a student who was not an FB friend had carried on a discussion with another over boring teachers and not going to class. She opened that in class and let the class comment on it. Showing that people who are friends of your friends can see your status is an important piece of information. Another student was given the opportunity to pitch a project to the university president. While preparing for his speech, he opened the FB page and saw that he was featured shirtless and drinking a beer hands-free. A friend snapped a picture of him in his professional attire and the student uploaded it immediately, before he went into the president’s office for the meeting. Finally the professor details her own experience meeting a writer online and pitching the idea of her publishing his blog entries as a chap book. Students read and commented on her pitch letter; they also asked for details about how the online meeting had happened, how the relationship was developed, and, finally, about the author’s answer. This allowed the students to see the use FB could be put to for both forming new networking relationships but also for developing business opportunities.

When I began reading I did not think this article would be very credible. However, the three very simple examples she gave, and her argument that FB promotes strong writing, were persuasive.

facebookI tell students not to post things they don’t want their future employers to see, but perhaps I should again have students google the other students and read through their FB posts for something that could be damaging to their futures. The stories in this article will be very useful for communication disasters to tell my students about.



Curiosity and Technology

by Dr Davis on April 3, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Arnone, Marilyn P., Ruth V. Small, Sarah A. Chauncey, and H. Patricia McKenna. “Curiosity, Interest and Engagement in Technology-pervasive Learning Environments: A New Research Agenda.” Education Technology Research and Development 2011 (59): 181-98. Web. 15 January 2014.

The authors argue that technology can stimulate students’ curiosity. They consider how students who grew up in a tech-rich environment act and what they do when their research takes unexpected turns (182). The literature begins with the history of curiosity studies and discusses the connection between curiosity and exploratory behavior. A 2009 study showed that acting on curiosity and finding information indicates competence (183). The authors focus on curiosity in new media environments and discuss contextual factors (185). They discuss triggered situational interest (188) and engagement: participative, affective, and cognitive (189). They move through situational, personal, and contextual contributions. Learning modalities are introduced with ambient learning, “the next generation of mobile learning” (191). They also discuss cyberlearning (192), personal learning networks (193), and social media and collaborators (193). This is a work which sets out a research agenda to be pursued.

The idea of being curious and being able to find answers as a measure of competence is interesting. This doesn’t actually relate to the RrNm project, despite the fact that I thought it might.

Useful ideas: information literacy as an indicator of competency.

RrNm Ann Bib


Teaching Digital Rhetoric

by Dr Davis on April 2, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0“Teaching Digital Rhetoric: Community, Critical Engagement, and Application.” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 6.2 (2006): 231-59. Web. 1 May 2012.

The article quotes from some highly collaborative sources to argue that “our notions of literacy continue to migrate” (234). Then says “we are in the very late age of print,” and that most writing already happens digitally (234). Issues of access are presented as being escalating, rather than minimized, over time (236). Technological devices’ rhetorical role, impacting multiple levels of writing practice, are brought up (237). The article defines digital writing as something created on a digital device and primarily distributed wirelessly [like this blog post] (238) and digital rhetoric as communicative acts that include sound, words, and images and are made, maintained, and shared electronically (243). The article states that a sharply defined supportive community is necessary in a course with digital writing/rhetoric (244). Also students need to be engaged in understanding and delimiting digital creations and rhetoric themselves (245). Besides the community and the critical engagement, students also must see the relevance of digital writing/rhetoric to their lives (247). Situated practice is necessary, but a course in digital writing/rhetoric must begin with a “theoretical and practical framework for examining digital work” (249). Professors should not just take advantage of student experiences for the class, but learn from those student experiences (250). Assignments such as online ethnographies, technology community maps, and digital media and/or website creation for those communities are discussed. Rather than simply critiquing the rhetorical aspects of a digital work, students should both critique it and its effect on their lives, self-identity, etc. A series of fairly simple (but time-consuming) activities are given (252). The article discusses the need for learning how to learn about technology (253) and discusses “a pedagogy of patience” (254) in which we teach students that they don’t have to know all tech as it comes out or all at once and that learning takes time. Then they apply it to their assignments by saying that students need to be given the time to learn what they are expected to use (254).

iStock professor lecture small group white boardThe article has a lot of good assignment ideas as well as some reasonably firm grounding in rhetoric and digital rhetoric, although it also assumes a great deal on the part of the reader. The article does NOT list the authors, but simply says they all took a certain course in professional writing at Michigan State in 2004. The lack of identification of authors is troubling to me, even though I published on TCE anonymously for a number of years. The fact that Duke chose to publish and copyright the material makes up for the lack of authorship in terms of credibility. The article is placed within the currents of conversation about digital writing and digital rhetoric in a reasonable way. However, the idea that we will teach students not only literacy skills but tech skills and rhetorical theory and critical analysis and give them time to learn and practice the new technologies and literacies is intimidating and I wonder how it can be done in a single classroom.

The article pushes the commercial analysis assignment (from my fyc course) by saying that, rather than simply analyzing the commercial, students should “create a parody of the ad that highlights the elements they have analyzed and critiqued” (253). I think this could be very effective and in a group creating a parody might be less intimidating. Handling the humor of a parody is an extremely complex skill and not one that I am confident I could do. (Though it would be fun to listen to some parodies of songs!) The final element of the assignment as conceived includes a critical reflection on why they chose to engage the points they did in the way they did.

“How do we … facilitate our students’ “messy transition” to a multimodal culture while still acknowledging their current individual, culturally situated literacies?” (“Teaching Digital Rhetoric” 248)

RrNm Ann Bib

This work is quoted in my Early Notes.


Digital Storytelling: VR Difference?

by Dr Davis on April 1, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Xu, Yan, Hyungsung Park, and Youngkyun Baek. “A New Approach Toward Digital Storytelling: An Activity Focused on Self-efficacy in a Virtual Learning Environment.” Educational Technology & Society 14.4 (October 2011): 181-91. Web. 1 May 2012.

This article covers an experiment in which one group created digital stories in Second Life while the other created them off-line, attempting to discover where learning was better or more frequent. They introduce storytelling and then digital storytelling, making sure that they foreground the writing of/in digital storytelling as essential. They had a questionnaire to judge writing self-efficacy and used the Flow State Scale both as a pre- and post-test. The changes were significant for the online writing experience of digital storytelling, but not for the other group.

The study took place in South Korea with South Korean students, so it might not apply to the US. The study involved only two classes and a total of sixty-four undergraduates. However, the two groups were equal in number. If they did in fact do a pre-test, they didn’t show those scores. In addition, both the scales were originally constructed in English and translated, so they might not have been equally reliable in Korean.

What this is useful for is offering a way to potentially better utilize digital storytelling in the classroom to improve student writing. It also could be repeated to see if the experience holds up in the US. It would be fairly easy to do with two classes, but much harder to do with any more than that.

RrNm Ann Bib


Assessing New Media Compositions

by Dr Davis on March 31, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Sorapure, Madeleine. “Between Modes: Assessing Student New Media Compositions.” Kairos 10.2 (2005). Online journal. Web. 6 November 2013.

Since computer use changes the writing experience, the article argues that assessment must also change and suggests that the litmus test should be the effectiveness with which the modes (image, text, sound) are combined. Discussions of assessment indicate the importance of new media, but many assessments are based on the print component. The strategy of borrowing from other fields to teach and assess, Sorapure argues, decontextualizes the guidelines from their own field and puts rhetorical theory at risk of marginalization. Sorapure constructs a definition of new media as a combination of modes and the combination both creates and defines the “coherence in digital texts.” She then argues that metaphor and metonymy are two primary meaning-making activities. Her presentation of the student assignment is straightforward: create a collage illustrating Ginsberg’s quote on controlling the image to control the world using Photoshop. Visually all of the work is pleasing, but as a multimodal composition activating both metaphoric and metonymic relationships between verbal and visual is the most effective; Sorapure provides student examples and her assessments. She then introduces a second assignment (with links) and assesses them in the same way.

The argument for multimodal assignments to be assessed beyond the written is strong. The inclusion of specific examples and developed narratives of assessment is helpful. Problematically the assessment is not quantitative and is only one element, which Sorapure discusses. She mentions technical or aesthetic challenges as possible other elements. This assessment model is insufficient to stand alone, but does add depth to multimodal assessment.

This assessment could be added to my assessment rubric for digital storytelling without difficulty. It would add a level of complexity to the assessment which could possibly allow the better videos to be more accurately described.

“Metonymy designates a relation based on combination; modes can be metonymically related when they are linked by an association, as when lines from a poem are combined with a melody from a song. It is a relation based on contiguity between elements in different modes.”

RrNm Ann Bib