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Notes & Questions

Notes & Questions is an extended exercise in note-taking as a means of summarizing readings, zeroing in on specific details in the text, and registering initial responses to the key concepts, propositions, and ideas from the reading. One entry will be due each week between Weeks One and Ten (i.e., each time reading is assigned). The entry may respond to one article or chapter, or when longer readings are assigned, the week's entry may encompass all of the assigned reading. In other words, how you focus the week's entry is up to you as long as you account for one article or chapter from the reading assigned.

Each entry will consist of the following:

  1. Correct MLA or APA citation
  2. Summary/abstract: A one-paragraph summary of the piece. This must be a summary you've written, not a copy/paste of an existing summary/abstract.
  3. Discussion of big ideas: Two or three additional paragraphs describing significant claims, arguments, or concepts figuring into the piece. You are welcome to respond to the ideas, as well.
  4. Questions: List three questions you have about the reading, about specific references or turns of phrase, or about the relationship between this reading and another reading or conversation in the course.
  5. Keywords and phrases: A list of 5-15 words or phrases the piqued your interest, that stood out as important, or that you want to hold onto for further deliberation. Include the page number with each word or phrase.
  6. Related reading: List two or three sources, including an MLA or APA citation, you could consult to expand the conceptual frame within which the article or chapter operates. In most cases, the sources will be directly cited in the reading.

This note-taking method is in no way meant to interfere with or distract from your existing processes for writing while reading. Rather, it is designed to prime in-class discussions and cast new light on your habits of interacting with the reading you do in this course and throughout your graduate coursework at EMU. Over time these notes will represent your trail across the readings; they will report—to you and others—specific noticings useful for recalling what you read (i.e., for memory) and incorporating these readings into the writing you do (i.e., for invention). You will find something approaching this method in many of the reading notes I have posted to my own blog, such as this entry on David Foster's "What Are We Talking About When We Talk About Composition?" More rough examples are available here.

It is best if you publish your Notes & Questions to a blog (sign up for a free blog with Wordpress or Blogger). The blog does not have to identify you by name, but the entries must be posted publicly so that they can be read by others in the class.

In-class Uses
Be prepared for your notes to be focal in class. We may turn our attention to a specific entry and weigh its questions as a group or we might browse multiple entries to select a set of keywords or questions to examine or explore.

Post your weekly entry no later than Sunday at 6:10 p.m. (24 hours before our Monday evening class meets). This is necessary to allow others a chance to review entries before the class meets.

Notes that are complete and posted on time will earn full credit.
Late notes or notes that are incomplete or underdeveloped will earn partial credit.
Notes that are late and incomplete or underdeveloped will not be eligible for credit.

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing
Director of Composition
Department of English
Virginia Tech
Office: 315 Shanks Hall
Spring 2019 Office Hours: T, 12-3
Phone: +1-734-985-0485

"Rhetoric of science is simply, then, the study of how scientists persuade and dissuade each other and the rest of us about nature, —the study of how scientists argue in the making of knowledge" (xii). Randy Harris, "Introduction," Landmark Essays on Rhetoric of Science: Case Studies

"The reality, feasibility, and representativeness of a project are progressive concepts, but they are also controversial; that's why it's so hard to get a clear idea about the technologies involved" (66). Bruno Latour, Aramis, or The Love of Technology

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