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516.2 Keywords in Computers and Writing (20%, 20 points)

In "Made Not Only in Words," Kathleen Yancey writes about new media composition, "This composition is located in a new vocabulary, a new set of practices, and a new set of outcomes; it will focus our research in new and provocative ways; it has as its goal the creation of thoughtful, informed, technologically adept writing publics" (308, my emphasis). Project Two is concerned foremost with the reference to "new vocabulary." Indeed, as we will find in many of our course readings, this is an area where new vocabulary enter—often with out attracting rigorous attention—into circulation. Similarly, old words and phrases are also inflected with new layers of meaning, too, in the context of new media composition.

You are tasked, then, with selecting a keyword or phrase of particular interest to you and then writing a 1200-1500 word essay that traces the term's shifting meanings through selected scholarship. We will read a couple of pieces from Heilker and Vandenberg's Keywords in Composition Studies early in the semester and use them as our model. What do these essays reflect?

1. A sustained focus on a single keyword or phrase.
2. Some framing of the term that traces it into disciplinary contexts of common interest to scholars.
3. Direct reference to scholarly as well as non-scholarly references to the word or phrase.

Among our purposes should be to more deeply understand a significant and perhaps common concept in Computers and Writing and, by way of your written account, to share some of the term's given (or underexamined) valences with an audience who perhaps has taken it for granted. That is, by hovering on the keyword or phrase, you are producing a layered definition, both practical and theoretical in its attention to significance.

Which Keywords?
We will compile keywords briefly at various points early in the semester, thereby building a list of possibilities. I think of this work in terms of word-watching, or taking stock of those words and phrases that come up all the time but that we rarely pause to bother to mull over.

These definitional essays should

A draft of your work is due in the EMU Online Dropbox by the beginning of class on Thursday, February 23. A revised draft of your work is due in the EMU Online Dropbox by the beginning of class on Thursday, March 15.

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

"In a digital universe, word, sound, and image share a common notation. They are, at a fundamental level, convertible into one another" (465). Richard Lanham, "Implications of Electronic Information"

"These days all technology follows computer technology" (159). Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants

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