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Work/Space Ecology Map+Account (15%)

The Work/Space Ecology Map+ Account tasks you with developing a brief essay (1000-1200 words) that incorporates images (photos or screenshots) for three workspaces—home, work, and primary computer desktop—as a way to discuss "ecologies of practice" that manifest in and across the three workspaces. Your essay will account for what you notice (and, as such, for things you want readers to notice) that you think may provide insights into what ecologies of practice are, generally, and into what your own ecologies of practice (i.e., an amalgamation of habits, activity, and materials...perhaps more, such as how you read and write there). Brief though this project is, it gives you a chance to get handle on ecologies of practice and to attend both focally and peripherally to some of the environments where you read, write, work, and so on. In addition to documenting the workspaces visually and textually, and in addition to using your discussion of the spaces as a way to explore (and express) some ways of thinking about ecologies of practice, you should use this project additionally as a chance to have fun and to show off what you can do as a writer. Make it sing. Make it pop. Make it as compelling, as wow! amazing! as you can make it.

The Work/Space Ecology Map+Account is due in EMU Online's Dropbox no later than 6:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 28. Projects will be assessed with particular attention to completeness (i.e., meeting the terms set here), timeliness, descriptive and definitional acuity, and stylistic footing (i.e., deliberate stylistic performance).

Writing Systems Project (25%)

The Writing Systems Project is designed to be open and customizable. It is a project set aside for you to shape, propose, and carry out, with its criteria wholly set by you. Here are a few possibilities:

The Writing Systems Project consists of at least three components, with due dates as follows: proposal (no more than one page; a plan, essentially, for what you will do and why) due no later than Tuesday, January 28 at the beginning of class; the project itself (terms established by you and agreed upon with instructor) due no later than Friday, April 18; and a 1000-word reflective essay that, at the conclusion of the project, accounts for what transpired (due, as well, on Friday, April 18). You should also be prepared to discuss its development at any time (i.e., to provide an update on how it is going). Turn in the in-progress project (or a portion of it) at any time to request guidance or comments. Generally, the Writing Systems Project should establish explicit connections with course readings and discussion. The Ignite presentation should be focused as much as possible on the Writing Systems Project.

Keywords in Computers and Writing (20%)

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). Keywords in Computers and Writing 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 or sustained 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 1000-1250 word essay that traces the term's shifting meanings through selected scholarship. We will read a few selections 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.

In addition to the definitional portion of this work, include a references section with at least seven sources for further reading related to the term you chose. These should be leads from published scholarship or from other resources that add pertinent context to the keyword you have worked with.

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 approach.

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 Friday, February 21. A revised draft of your work is due in the EMU Online Dropbox by the beginning of class on Tuesday, March 11.

Ignite Presentation (10%)

Near the end of the semester and after having spent many weeks on your Writing Systems Project, you will prepare and deliver an Ignite presentation to the class. Generally, the presentation should introduce your work and share its most salient qualities, including new questions that have been generated, and shifts in your thinking about computers, writing, and ecologies of practice. Since these are Ignite presentations, they will accompany a Powerpoint slideshow consisting of twenty slides each set to rotate automatically after 15 seconds. Individual slides may not include more than five words. Slides should include carefully selected, carefully sized images (i.e., these are visually intensive presentations, not text heavy slide-documents). As you present, you may use up to five index cards; however, you are strongly encouraged to present extemporaneously, working informally from memory rather than reading from a script. Watch a few Ignite presentations at the O'Reilly site or Ignite Ann Arbor.

We will devote time in class to preparations for the Ignite presentation on Tuesday, March 18. The completed slidedeck must be uploaded to EMU Online's Dropbox no later than Monday, April 14, at 12:30 p.m.

Evaluation Criteria

The Ignite presentation is valued at 10% of your overall grade in the course.

The presentation will be evaluated according to the following three criteria:

  1. Delivery: (eye contact, engagement with audience, presence, command of material, timing)
  2. Slideshow: (auto-rotation, image-intensivity, technical precision)
  3. Explanation of process, assignment, and pedagogical framework: (compelling content, appropriate scope for five minutes, insight into computers and writing)

Each criterion listed above will be evaluated on the following scale:


EX: Exceptional. The writer has applied the criterion with distinction.
AC: Acceptable/meets expectations. The writer has applied the criterion to a satisfactory degree.
NI: Needs improvement. The writer has minimally applied the criterion in the project.
NA: Not applied. The writer has not applied the criterion in the project.

Philosophy Statement (15%)

Develop a philosophy statement that accounts for your approach to teaching, administration, or some other aspect of professional activity. The statement must be between 600-750 words. It should introduce and briefly explain carefully selected principles, values, or priorities, and it should contextualize each of these with tangible examples. Prepare the document and submit it to the EMU Online Dropbox no later than Tuesday, April 22, at 6 p.m. EDT.

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

"The mantras of composition studies have worn thin, no longer offering answers that satisfy emerging questions about writing in its networked, hyper-circulatory condition" (187). Sid Dobrin, Postcomposition

"As we turn to the production of interfaces, of digital writing, we require a model capable of taking account of not simply the process leading up to a release, but the activity that follows as well" (38). Collin Brooke, Lingua Fracta: Towards a Rhetoric of New Media

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