WRT 307: Project I
Fall 2005 | MWF 12:45-1:40 | HL201| Section M080
Genre: Dig into the Workplace

To start this project, you will identify a professional site (or workplace) that you find interesting and explorable, either because you work there currently or because you perceive it to be the kind of place you might like to work someday. It's best to determine the site as soon as possible. Once you have defined a site, you should begin to think in terms of the writing--broadly construed--that goes on at that site.

In your investigation of the site, you will identify one genre of professional writing activity happening at the site. This artifact or discursive shard will be central to your analysis of genre. It might be a document or communiqué; it should be something you can treat as an object. Your project then, is to explore the relationship between the workplace, the textual object or artifact, and the broader professional genre. Throughout the project, you might also think in terms of becoming an expert about the document and its broader genre--identifying the fullness of its rhetorical involvement in the specific workplace.

The preliminary activities associated with this project, then, amount to (-1-) deciding upon a site, (-2-) identifying a particular textual object or artifact, and (-3-) accounting for its broader genre and rhetorical implications.

Details and Considerations
What might the project become? You have a considerable amount of flexibility in choosing which dynamics you will attend to most in this project. At the very least, your work should account for the following:

Site Detail
Concretize the site. Establish the setting, including as much detail as you can about human, textual and physical dynamics. What kind of place is this? What factors complicate the interactions between the people directly tied to the text (as writers, readers, or as people named in it)?

As you describe the site, you might also think about matters of scale--ranging from the broad and abstract realm of the total site to the narrower productive spaces of the individual office, workspace or desktop. How does the object/artifact travel through the workplace, either temporally or spatially? To account for the documents pathways (its layovers in one person's stack of papers, maybe?), you should consider the relevance of sketch or map of the workspace, perhaps even a diagram or flow schematic that accounts for such movement. You will see that this attention to space relates to Information Flow below.

Document Detail
Treat the document as a kind of site in itself. What are its features or attributes? Does it belong to a genre of class of texts? Is the genre baggy or constrained? Is the text fixed of fluid? Locate the document in a family of textual activity. Is it the kind of text that allows a full range of expressive possibility or is it relatively restricted to saying only certain things? What can't it say? What kinds of documents are like it or serve a similar function?

Style, Design and Production
What are some of the design considerations in the production of the object/artifact? Is it written by an individual or constructed by a team of writers, proofreaders and editors? Has is passed through multiple drafts?

How is the object/artifact laid out and designed? Was it produced with special software? Does its production appear to involve any special skills with graphical design or typography? Comment on its style: informal, formal, specialized vocabularies, insider knowledge, discrete issues, sentence and paragraph length, layout (use of page-design for effect), repeated words or phrases.

Information Flow
How does the object/artifact circulate in or beyond the workplace? What is its shelf-life and how is it stored? Is its production handled entirely in-house or is a printer/publisher? Who reads this document and why?

In addition to the details and considerations listed here, your project should include at least one of the following: a map or sketch of the workspace (perhaps accounting for the object/artifact's travels), a brief interview (of at least six questions) with one of the people tied to the text, or a style sheet/document anatomy. We'll talk more in class about each of these and how they fit with your project. We'll also talk more about the broader aims of such a broadly defined, research-oriented opening project and entertain questions about the ways that a careful study of a situated document is extrapolable to the broader arena of professional writing.

Project I will culminate with individual presentations (appr. 7-10 minutes) of your findings. In addition to the presentation, you will turn in a report of no less than six pages, typed and double-spaced, the object/artifact, and your choice of a map/sketch, brief interview, or style sheet/document anatomy.

Links and Resources
Document Anatomies
TC pp. 197-200

Information Flow and Site Detail

Derek Mueller
Office: HBC 002
Fall '05 office hours: Mon., 11 a.m.-Noon and by appt.
Phone: (315) 443-1785
AIM: ewidem