Class Notes

This page offers an outline of what we will be doing in class, during discussions and workshops. You can refer to this outline should you miss a class (to see what we worked on); it also makes sense to refer back to it when doing your writing–since all the writing we do in the course relates back to what we read, talk about, and work on in class workshops and discussions. For updates on assignments and due dates, refer to the Assignments page.

Week 1: Hidden Writers/Readers

M 8/3115

Due: First Class. Read through syllabus and other materials on the course home page.

Consider: What are you doing here (that is, in a liberal arts college)? What are your expectations regarding academic writing and thinking? What experiences are you bringing with you?

  1. Journal (first page, dated):
    1. Writing To-Do List: begin to list aspects of ‘college-level writing’ and reading you want/need/hope to develop this semester. Where do you want to be as writer and reader when you return for second year? Can think of our course goals we will focus on, reflected in rubric: critical thinking and reading; rhetorical knowledge and writing process; grasp of grammatical conventions and stylistic effectiveness
    2. Reading/Writing history (new page): begin to make note of particular memories/experiences (good and bad) in your history with writing and reading.
  2. Course preview:
    1. Comp/post: Assignments, course resource, archive of materials, way for me to communicate with you before and after class (flip the classroom–please ‘follow’ blog to get email updates for my posts–do expect you to read them); tool for you to use as writer and reader (will set up your own blog)
    2. Course goals and learning objectives
    3. Some course policies to highlight
  3. Conversation: what it means to be a writer and/or reader (our first topic/writing project). What are your views at this point? what experiences have shaped those views? What is ‘academic’ writing/reading about?

W 9/2

Due: Reading: Gerald Graff, “Hidden Intellectualism” [essay linked here]

Consider: What is the premise of Graff’s argument (the conversation we are entering)? Do you agree with any of his assumptions about reading or sympathize with the personal experiences that shape those assumptions? Make some initial notes on this article (in print and/or electronic form) for use in class discussion.

  1. Review: questions on syllabus? Further highlights: Blogging Assignment
  2. Blog Assignment–practice with Graff article (moving from reading and journal to blogging)
    1. Summary (come to terms): quote or paraphrase what you take the argument or thesis to be
    2. Close Reading (forward and counter): cite and discuss a particular passage/part of the argument about “hidden intellectualism” that you think was strong or compelling [you could do the opposite: a passage that you thought was weak in his argument]one way to develop this section–think autobiographically: do you have an example that compares or contrasts with his vision of hidden intellectualism?
    3. Further Reading/Thinking (take an approach): where does this argument leave you? a question you have for Graff, an idea you might like to pursue further in your writing project? a connection or link you could make to other ideas or arguments that are out there?
  3.  Conversation:
    1. Think of these (along with ethos/pathos/logos and others we will use in coming weeks) as more effective ways to get into a conversation about a text, an argument, ideas, to focus that conversation. Rather than begin vaguely: what did you think? what is this essay about? Do you agree? Do you like it?
    2. Summary:
      • What his premise–what’s the conversation we are entering? what’s the problem?
      • More specifically: what’s his thesis–what does his argument focus on–what’s his solution for the problem?

      ◦                                  note how his argument is set up [a feature of this course–we will always look at the texts we read as writers, as models for writing]

      Close Read

      • Where did Graff’s argument seem strongest–where is it most compelling? why?
      • Where did his argument seem less compelling, or where did you take issue, disagree?


      • Questions for Graff? Implications beyond this essay–links we might want, pursue further in future conversation and writing?

      My remediated/annotated version of Graff’s essay:

F 9/4

Due:  Berry, “In Defence of Literacy” [linked] + First Blog due (posted to your own blog by class time). Respond to Graff’s idea of “hidden intellectualism.” As a way to focus what you notice and wonder in response to the reading, consider: Are you a hidden intellectual? Why or why not? What in Graff’s article, and in your own experience, indicates that you are/aren’t?

Consider: Description of the “Blog assignment”. Respond to Graff’s idea of “hidden intellectualism” and to Berry’s argument for literacy. As a way to focus what you notice and wonder in response to the reading, consider: Are you a hidden intellectual? Why or why not? Do you share Berry’s values for literacy? What in your experience compares or contrasts with either of these two visions of being a reader and writer? If you have any problems posting this first blog, we can troubleshoot before you leave class.

  1. Blog: problems, walk through.
  2. Blog Conversation (old media style)
    1. Share and continue the conversation from your blog with 2 others. What was your focus–your own ‘argument’? Listen carefully–I might ask you to report back to the class what one of your peers focused on.Also, share any problems or insights you had in setting up the blog–ask questions.
  3. Class Conversation
    1. Way to Focus our conversation: ethos, pathos, logos.

      1. Graff’s ethos: where is it established, reinforced?

      2. pathos: part of the argument where you are most sympathetic–why? Think specific evidence, example, reflection.

      3. logos: key elements of his thesis, the logic of the argument, how he supports it. Where is it strong, where limited or weak? Are there counterarguments?

        1. Writing focal points from Graff’s argument (brief review):note how his introduction was effective in directly setting up a conversation.note how the supporting evidence/details for his argument were effective–in part by focusing on the notion of “vernacular”keyword or phrase he uses to signal his argument: it’s more complicated than that–this is the basis of strong, academic writing.


Week 2: Becoming a Writer/Reader

M 9/7

Due: Reading: Birkerts, Gutenberg Elegies, Introduction (“The Reading Wars”) and chatper 1 (“Mahvuhhuhpuh”)

Consider: What is the premise of Birkerts’s argument? What is the conversation we are entering? How does Birkerts define reading? Which passage thus far do you find most and least compelling in the development of his argument? Why?

  1. Further Critical Reading Strategies: put writers in conversation
    1. Journal warm up: What does the conversation with Graff, Berry, and Birkerts sound like: Identify some key terms or “keywords” (phrases you quote) from each argument. How does Birkerts’ initially compare? What’s his concern? What is his argument or larger project for the book?
  2. Birkerts: initial discussion
    1. Note how explicit he is in setting up his argument, telling us what the context for conversation is.

      1. what are key terms for this argument/conversation?
      2. what’s the ethos?
    2. The example of his short story class: what’s working? what else should he do there? Ending of chapter?

      1. focus it in terms of ethos, pathos, logos.
      2. How does his writing/argument thus far compare to Graff? revisit some of the logical and rhetorical elements of Graff’s essay.

W 9/9

Due: Reading: Harris, Rewriting, “Introduction” [recommend you also start GE, chapter 2]

Consider: Based on previous classes, what’s your vision of ‘academic writing/thinking’—what does it entail? How does that compare to Harris’s vision? What’s on your to-do list for this semester?

  1. Notebook: your To-Do List
    1. Start a list with about 5-10 items: goals, areas to work on, improve, explore, accomplish this semester and this first year.
      1. Based on previous experience, on things such as 20 Formal Errors list; with reference to our rubric (grammar, logic, rhetoric; emphasis on revision). Use vernacular as needed.
  2. Group conversation
    1. Introduce yourself
    2. share 1 item from your to-do list
    3. Develop a group definition/listing: How do you define good academic writing–what are the crucial characteristics of an academic essay or argument? What does it have and what is it supposed to do? think of some of the terms. Compare/contrast your definitions with Harris.
      1. group will report back to class at least 2-3 characteristics/definitions of academic writing.
  3. Class conversation
    1. Our definitions + some newer terms/ideas from Harris and Meehan
      1. Harris: academic writing as social practice–not hidden, based in responding to others’ work, rewriting it, ongoing
      2. Meehan: redefine thesis in terms of something more dramatic: problem/conflict/suprise, sometimes counter-intuitive.
        1. think of the way film works.

link to last class: an argument in its set up needs an urgency, a necessity, a problem 

F 9/11

Due: Read Birkerts, Gutenberg Elegies chapter 2 + Blog due: response to Birkerts reading from this week.

Consider: Focus your blog response on the reading from Birkerts this week—consider where you are most/least engaged by his argument; consider an autobiographical experience of your own regarding your reading/writing history and explore further

  1. Blog Conversation (pairs)
    1. share/elaborate what you did with your blog: a particular place from the reading that you noticed and spent time with in your response, your close reading

      1. be prepared to report back to class what your peer wrote–not just what you did (listening is key to good conversation and writing.)
  2. Class Conversation
    1. what do we notice about Birkerts’ argument to this point–how as well as what he writes? which passages/moments in his argument (think of a paragraph or two) are effective in developing/elaborating his argument? which passages are less effective?
    2. passage focus: page 22. Reflection v. nostalgia.
      1. ethos, pathos, logos
  3. Assignment preview: First Writing Project.
    1. what are some autobiographical experiences that would provide critical reflection in your argument?


Birkerts’s key terms (noting that they are often binary oppositions: a term for good opposed to something bad) such as

Print/page vs. screen

Deep vs. Shallow

Rhetorical Focus: pathos (good examples and bad examples of pathos)

Good pathos: connect to reader, take time to develop, reflect, pay attention to implications and complications, possible objections

Bad pathos: disconnect or dismiss reader, quick judgement, nostalgia, ignoring implications, uncomplicated assertions, disregard for possible objections.


Week 3: Coming to Terms with Writing and Critical Thinking

M 9/14

Due: Reading in Birkerts: pick two chapters of your choice from among chapters 3-7.

Consider: Prepare to share with class how Birkerts extends/develops his argument and focus in the additional chapters your read.

  1. The Set-Up: you got a problem with that?
    1. focus: 3-step to setting up the thesis/argument of an essay.
    2. practice with your Birkerts chapter–go back and fill in
      1. The given 
      2. The problem/disturbance
      3. The response to the problem–the thesis
  2. Birkerts conversation
    1. Look at samples of how the arguments are set up in each chapter.
    2. strengths and weaknesses in how these chapters elaborate/support the overall argument of the book
      1. one problem area: logos–a contradiction, p. 70 (admits reading/books are technology, but still thinks of them as separate; this is place where he needs counter-argument).
  3. First Writing Project: preview.
    1. assignment description
    2. questions
    3. initial thoughts–what are some possible definitions (think keywords)? what are some possible experiences?

W 9/16

Due: Reading: Harris, Rewriting, “Coming to Terms”

Consider: Following Harris, consider what some key “terms” are so far for Birkerts and for your own understanding of reading/writing. Begin to compost (brainstorm) for the draft due Friday.

Our focus: developing the key terms of our argument.

A basic structure for an argument–a way to discover the terms for the argument:

Many people would define/characterize literacy as X [given]. However, that common definition tends to forget that for some people literacy is Y [problem]. I had experience with Y as a child that shaped my understanding of what it means to be a reader/writer. That experience informs my view that literacy is best characterized as Z [response].

key terms that argument and essay will work with: X, Y, Z

  1. Workshop: composting toward an argument
    1. lesson 1: skip the thesis statement (for now). Dig in to a memory/experience (or more than 1) from your history as reader/writer. See where it takes you [5-10 minutes of writing]
    2. lesson 2: focus on developing the critical argument from the experience (the “supporting example”)–reread what you wrote–identify some keywords and ideas/threads that are emerging. Focus on critical reflection, rather than nostalgia: slow down and develop.
    3. lesson 3: begin to shape a possible argument/thesis in response to another view of reading/writing (recalling Harris: academic writing needs to respond and interact with others, sources, texts.
      1. Harris (could also use Graff, Birkerts, Berry) defines reading/writing as ____________________, particularly when he argues that, “___________________.” I agree/disagree/partly agree with this view because in my experience reading/writing is _________________________________. My view here is particularly shaped by experiences I have had ____________________. [note: this sets up the response and tension/difference that an argument needs]
      2. Can also use your former self to set up this tension/problem.
        1. I used to view reading/writing as _____________________; however, I know see it is more complicated, that reading/writing is __________________________.
    4. lesson 4: Now use the given/problem/response (thesis) structure to outline the set-up of your argument. Think of this as a basis for an abstract of your argument, an abstract that I will ask you to revise with each draft.

F 9/18

Due: First Writing Project: Initial Draft, submitted to Canvas and brought to class. Bring laptops to class if available.

Consider: Your draft should be at least 2-3 pages; though you might have an introduction and something on its way to a thesis, don’t worry about that too much—focus on developing the critical reflection, see where that leads the argument and the narrative. If you don’t have draft in class (paper or electronic) you will not be able to participate in workshop. You should consult the assignment/description of the first Writing Project (in fact, read it more than once).

  1. Electronic revision 101.
    1. create folder for project
    2. Track Changes/commenting: can use for your own revision reflection, as well as in responding to others. Will ask you to have track changes version of the project available for conferencing–so we can look at revision work you did.
  2. Initial revision Reflection: think “project” and look for what is emerging. Provide your own reflections on the following:
    1. What’s the project? Describe in your own terms what this narrative is about at this point, what focus and argument seems to be emerging–what its key examples are. [2-3 sentences]. An abstract of the draft.
    2. Come to terms: identify some keywords that stand out, seem to be important.
    3. Assess the uses and limits (strengths and weaknesses) of some of those terms. What is a strength you see in the draft, something you should be aware of, build upon? What is an area you might work on next to strengthen, expand, clarify?  [in your peer reading, will also be using versions of these questions]
  3. Workshop: Working towards strong reflection (moving away from nostalgia)
    1. Take keyword/term from draft and in journal expand the reflection–get more specific about the experience or memory associated with it, extend the argument further.
    2. Rewrite thesis paragraph or ‘abstract’ of your argument–using the information from your reflection “what’s the project’. That is, update/revise thesis. [Remember: identify the given/problem/response]


Week 4: Writing Project #1—Reflective Wreading

M 9/21

Due: Read Harris, chapter 5 “Revision” + respond  to the drafts from your Writing Group (post comments by class) + work on your revision (next draft due Wednesday).  You will  need to have a copy (print or electronic) of your work in progress in class. In addition, begin a project log in your notebook: lisiting all the work you have done on this project from the beginning (with approximate time spent at each point), including specific indications of what you have done so far with revision.

When responding to the other drafts, use the template: What’s the project? What’s working? What else? What’s next?

  1. Rewriting and revision: what does Harris emphasize with revision? How does this compare to what you have done in the past?
    1. electronic strategies: multiple copies of files; track changes; can experiment with wordpress “compare revision” or Google docs.
  2. Four questions–use these as a revision template (practice them one at a time)–partner from Writing Group.
    1. What’s the project? [reader: come to terms with the project–what’s the focus thus far, what does it seem to be about? report back on the draft (at the bottom, or highlight) what some of the key terms are.
      1. focal point: the logic/argument: how it is set up. where can it be clarified? complicated?
    2. What works? How can the writer build on the strengths of the draft? Identify some particular strengths. Again–be specific in marking and noting the strengths.
      1. focal point: critical reflection. where is the pathos strong? what makes for strong pathos?
    3. What else might be said? How might or should the writer acknowledge other views/possibilities for the argument? Point to a specific location–be generous if you have a specific contribution: ‘you should quote from Graff here, his notion of ‘vernacular’ would really help…”
    4. What’s next? What are some implications that the essay is or might work towards in its conclusion? what does the writer need to do to get there?


W 9/23

Due: Further/complete draft of your writing project due at beginning of class and posted to your blog. (should be at least 3 pages—have beginning and ending; a more refined thesis/argument and more developed reflection). This draft should take into account the feedback from previous discussions of revision. If you don’t have draft in class (paper or electronic) you will not be able to participate in workshop. Additionally, at the top of the draft, each writer must post a 1 paragraph process reflection or map of your revision: answer (from your perspective) the four revision questions:

  • What’s your project (at this point, can think of this as your thesis)?
  • What is working (identify an area of strength)?
  • What else might/should you consider?
  • What’s next (areas to work on, questions you have)? Include in your reflection an indication of what revision you have done thus far, specific points you have addressed since the last draft.


  1. Revision workshop focal point: critical reflection; remember the lesson from Birkerts–reflection vs. nostalgia. Ways to elaborate and strengthen the ethos and reflection.
    1. Clarity: Identify key terms of argument. Write New/latest version of your abstract in notebook on the Writing Project 1 log.
    2. Complexity: countering as revision strategy as well as strategy for extending the essay–a possible counterargument paragraph. Write an abstract for the opposite of your argument (its counter). Then use that to refine your abstract. Use that to look for places to bring those complications into your essay: rewriting the intro, a body paragraph, the conclusion.
    3. Coherence. The movement of the argument and key terms. Revision strategy: reverse outline or sentence outline for each paragraph (identifying your key terms.)
  2. Peer Response groups: follow-up with Further draft (exchange)
    1. Provide feedback on the effectiveness of the revision thus far, choices the writer has made, and where they help with clarity, complexity, coherence and where more revision is needed.

F 9/25

Due: First Writing Project due (fully revised and edited, submitted by 8pm to Canvas). Don’t forget the self-reflection to be included with the copy in Blackboard (see Format description on Writing Projects)

Consider: In class–editing workshop: have your latest version of the draft in class to work on. Give attention to your presentation: style, language, and usage [remember the Writing Rubric]

Editing 101–listening to our writing.

Grammar/mechanics focal points: active/passive constructions; listening for fragments and run-ons–punctuating to fix. [consult Guide to Grammar and Writing]

Final steps in submitting/publishing this piece.


Week 5: Frankenstein–beginnings

M 9/28

Due:Read Frankenstein through chapter chapter 2 (pages 44-67) +  Appendix A,B,C (pages 430-443)

Consider: Pay attention to the complications of how this novel begins. Come in with questions. Remember there is a hypertext version of Frankenstein available–might find it interesting to use or compare to the print version.

The complications of Frankenstein

[1] Notebook warm-up: a question you have from the reading thus far–a point of confusion, a problem, a complication.

Complication number one: Survey questions.

My question: where does this story begin? complication: narrative structure–a problem for reading, a complication (in the good sense) for interpretation.

map out the narrative structure

what we notice about this: the focus on narrative, on the power of story, on texts–all the way back to Shelley’s introduction–look more closely at that introduction as part of the novel. (will consider it one of the ‘intertexts’ of the novel

[2]Complication #2: Intertextuality–

initial definition (the presence of one or more texts within another text)

Notebook (5 minutes):  Select an ‘intertextual’ moment–a place where the novel makes some sort of use or reference to another text. Pick one of interest to you–one you think might be significant. Why? What do you see there?

survey examples of intertextuality

definition of text vs. book (OED): the idea that a story or idea (not just a book) has multiple layers, complications.

Intertextuality makes a more complicated ‘monster’ story–the focus of our next writing project.

W 9/30

Due: Reading for Friday (in class–follow-up workshop on last project)


[1]Revision log in notebook. Give an account of your revision work from the last project: add up total time spent on drafting and revising and editing. Identify 1 or 2 specific and significant changes you made in the process of revision.

[2] Workshop: “complicate” and uncomplicate your last project

–the “narrative” (lesson from Shelley): add a layer or story within story–a level of complication–to one of your body/supporting paragraphs or to your introduction.

Expand/retell the narrative, adding a new or different perspective. Experiment: rewrite the paragraph. What are we looking for with good types of complication?

–editing: clarifying confusion (complication in the bad sense): pronoun reference, shift in verb tense, etc. [Guide to Grammar and Writing]

[3]Frankenstein: follow up from last conversation. Further questions? Why tell the story in this way? why not keep it simple?

F 10/2

Due:Frankenstein, finish Volume I (page 125) + Blog 


  1. Close reading work:
    1. What’s working, what’s in front of you? Notebook: go to a passage of interest (can build upon blog response), a moment of complication. Come to terms with the passage: what’s there, what do you notice in the language and imagery.
    2. What else?: other perspectives, possibilities, connotations, further reading, re-reading. Get some perspectives from a peer. Re-read together. What do they hear/see?
    3. What’s next: questions, ideas, threads, problems that emerge from this–larger perspective with the whole novel.
  2. Class conversation: 
    1. list of passages noticed and further questions. places where we see complications–where closer/slower reading is required. [our focus for the next project]
    2. initial close reading:
      1. Victor’s creation scene: what do we see/hear; what don’t we see? What’s going on?
      2. film versions: 1931; Brannagh 1995


Week 6: Forwarding Frankenstein

M 10/5

Due:Reading: Frankenstein through Vol. II, chapter 8 (page 168)

Consider: the so-called “monster’s” narrative–what do you learn, what surprises you? Is the monster a  monster?

[carry over from Friday]

  1. Critical Reading/thinking strategy: close/slow reading
    1. What’s working, what’s in front of you? Notebook [5 minutes]: go to a passage of interest (can build upon blog response), a moment of complication. Come to terms with the passage: what’s there, what do you notice in the language and imagery.
    2. What else?: other perspectives, possibilities, connotations, further reading, re-reading. Get some perspectives from a peer. Re-read together. What do they hear/see?
    3. What’s next: questions, ideas, threads, problems that emerge from this–larger perspective with the whole novel.
  2. Class conversation: 
    1. list of passages noticed and further questions. places where we see complications–where closer/slower reading is required. [our focus for the next project]
    2. initial close reading:
      1. Victor’s creation scene: what do we see/hear; what don’t we see? What’s going on?
      2. The ‘monster’: is this a monster’s story? what are the complications here? why is this left out of films?

W 10/7

Due: Reading: Harris Rewriting chapter 2, “Forwarding”

Consider: As you come to terms with Harris’ notion of forwarding, consider how we can think of Shelley’s novel as a forwarding of other stories/texts; and later versions of Frankenstein as forwarding.

[1]Harris, Forwarding

notebook–5 min: write an abstract of Harris’ “Forwarding”:

what’s his argument–what does forwarding mean?

what are the key terms?

what are some implications of those terms and the overall argument that we can apply to our own writing?

[2]Forward “Forwarding”

What are the implications of “forwarding”–what definition of critical reading and writing emerges from this?

Think of Shelley in Frankenstein as ‘forwarding’ other texts?

Film: Branagh: forwarding the novel: example of illustrating, borrowing, authorizing, extending… [the creation scene]

F 10/9

Due:Frankenstein through Vol. II, chapter 17 (page 223) + Blog.

Consider: For your glog, once again provide an overiew of key elements of the novel to this point, and pick a particular element or passage of the novel of interest to you and do some slow/close reading–look at some complications and layers in the language of the text.

  1. Blog conversation: where are we at this point (overview); what are we noticing? what questions or problems are emerging?
  2. Project preview: intertextuality–critical, slow reading and exploration of one of the layers of complication.
    1. For example: Genesis
    2. page 162: “but the apple was already eaten”–intertextual reference to Genesis (Eden, expulsion: chapter 3)5 min notebook: go back, re-read. What are implications? complications? What is Shelley ‘forwarding’ from Genesis: illustrating, borrowing, authorizing, extending?Discussion: complications?


Week 7: Finishing Frankenstein

M 10/12

Due: Reading:Finish the novel+ revisit the preface/introduction (Appendix A,B,C). Journals due in class (midterm evaluation).

Consider: As always at the end of a text, ask yourself: where does this novel leave me? In what ways does it resolve things (problems, ideas, themes)? What are some larger implications?

  1. Project 2: Listing of Intertextual Layers/complications (Group discussion)–Forwarding Frankenstein–focusing on the “pathos” of reading. 
    1. Three-Act structure of novel.
    2. The “argument” of the novel:
      1. What are some “problems” raised by the novel? [ie, think of Mary Shelley forwarding ideas from others to her readers (us)–what does she want us to focus on?]
      2. What are some “responses” to those problems–some possible answers or resolutions, or at least, a more complicated understanding of the problem?
      3. Which of the texts she forwards (Prometheus, Genesis, etc.) might help a reader better understand Shelley’s argument?
    3. How would you forward your reading/understanding/argument of the novel into a film? What would your argument be in presenting (selecting, interpreting, forwarding) the novel in this way?

W 10/14

Due:Read the editors “Introduction” (page 16-35) + Blog: Composting for Project.

Consider: How and where does Frankenstein live on in film, in literature, in culture?

  1. Work in pairs. Composting for 2nd project: select intertextual passage, use forwarding structure as a place to start/organize–and also begin to do close reading
    1. Illustrate it: paraphrase (2-3 sentences; contexts).
    2. authorize it: identify some keywords–in the novel and the intertext
    3. borrow: quote a key and useful passage
    4. extend: highlight implications (not the plot); where might you take these implications into an argument about the novel? what might the argument be? what other passages in the novel might you relate this to and why?
  2. Frankenstein Futurity: it seems that the ‘counter-argument’ seems to be of particular interest to recent versions.

F 10/16

Due:  Fall Break



Week 8: Writing Project #2—The Pathos of Writing

M 10/19

Due: Initial Draft of second project: paper or electronic copy in class : should be at least 2-3 pages–focus on starting to develop the close reading of the text and the intertextual connection you are exploring.

Consider: Focus on the close/slow reading of your text and intertext–use that to complicate your thinking; once again, you might state an initial thesis, but don’t spend all your energy on the introduction–focus more on the body.

[1] Workshop focus: slow reading (getting Psycho with your draft and its close reading of your text)

slowing down, looking closely at the ‘frames,’ stopping at key points, thinking/reflecting on the how of the scene (language, medium) not just the what. This will help you move away from summary (what it says, what happened) and focus on interpretation and analysis (how the language/ideas are important, how you want your reader to understand the passage). Example: Shower Scene

[2] Practice: slow reading

Draft in notebook or on Initial Draft a slow reading of a key passage (‘scene) from the novel or from the intertext you have.

remember the 3 step template for quotation:

Illustrate: introduce/summarize context;

borrow: quote text–chosen to work for your argument.

authorize and extend: look at “keywords” from the quotation; follow up elaborating how this relates to your argument (keywords from thesis), why this matters. This should be 3-5 sentences or more. This is where you slow down.

[3]Peer read

help the writer with the slow/close reading.

Focus on one or two of their ‘body’ paragraphs–where the essay is looking at a passage, at text–identify places where the writer should slow down, look closer, look for something else in the passage. Make specific suggestions.

[4]Abstract at this point

W 10/21

Due: Further/full draft of second project + 1 paragraph process reflection (same as last project: what’s the project (abstract of your argument), what’s working, what else, what’s next?). Should be at least 3 pages. In addition: post a copy of your draft to blog ; respond to the drafts (whatever you don’t get to in workshop) in your group by Thursday evening.

Consider: Go back and refine/revise your thesis, work on the introduction and conclusion.

[1]Peer Response Follow-Up: Writer meet with Reader, and respond to the response. Take one or two of the reader’s responses and explore further: explain/show what you have started to do in response (evident in new draft); explain why you are doing something differently–perhaps a counter to their counter; ask questions you have for the reader.

[2]Workshop Focus: re-building (revising) the body after you complicate/refine your thesis.

Remember Victor’s problem: spends lots of time on his draft, but doesn’t revise his thesis at the end to match up with where the work ended up.

  1. Use 3-Act template to sketch out the writer’s argument in the draft
    1. Act I: statement of argument [Given/Problem/Response]
    2. Act II: Examples/Passages that develop and complicate the argument
    3. Act III: Conclusion/Resolution of the argument.
  2. Focus on buried thesis: is the stated argument/thesis in Act 1 the strongest version of the argument–or is there a stronger or different thesis later (in act 2 or 3) that the writer needs to consider?
  3. Focus on the threading/connecting of the argument in Act 2.
    1. identify the language (keywords, transitions) in paragraphs that connects with the thesis
    2. identify places where the connection to the thesis is less clear or confusing: indicate what you need to hear/see in order to recognize the argument at that point in the body (act 2).

F 10/23

Due: Second Writing project due by 8pm (submitted to Blackboard). Editing workshop in class (bring a version to edit).

Consider: Focus on the specificity of your language as well as sentence variation.

Editing Workshop: Stitching a more fluid essay.

transitions; specificity of words; sentence variation



Week 9: Remediating the Book

M 10/26

Due: Birkerts, Gutenberg Elegies, “Into the Electronic Millenium”


We will be reading various essays (nonfiction again) focused on an argument about literature/reading/writing in the electronic/digital age. Thus, we need to give thought to the rhetorical nature of these texts–just as we think of our writing in terms of its rhetorical effects of moving the reader into and through our argument. So, we will be focusing on critical reading for dynamic argument–how the thinking moves through the text.

  1. Notebook Warm-up [5 min]
    1. Before I read this text, the author (Birkerts) assumed that I believed ________ [fill in blank; get specific citation from text for evidence]
    2. After I finished reading this text, the author wanted me to believe ___________ [fill in blank; get specific citation from text for evidence]
    3. The author was/was no successful in changing my view. Why or why not? [point to a specific place that you read as strength or weakness in the argument in this regard]
  2. Class conversation
    1. What does Birkerts assume about our views?
    2. What view does Birkerts want us to have by the end?
    3. Where was he successful/unsuccessful in changing our views?

W 10/28

Due: Harris, “Countering”  in Rewriting + Revision Reflection in your notebook: make log of the total work you did on the project, identifying specific revision/editing decisions that seemed effective, other areas you might improve; also, update your writing to-do list. Once again, bring a copy (print or electronic) of your last writing project to class for follow-up workshop.

  1. Forward the basic view of countering.
  2. Project 2 review
    1. Revision strategy: countering yourself to strengthen your argument and rhetorical effect (what’s more dynamic than disagreeing with yourself only to show that your argument actually has a stronger answer?)Grammar focus: zombie nouns
      1. Counter some element of your argument–a particular example or your overall thesis. Then use that to rewrite the body paragraph (in the case of a specific supporting example) or the conclusion (in the case of thesis). Answer the counter to the argument that you raise.
    2. Grammar/Language issue: Zombie Nouns

F 10/30

Due: Read Dennis Baron, “Should Everybody Write?” [linked here]; + Blog


Respond to Birkerts and Baron; think about the ways Baron counters Birkerts’s perspective. Which argument do you find more persuasive?

If you were to forward one or both of these critical perspectives into your own argument about the electronic millenium, how would you extend and/or counter them?

  1. Blog conversation: Forward/counter the two arguments in conversation. In your own project, which might you extend? which might you counter? why?
  2. Class conversation–adding Baron to the argument.
    1. what does he assume about our views?
    2. what view does he want us to have by the end?
    3. is he successful in getting us there? How would Birkerts counter?


Week 10: The Medium is the Message

M 11/2

Ander Monson, “Essay as Hack”

Use forwarding/countering as a strategy for presenting the uses and limits of these two critical perspectives on reading/writing in the digital age.

1] Illustrate: summary of basic argument; “keywords”; thesis

2]Authorize and Borrow: a key passage you would quote from the argument, from the evidence–why this is important.

3]Extend: Where you would agree; where you would disagree. In either case, extend by applying to a particular example: a text you have reading, another critic who has a similar or different view.

Class conversation: What are the arguments? How might we use them? Applications: what literature could we apply this to? what else–other types of games we might think of as literary?

What are some rhetorical, logical, and grammatical elements we can learn from?

W 11/4

Due:  McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage–begin, read through at least half of the book. Meet at Lit House

Consider: What’s the argument or project? What are some of its key terms and ideas? What are some limitations of those terms? How is the form and presentation of this argument (a multimedia/hypermediated book) effective or ineffective in the overall argument?

Note: an audio version of McLuhan’s book here.

  1. McLuhan: what’s the argument/project? what’s the effect of this multimedia approach? Critical reading strategy: believing/doubting game
    1. Half class will believe (forward) McLuhan, other half will doubt (counter). Notebook: write a paragraph of your belief or doubt, with specific citation supporting/complicating your response.
    2. Discussion: key ideas. potential use of this text–critical insights and problems. How might we counter the beliefs with doubts? Note that we can do this in our own thinking: counter/doubt our own beliefs–in order to develop a stronger argument.
    3. Thus far, what’s the rhetorical, logical, and grammatical/stylistic effect of the way he uses his medium?

Some keywords for discussion–focusing on the medium and mediation of reading this book (to help with the close viewing).

Remediation (Bolter and Grusin): the influence/presence of one medium in another (think of as intermediation, similar to intertextuality)

hypermediacy and immediacy

Hot vs Cool Medium (McLuhan)

cool medium: medium of low definition, the meager amount of information requires participation–information has to be filled in by the reader/listener. Example: television, speech, telephone, pictographic (image-based) writing–as opposed to alphabetic.

hot medium: extends one single sense in high definition–being well filled with data; the intensity/high definition allows/invites less ‘reader’ participation than cool medium. Example: radio, movie, writing/books (phonetic alphabet)

Material Metaphor (Hayles)

example from Blade Runner, Hugo–and perhaps echoing all the way back to Frankenstein: close-up of the eye.

Hayles thus argues that in our critical reading we need to practice ‘media specific analysis’–thinking of the ways that a book is different from a film from a web page, etc.

Ander Monson, “Essay as Hack” + Andrew Piper, “By the Numbers”

F 11/6

Due: Finish McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage + Blog on McLuhan’s Medium 

Consider: This is both a book and an argument–though as you will see, not a conventional argument and not a typical book. Locate a place where you think McLuhan’s argument is best stated or presented (what are some of his key terms); assess the uses and the limitations of the way he presents the argument in the ways he does. Come to class with specific examples noted to take up in discussion. What would Birkerts say about this book?How might you forward and/or counter McLuhan’s argument in your third writing project? How might you put some of his lessons in remediation to work in your own writing, that is, mediating your message? That is, experiment with using tools of digital writing (the blog) to enhance the rhetorical effect of your critical reading of McLuhan (just as he does with his book). Think, in other words, about the message of the medium you are using.

  1. Notebook and Discussion: Critical Reading strategy: Believing and Doubting game
    1.  Belief: Assume you believe McLuhan’s argument–identify a compelling aspect. What’s the belief? (remember our process for forwarding–identify in your notebook what you would illustrate, borrow, and extend
      1. discussion.
    2. Doubt: Assume you doubt the argument–identify an area you are doubtful/critical of. What’s the critique (or counter)? Remember with countering, you are still forwarding the language and idea of the author.
      1. discussion.
    3. Do areas of belief and doubt relate or come together? In the process of forwarding the belief, how might it be effective to include your own doubt?


Week 11: Is Google Making us Stupid?

M 11/9

Due: Carr, “Is Google Making us Stupid?”  [linked] Take notes–and have the essay and your notes available in class, either print or electronic versions.

Consider: As always, identify the basic argument (how it is set up and stated) and some places where you think the argument is effective and perhaps limited–where you might forward, where you might counter.

[1]Notebook warm-up: Is Google Making Us Stupid?

–your initial answer to this question–before reading the article. why?

–an example from the article that you feel supports or challenges your initial view. explain.

[2] Close reading of Carr’s argument

Examples from argument that support/counter your views.

ideas that support/counter Birkerts or McLuhan.

think about reading in Google more thoroughly and purposely (Google Books), even if that still means the reading is lateral, associative

Do some Google reading

Can begin to think about ways you can use this article to develop a counter-argument with Birkerts or McLuhan (and the reverse). In other words, counter-argument can be developed by turning to another critical argument (for dissent, or a related but different perspective)

Style and Rhetoric of the article: things to observe and notice and model

Introduction: begins with close-up, scene, then eases back to focus; returns to this in conclusion.

integration of other critical arguments:

example: Proust and the Squid–to elaborate the idea of deep reading.

Counter-argument: maybe I’m just a worrywart–introduces Phaedrus

you should be skeptical of my skepticism

General style: notice the sentence variation; the transitions; blending of critical analysis with narrative.

W 11/11

Advising Day–no class

F 11/13

Due: Reading The Museum [hypertext story linked here] + Murray + Blog

Focus: coming to terms, forwarding, then countering [3rd project builds on first two]

Notebook (laptops initially closed)

1. My definition of the key terms and characteristics for what makes something literature (be it narrative, essay, fiction). [part review from last discussion]

2. Characteristics of “The Museum”: come to terms with how it reads, works, is made.

[1]What are qualities and elements of literature? What does (or should) literary experience entail?

[2]What are the qualities and elements of this example of Hypertext literature? Is it literature–why or why not?


Week 12: Hypertext Literature

M 11/16

Due: Birkerts, Gutenberg Elegies, “Hypertext: Of Mouse and Man” + Murray, “A Book Lover Longs for Cyberdrama

Consider: You can browse a sample of Moulthorp’s “Victory Garden” (the hypertext that Birkerts is ‘reading’ and responding to); you might also go back to the Electronic Frankenstein site (for an example of hypertext)–and consider what it would be like to read the novel that way. Or take a another look at a hypertext story, The Museum. What problems does Birkerts encounter with hypertext? How do his views compare to your recent experience with electronic literature?

Suggestions for how to proceed: What can we do as critical readers/thinkers with these sorts of text–particularly if they are unfamiliar? Patience, and remember what we know how to do: close/slow reading, critical reading strategies. To Birkerts credit, he doesn’t dismiss hypertext without exploring it further. And our focus for the project: also developing an effective critical evaluation (thinking of logos, pathos, ethos). View Project 3 description.

Continuing focus: moving from forwarding to countering. Notebooks.

1]Birkerts: key terms for how he thinks/reads hypertext. Forward a specific term and criticism that you would now apply to “The Museum.”

2]Murray: key terms for how she would counter Birkerts. Would you then counter Murray in your own evaluation of The Museum?

W 11/18

Due: Reading, Electronic Literature Collection (volume 1). Read/browse/play/participate/hack (?) at least 5 of the texts. Be prepared to lead us into a critical discussion of at least one of these texts.

Meet in Beck Lab (lower level library) for class.

  1. Introduction to Beck and Multimedia facilities
    1. polymorphous possibility not just for reading, but for writing and presenting your work.
    2. Review critical perspectives (keywords, ideas) we have encountered thus far: Birkerts, McLuhan, Carr, Murray.
  2. Group wreading.
    1. Each member leads group through one of the texts s/he read from ELA–illustrating the text, highlighting (borrow/authorize) a key element of it, extending that key element to one of the critical arguments we have encountered.
    2. Group discussion: 
      1. listing of the key elements/experiences in what this literature is about, how it reads.
      2. Identify one text from the group that you will present back to class with some of these elements. Group will help the rest of us think about the experience.
  3. Class conversation
    1. Presentations from group.
    2. Questions: How do we read and interpret these texts and what they are about? 
      1. Need to be media specific (Hayles, media specific analysis) in our reading (these aren’t books, aren’t print)
      2. Extend from critical perspectives: once again, how might Birkerts, Carr, McLuhan, Murray read these–and how might we then use their perspective to develop our own?

F 11/20

Due: Further reading in Electronic Literature Collection (volume 1 + Blog. For your blog–begin a close reading of one of the electronic texts you have in mind for the writing project–with critical discussion (from Birkerts or Carr or Murray or Baron or Monson or McLuhan) included in your response–forwarding and countering one or more of the critical perspectives. Think of this as an initial drafting for you upcoming writing project.


M 11/23

Due: Birkerts, “Coda: The Faustian Pact” or Afterword For your blog–begin a close reading of one of the electronic texts you have in mind for the writing project–with critical discussion (from Birkerts or Carr or Murray or Baron or Piper) included in your response–forwarding and countering one or more of the critical perspectives. Think of this as a beginning for you upcoming writing project.  

  1. Group discussion/warm up (pair): final thoughts on Birkerts
    1. Does his conclusion effectively conclude his argument?
    2. Identify/share a passage in conversation that you might forward into your writing project to extend your argument; or that you might use to develop a counter-argument in your project.
  2. The Coda
    1. notice various elements of how he concludes–rhetorical elements we might borrow.
      1. use of Faust image at beginning and end
      2. effective/selective forwarding of the critical perspective of Walter Benjamin
      3. other elements that work?
    2. Where would you forward into your emerging argument for the project?
    3. Where would you counter? 
    4. Compost for this project: begin with this and other critical perspectives to help shape your argument, your close reading (rather than starting with a thesis). Use the three-act structure to organize.


Week 14: Third Writing Project

M 11/30

Due: Three-Act outline for your third writing project. Revisit the discussion of this structure and template here.

Consider: Have the outline in hand for workshop.

Analogy for our rhetorical focus in project 3 (inspired by Kenneth Burke): We all attend a performance of new forms of literature in Gibson–interactive, multimedia, hypertextual. Some have claimed this new type of multimedia writing and reading as a valuable development in literature; others argue it is a problem. The performances include: The Medium is the Massage, “The Museum,” and a bunch of texts from the Electronic Literature Archive. After the performance, you gather with a group that includes people such as Birkerts, Carr, Murray, Baron, Monson and others, as well as fellow students. You listen in to the conversation, in which others are offering their critical evaluation of what they have experienced. You then join in, putting forward your argument and evaluation, focusing on one or more of the texts. Your third writing project is the written, polished version of what you say.

  1. Notebook Warm-up: countering as composting tool.
    1. what’s a possible objection to your emerging argument, an alternative perspective to your reading of the text? Write it out in a sentence or two.
    2. Write an abstract of your argument–3-4 sentence thesis paragraph. Include a sentence about counter-argument in the abstract.
    3. Review countering: Harris–forward his view–what is countering about?
      1. Why offer a counter-argument?
        1. emphasizes that the argument is in dialectical relation with problem–not fixed position, but fluid, responsive.counteragument thus reinforces or reiterates the surprising/revealing hook of the thesis–the sense that the argument/answer is somehow, maybe even counterintuitively, tied up (com-plicated) with the existing problem.
      2. Examples we have encountered?
        1. two types: counter another’s view; counter your own view
        2. Harvard sheet on countering.
      3. Examples from the class (abstracts)
        1. Where to use this counterargument (which is part of the unfolding/complicating of the thesis)?
  2. Workshop: Outline–screenwriting the argument.
    1. Focus on argument: is the current thesis the stronger argument? is there one buried in the body? is the counter-argument stronger?

W 12/2

Due: Full draft of Project 3 (in hand for workshop and posted to blog)

Consider: Focus on the critical application—using the critical quotations to guide and develop your argument and the close reading of the primary text you have chosen, using counterargument as a way to develop your argument and address alternative perspectives.

Focal point: logical fallacies.

Workshop: 2 readings.

Process paragraph: What’s the argument at this point (write it out)? What else–another or different perspective still to consider? What’s next–work you have left to do, questions you have?

First reading: focus on the critical application–how well the essay builds its argument by forwarding and countering critics. [act 2] Is the argument dynamic, moving? Does the writer take enough time (slow reading, reflection)?

samples/issues from class

Second reading: focus on the consistency of the argument–all points (scenes) specifically and effectively relate back to the thesis. Is the argument consistent?

F 12/4

Due: Writing Project 3 fully revised and edited version due by 8 pm

Editing Workshop

Wordle: reminder about specificity, variation, too much ‘is’

Citation format: reminder about MLA–consult OWL or Hacker; three-part structure for effective quotation.

Conclusions: think resolution (where are we now, what’s the new reality, the next day), not simply restatement.

larger implications

10 min: experiment with a completely new conclusion–try something different, see what happens.


Week 15:  Final Project

M 12/7

Due: Harris, “Taking an Approach” + Final Project Proposal posted to blog (1-2 pages)

Consider: For the proposal, be prepared to present to the class:

  1. What you plan to revise for the project, how you plan to approach it and why.
  2. At least one logical or rhetorical element of writing that you plan to focus on as part of your revision effort. Explain what you have learned about that element of logic or rhetoric that you will work on. Consult our listing of Keywords as well as Harris’ Rewriting and your notes for more information.
  3. At least one grammatical item from your to-do list that you plan to focus on as part of your editing effort. Explain what you have learned about the element of grammar or style that you will work on.  Consult the Guide to Grammar and Writing and other course resources for more information.

M 12/9 [last class]

Final Project: presentations/track changes draft


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers