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Plagiarism, Originality, and Assemblage Edit

Johndan and Selber’s Plagiarism, Originality, and Assemblage asserts that our pedagogy has not kept up with modern compositional forms and that how we treat and discuss plagiarism, originality, and citation, relative to the form of the remix does not adequately serve students who are more and more working in collaborative forms. In particular, they assert that “the common practice of remixing visual elements common in design” “asks that teachers consider raising the status of remixed elements in verbal texts so that we no longer automatically subordinate quotation to original text” (emphasis my own Johndan and Selber 387). At the core of their argument is the idea that when we grade we are continuing to support the idea of individual genius by privileging “original” text over cited text. While I can appreciate and agree that as teachers we need to be helping students engage with composition on their own terms and incorporate collaborative work such as the remix more in our courses I do not agree with this concept of an existing separation in a student’s work between their words and those they reference. Part of any student’s composition work is how they are working with sources. While there is a clear distinction created by citation, a large part of the composition process is choosing how to present and interact with your chosen sources. I would even go so far as to say teaching students the skills to understand the different ways that presenting a source effects how their paper interacts with that source is a large part of what we as teachers should be working on in early composition classes. As such, I consider quoted or remixed material to be as much a part of a student’s original work as I do any other part of their text. In my own classroom I would even strongly consider lessons focused around helping students understand this concept. I might present students with a source and have them work it into a short argument in different forms and then reflect on how the different ways they chose to present the source effected their writing and their argument. If we as teachers are to truly stop “automatically subordinat[ing] quotation to original text” then we need to teach the ways that quotation and reference are as much a part of the original text as any other part of the larger text (387).

Reflection Edit

I still really agree with my initial response to Johndan and Selber’s article. And will defiantly incorporate a day where I work with my students on citation in the way I describe. Kaytlen suggested that my understanding of citation as part of a student’s text is addressing the idea that we can use language to “form and discern knowledge” and that really has me thinking about how teaching citation as part of your composition choices is just another part of how the writing process is where we can generate the ideas we describe in our writing and not something that happens before or after arguments are formed. In our incorporation of the citation in the writing process we can actually can teach our students how those choices can actually change their writing’s content as well as its form.

A Multimodal Task – Based Framework for Composing Edit

In A Multimodal Task – Based Framework for Composing Jody Shipka outlines the benefits, and difficulties, of assigning multimodal forms of composition in the classroom. Specifically, she says that “Precisely because this multimodal task-based framework refuses to provide students with prepared goals, students learn by doing” and that “however time-consuming this process of ‘testing goals through action’ may be for some, those who have experienced this form of deep revision have reported that they no longer equate revision with proofreading. Rather, revision has become re-vision” (Shipka 291). What this means is that by assigning students work which doesn’t have the clearly defined steps and goals that a traditional research essay might we are able to help students learn to work through revision; as they test their ideas, to see what works for an assignment that takes a form they have never seen before, students come to a better understanding of what revision actually is and move away from the understanding of revision that we saw dominate students in our readings from last week. As a student the exact frustration which Shipka mentions is a personal experience. Frequently I would rather work through a familiar assignment than a more complicated and unfamiliar one. However, that is exactly the reason to design more open ended and flexible assignments. If a student hasn’t done the kind of work being asked of them before they will be forced to engage more directly with the assignment. Working in multimodal ways is a great way of getting students to engage in this manner because it provides them with the ability to pursue the modes which they find compelling but asks them to attempt something new – which forces engagement – at the same time. I am concerned about exactly how open some of the assignments she suggests are. I feel like there is a fine line between an assignment being open ended in a way that will help students engage and so open ended as to be an assignment with not have enough direction for the student to get started or know what to prioritize. After all, if the student doesn’t know what the finished form of an assignment looks like then how will they know what to focus on when they start?

Reflection Edit

In her response to my response, Dr. Teague notes that students “have to figure out what might work best” when they are working through an assignment. While this falls completely in line with my response’s idea that students need time to work through what form their response to an assignment should take through revision I'm not convinced that it goes far enough. As the semester has gone on my focus on revision has increased but it goes beyond what this response suggests of allowing students to work in multimodal ways. I now that that asking them to shift their work between genres and provide multiple revisions of that work for review I can teach them how genre is performative and how their own work is as performative as the published work they read.

Generalizing about Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept Edit

One of the main points of Amy Devitt’s Generalizing about Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept is that we can “see how genre can help us to reintegrate several dichotomies in our view of writing” such as “the better integration of form with content and of text with context” with the aim to “develop an integrated, unified theory of writing” (Devitt 582, 584). What this means is that they hope to better understand writing as a whole by understanding these dichotomies as wholes instead of the separate parts that they have been thought of in the past. The idea that it is even possible to create a unified theory of writing to me seems extremely ambitious and suggests that we can develop a system that works for all kinds of writing. I worry that trying to think or writing in this way will only lead to more and more formulaic compositions. Additionally, I’m not convinced that we can think of these dichotomies in unified ways as much as we can think of how they interact with each other in unified ways. For example: form and content are distinctly different things but we can think of how form and content influence each other in order to produce a synthesis, the composition itself. However, the specifics of any individual piece’s form and content (and how they are interacting) is going to alter how the composer goes about building the text. This inherently means that there is no singular way to build a text in a particular genre as the specifics of that text will alter its construction even within that genre. As an instructor this means that I need to help my students understand how to think about these interactions in order to understand how to build their texts. For an assignment, I might ask students to write two short pieces in the same genre but with different forms and contents. In the process of these compositions the students will see how two different works in the same genre can be developed in radically different ways via different writing processes. I might also design an assignment that has students analyze the form and content of two works in the same genre to see how different they can be. I feel like there is a clear focus on understanding and working in genres in the design of the EN 2135 class strands and working on assignments to help students not only recognize genre but understand how genre can be bent and altered to serve a unique compositions needs seems like a something I will very likely incorporate in my own teaching.

Reflection Edit

In my response to Devitt’s writing I can clearly see my understanding of Jameson’s Marxism and Form creeping into my ideas about composition. Much of my argument is on the idea that I can teach students to understand the relationship between form and content the way I do. However, Kaytlen suggested that “genre helps give us” a “lens” to teach this. I had not considered yet how to incorporate a focus in genre with one on content and form. However, it is clear form my teaching philosophy that this has become central to how I want to teach. I can use genre as a example of this relationship for my students and by asking them to work in multiple genres I can get them to act out the dynamics of the form-content relationship for themselves. 

Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting out Three Forms of Judgment Edit

In Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting out Three Forms of Judgment Peter Elbow provides an overview of the benefits and detriments of three forms grading that he has used in an attempt to sort out how best to provide grades to his students while not bogging down their learning with the negatives normally associated with traditional grading systems. He criticizes ranking specifically due to its inaccuracy, lack of real feedback to the student, and is harmful to teaching by creating a classroom where students are too busy acting out and enforcing a pecking order to actually learn. After a through look at raking and evaluation Elbow says, “good writing teachers like student writing” and “good teachers see what is only potentially good; they get a kick out of mere possibility” when looking at student writing (406). This idea of the necessity of liking student writing and seeing its value a possible value is extremely compelling to me. It is necessary that we, at teachers, believe that our students can be successful and want to be. If we do not see that, see the possibility for them to improve in our classes, then we are suggesting that we do not see education itself as capable of success. We may not take every student’s writing from that initial possibility to a fulfilment of that potential, but it is our job to get it as far along as we can. In many ways that Is why I prefer to weight grades in my classes toward the end of the semester. That way I am not only grading a student based on their ability to complete an assignment’s objectives but also on how improved their writing has been. I will be, no matter how hard I try, be more willing to give a A to a paper that would be a B+ coming from another student if that paper show large and hard-won growth on the part of the student. That is my interest as a writing instructor. The fulfilment of the potential is most important – and that potential is what I like about student writing – probably because I remember improving myself. On a side note, I find this idea of motivating an instruct via the potential of a student’s writing to be oddly similar to the idea of a utopian impulse in Marxist theory – particularly the work of Bloch.

Reflection Edit

In response to how much I liked Elbow’s ideas about liking student writing Amy said that “it’s a nice reminder not to get stuck in the rut of complaining about student writing” and I cannot agree more. While I can’t say that reading student writing is my favorite thing in the world, and that I have complained about it before, Elbow’s idea of liking is something that I will try to remember while I teach. However, I am more and more concerned about my own past success with grading early papers harshly in order to motivate my students. I think that it works – I’ve seen it myself – but I think that the portfolio grading technique will let me respond with a more positive critique of my students’ writing while not sacrificing a grade weighted toward student progress instead of performance. 

The Multiple Media of Texts: How Onscreen and Paper Texts Incorporate Words, Images, and Other Media Edit

Anne Wysocki’s The Multiple Media of Texts: How Onscreen and Paper Texts Incorporate Words, Images, and Other Media discusses in great detail the ways that the visual elements of a text help to preform genre. It says, “that we associate particular visual arrangements with different genres of writing means that the visual arrangements do some of the work of the genre. This means, then, that the visual arrangements can be analyzed in terms of the genre work they do. We can ask, then (for example), why the visual presentation of an academic or literary page is generally supposed to efface itself or how it is that we have come to expect 'professional looking' webpages not to look like plain white double-spaced paper pages” (124). What this does is not only assert the genre performance that a text’s visual aspects do but also calls into question the ways that we assume certain genres should visibly be performed. What this opens up is the idea that we can play with the ways we present academic work visually in the same ways that we play with genre conventions within our texts. Typically, we present academic work in English through plain text – conveying a sense of professionalism. But, could we use distinct visual elements to better make our arguments while pushing the boundaries of traditional academic genre? I can envision use different colors of text to call attention to specific parts of our arguments, drawing attention to possible connection that are less explicit in our work. This might also have the enjoyable side effect of making our work more interesting to look at when we read. We can even see examples of this kind of work in the field of creative writing. Specifically works such as Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves bend text into forms that work with the content with text shaped as keys or titled on the page. He even subverts the expected use of footnotes by having notes that occur out of order or reference other footnotes which may or may not exist for the reader to find. In my teaching I can even think of how the visual consideration might move beyond the traditional performative genre of assignment sheets. We could code our assignments so that common elements between them are highlighted. This might help students to understand the connections that we are drawing from one assignment to the next over the course of the semester. There are all sorts of implications for paying attention to visual form in genre that can help us be better communicators with our students and each other.

Reflection Edit

While I didn’t so much enjoy reading Wysocki’s article I found reflection on it to be one of the most fruitful processes in the semester. It really made me open up and think about the implications for text format in my classroom and my scholarly work. Dr. Teague pointed out that most of our students and colleagues have “never considered” the way that visual format can affect how we present academic texts and I hope that I can find a way to incorporate this into my class. I am not sure that I will be able to color code assignment as I suggested but when assigning the project in three genres I might suggest it to my students while providing examples of texts doing this. I would love to have them read House of Leaves but the book is far too long to use in a composition focused course. Maybe at a higher level. 

Works Cited Edit

Devitt, Amy J. “Generalizing about Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 44, no. 4, 1993, p. 573., doi:10.2307/358391

Elbow, Peter. “Ranking, Evaluating, and Liking: Sorting out Three Forms of Judgment.” College English, vol. 55, no. 2, 1993, p. 187., doi:10.2307/378503

Jameson, Fredric. Marxism and Form; Twentieth-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature. Princeton, N.J. Princeton UP, 1972. Print.

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan, and Stuart A. Selber. “Plagiarism, Originality, Assemblage.” Computers and Composition, vol. 24, no. 4, 2007, pp. 375–403., doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2007.08.003.

Shipka, Jody. “A Multimodal Task-Based Framework for Composing.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 57, no. 2, 2005, pp. 277–306. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/30037916.

Wysocki, Anne. “THE MULTIPLE MEDIA OF TEXTS How Onscreen and Paper Texts Incorporate Words, Images, and Other Media.” What Writing Does and How It Does It: an Introduction to Analyzing Texts and Textual Practices, by Charles Bazerman, Erlbaum, 2009, pp. 123–163.

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