Our last “Writing Theory & Practice” class…

We have finally made it to the finish line of the semester in Writing Theory & Practice class.  Our final class is next Monday.    I am excited for you to complete your final class project.  The concept of “Small Bites of Knowledge” is a provocative (and novel) way to explore the process of writing.  I am sure this collaboration will be well worth the effort, and I plan to share it with the Equity Unbound network, as should each of you!  In addition, I hope your final work will be featured in Kean’s Spring research form entitled “Research Days 2019“.

For the next class?

  • There is no more blogging (phew).  Your weekly blog now represent a significant part of your portfolio for the course!
  • Regarding  Small Bites of Knowledge:   You will all spend the final class period in a 3-hour “workshop”.   I will be on hand to help/advise, etc.   I am glad you have a solid block of time to collaborate and complete your final project together. Some suggestions for what to complete before you meet for final class on Monday:

-Make sure you have all of the “vignette” content completed (for each theme).  That means you should each complete your five vignettes needed.  You might consider using the Peer Review Protocol which provides a few questions to consider as you complete your own work.  And you can keep these questions in mind as you consult your colleagues on Monday regarding your contributions.

-In addition to the five final vignettes from each of you, make sure you have a short bio (2-3 sentence) handy for inclusion in Small Bites of Knowledge.  I think the sire should reference who you are as authors and collaborators.

-Also, anticipate the necessity of some kind of “cover page” which describes the context and purpose of the site.  This is something you might want to work on together Monday night.  Think brief “mission statement” or “statement of purpose”.  Or it can come across as a description of the collaboration and your hope for your readers in engaging the content.  I imagine this statement or description will be a critical component of pulling the project together in a cohesive way.

***You are all encouraged to attend the Winter Symposium on Dec. 13th (Thursday) at 4:30pm in CAS 329.  This will be our opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the holiday season together as a small but special community.

Finally, please submit your final self-assessment portfolio & narrative to me via email by Monday, Dec. 17th.  Thanks for a great semester. I have enjoyed getting to know each of you.   It has been my sincere pleasure to read your reflections each week and I have looked forward to our insightful conversations.  And I can’t believe how it just flew by….


Dr. Zamora

The Breath of Meaning & Small Bites of Knowledge

The Breath of Meaning

Thanks, Christina for a thorough conversation about the Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing by Cynthia L. Selfe.   As we discussed, Selfe advocates for the utilization of multiple forms of composition and communication (multimodalities) in order for students to portray their own ideas.  She makes it clear that global communications thrive from multimodality, and the use of dynamic composing environments for writing (video, audio, photography, software and hardware applications) allows for emerging writers to transcend language barriers and borders.  It was compelling for us to consider the history and politics behind a traditional academic disdain for aural “texts”.  For sometime multimodal composition has not been perceived as “valid writing” and has often been categorized as an invalid or premature form of composition (often associated with a low-brow mass mediascape).   But as Selfe suggests, “We need to respect the rhetorical sovereignty of young people from different backgrounds, communities, colors, and cultures, to observe and understand the rhetorical choices they are making, and to offer them new ways of making meaning, new choices, new ways of accomplishing their goals” (642).   I love how Christina closed her thoughtful presentation with an especially important assertion from Selfe’s research findings: “Young people need to know that their role as rhetorical agents is open, not artificially foreclosed by the limits of their teachers’ imaginations” (645).  This reflection brings us to the heart of the power hierarchy that is so much a part of any educational enterprise.

Equity Unbound

Next week the network will enter into the last phase of conversation based on the concept of Digital Wellbeing.  In many ways, I am glad we are closing the semester-long journey with a focus on this issue, and I suspect the topic might be related to some of your final project reflections as well.   Is technology hijacking our minds and society? Technology tears apart our common reality and truth, it shreds our attention and can cause us to feel isolated.  But it can also bring us together, perhaps growing our capacity to address the world’s pressing problems together.  What began as a race to monetize our attention is now eroding the pillars of our society: -our mental health, -our democracy, -our social relationships, and our children.  So in the face of this understanding, how do we take care of ourselves?  Some materials to get you thinking further about this include Net Smart: How to thrive online (selections) by Howard Rheingold (2012); the concept of ‘digital dualism’ as described by Nathan Jurgenson in The IRL fetish; or a brief video by Max Stossel & Sander van Dijk called The Panda Is Dancing produced by the Center for Human Technology.  I invite you to check out this #NetNarr Studio Visit from a year and a half ago in which we spoke with Howard Rheingold (and his daughter Mamie Rheingold) about being “Net Smart”, mindful, and creative in the digital age:

For the next class?

  • Please read Using Rubrics to Develop and Apply Grading Criteria by John Bean.  Serkan will present this article.
  • Please read Responding to Student Writing” by Nancy Sommers and Teacher-Writers: Then, Now, and Next.  Darline will present on these texts.
  • Re:  Small Bites of Knowledge – Please exchange “vignette” drafts in order to peer review of one vignette for the final project.  (You can email your reviewer your vignette, and be sure to cc me as well so I can see the material as well.)  Please follow this brief Peer Review Protocol which provides a few questions for the reviewer to consider.  The best way to go about your review is to make a copy of the peer review document and then on the re-named copy add the name of vignette author and reviewer and answer the questions.  (When you open the peer review document, you will see your review partners.)
  • Write your eleventh blog post reflecting on:

One of the readings above

Your final project progress (the peer review or the collaborative elements).

We will spend the second part of our class time in collaboration/workshop mode again.

Hang in there during this busy season!!

Dr. Zamora




This week we looked more closely at the concept of revision in writing by visiting with two influential writing theorists – Nancy Sommers and Donald Murray.  Jeanne chose two complimentary readings which together offered many insights about writing-as-process. The Sommers & Murray articles prompted us all to think more about the key role that revisionary thinking plays in the act of writing.  Murray wrote about the unfinished aspects of writing: “Instead of teaching finished writing, we should teach unfinished writing and glory in its unfinishedness .”  Meanwhile, Sommers shed light on the problem of linear thinking that is attached to writing.  Born of a problematic conflation between speech and writing, this linear mode of thinking reduces revision to an afterthought in the writing process.   But as Sommers has suggested, perhaps writing begins at the point where speech is impossible.  Writing is a recursive shaping of thought through/by language. Said another way, writing is always, also, re-visioning. Thanks, Jeanne for another insightful presentation.

Equity Unbound

We had a thoughtful Studio Visit conversation about what is at stake in regards to privacy in the digital age.  Check it out here:

The #unboundeq conversation (on online privacy, trust, and security) also extends to the current Equity Unbound theme of Algorithms & Data Politics.  Internet use leaves traces of personal information that can be used by other parties for their gain. Our own data is tracked and used in ways we have no control over. As machine-learning algorithms come to shape and dominate decision-making in global society, the pressure to make more personal data available will steadily increase.  Here we take a closer look at this tipping point moment – how does artifical intelligence and data tracking continue to shape the global cultural landscape, and what can we do about it?  Some materials to consider include Eli Pariser’s Beware online “filter bubbles” (TED Talk), Safiya Noble on “Algorithms of Oppression” (Podcast & article in Engine Failure) and Cathy O’Neill on “Weapons of Math Destruction” (podcast).

Update on your final project progress

Each of you selected a writing reflection theme to contribute to your final project.  You were able to work well together to build out a timeline for the remaining weeks (3+) in the semester, and what work might make sense to complete at certain points in time over the course of the next few weeks. You also discussed design concepts and concerns for the site you will build together and imagined a distribution of tasks for each member of the group.  For next week, you agreed to develop a brief “concept draft” or “sketch idea” for each of the 5 themes. (This can be just a couple of sentences for each theme which might include your idea – the direction you might want to go and the materials you might want to use. In addition, you decided to write a full draft of the theme you personally selected. In short, you will draft one of the five “vignettes” you will be composing for this project.  You all agreed that this would be no longer than a page.

For the next class?

1.  The Cynthia Selfe article

2.  Your “concept draft” or “sketch idea” for each of the project 5 themes.

3.  Your full draft (first “vignette”) based on the project theme you personally selected.
We will spend the later part of our class time in workshop and development mode.  Have a peaceful and nourishing Thanksgiving everyone!!





ELL writing & the Potluck Project plan

Thanks to Vee for kicking off the second round of writing theory presentations with a renewed focus on English Language Learners and writing.   With Tutoring ESL Students:  Issues & Options by Muriel Harris and Tony Silva, we consider the struggle that some ESL tutors experience when trying to explain why we say “on Monday” but “in June.”  Harris and Silva pointed out the difficulties in tutoring ELL students. What they say is true: most tutors have no idea where to start when considering an ELL’s writing.  We seem to once again enter into the difficult realm of grammar rules while we must confront the limits of a notion of language “intuition” regarding correct usage.  Harris and Silva also mention that new tutors feel like they need to fix every mistake the ESL writer has made instead of teaching them certain rules or concepts more gradually.  Deciding between global and local problems in students’ writing is certainly a part of their recommendation. The authors mention that tutors should first tell the students what they have done correctly and then approach the mistakes one at a time without approaching everything that’s wrong with their writing.  We have certainly read this before (in the context of student feedback).   The article covered how to prioritize, looking for patterns (which covered cultural differences as well), recognizing differences, whether ESL writes compose differently, how to confront errors and adjust expectations, setting goals for a tutoring session, resisting the urge to “tell,” deciding what aspects of grammar to focus on, and encouraging proofreading.

Equity Unbound

In our #unboundeq network, we turn to the question of privacy over the next couple of weeks.  Visibility matters in contemporary societies – online, in the media, and in the public eye.  But who is seen and how?  As we develop our online lives, we all have important concerns about privacy and awareness (of what we share online, and how we share it). The #unboundeq community will consider the significance of different understandings (in different countries) of privacy and the politics of visibility.  Some suggested material to explore these issues include Facebook’s surveillance machine by Zeynep Tufecki (2018).  In addition, the interactive online documentary entitled “Do Not Track” is a compelling way to learn more about this urgent issue.  “Do Not Track” is a personalized documentary series about privacy and the web economy directed by Brett Gaylor.  Check out the trailer for the project here:

In Spring 2018, Prof. Alan Levine and I conducted a great studio visit with Brett Gaylor and spoke about the issues explored in his interactive documentary:

  Updates on your Final Project

After the workshop time last Monday, there has been some more progress made in envisioning a final collaborative project for the class.  You all seem to embrace the thematic notion of a “Potluck” presentation (a web project) that will explore five themes around writing.  Each of you (as the designers/contributors/writers) adds one unique theme to the “potluck”.   In turn, each of you will contribute a “vignette” to each of the five writing themes. The home page of the “Potluck” site will be designed visually to present your five themes.  Each “plate” (read writing theme) will be a clickable entity that opens up to your five contributions on that idea. Some other take ways from listening to you all on Monday:  -There is a possibility of an exhibition style presentation of this work at the Kean “Research Days” forum in April 2019 (a short proposal would have to be submitted to the ORSP office).  -There is a possibility of feeding this project into the “Equity Unbound” network in some way.  Would you all design the site with some form of interactivity with the #unboundeq network? How would you have the network interact with or provide feedback with your “Potluck” project?  Would there be a way for people to build off of it, or contribute, or comment somewhere?

For next class?

1. Jeanne’s two readings

2.  Your writing theme or concept for the “Potluck” Final Project  (At the close of your blog, please write a brief paragraph about what theme or concept you have in mind and why you chose it.  The more details/ideas shared here the better.  You can also add any further thoughts on overall project design of the site, project development, timeline planning, etc.)

  • From 6:15pm-7:15pm, we will spend the time in workshop mode – planning/designing and scheduling the remaining timeline for the Potluck project.
  • As always, please tweet comments/thoughts and your blog post to the #unboundeq hashtag!



Feedback & Fake News

Commenting on Student Papers

Thanks to Serken, we had a very interesting discussion of the stakes involved in responding to student writing via Writing Comments on Student Papers by John Bean.  We spoke about the shifting perspective involved in being a student and receiving a paper back, versus being a teacher who faces a voluminous stack of papers to evaluate.  Somewhere in between these two experiences lies a real need to develop an effective practice – which honors both the developing writer, while still keeping in mind the reality of a teacher’s time constraints.
Bean articulates how easy it is, as a teacher, to forget that there is a person behind each essay that is being read (sometimes ripped apart for errors) and graded. It’s also easy to forget that strong feeling of vulnerability which accompanies allowing someone to read your work—especially if that person is in a position to judge you.  We considered how much room there is for misunderstanding and misinterpretation between the writer and the writing instructor during feedback.  Bean advises teachers to be more mindful of the comments that they write on students papers because the worst comments can insult and even dehumanize a student.   There were many useful “takeaways” or “best feedback practices” that were clearly outlined in Bean’s article and clearly highlighted in Serken’s presentation. A key consideration is the not-so-subtle issue of power that informs teaching and learning contexts.  When one has a position of authority, it is important to recognize that significant responsibility.  Unfortunately for many teachers, in the haste to do one’s job, sometimes these truths are disregarded.  But that responsibility should remain front and center in order to maintain a mindful approach to designing an effective learning environment.

Fake News Discussion in Equity Unbound

In #unboundeq, we have been taking a closer look at the problem of fake news, and how it relates to digital media literacy.    o be able to fact check is a skill required of everyone these days, and certainly a key skill for all for students researching on the open web.  Can we tell the difference between real news and “fake” news? Long before the digital revolution, misinformation and conspiracy was a journalistic concern. If truth is “something that happens to an idea”, the status of truth has always been questionable. But ideas (whether true or not) have consequences, most notably the power to influence behaviors and belief systems.  In a political culture of post-truth in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, we have opened up a conversation about how to develop and promote critical digital literacies in a global intercultural context.  Here is the #unboundeq Studio Visit on the topic:

A great way to adopt a fact-checking and source verification strategy is to use Mike Caulfield’s “Four Moves” – explained here in a blog post entitled “Recognition is futile”.  Also, Caulfield’s Four Moves blog is a great digital literacy resource for practicing the Four Moves source verification strategy.  And if you prefer audio, here is a smart podcast interview with Mike.

For next class?

  • Please read Tutoring ESL Students:  Issues & Options by Muriel Harris and Tony Silva.  Vee will present on this article in the first part of our class time.
  • Write your eighth blog post reflecting on 1. -Vee’s chosen ESL article and 2.  -your ideas for the final project.  ****Please include in your blog a follow up on your “final project” thoughts from class and any new ideas you have regarding your collaborative final project. You can review the “Final Project” requirement description here.  The five of you will need to brainstorm, discuss, and resolve a plan for this project asap.
  • **For our second half of class, we will spend the time working out a plan and timeline for your final class project.
  • Don’t forget to tweet comments/thoughts and your blog post to the #unboundeq hashtag!

Identity & Intersectionality in Learning

Another thoughtful seminar chat.  Thank you to Christina for selecting the excellent article entitled Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality by Michelle Gibson, Matha Marinara, and Deborah Meem.  Her blog post covers so much to reflect upon regarding this scholarship.   This article serves as a significant example of “case study” writing research (with an autoethnographic methodology showcased throughout).

With this reading, we further explored the role that voice plays in writing – specifically that it is connected to both embodiment and subjectivity.  (And we duly noted that voices via bodies are metaphors – marked and read in particular ways, bearing the sway of power and politics.)  We also talked about the link between voice & identity, and the yearning/reach for authenticity and “true self”.   We talked about the important link between vulnerability, voice, and empowerment.  If vulnerability is an important seed for authentic learning, then it is the writing process (and finding a voice within that process) that serves as a middle ground to help steady us on our own terms as we continue on a  somewhat risky journey.  We also spoke a bit about the potent potential of silence in a pedagogical context.  We considered the ways that not talking (to wait and listen, to be willing to let the silence hang in the air) has generative power.  Perhaps ironically, silence can be an important way to learn to communicate.

From the three case studies in the Gibson, Marinara, & Meem artcile, we then turned our attention to the notion of intersectionality.  Kim Crenshaw’s powerful TED talk really was a showcase of certain rhetorical finesse – she laid out a clear, concise, and unforgettable argument. Her bold look into the reality of race and gender biashelps others understand how the two can combine to create even more harm.  Intersectionality describes this phenomenon.  As Crenshaw states, “if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you’re likely to get hit by both.”

On the heels of our earlier theoretical reading, this TED talk prompted us to think further about the insection(s) of multiple forms of identity, “frames of consciousness”, and the problematic faith in a “trickle down” approach to social justice in general.  Crenshaw wisely suggests: “if there is no name for a problem, then you can’t see a problem. ”

What is next?

Next week we will conduct our learning in an asynchronous fashion (no in-person meeting on Oct 29).  Instead, we will take the week to dig into (surf) the Equity Unbound “all voices” collection as well as the active (ever-evolving) #unboundeq hashtag on twitter.  Please take a closer look at how this global professional learning community has been growing, notice conversations that leave an impression on you, and reflect.  In short, select some “highlights” to share out and reflect on in your next blog (blog #6).

In addition, take some time to consider our next Equity Unbound theme of “Fake News“.  To get started more specifically, please read the short article by Zeyneb Turfeki entitled “How social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump“.  In addition, watch her TED talk:

We kick off our theme of Fake News with an #unboundeq Twitter slow chat over the next several days led by Bonnie Stewart (@bonstewart) on the topic of Social Media & Algorithmic Society and building on the work of Zeynep Tufecki.  You can jump right into the Twitter chat and add some responses anytime!  I will look for you all in the #unboundeq twitter thread. 🙂

***In summary, please write your sixth blog post on your Equity Unbound “curation” reflection, as well as your reflections regarding the above material about social media, algorithms, and fake news.

For the following week (Nov. 5th):

  • Please read Writing Comments on Student Papers by John Bean.  Serken will present on this article in the first part of our class time.  In the second part, we will return to the discussion of fake news, algorithms, and AI.
  • Write your seventh blog post, reflecting on Serken’s chosen article as well as the #unboundeq “fake news” discussion overall.
  • Don’t forget to tweet comments/thoughts and your blog post to the #unboundeq hashtag!

Enjoy this stretch!

Dr. Zamora


Grammar & equity in the writing classroom

The Grammar Debate

Thank you Darline for walking us through a smart consideration of Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar by Patrick Hartwell.  Darline’s link:  Presentation Powerpoint

Scholars have been arguing for decades whether grammar should be taught formally in schools.  Some research suggests that teaching grammar does nothing to improve composition. Other scholars insist that grammar is basic and necessary, and that we face a literacy crisis today partly because of poor grammar instruction. But one thing the article does make clear is that much research has been done on this topic. 75 years’ worth of research, and yet, the issue of whether grammar is foundational to writing instruction still remains unresolved.  As we read Hartwell together, we come to apprehend that the complexities of linguistic tradition(s) and language acquisition makes it difficult to pinpoint a “perfect formula” for the role grammar must play in writing pedagogy. Perhaps formal grammar instruction pedagogy should be overhauled instead of scrapped altogether.  Effective writing instructors know there is not just one way to learn, and we accommodate different learning styles in schools and universities with various classroom procedures and pedagogies.  Whether we will ever be able to agree on a clear and final role that grammar must play in writing instruction, it seems to me (and Darline as well) that we must teach it in some capacity – offering it as a tool in our students’ toolboxes.  It is a critical tool which can aid in the metacognition and metalinguistic awareness of their own acquired knowledge.

Our ongoing discussion of equity

From a concern over the role that grammar might play in a writing classroom, we turned our attention in the second part of class to the question of equity. The rapid acceleration and adoption of digital content for learning is a pressing catalyst for digital equity.
So what does it mean to be a “good” digital citizen in a globalized context? How can we recognize and redress conditions that deny some students access to the educational opportunities enjoyed by their peers. How can we work together to create and sustain equitable and just learning environments for all?

We first took a look at the article by Paul Gorski which share three critical terms: -cultural competence, -cultural proficiency, and -equity literacy.  Presented like ascendent steps on a skill-based latter, these terms have helped us think through the goals we make or take to building a fair learning environment.  Equity literacy (as the most desired of the three skills to attain in this tiered formulation) describes the skills and dispositions that allow us to create and sustain equitable and just learning environments for all learners.

We then took a moment to spend time with Sherri Spelic’s thoughtful prompt which makes us think further about the blindspots that are so inherent when teachers design their learning environments.

We also looked at this powerful showcase of how bias and prejudice work on our hearts and minds:

Finally, we took a closer look at how racism works.  I think it is important to note that curiosity about human difference (in and of itself) is not a problem.  It is actually a significant POSITIVE trait to have an inquiring mind and want to learn about something you don’t know about.  But there is much revealed by how you might ask a person who is different from you about their difference.  There is the kind of curiosity that opens up dialogue (encouraged and critical to any learning) verses the kind of curiosity that is bathed in privilege and arrogant ignorance (see below video).  The distinction makes all the difference:

In addition to these food-for-thought prompts, I also want to share with all of you the second Equity Unbound Studio Visit we conducted this week regarding the work of striving for equity in our classrooms – it was certainly another profound and timely conversation:

What is next?

  • Please read Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality by Michelle Gibson, Matha Marinara, and Deborah Meem.  Christina will present on this article in the first part of our seminar style class time.
  • Write your fifth blog post, reflecting on Christina’s chosen article as well as any thoughts you are formulating about the equity discussion overall.  (I encourage you to take a peek at the Studio Visit above to prompt further thoughts.)
  • Don’t forget you can tweet comments/thoughts and your blog post to the #unboundeq hashtag!
  • We will continue with our #unboundeq activities (on the theme of Equity).  For our second half of class, I will focus on the TED talk on “intersectionality” from the  Equity Unbound suggested activities.  I think this selection might be a good follow up to the Bi, Butch, and Bar Dyke: Pedagogical Performances of Class, Gender, and Sexuality article.

See you next Monday!  Enjoy the weekend.

Dr. Zamora

Monolingual methods & the ? of Equity

Teaching Writing in a Multi-Linguistic World

Another thoughtful evening spent thinking about crucial issues in current writing theory and practice.  Thank you Vee for a thoughtful presentation which guided us through Teaching Composition in the Multi Language World (Matsuda).  Your coverage of the article layed the ground work for an interesting discussion, and the choice to share a video from the television show “A Different World” about college students who attend Hillman College (a HBCU- Historical Black College/University) was particularly instructive. One of the characters from the show speaks “African American Vernacular” and had trouble understanding “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare in her First-Year English class. Until she realized, it was all about translation.

This video served as an illustrative entry point for all of us to keep in mind when considering the politics of language instruction in general.  As sense of legitimacy and power conferred in the mastery of language (in writing) requires a certain kind of determination, as well as a ceaseless supply of intellectual curiosity.  As we have read, Writing Centers, tutors, first year Comp programs often create learning environments where the ELL student is an afterthought.  There is little preparation and even less effective policy that truly supports this vast population of learners.  This is a truth despite the dramatic diversity of our local context.  Our own NJ could very well be more multilingual that the UN (or at least on par).  And still, we have little in place to support this multi-linguistic reality in our shared learning contexts.  Our discussion revealed that the ELL reality is not for the faint of heart.  To learn institutionally under such limited resources while experiencing a  dismissal of any previous global, cultural, multi-linguistic knowledge often becomes part of a sting of stigmatization & “remediation”.  What remains is a profound challenge that is rarely confronted comprehensively (whether by educators or institutions).  I am glad that within our discussion we covered an acknowledgement of the psychic truth of ELL experience.  For any academic consideration of these issues (through theory) should always be rooted in a compassionate understanding of that inherent struggle.  What is clear that we need further support from a professional development standpoint.images-3

Thinking about Empathy & Bias

For the second part of class we turned to the recent Studio Visit with Equity Unbound.  The topic of the informal conversation for this cycle was Empathy & Bias, which was a perfect follow up to some of the questions we had been considering re: the mono-linguistic bias of writing studies and composition studies.  This meaningful conversation covered much important ground, from thinking about identity, borders, and translation, to considering intersectionality and the problem of “cultural taxation”.  We also contributed a bit to the #unboundeq twitter feed to add some reflection.  In addition, you are invited to share thoughts in your next blog post:

What is next?

Have a relaxing and replenishing autumn weekend.  I look forward to our time together on Monday.


Dr. Zamora

On Voice (…and bearing voice in translation)

Peter Elbow on Voice

Thanks Jeanne for a thorough presentation of  Elbow’s theoretical writing on voice:  “Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries”.  Jeanne spoke eloquently about the concept of “voice” with a clear lens into the key points of Elbow’s article.  We thought together about what makes up a “voice” as writers develop.  “Voice” is framed by Elbow as a rhetorical tool – a writing skill that needs to be considered (applied or withheld) depending on writing context.  Is the goal of teaching writing to develop the self by honing voice?  Or is voice a misleading metaphor?  Perhaps we do not really write, …for we are ultimately written by culture?  When facing these tensions around the concept of voice in writing, Elbow pointed out the problem of either/or thinking which often leads to a “compromise” mandate. (And compromise often becomes problematic way of understanding the complexity of perspective.  The result is often a watered-down middle-of-the-road take away).  Elbow thoughtfully favors both/and thinking.  Thinking that might instead include two opposing perspectives in relief, standing side by side for us to apprehend in stark contrast, in order for us to gather a more depthful understanding of why there might be such distinct/disparate perspectives.  (What a timely reflection to have at this point, no?)

….So what does a deeper dive into modes of thinking have to do with the construction of voice in writing?  The voice-as-self verses the voice-as-role debate illuminates that “voice” is indeed the perfect lens or metaphor for language as both material and historical.  As Jeanne pointed out the fact that Elbow always defines voice from an auditory/aural perspective.  And some of you followed up by sharing insight regarding the embodiment of language.  We know things in our body.  How do we give that kind of knowledge voice….in writing? …and in our lives?  What other ways can we claim “voice” (….other than through the polished act of writing text)?  It is important to take note that we can establish voice with our other senses.  Thank you Jeanne for sharing with us Molly Bartholemew’s work in order for us to think this idea through some more:

To Equity Unbound

From this rich theoretical conversation, we moved on to the #unboundeq public annotation of Lina Mounzer’s  profound article entitled “War in Translation”.  Thank you all for adding to the growing responses and conversation (link below).

What a powerful group read on the heals of our discussion of the embodied voice!  Lina Mounzer’s writing drove home the millions of ways that bearing witness and giving voice (in the act of translation) is a dangerous-but-powerful, burdensome-but-critical act.  I cherish the ways we are weaving together so much beautiful “food for thought” in our small classroom learning community, as well as the global one beyond our classroom’s walls.  As our class continues its journey through Writing Theory & Practice, we are contributing to #unboundeq by illuminating the essential role that writing and storytelling plays in bridging human understanding:

What is up for next week?

  • Please read Teaching Writing in the Multilingual World by Paul Kei Matsuda.  Vee will present on Paul Key Matsuda’s article and the politics of teaching writing in a multilingual world.
  • Write your third blog post, reflecting on both Matsuda’s article as well as any thoughts about the “War in Translation” #unboundeq group annotation. Don’t forget you can tweet it to the #unboundeq hashtag!
  • We will continue with our #unboundeq activities (on the theme of Equity).  For our second half of class, I will choose an activity or two focused on the issue of Equity from the  Equity Unbound suggested activities.

See you next week for more rich conversation and reflection!

Dr. Zamora

From our memory to our field of study…

Reflecting on the field of Writing Studies

Reading I think there is some momentum building now for our class as a whole.  It was wonderful to start our discussion this week with some reflective freewriting (a low stakes write-to-learn approach) while connecting with our own memories of how we learned to write, as well as how we were taught to write.  I think this is an important reference point to keep in mind as we embark on the journey of considering theory & practice today (and how an understanding of writing has indeed evolved).  I am also pleased that we had a chance to apprehend the formal field of Rhetoric & Composition in order to understand our own place in an ever growing field.   Some key issues that reverberate for me based on our shared reading of Lauer’s ‘Rhetoric & Composition”:

-The fact that in the past rhetoric and reasoning functioned at the center of civic culture (Consider the peril of our working democracy today….what role does reasoning play in civic discourse?);

-The complex relationship between reading & writing (…I think we will turn to this complex relationship over and over again with questions of our own);

-Does writing construct or merely transmit knowledge?;

-Is writing social or individual?;

-The disciplinary politics of writing – how writing is often understood as a teaching practice verses a research pursuit.

I have shared your excellent notes from class on our site for your reference.  It will be interesting to circle back to these opening freewrite questions as we close our semester to yield more insight into the overall journey.

The Danger of the Single Story

After our opening discussion of Janice Lauer’s article on the field of Writing Studies and  Rhetoric & Composition, we turned our attention to our Equity Unbound conversation.  This week the theme is “Empathy & Bias“.  What better time to engage in such reflection than a time when the American political landscape bears profound evidence of a failure to listen and imagine what it might be to be in somebody else’s shoes.  As our legislators struggle with personal testimony and an understanding of what it takes to fill the position of the highest court of justice in the land, we took some time to consider the danger of a single story vs the importance of many stories.  To listen to a story you do not know is just as critical an act as having the space to be able to tell a story.  Make no mistake, stories are the key to human understanding in the face of difference. And they are intimately connected to human power.  Stories generate a power to yield,  shape, and transform our perception.

Together we watched Chimamanda Ngaozi Aditchie’s TED talk called the Danger of a Single Story:

We also contributed a “flash” twitterchat (which is still unfolding on our #unboundeq hashtag for those jumping in asynchronously from different parts of the globe).  Your responses were insightful and prompted so much more reflection.  A glimpse of a few #unboundeq moments here:

We will continue to reflect on Equity Unbound‘s two week theme of  Empathy and Bias as we pick up on our general discussion for next week.

What is up for next week?

Looking forward to Monday!

Dr. Zamora

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