Apprehending the power of rhetoric

I think it is safe to say we are now officially gaining some “learning momentum” since yesterday was our third class together in “Writing Theory & Practice” – the foundation course for your MA in Writing Studies degree.  Your blog posts continue to enlighten and instruct, and you are making strong connections to the readings as well as to your experiences and innate wisdom.   Keep that up each week, and we will all marvel together at the learning “take-aways” once the semester comes to a close.

Our agenda slides from 9/28/20:

Lauer’s “Introduction to Writing Studies”

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 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 rhetoric and 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);
  • The politics of Literary Studies research/scholarship vs. Writing Studies research/scholarship within the “umbrella” field of English Studies;
  • 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.

Kicking off the #Unboundeq discussion

Equity Unbound (aka @UnboundEq or #unboundeq) is an emergent, collaborative curriculum that aims to create equity-focused, open, connected, intercultural learning experiences across classes, countries, and contexts.  As an #unboundeq connected course, we will participate in a networked conversation with other thinkers, activists, artists, scholars, educators, and students around the globe.  Along the way, we will also focus on issues that are critical for every writer in the digital age.

In the past week, you engaged with some early “Equity Unbound” shared content when you read the article “Othering & Belonging”.  We thought about the power of rhetoric to define, like “an invisible hand that has been sculpting our perception of self and others” (a quote from Kefah’s blog).  “Rhetoric is an act of consequence, ….breaking down and building up knowledge” (a quote from Amber’s blog).

We spent a bit of time at the close of class acclimating to the backchannel platform of twitter by participating in the Equity Unbound twitter scavenger hunt.  Equity Unbound is always a  “growing” conversation that we will continue to have beyond the four walls of our literal classroom each week.  We will discuss many important issues regarding writing and learning in the digital age with the #unboundeq network.  **Please remember to complete your #unboundeq scavenger hunt “tasks” this week – this is a great way to jumpstart the growth of the open online community, as we make some initial contact with educators and students from around the world through this opening activity.

What to anticipate for next week’s class?

We will start to build on this momentum for our class.  Our first theme for presentations will be “Feedback on Writing” and our presentation/discussion will be lead (in the first half of class) by Ryan & Sun.  They have asked us to read three articles in preparation for this discussion:

Your “to-do list”:

  1. Finish the opening “Twitter Scavenger Hunt“;
  2. Read the above articles.
  3. Post your Blog #3 which should be a thoughtful and synthetic reflection on these two readings from this week.  You are also welcome to include thoughts on the start of our Equity Unbound activities.  **Please remember to tweet your blog post after publishing it!

Next week in class, after Ryan & Sun’s presentation(s) on “Feeback on Writing,” the second part of our class will include a return to our online network with another Equity Unbound activity.  We will watch and reflect together on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The danger of a single story.  This will be done “synchronously” (that means in class when we are gathered together).  In class, we will also use the #unboundeq twitter hashtag to respond and share thoughts about this meaningful talk.

Have a great week, and hang in there, I know you are tired.  – Dr. Z

Ps.  Here are some tips on how to prepare for your ENG 5020 presentation:

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