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Weekly Featured Writers

Each week, 1-2 people will curate the ideas and writing from our class into a featured blog. We will use these blogs to connect with colleagues outside our course.

@drjaxon

Looking forward to working with a new cohort of incoming #chicostate Wildcats starting tomorrow in EOP. Our English Dept crew is ready... @AydeLoya @hahHannah pic.twitter.com/OX51…

Category: updates

Let’s do this

Let’s do this

Hello everyone and happy Sunday,

As promised in the email from Jan 7, here are some things for us to do this week and things to prep for our first class next Monday (the 28th):

This week (hopefully soon or at least before Friday, Jan 25):

  • If you didn’t watch the welcome video or check out the website previously, now would be the time.
  • Since I last emailed, I changed my mind about where our discussions should live. It looked like G+ was going away, but turns out the enterprise and Google apps for education versions are staying around. I like the aesthetics of G+ and the ease of commenting, plus it makes our conversations semi-public and not fully public like my website (people have to be a member of our group to post) so…we’ll post quite a few responses on a G+ community. Join our community: LINK HERE.
    • Here is a video “how to” for joining if needed (from another class, but same idea): HERE.
    • Once you’ve joined, you’ll want to change your notification preferences so you don’t get an email every time one of us posts on the G+ community (it’s great to get these as the faculty, but not sure you’ll want them). Link to quick video how to for turning off notifications: HERE
  • Once you’ve joined the G+ group, please write an introduction in that space. I have mine there as an example if it’s helpful. It would be helpful to me if you could say a bit about educational plans beyond the MA.
  • As best you can, keep track of your reading and writing for two-three days between now and Jan 27. This will be challenging. You might keep track by taking a photo every time you switch from one literate task to a new one: from email to reading for class to posting on Instagram. Or you might keep a journal handy. As you’re tracing what you read and write, keep some notes about purpose and the ecology in which the reading and/or writing is situated. Try to keep track of time, the kind of device you use (are you reading/writing on a tablet, phone, laptop, book, paper…) etc.

Prep for Jan 28 class:

  • Read Scribner’s “Literacy in Three Metaphors” and respond in small teams in a shared Google Doc to this reading. You’ll want to respond before we come to class. Some further instructions are on the docs. Choose the link below with YOUR NAME. 😉
    • Google Doc for Hannah, Hannah, Jesse, and Kyler: Link HERE
    • Google Doc for Isaiah, Lorena, Haley, and Florencia: LINK HERE
    • Google Doc for Shane, Charlotte, Shannon, and Dori: Link HERE
    • Google Doc for Zeth, Kaitlyn, Neesa, Alex, and Keaton: Link HERE
  • Before coming to class Jan 28, organize your notes and/or images from your literacy self study this past week. We will work in small teams in class with our small data set: how could you quantify everyone’s literacy notes? What categories emerge? What literate activities take up the most time? What counts as a literacy? You’ll eventually write a short paper and I hope Scribner’s reading can give us some framework for analysis.

In a nutshell:

Join G+ community and write an Introduction (helps if you log into Google account first before clicking link to join)

Check out the course website. You are here now.

Trace your reading and writing for 2-3 days this week. Assignments page has more context too.

Read Scribner and annotate with a team in a shared doc before class on the 28th. Find your name with your specific link above.

Kim
Welcome to Spring 2019

Welcome to Spring 2019

Hello 632 colleagues! And Happy New Year!

I created a video welcome with some information about the course and plans (see below). In a nutshell:

  • Here’s our course website (I don’t use BbLearn for anything). I’ll be adding you all as authors to this site soon so we can blog together. If you’re avoiding other work, you might check out some of the videos on the Stuff & Things page. The Internet’s Own Boy is an incredible documentary I have linked there…lots of new literacies to unpack from that film.
  • One eBook to buy for the course: see syllabus page for link, and explanation of text choice in video below.
  • Right before the start of the semester (by Jan 20), I’ll be sending you some prep for our first class session, which will actually be Jan 28. I’m going to ask you to do a short reading and write an Intro on our site during the week of Jan 21 (since I really hate missing the whole first week in a grad class due to the holiday). I’ll also send a link to a shared Google Doc with a reading we will annotate together for Jan 28 and some ideas for doing a bit of data collection on your literacies in prep for our first meeting too.
  • Feel free to email me with questions: kjaxon@csuchico.edu

Luke Scholl: The Rise of Writing (Chapter 4/Conclusion)

Luke Scholl: The Rise of Writing (Chapter 4/Conclusion)

The fourth chapter of Brandt’s The Rise of Writing, “When Everybody Writes,” focuses on how writers and writing work in relation to other writers. As Brandt states, “Proximity to other writing people—ample, ongoing, routine proximity—plays myriad, formative roles in the development and calibration of writing, writing skill, and writing consciousness” (158). Early in the chapter Brandt discusses the “scenic” nature of writing (137-139). She notes that due to the fact that writing is scenic, that is something that takes place and can be witnessed, people are more acutely aware of how it works in the world. Brandt explains, “Seeing and being seen, knowing and being known—these everyday events form a broad undercarriage for awareness about how writing fits socially, politically, economically, aesthetically” (139). She then connects the scenic quality of writing to how writers interact with other writers. Because writing is scenic, writers are acutely aware of the writing that exists in the world: “Proximity to other writing people invites, and often requires, close attention to their habits, working conditions, and potential attitudes” (144). She also brings in the concept of mentalities and examines how it applies to her study of literacy. Brandt acknowledges how reading has historically disseminated information and thus contributed to establishing “shared understandings” (135), among the people of any given time and place within literate societies. However, she notes that as our literacy practices become more and more writing based, rather than reading based, the way we form these mentalities may be shifting.

In her concluding chapter, “Conclusion: Deep Writing,” Brandt co opts her nemesis Nicholas Carr’s phrase “deep reading” and reworks it to form her own concept of “deep writing” (159). She contends that the evidence provided her book suggests that we are “entering an era of deep writing” (Brandt 160). She argues that our literacy practices are no longer typified by prolonged and intense reading of texts but instead that “more and more people write for prolonged periods of time from inside deeply interactive networks and in immersive cognitive states” (Brandt 160). She ends her conclusion by examining the how these changes in our literacy practices present exception challenges for education as our schools are “growing increasingly out of step with the wider world” (Brandt 165).

During our discussion in class, Dr. Jaxon asked the students if we thought of each other and our professors as writers, and whether or not we really ever collaborate on writing or just give each other feedback. To me it seemed that the general consensus wound up being that we had not really seen at each other as writers until graduate school. This sentiment extended to our experiences with collaboration; I believe it was Kelsey King who stated, “the collaborative nature of writing is definitely something I’ve learned about through school.” I think when asked about our feelings toward collaboration in writing, many of our minds jumped to the concept of ‘group work.’ And like most sane individuals our knee jerk reaction to ‘group work’ is to say, “I hate group work.” I found it interesting that, for many of us, the concept of collaboration in writing was immediately conceived of as group assignments in school, and indeed our discussion did primarily revolve around collaborative writing within school. I couldn’t help but wonder how negative experiences with group work in school might contribute to the persistent stereotype of the solitary writer; even though, the form collaborative writing takes in these types of scenarios rarely reflects the level of professionalism, commitment, and responsibility that one might find when collaborating with a colleague in a professional environment.

I also find it interesting that the knee jerk, “I hate group work,” reaction has always seemed to be so pervasive. In my own experience I have been part of groups that were pure nightmares, but also groups that worked extremely well and which provided me with incredible amounts of support; yet, I still stand firmly in the “I hate group work” camp. I can’t help but think this attitude has something to do with the nature of school and grades. As students we are keenly aware that we are constantly being assessed. Despite that grades are just letters they failure to live up to a certain standard could, like writing, have significant and very real consequences in the world and their lives. The sociocultural significance and pressures of grades heavy influence the nature of group work in school. If you feel one person is not contributing enough you are angry that their lack of commitment will have an adverse effect on your grade, and, on the flip side, if someone is doing a large amount of the work you become concerned about whether you are contributing enough.

 

Amanda Rhine: The Rise of Writing (chapter 3)

Amanda Rhine: The Rise of Writing (chapter 3)

 

Writing is the Right Thing to Do for Literacy

In chapter 3 “Occupation: Author” in The Rise of Writing, Deborah Brandt starts off by stating “The belief that writing ability is a subsidiary of reading ability runs deep in American society and schooling. You can only write as well as you can read. The best way to learn how to write is to read, and read some more. Reading is the best way to exercise the mind” (89). These were all (almost verbatim) proclamations that I heard growing up, so I think Brandt really taps into the typical old school American literacy mindset here (not surprising since she’s Deborah Frickin’ Brandt). However, as Brandt discovered with Evan, reading and writing don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand––which is not a bad thing.

Evan had a well-known exotic animal website that “attracted the attention of a major publishing house for pet care books” (92) and published a book. As a result, Evan identified professionally as an author and has gone on to write magazine articles, etc. While Brandt was interviewing him about his literacy development and the role reading had, Evan confessed that he did not like to read, stating, “I’d rather be writing than reading” (92). This is not uncommon, in my opinion, since I can relate and know many authors who feel the same. Brandt was intrigued by Evan’s declaration and his literacy development being connected to broader industries of writing rather than reading (93), so she set off to do some research.

I won’t go into the details of Brandt’s literacy development research study, because there’s a lot of it in this chapter, but the main takeaway from Brandt’s arguments is that she advocates a “full return to the heritage of mass writing as a basis for advancing a genuinely writing-based literacy” (133). Brandt’s idea of this heritage is not based on the American idea that writing is dependent on reading––essentially that literacy theory has become obsolete. Brandt’s arguments are based on the “evidence drawn from the testimonies of thirty young adults who pursue literacy predominantly through writing; individuals who elect to write on a nearly daily basis and in genres long considered bulwarks (defensive walls) of a thoughtful reading literacy; individuals who have found ways to orient to writing even when the environment around them tries to orient them otherwise” (133). So while the notion of reading being a catalyst in writing advancement may still present be in teaching and sponsorship, writing is a significant player in literacy development by itself. It promotes a motivation for self-improvement that isn’t restricted to someone’s reading ability. Therefore writing-based literacy and reading-based literacy should not be lumped into one literacy development practice in order to be considered beneficial.

*Side note: I own the Kindle version of The Rise of Writing, so my page citations might differ from those of a physical copy.

Meredith Murrietta: The Rise of Writing (chapter 3)

Meredith Murrietta: The Rise of Writing (chapter 3)

Brandt starts out the 3rd chapter, “Occupation: Author” with the task of trying to differentiate between a reading-based literacy and a writing-based literacy. She claims that writing has taken a shadow to reading with regards to importance in our culture. Brandt seeks to argue that writing-based literacy is its own and does not necessarily stem from, rely on, or play second fiddle to reading. On page 96, Brandt discusses the concept of writing over reading. She stated that her research participants “would abandon the expected duties and pleasures of reading and begin writing in their minds as they sat over a text written by someone else,” and that this act “requires deliberate separation from the rules of reading.”

Although I can respect Brandt’s research and theories, I cannot personally relate to them and thus have a differing view. Brandt says that “learning to read is an expectation and a rite of passage for children in this society. But the idea ofbeing or becoming a writer has more profound aspirational power” (98). I couldn’t disagree more in my own walk. I found (and find) reading to be the motivation behind my reading-based literacy. I love to soak up information, to experience that lightbulb moment when reading others words. When it comes to my own writing, I hit constant roadblocks. I shared with the class about a webinar I recently attended through work, and how the speakers of “Thriving in Chaos” started out discussing brain research and how our brains react. The first priority of the brain is safety. If the brain does not feel safe, it will not progress past the first priority. It will be looking for ways to get back into safety. Fears, anxieties, etc. can cause the brain to lag in this danger zone. Unfortunately, if you are living in this state of fear, then you wont make it past the first priority on to the second, which is experiencing “something interesting”. This was a big wake-up call for me in all aspects of my life, and in this case, my writing. As I had discussed in my earlier blog post, there is fear of judgement when it comes to my writing. I believe this fear has hindered my ability to effectively write. We see this in many examples through this chapter with Brandt’s research participants. Whether it be individuals not posting on social media for fear of the implications, or a daughter who does not want her family to find her diary: the consequences of writing can absolutely cause hindrance.

On the flip side, I thoroughly enjoy my reading-based literacy, not only because I don’t feel hindered, but also because the words I read and apply from others have significantly changed the courses and actions of my life. Towards the end of the chapter, Brandt states that “what matters in writing is its rhetorical value, its projective and transactional value, its effect on others. Even in writing, then, reading is what counts” (128). Ultimately, as we have seen quite often as a foundational piece in literacy, it comes back to the human connection. Literacy is built and truly sustained through social means (even if not explicitly social). As readers and writers, we are communicating. We both have something to gain from this interaction.

Several other questions were raised in class, the following are a few:

-If our culture really values reading more than writing, why is it that we pay writers and call that an occupation?

-Do boundaries in writing, or being told to write, take anything away from creative writers?

-Is there really a difference between writing masters and writing sponsors?

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