Prompting Students to Introduce Themselves by Documenting Their Writing Workspaces

As teachers, we are always looking for new ways for students to introduce themselves. Most of my professional and technical writing courses incorporate social constructionist perspectives. Now, when I begin my courses, I ask students to introduce themselves by documenting and describing their workspaces (and places). This allows them to start the course by describing something with which they are familiar, but also prepares them to think about writing in terms of a situated activity.

In what follows:

 

I. First I have archived some examples (from students that have cleared me to post them).

 

II. And second, I have shared a basic version of this assignment.

 

I. ARCHIVE OF WORKPLACE “SNAPSHOTS”

 

1. Alex Adrian, Online English Teacher for Scottsdale Unified School District

 Alex -Snapshot 1

My name is Alex Adrian.  I am the Lead Online English Teacher for Scottsdale Unified School District’s eLearning and SOL programs. 

 

My workspace is very special to me because I spend more time at this desk than I do in my bed. I am seated at this desk for hours upon hours every day, so I needed to make the area not feel like a work desk. The pictures and other small pieces allow me to lean back in my chair and forget about work for a few minutes a day and just reminisce about great memories. It may look to some like a clustered mess, but this is what I like to call my organizational mess. It takes others minutes to find something on my desk that takes me seconds to find.

 

2. Dennis Mitchell, Institutional Research Analyst and Adjunct Faculty at Mesa Community College

Dennis M. -Snapshot 2 

My name is Dennis Mitchell, and I write in a few distinct work and academic roles: in my full-time employment as “Institutional Research Analyst” at Mesa Community College (MCC); as a part-time English composition adjunct faculty at the same college; and as a graduate English Rhetoric and Composition Student, currently at Northern Arizona University.

 

The top left and bottom pictures of my mashup capture my office at MCC. I spend the vast majority of my workdays starring at the two monolithic monitors hanging above my desk; a picture of a favorite place (Chase Field) and other trinkets help the office feel more comfortable. The two monitors help display many data sets and reports at once to assist in the creation of my own work-related texts. Interruptions emanate from my email inbox, coworkers, boss and uncomfortable office temperature, and I occupy this workspace during a typical weekday schedule. While this office is primarily used to construct work-related texts, I do use this workspace to compose faculty-related or student-related texts during breaks or after business hours.

 

My home desk occupies the top right of my mashup image: one monitor with stacks and shelves of papers, books and baseball memorabilia. Creating texts in this environment faces distractions from my dogs (a chubby Chihuahua and a black lab mix), my significant other, household tasks, the TV in the nearby living room or noises outside.

 

3. Ramon Lira, Academic Advisor and ESL Adjunct Instructor at Phoenix College

 Ramon -Snapshot 3

My name is Ramon Lira. I work as an academic advisor and ESL adjunct instructor at Phoenix College. I’m currently taking additional English courses through NAU to be eligible to teach other areas such as composition and creative writing.

 

My workspace is a desk in a spare bedroom, which I share with my wife. The desk is simple, with only “useful” clutter such as paper, pens, a small lamp and computer equipment. To the right is my collection of some interesting things I’ve collected over the years, such as a paper mache replica of a mummy and a Michael Jackson skeleton figurine, both of which I picked up while visiting my wife’s hometown in Mexico. 



 

One thing about this space that makes it special to me is that this is where I wrote “English Speech Production in Insects,” which won the grand prize in this year’s NAU humorous writing contest. The winning entries should be posted soon at: http://nau.edu/SBS/Communication/Student-Work/

 

4. Anthony Garcia, Higher Education at Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University

 Anthony -Snapshot 4

My name is Anthony Garcia and this is my first semester at NAU in the graduate professional writing certificate. I currently work in both the public school and higher education settings teaching English. This fall I will be transitioning exclusively to teaching in the higher education setting at Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University, in the Norfolk/ Virginia Beach area.

 

The picture of my work area is necessarily basic, but arguably complex. This is my work environment in the public school that I teach in. The work area is extremely basic where only the humming of the HVAC system keeps me amused. I do not favor a generic work environment for getting most of my writing done. Instead, I prefer the white noise of coffee shops, kids playing in a pool, or the waves rolling onto the shore. For this reason, I’m returning to higher education in the fall where writing, grading, and conferencing with students offers more flexibility. 

 

5. Kevin Boyd, Graduate Student at Northern Arizona University

 Kevin -Snapshot 5

My name is Kevin Boyd and I am a student at Northern Arizona University in the MA in English program. My workspace for my studies consists of a desk in my bedroom with a computer hooked up to a forty inch television as a monitor. When I am alone, it is a perfect setup to write and complete schoolwork.  The large monitor allows me to write on one side of the screen and have another document or website on the other side for quick reference.

 

Unfortunately, I also have to share my workspace with a four-legged friend. My cat’s food is also on top of the desk. The desk is the only safe place we have been able to find where our dog is unable to get into his food. Sometimes when I am working the cat comes up to eat, paws at the monitor, or tries to rest his head on my hand that should be typing.

 

6. Selina Reid, University Staff Position at Arizona State University

 Selina -Snapshot 6

My name is Selina Reid, and I am in the Rhetoric and Teaching Writing (RTW) program with NAU. This is my first semester as a graduate student, although graduate school is my area of expertise. I currently hold a staff position at Arizona State University in the Graduate College, where I’m a jack-of-all-trades, helping students, applicants and academic units go from application to graduation. I specialize in dealing with international students, international transcripts review, and I issue I-20 documents which allow international students to apply to get their student visas and study in the United States.

My workspace differs according to what tasks I need to accomplish. Much of my reading is done while walking on my treadmill. You can see my makeshift foam and duct tape “desk” that I rest my books on. I studied and read throughout my undergraduate career this way and I am convinced that walking and reading makes me learn more efficiently.

 

The big, brown chair is the latest addition to my reading and studying workspace. This chair is only for lazy, non-serious reading and writing. This is not a schoolwork chair.

 

The kitchen table is the best workspace for writing and doing school assignments. I like being next to the kitchen and family room while I work, but sitting at the table forces me to get down to business, unlike the comfy chair.

 

7. Steven Seamons, Associate at W.L. Gore & Associates

Steven S. -Snapshot 7 

Since I am not permitted to take a picture of my workspace at Gore, you get to see my workspace at home. My name is Steven Seamons. I am an associate at W.L. Gore & Associates, and I attend NAU.

 

At this workspace I am a father of 4 (2 girls and 2 boys) all under the age of 8, and it is very hard to find a free minute, or at least quite free minute.

 

For this assignment you get a glimpse of this workspace in all of its glory. On closer inspection you can see we have a lot of coats. We live in the mountains and we are always in need of an extra layer, my workspace is also the coldest spot in the house. I have to wear socks so my feet don’t turn into ice. This workspace is most commonly used for storage of bottles, crayons, children’s art, and supplies for runny noses.

 

8. Kathryn Johnson, Graduate Student Northern Arizona University, Mother, Business Owner

 Kathryn -Snapshot 8

My undergraduate self of 8 years ago would be shaking her head in disbelief if she saw this. Gone is the idealistic dream of what I thought my home office would one day be like when I became a mother and a teacher. Instead, on what doubles as my dining room table (my favorite piece of furniture, witness to countless family occasions with all the people I hold dear) there sits what appears to be a mess. On the contrary, I promise, it is actually an organized chaos of bills, business paperwork, and now, as evidence of my jump back into the academic world, endless amounts of English classwork. It is a place that is uncharacteristically peaceful for me in the early morning hours and afternoon naptime, knowing the most precious things in the world to me, my twins 3 ½ and new baby boy, 8 weeks, are sleeping soundly in the rooms within earshot. It’s true that this is probably not the most convenient home office for a student, business owner, mother, and former English teacher, however, the views are great and the kitchen (copiously stocked  with cereal, coffee and beer- essentials for every busy mom) is close by, so I can’t complain.

 

9. Steven Maierson – Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation at Northern Arizona University

Steven M. -Snapshot 9 

I work in two separate environments in distinct capacities. The larger and more vibrant image is the space in which I free write and work as a student. It is my game station and link to the world and all its ills. Books and images surround me, things representative of who I am—tiny Batman figurines, a replica of Sting from The Lord of the Rings, and the desktop image of a Black Mage from Final Fantasy. The other half is my workspace at Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation at Northern Arizona University. At this place I maintain an orderly environment with minimal personal conveniences. I keep it neat so that if I need to move it isn’t a hassle. The small flashes of personality are random holiday gifts we receive in the office and, of course, a fantastic image of Tremors as my desktop background. It is here where I write procedural documentation and the occasional essay for school.

 

10. Dennis White, Saint Louis Community College; District Coordinator (4 campuses, 2 satellite locations), Assistant Professor, Reading (Florissant Valley Campus)

 Dennis W. -Snapshot 10

I share an office in the communications building with another faculty member, which is the typical setup; offices are located at each end of the building with classrooms in between. I spend many hours writing in this space, most recently developing student and instructor materials for the college’s new student success course, which just completed its first year of implementation. Sometimes I work through periods of concentrated writing activity, and other times I engage in conversations with colleagues, students, and administrators. I usually place work on the desk to the left of the computer, which I removed in order to give this picture a cleaner look, but I am fairly neat in the way I typically maintain my writing space. I enjoy writing here and the relatively quiet location at the end of a hallway. I also enjoy the close proximity of a window, glancing out of which provides an occasional quick break when needed to reenergize my writing.

 

11. Ashley Salazar, Assistant Director of TRIO Educational Talent Search, Garden City Community College

 Ashley -Snapshot 11

Our office and my desk are hidden away in the basement of the administrative building on campus, but I like it that way. It allows for our small staff to work together without distraction and shields the outside world from the chaos that we often create.  Our writing takes many forms and those texts create action. That action is often noisy, causing the rest of the college campus to appreciate the existence of a “lower level”.  I have a distinct area for my own creative processes, but I share the larger communal space with two other staff members.  I find it both comical and telling that we regularly communicate through text via internet signals and computer screens when we sit within inches of one another.

 

12. Jesse Maloney, substitute High School Teacher at Greyhills Academy High School and Graduate Student at Northern Arizona University

 Jesse -Snapshot 12

My name is Jesse Maloney, I’m a substitute High School teacher at Greyhills Academy High School and graduate student at Northern Arizona University.  The place where I like to conduct my school work now that it’s summer is at the bar in our outdoor parlor. 

 

When I put on some surf shorts and a basketball jersey it’s a serene warm setting even at night and I don’t feel cooped up and stressed.  It helps to lose track of time and get quality reading and writing done with my heavy semester.

 

 

II. [ASSIGNMENT]: INTRODUCE YOURSELF; DESCRIBE YOUR WORKPLACE

 

Hello and welcome to _____,

 

We all, likely, have multiple places in which we work and in which we read, think, and write. This assignment asks you to document and describe the key features of your environment at one of those “places”. I put “places” in quotations because it may be a fluid and dynamic location. You can, and should here, think of work places and spaces as both a physical location, but also as a time-based location. What else is potentially at play? For example, do you share the space with others? Is there anyone else competing for that space? Are there interruptions? Etc.

 

To think about reading and writing as things that happen in spaces, in locations, in specific time periods, is a unique way to introduce yourself to others in the course. Follow these instructions. This firs assignment will also prompt you think about the production of texts as a literal and situated act that happens in real locations. And it will help you get to know your classmates a bit in order to jumpstart the formation of our classroom community.

 

With this in mind, I was recently inspired by the discovery and playfulness of a blog: http://nathanmeunier.com/2012/06/22/shop-talk-freelance-workspaces-volume-1/ that invites writers to send photographs and brief descriptions of the settings and spaces in which they work. As teachers, researchers, and students of writing, we all spend endless hours in these spaces writing and working. See my example at: https://acomposing.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/the-work-spaces-and-places-of-writing-teachers-researchers-and-administrators/. Consider how my example is primarily playful. Feel free to be playful yourself, but also focus on including some serious forms of analysis about some aspect of your workspace that is worth comment.

 

So, tell us a bit about your workspace.

 

INSTRUCTIONS

 

1. Include only one (JPG) photograph (which can be a mash-up, multi-panel photograph) of the setting/space in which you work and write.

 

2. Include the following information: your name, title/job, and the university/school with which you are affiliated.

 

3. And include a short description focusing on what you find most interesting to describe/share about your workspace.

 

4. Post your narrative for the class to see. Remember: Write it in a fashion where you feel comfortable sharing publicly. Do not include details that you don’t want others to know. Do not include details that you might consider too personal for some reason.

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How to Acknowledge the Online in an Online Course Syllabus

When I teach online courses, I have come to value the benefits of including a relatively short, but direct statement in my course syllabi about the nature of online learning for my graduate and undergraduate students. Before enrolling, some (most?) students have considered the differences between face-to-face learning and online courses, but it is also the case that many have not. In many cases, students may be taking an online course for the first time. In other cases, even students that have taken online courses before may never have been directly prompted to consider the differences between online and face-to-face courses (let alone hybrid ones) before. In all cases, it is beneficial to remind everyone involved that the nature of a given learning environment (whether synchronous, or asynchronous) plays a primarily role in the processes of learning.

Over the last several years, I have been working on developing a statement that is simultaneously useful, but also general enough to include (without much revision necessary) in all of the online writing courses that I teach. Over time, I have moved this statement steadily up in the hierarchy of my syllabi so that now it generally sits in the first few sections. I now consider it as a key part of the introduction to the online courses that I teach and thus tend to place it immediately after my course description and course goals.

Of course there are many variables involved in drafting such statements such as the student population that you are teaching, the type of course management system involved (in my case BBlearn with some supplemental outlets), teaching styles, and the nature of distinct courses, etc. But, as of this particular blog post, here is what I have constructed and refined over time. Maybe it will be of us to you, or just as likely, you will have something similar in your own syllabi.

The relative success that I have had with versions of this particular statement stem from several characteristics:

  • It is written, ultimately, as an invitation to students prompting them not just to consider the nature of an online learning environment, but also how they must be active participants for success across the course.
  • It addresses aspects about not just being a student in an online learning environment, but also introduces the nature of my role as a professor across it.
  • The statement is short enough to include in a syllabus.
  • And the statement is general enough to include, without much revision, in any given online course that I teach.

_________________________________________________________________

HERE IS THE RELEVANT EXCERPT FROM MY CURRENT ONLINE SYLLABUS

III. About Online Learning in This Course: 

This is an online course. I have come to appreciate the value of opening online courses with a simple and direct reminder: this is an online course. The differences between face-to-face and online courses are significant. Put simply, face-to-face courses and online courses ARE NOT THE SAME and they cannot be. It is not a matter of one learning environment being better than another (opinion is often divided depending on individual student’s circumstances, learning styles, and preferences), but it is a matter of being aware and intentionally adjusting, as a student, to the learning environment (in this case online) that you have chosen. As you will have experienced, or might expect, the convenience of working through technology and from a distant location has significant benefits and real trade-offs. Interestingly, what is a trade-off and what is a benefit in an online learning environment varies sometimes significantly between students’ preferences and learning styles.

The most important thing to realize, if you haven’t already, is that “meaningful” online learning environments often require MORE time and effort for both students/teachers than face-to-face classes. It is a common misconception that online courses somehow save time and are more efficient. But consider how the online “environment” only exists in as much as you interact with it. Or, put another way, in a face-to-face class, the classroom “happens” when you attend a given class; however, in an online course, it is your responsibility (as with your classmates) to “make things happen” one person at a time, one login at a time, one response at a time. This is the primary distinction whereby a face-to-face course is synchronous (occurring at the same time) and an online course is asynchronous (not occurring at the same time). Let me say it in another way. In a face-to-face class, discussion, lectures, etc. happen collectively and naturally because, in such a learning environment, everyone is present together for all such interactions. In an online course, however, everything is experienced with a delay. This is a constant battle for everyone in all online courses –teachers and students alike. There is a “shared space” online, but no matter how an online course is structured, it requires everyone as individuals from different locations (in both place and time) to create and leave something meaningful for others to find later. It can feel like lonely work sometimes, but with some patience it won’t feel like work done alone.

This corresponds directly to the second most important thing to realize (if you haven’t already) about working on a course from a distinct location –it requires you to be a more independent and self-motivated learner than when attending a face-to-face class. For some of you, this may fit with your natural proclivity. For most of you, however, you will have to work at it. In this course, you cannot be a passive learner and I will not simply be feeding you information (as you might have experienced in the past). In order for this course to work you will need to interact and to be a “knowledge-generator”. You will need to be responsible for constructing and managing your own learning. You will be both teacher and student. The success of this course (and ultimately your valuation of it) depends upon the work you are willing to put in –not just for yourself, but with and for your classmates too. This is why reading and responding to (at least 3) classmates’ work is required each week. Given this requirement others, of course, will likewise be responding to your work. In this manner it is important to understand that interacting and discussing, etc. is as much part of completing every assignment as a specific assignment itself.

My job, as your professor, is to provide a structured series of assignments/prompts with supporting mini-lectures, content, and materials that facilitate the realization of the course goals. In this capacity, my primary role is as an expert facilitator. But keep in mind that any given assignment and content won’t take on meaning, or “come to life” until you interact with it. More so, the electronic environment does not expand, nor become more interesting and rich until you add your reflections, comments, thinking, responses, ideas, beliefs, arguments, etc. The success of this course relies upon your steady, consistent, and active involvement. The success of your own learning across it does, of course, too.

Composition Forum (Fall 2012): Threshold Concepts, Learning, and Movement

Check out my recent co-authored publication:

(Fall, 2012). Threshold Concepts, Learning, and Movement: A Case Study in Two General Education Courses. Composition Forum (special issue on transfer). (26).

<http://compositionforum.com/issue/26/>.

“This article ultimately suggests that threshold concepts might prove a productive frame through which to consider questions related to writing and transfer, and also to general education more broadly.”

Following the lead of Bass (2009) and Robertson (2011), Linda Adler-Kassner, John Majewski and I have worked, with a recent CCCC presentation (2012) and a Composition Forum (2012) article, to help introduce and advance threshold concepts (Meyer and Land, 2006) as a flexible conceptual and research heuristic through which to study and describe the nature of transfer in writing.

We also presented our findings at: “Complicating “transfer” articulating thresholds for writing and learning across disciplines.” College Composition and Communication Conference (CCCC). St. Louis, Missouri, March 21st-24th, 2012.

In follow up research, I am currently using the threshold concept literature on liminality to identify and describe the tacit and discursive schemas-for-writing that graduate students, who also self-identify as working professionals, “carry” between their academic and workplace settings.

Bass, Randy. A Hitchiker’s Guide to Threshold Concepts, Student Learning, and the Teaching of Writing Within the Disciplines. 2009. TS.

Meyer, Jan H. F., and Ray Land. Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.

Meyer, Jan H. F., and Ray Land. Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: An Introduction. Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding. Ed. Jan H. F. Meyer and Ray Land. London: Routledge, 2006. 3-18. Print.

—–. Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Issues of Liminality. Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding. Ed. Jan H. F. Meyer and Ray Land. London: Routledge, 2006. 19-32. Print

Robertson, Liane. The Significance of Course Content in the Transfer of Writing Knowledge from First-Year Composition to Other Academic Writing Contexts. Diss. Florida State U, 2011. Print.

But what is a threshold concept?

A good place to start is -“Threshold Concepts: Undergraduate Teaching, Postgraduate Training and Professional Development”: http://www.ee.ucl.ac.uk/~mflanaga/thresholds.html.

“The threshold concept framework focuses on the identification of what is fundamental to the grasp of a subject and is essentially a transactional curriculum enquiry requiring a partnership between the relevant subject experts, educational researchers and learners.” Cousin, G. (2009), Transactional Curriculum Inquiry: Researching Threshold Concepts, In: Researching Learning in Higher Education: An Introduction to Contemporary Methods and Approaches, Routledge, Abingdon & NY, Chapter 13, pp 201-212.

NCTE Link to Our Recent English Journal Article on James Moffett’s Legacy

I was proud to have been able to work with Elizabeth Spalding and Miles Myers to study James Moffett’s legacy to the English Journal. Our study was published  (January, 2012) in the Centennial edition of the English Journal.
First Paragraph Excerpt: English Journal 101.3 (2012): 26–33

Link to published article:

https://secure.ncte.org/store/2012-january-english-journal-v101-3

Copyright by the National Council of Teachers of English. All Rights Reserved.

_________________________________________________

Elizabeth Spalding, Damian C. Koshnick, and Miles Myers

James Moffett’s Legacy to English Journal

James Moffett 1929-96

“I went to grade school in Jackson, Mississippi, and a big high school in Toledo, Ohio. I had a conventional education, and I accepted it all; I never questioned anything. I just did whatever they told me.” —James Moffett, 1994 Interview (Schroeder and Boe)

____________________________________________________

Who would have predicted that this compliant young man would grow up to be a leading thinker of the English profession, who questioned everything and accepted only a little? With the 1968 publication of his companion volumes—Teaching the Universe of Discourse, which provided the theoretical underpinnings of his practice-oriented, and A Student-Centered Language Arts Curriculum —James Moffett (1929–96) became a major influence on the teaching of secondary English in the English-speaking world. We can think of no more fitting an occasion or outlet for examining his legacy to us than the 100th anniversary of English Journal, the NCTE journal dedicated to the work of secondary classroom teachers.

For full article, see: https://secure.ncte.org/store/2012-january-english-journal-v101-3.

A Directory of Blogs (and other resources) on Writing

This directory of blogs (and other resources) corresponds to those of us that teach and study writing across English; Composition; Rhetoric; Writing Studies. This particular directory started from an aggregation of two sources:

1. KairosNews [http://kairosnews.org/node/3719];
2. Traci Gardner’s  excellent and recently updated list [http://www.tengrrl.com/blog/]

I was inspired to start aggregating and editing this directory because given those blogs that I follow currently, I am convinced that there is a great deal of valuable work and thinking happening across these publishing platforms. Please note that I am intentionally casting a wide net given the resource list below and therefore relying on a very loosely defined (non-technical) notion of “blog”.

I am also working on an a list of broader resources according to an organizational schema that will continue to evolve, but here are the current categories listed via the tables below:

I. Web/Blogs Listed by Name
II. Open Publication, Institutional, & Field Resources
III. Job Search Sites
IV. Historical Figures & Research in Composition/Rhetoric
V. Language Parsing (Open-Source Research Tools)
VI. Bibliographies
VII. Longitudinal Writing Research

This directory is, at present, being actively edited and revised (last: Thursday, May 23rd 2011). Please email me with suggestions or additions [koshnick@umail.ucsb.edu]. *And finally, I cannot be held responsible for the information linked from these web/blogs.

The Directory

I. Web/Blogs Listed By Name

Name Blog Title Address
A
ACM Writing Dialogues on RhetComp ESL http://dialogueonwriting.blogspot.com/
Akassi, M. English CompRhet Forum http://moniqueakassi.wordpress.com/
Altbach, P. An Anthology for My Readers http://dilogueonanthology.blogspot.com/
Anderson, D. Writing Pusher http://www.thoughtpress.org/daniel/
Austin, W. Ideawarehouse http://ideawarehouse.typepad.com/
B
Ball State Univ. repurposed http://repurposed.posterous.com/
Baron, D. The Web of Language http://illinois.edu/db/view/25
Bedford BITs Bits Ideas for Teaching Weblog http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/devenglish/
Bedford, Barrios Emerging, a Blog http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/bbarrios/
Bedford, Bernhardt Help Yourself http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/sbernhardt/
Bedford, Bernstein Beyond the Basics http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/devenglish/
Bedford, Carbone Tech Notes http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/ncarbone/
Bedford, Dolmage Advice from How to Write Anything http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/jaydolmage
Bedford, Gardner Teaching in the 21st Century http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/tgardner/
Bedford, Lunsford Teacher to Teacher http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/alunsford/
Bedford, Pappas FYC: Community College Style http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/hpappas/
Bedford, Pitt Instruct Teaching with Ways of Reading http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/pinstructors/
Bedford, Reynolds Resources for Teachers of Writing http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/nreynolds/
Bedford, Solomon Teaching Popular Cultural Semiotics http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/solomon/
Bedford, Wardle, Downs Write On: Notes on Teaching Writing About Writing http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/ewardle/
Bedford, Zobel Adjunct Advice http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/bits/author/gzobel/
Bérubé, M. American Airspace http://www.michaelberube.com/index.php
Blackmon, S. Dr. B’s Blog http://blog.samanthablackmon.net/
Bleck, B. bleckblog.org http://bleckblog.org/
Brooke, C. Collin vs. Blog http://collinvsblog.net/
C
Cadle, L. Techsophist http://techsophist.net/Techsophist/Blog/Blog.html
CandC Blog Computers & Composition Online Blog http://candcblog.org/
Carter, S. Shannon Carter, PhD http://www.shannoncarter.info/
CBW Council on Basic Writing Blog http://cbwblog.wordpress.com/
CCC CCC Blog http://cccc-blog.blogspot.com/
CCR Composition & Rhetoric Graduate Circle http://www.ccrcircle.net/
CF Blog Composition Forum Blog http://compositionforum.com/blog/
Chamcharatsri, P. Composition & Multi-Lingual Writers http://bee-l2writing.blogspot.com/
Ching, K. Scrivel http://scrivel.wordpress.com/
CLiC Converging Literacies Center http://convergingliteraciescenter.wordpress.com/about-clic/
Cline, A. The Rhetorica Network http://rhetorica.net/
CompRhet@KU Composition and Rhetoric at KU http://kucomprhet.wordpress.com/
Crane, M. Technoliteracy http://technoliteracy.blogspot.com/
D
Dad, D. Confessions of a Community College Dean http://suburbdad.blogspot.com/
Degenaro, B. Bill Degenaro http://bdegenaro.blogspot.com/
Dilger, B. CBD http://wrecking.org/cbd/
E
EC English Companion http://englishcompanion.ning.com/
Edwards, M. Vitia http://www.vitia.org/
EMAC Emerging Media & Comm. Blog http://emac.utdallas.edu/blog/
Emmons, K. Information for Graduate Students http://www.case.edu/artsci/engl/emmons/rhetcomp/
F
Faris, M. A Collage of Citations http://michaeljfaris.com/blog/
Fireside Learning Fireside Learning: Conversations about Education http://firesidelearning.ning.com/profiles/blog/list
Fish, S. Opinionator http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/stanley-fish/
Fitzpatrick, K. Planned Obsolescence http://www.plannedobsolescence.net/
G
Gardner, T. Pedablogical http://www.tengrrl.com/blog/
Gossett, K. The Forgotten Canon http://www.kathiegossett.com/forgottencanon/
H
Harris, J. In My Idiom http://josephdharris.wordpress.com/
Hawhee, D. Blogos http://dhawhee.blogs.com/d_hawhee/
Highberg, N. Nels Highberg http://drnelsresearch.blogspot.com/
Highberg, N. Pennies in a Jar http://penniesinajarblog.blogspot.com/
Hosterman, A. Hyperreal Blogging http://alechosterman.com/WordPress/
Howard, R. Writing Matters http://www.rebeccamoorehoward.com/category/blog
I
If:Book Institute for the Future of the Book http://www.futureofthebook.org/blog/
Is There a There There? Is There a There There? http://isthereatherethere.wordpress.com/
J
Jacobs, A. Text Patterns http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/
Jean, A. Media Praxis http://aljean.wordpress.com/
Jenkins, H Confessions of an Aca/Fan http://henryjenkins.org/
Jerz, D. Jerz’s Literacy Weblog http://jerz.setonhill.edu/
Johnduff, M. Working Notes http://mikejohnduff.blogspot.com/
Johnson-Eilola, J. Datacloud http://people.clarkson.edu/~jjohnson//datacloud/
K
Kemp, F. Musings about Teaching and Technology http://fredkemp.wordpress.com/
Kirschenbaum, M. Matthew G. Kirschenbaum http://mkirschenbaum.wordpress.com/
Knight, A. Aesthetically Good http://aimeeknight.com/
Koshnick, D. Acomposing https://acomposing.wordpress.com/
Krause, S. Steven Krause’s Official Blog http://stevendkrause.com/
Krista, K. Arete http://www.slimcoincidence.com/blog/
Kyburz, B. Kind of … http://blkyburz.blogspot.com/
L
Lafer, S. Stephen Lafer’s Blog http://firesidelearning.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=0ycabjolgrmq1
LaVecchia, C. et. al. http://clavatuc.blogspot.com/
LaVecchia, C. Investigating Writing Program Assessment http://ucwpassessment.wordpress.com/
Lessig, L. Lessig Blog http://www.lessig.org/blog/
Long, R. 2River http://www.2river.org/2RView/default.html
Losh, E. Virtualpolitik http://virtualpolitik.blogspot.com/
Lowe, C. Cyberdash http://kairosnews.org/blog/14
Lynch, J. Rhetorical Researcher http://jennlynch.wordpress.com/
M
Mascle, D. Metawriting http://masclemetawriting.blogspot.com/
Matsuda, P. Paul Kei Matsuda http://dissoilogoi2.blogspot.com/
McGinnis, M. Michael L. McGinnis http://www.mlmcginnis.com/
McNely, B. 5000 http://5000.blogspot.com/
Meloni, J. Academic Sandbox http://www.academicsandbox.com/blog/
Moere, A. Information Aesthetics http://infosthetics.com/
Moffett, J. James Moffett Consortium http://jamesmoffettstudies.ning.com/
Montfort, N. Post Position http://nickm.com/post/
Moore, M. Composition and Rhetoric II http://composing.org/wrd104sq2011/
Mueller, D. Earth Wide Moth http://www.earthwidemoth.com/mt/
N
Noon, D. Borderland http://borderland.northernattitude.org/
O
Opipari, B. Writers on Process http://www.writersonprocess.com/
P
Pace, S. Diary of a Writing Teacher http://www.beaumontrhetorica.blogspot.com/
Parry, D. AcademHack http://academhack.outsidethetext.com/home/category/blog/
Pigg, S. Pidoubleg http://pidoubleg.com/blog/teaching
Priest, J. Border Work http://priestjesse.wordpress.com/
Q
R
Ratliff, C. CultureCat: Rhetoric and Feminism http://culturecat.net/
Ravitch & Meier Bridging Differences http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
Reid, A. Digital Digs http://alexreid.typepad.com/digital_digs/
Remirez, C. Mestize Rhetoric http://mextizarhetorica.blogspot.com/
Rettberg, J. Jill/txt http://jilltxt.net/
Rhetoric, Society Blogora http://rsa.cwrl.utexas.edu/
Rice, J. Yellow Dog http://ydog.net/
Richards, D. Resident Pragmatist http://danielrichards.net/
Richardson, W. Weblogg-ed http://weblogg-ed.com/
Riley, B. Digital Sextant http://www.curragh-labs.org/blog/
River, N. Pure Sophist Monster http://pure-sophist-monster.blogspot.com/
Rodgers, M. Intent/Effect http://www.meaganrodgers.com/intenteffect.html
Rodrigo, S. Confessions of a Committed Technofile http://committedtechnofile.com/
Rose, M. Mike Rose Blog http://mikerosebooks.blogspot.com/
RTB Radical Teacher Blog http://radicalteacherblog.wordpress.com/
S
Sample, M. Sample Reality http://www.samplereality.com/
Santos, M. Insignificant Wranglings http://insignificantwrangler.blogspot.com/
Sayers, J. Listening to Repeating http://www.jenterysayers.com/
Schaffner, S. Metaspencer http://metaspencer.blogspot.com/
Schell, E. Eastcoast-Westcoast http://eastcoast-westcoast.blogspot.com/
Schirmer, J. Against Multiphrenia http://betajames.net/
Schott, B. Schott’s Vocab http://schott.blogs.nytimes.com/
Skallerup, L. College Ready Writing http://collegereadywriting.blogspot.com/
Smith, K. Weblogs in Higher Education http://www.mchron.net/site/edublog.php
Spangenberg, L. IT: Instructional Technology http://www.lisaspangenberg.com/it/
Spinuzzi, C. Spinuzzi http://spinuzzi.blogspot.com/
Stedman, K. Transmedia Me http://transmediame.wordpress.com/
Strate, L. Lance Strate’s Blog Time Passing http://lancestrate.blogspot.com/
Sullivan, J. Free to Write http://freetowrite.com/
T
Taylor, K. Fragment/Framework http://trauthke.wordpress.com/
Trauman, R. Digital Bibliography http://ryantrauman.com/blog/
Tryon, C. The Chutry Experiment http://www.chutry.wordherders.net/wp/
Ttrettien, W. Diapsalmata http://blog.whitneyannetrettien.com/
U
V
W
Walter, J. Machina Memorialis http://www.jpwalter.com/machina/
Ward, J. This Public Address 3.0 http://www.thispublicaddress.com/
Williams, G. WorkBook http://workbook.wordherders.net/
Wittig, & Marino WRT: Writer Response Theory http://writerresponsetheory.org/wordpress/
Wolff, B. Composing Spaces http://williamwolff.org/
X
Y
Z

II. Open Publication, Institutional, & Field Resources

AAAL American Association for Applied Linguists http://www.aaal.org/
ACH Web Association for Computers & Humanities http://www.ach.org/
ACJ American Communication Journal http://www1.appstate.edu/orgs/acjournal/index.htm
AEPL Assembly of Expanded Perspectives Learning https://www.sworps.tennessee.edu/aepl/index.html
AERA American Educational Research Association http://www.aera.net/
Assessing Writing Assessing Writing international Journal http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/620369/description#description
ATD Across the Disciplines http://wac.colostate.edu/atd/archives.cfm?showatdarchives=atd
AWE Acedemic Writing in English http://sana.tkk.fi/awe/
BALEAP British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes http://www.baleap.org.uk/
Basic Composition BasicComposition.com http://www.basiccomposition.com/
Basic Writing E-Journal Basic Writing E-Journal http://orgs.tamu-commerce.edu/BWe/index.htm
Bazerman, C. Charles Bazerman http://education.ucsb.edu/bazerman/
BBC BC British Council on Writing http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/articles/writing
Bedford Take 20 Taylor’s: 22 Writing Teachers Film http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/catalog/static/bsm/take20/
BSU Word Works Word Works: Short Essays on Teach Writing http://www.boisestate.edu/wcenter/wordworks.html
BUOWL Bogazici University Online Writing Lab http://www.buowl.boun.edu.tr/
CAI Center for Academic Integrity http://www.academicintegrity.org/
CASDW Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse & Writing http://www.cs.umanitoba.ca/~casdw/
CATE California Teachers of English http://www.cateweb.org/
CCCC Conference on College Composition Comm. http://www.ncte.org/cccc/ccc/
CCCOA The CCC Online Archive http://www.inventio.us/ccc/
CCCS Communication & Critical Cultural Studies http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713684641
Changing English Changing English Studies in Culture & Educ. http://www.tandfdc.com/journals/titles/1358684X.asp
CiEL Currents in Electronic Literacy http://currents.cwrl.utexas.edu/
CIER Contemporary Issues in Education Research http://www.cluteinstitute-onlinejournals.com/archives/journals.cfm?Journal=Contemporary%20Issues%20in%20Education%20Research
Citation Project The Citation Project: Preventing Plagiarism http://citationproject.net/index.html
CITE Contemporary Issues in Technology & Teacher Education http://www.aace.org/pubs/cite/
CLJ Community Literacy Journal http://www.communityliteracy.org/index.php/clj
CMC Computer Mediated Communication http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/
Composition Forum CompForum http://compositionforum.com/
Computers & Composition Computers & Composition Online http://www.bgsu.edu/cconline/
Computers & Writing Computers & Writing http://computersandwriting.org/
CTech. Campus Technology http://campustechnology.com/home.aspx
Currents in Electronic Literacy Digital Writing & Research Lab http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/currents/
DHC Digital Humanities Conference https://dh2011.stanford.edu/
Diagramming Sentences Sentence Diagrams: by Moutoux, E. http://www.german-latin-english.com/basicdiagrams.htm
Digital Culture Books Digital Culture Books http://www.digitalculture.org/
Digital Ethnography Digital Ethnography at Kansas State http://mediatedcultures.net/ksudigg/
Discourse & Society Discourse & Society http://das.sagepub.com/
Discourse Processes Journal for the Society of Text & Discourse http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/0163853X.asp
Discourse Studies Discourse Studies http://dis.sagepub.com/
DOAJ Directory of Open Access Journals http://www.doaj.org/
Doctoral Consortium in Rhetoric and Composition Doctoral Consortium in Rhet’Comp http://www.cws.illinois.edu/rc_consortium/index.html
E4.Thai English for Thai.com http://english-for-thais-2.blogspot.com/
EATAW European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing http://www.eataw.eu/
ECAC Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum http://wordsworth2.net/projects/ecac/ecacbk1.htm
ELTeCS English Language Teaching Contacs Scheme http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/eltecs
EM English Matters http://englishmatters.gmu.edu/
Enculturation Enculturation http://enculturation.gmu.edu/
ESP Journal Journal of English for Specific Purposes http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=PublicationURL&_cdi=5986&_auth=y&_acct=C000022859&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=521817&_pubType=J&md5=f2cfafa7fa21a35ef7640b956227997d
EWCA European Writing Centers Association http://ewca.sabanciuniv.edu/eng/
FYHC First Year Honors Composition http://www.fyhc.info/index.htm
GCIL Georgia Conference on Information Literacy http://ceps.georgiasouthern.edu/conted/infolit.html
GMU Inventio Inventio: Creative Thinking on Teaching http://doit.gmu.edu//inventio/
Hacker, D. Research and Documentation Online http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/
HDG Humanist Discussion Group http://www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/
IEEE IEEE Professional Communication Society http://ewh.ieee.org/soc/pcs/
IJOC International Journal of Communication http://ijoc.org/ojs/index.php/ijoc/index
IMD Interactive Media Division http://interactive.usc.edu/
InkShed: CASLL Canadian Association for the Study of Language & Learning http://www.stthomasu.ca/inkshed/
Inside HigherEd Inside Higher Ed. http://www.insidehighered.com/
ITESLJ The Internet TESL Journal http://iteslj.org/
IWCA International Writing Centers Association http://writingcenters.org/
IWCA: Videos IWCA: Videos & Podcasts http://writingcenters.org/links/podcasts/
JAC Journal of Advanced Composition http://www.jacweb.org/
JACR Journal of Applied Communication Research http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rjac
JDC Journal of Design Communication http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JDC/
JEAP Journal of English for Academic Purposes http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/622440/description#description
JoTW Journal of Teaching Writing http://www.iupui.edu/~jtw/
JOWR Journal of Writing Research http://www.jowr.org/current.html
JSLW Journal of Second Langauge Writing http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/620372/description#description
JTWC Journal of Technical Writing & Communication http://www.baywood.com/journals/previewjournals.asp?id=0047-2816
Kairos Kairos http://english.ttu.edu/Kairos/
KB Journal Kenneth Burke Journal http://www.kbjournal.org/node
Language in Society Journal of Language in Society http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=lsy
LILAC GROUP Learning Information Literacy Across the Curriculum http://lilac-group.blogspot.com/2009/03/invitation-to-participate-lilac-project.html
LLC Journal of Literary & Linguistic Computing http://llc.oxfordjournals.org/
LORE Journal of SD State “Practitioner Lore” http://rhetoric.sdsu.edu/lore/lore.html
MLA Modern Language Association http://www.mla.org/
NCTE National Council Teachers of English http://www.ncte.org/
NCTE, CE College English http://www.ncte.org/journals/ce
NCTE, CNP Classroom Notes Plus http://www.ncte.org/journals/cnp
NCTE, EE English Education http://www.ncte.org/journals/ee
NCTE, EJ English Journal http://www.ncte.org/journals/ej
NCTE, ELQ English Leadership Quarterly http://www.ncte.org/journals/elq
NCTE, LA Language Arts http://www.ncte.org/journals/la
NCTE, National Gallery NCTE National Day of Writing Gallery http://www.galleryofwriting.org/contribute.php
NCTE, RTE Research in the Teaching of English http://www.ncte.org/journals/rte
NCTE, ST School Talk http://www.ncte.org/journals/st
NCTE, TETYC Teaching English in the Two Year College http://www.ncte.org/journals/tetyc
NCTE, TP Talking Points http://www.ncte.org/journals/tp
NCTE, VM Voices from the Middle http://www.ncte.org/journals/vm
NetPoetic NetPoetic: Digital Poetry & Electronic Literature http://netpoetic.com/about/
NewJour NewJour: Directory of Electronic Journals http://old.library.georgetown.edu/newjour/toc.html
NOORDSTER University of Groningen: Communication Skills in Higher Education http://www.rug.nl/noordster/index
NWP National Writing Project http://www.nwp.org/
NWP E-Voice NWP’s: Journal E-Voice http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/doc/resources/e_voice.csp
OWJ Open Words Journal http://www.pearsoncomppro.com/open_words_journal/index.php
OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab http://owl.english.purdue.edu/
Pedagogy Journal of Pedagogy http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ped/
Philosophy & Rhetoric Journal of Philosophy & Rhetoric http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/par/
Plagiary Plagiary http://www.plagiary.org/
Pre/Text Pre/Text: The First Decade http://books.google.com/books?id=BbOyc31qUckC&pg=PA312&lpg=PA312&dq=vitanza+pre/text&source=bl&ots=AXQJTDPFtR&sig=_kcugC4pV6jxNY1RgPz2DaEm2Pc&hl=en&ei=z-fWTabKF8HIgQeMgLnBBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false
Present Tense Present Tense: Journal of Rhetoric in Society http://www.presenttensejournal.org/
Programmatic Perspectives Programmatic Perspectives http://www.cptsc.org/pp/index.html
Prose Studies Journal of Prose Studies http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/01440357.asp
Rethinking Schools Rethinking Schools http://www.rethinkingschools.org/index.shtml
RhetNet RhetNet http://wac.colostate.edu/rhetnet/
Rhetoric & Public Affairs Journal of Rhetoric & Public Affairs http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/rap/
Rhetoric Review Rhetoric Review http://www.rhetoricreview.com/
Rhetorica Journal of the History of Rhetoric http://ucpressjournals.com/journalSoc.asp?j=rh
RSQ Rhetoric Society Quarterly http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t716100769
Russell, D. David R. Russell http://www.public.iastate.edu/~drrussel/drresume.html
Scholars Interviews and Workshops http://www.basiccomposition.com/SCHOLARS.html
SCWCA South Central Writing Centers Association http://www.ualr.edu/scwca/
TCQ Technical Communication Quarterly http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/1057-2252.asp
TEI Text Encoding Initiative http://www.tei-c.org/index.xml
TESOL Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/index.asp
TESOL Quarterly TESOL Quarterly http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/seccss.asp?CID=209&DID=1679
TEXT TEXT Journal of Writing & Writing Courses http://www.textjournal.com.au/
TFJ The Fibreculture Journal http://fibreculturejournal.org/
The Chronicle THe Chronicle of Higher Education http://chronicle.com/section/Home/5
The Chronicle ProfHacker ProfHacker http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/
The Chronicle Wired Wired Campus http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/
The Commons Academic Commons http://www.academiccommons.org/
The JUMP Journal for Undergrad. Multimedia Projects http://jump.dwrl.utexas.edu/about
Transliteracy TransLiteracy: Electronic Literature http://nlabnetworks.typepad.com/transliteracy/
TWI The Writing Instructor http://www.writinginstructor.com/
UEfAP Using English for Academic Purposes http://www.uefap.com/
WAC AW Archives Academic.Writing Archives http://wac.colostate.edu/aw/
WAC Clearinghouse WAC Clearinghouse Colorado State http://wac.colostate.edu/
WLL Journal of Written Language & Literacy http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_seriesview.cgi?series=WL%26L
WPA Council of Writing Program Administrators http://wpacouncil.org/
WPA Journal Journal of Writing Program Administration http://wpacouncil.org/node/1812
WRAB Writing Research Across Borders Conference http://www.writing.ucsb.edu/wrconf11/
Writing Centers WCRP Writing Centers Research Project http://casebuilder.rhet.ualr.edu/wcrp/
Writing Lab Newsletter The Writing Lab Newsletter Archives http://www.writinglabnewsletter.org/new/
Written Communication Written Communication http://wcx.sagepub.com/
WWoB Words Without Borders http://wordswithoutborders.org/
Xchanges Xchanges Newsletter http://infohost.nmt.edu/~xchanges/
Young Scholars Gallery Young Scholars in Writing Gallery http://www.galleryofwriting.org/galleries/50359
Young Scholars Writing Young Scholars in Writing http://www.bk.psu.edu/Academics/Degrees/26432.htm
Zeitschrift Zeitschrift Schreiben http://www.zeitschrift-schreiben.eu/cgi-bin/joolma/

III. Job Search Sites

AcademicJobs Academic Jobs Wiki http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/Academic_Jobs_Wiki
ADE Association of Departments of English Job List http://www.ade.org/jil/index.htm
California CC’s California Community Colleges http://www.cccco.edu/
Community College Community College Jobs http://www.communitycollegejobs.com/
HASTAC Humanities, Arts, Science & Technology Collaboratory http://www.hastac.org/forum/23
HigherEd HigherEd Jobs http://www.higheredjobs.com/
IWCA International Writing Centers Association Jobs http://writingcenters.org/category/positions/
The Chronicle of HigherEd The Chronicle of Higher Ed. Jobs http://chronicle.com/section/Jobs/61/
WPA WPA Job Board http://wpacouncil.org/job-board

IV. Historical Figures & Research in Composition/Rhetoric

Comppile Composition Founders http://compfaqs.org/CompositionFounders/HomePage
Moffett, J. James Moffett Consortium http://jamesmoffettstudies.ning.com/

V. Language Parsing (Open-Source Research Tools)

Concordance Text Based Concordances http://www.lextutor.ca/concordancers/text_concord/
Reed-Kellogg Reed-Kellogg Sentence Diagrammer Online http://1aiway.com/nlp4net/services/enparser/
Sen-Draw Sen-Draw Sentence Diagrams http://www.sendraw.ucf.edu/
Thomson Rueters HistCite http://thomsonreuters.com/products_services/science/science_products/a-z/histcite/
UsingEnglish UsingEnglish.com http://www.usingenglish.com/resources/text-statistics.php
Wordle Wordle http://www.wordle.net/

VI. Bibliographies

Bedford Bibliography The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/catalog/static/bsm/bb/contents.html
CompPile WPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies http://comppile.org/wpa/bibliographies/index.php
Howard, R. Bibliographies for Composition and Rhetoric http://wrt-howard.syr.edu/bibs.html

VII. Longitudinal Writing Research

Denver Denver Longitudinal Study of Writing http://www.du.edu/writing/ls.html
PAW Professional Academic Writing in a Global Context http://creet.open.ac.uk/projects/paw/
PIL Project Information Literacy http://projectinfolit.org/about/
Stanford Stanford Study of Writing http://ssw.stanford.edu/


The Economies of Palimpsest

DATE: May 15th, 2011
RESEARCH/WRITTEN BY:     Damian C. Koshnick                                              koshnick@umail.ucsb.edu

I am in love, and have been for years, with palimpsests because -metaphorically and literally,  they are all around us …

Archimedes' Palimpsest

Occasionally, you learn things that resonate for years. In 2000, during my first experience in graduate school, a mentor and professor of mine –Tom Gage, used the word palimpsest in a conversation. I nodded my head politely the first time he mentioned it, thinking, “Should I know this word?” But I knew that intelligent graduate students (the ones that survive anyway) learn to look things up. I came to know that through Latin and then Greek it means, “again, to scrape”; that it is the act of reusing a material (parchment, vellum, papyrus, etc.), by (often) imperfectly scraping away and writing over a previously extant text. Once I understood the term, as so often happens, I saw palimpsests and echoes of the concept in many places –in gang related graffiti (tagging walls as palimpsests of ownership), on wind ripped billboard signs, and even in the news.

A Famous Palimpsest: If you pay attention to the news for palimpsest, “Archimedes’ Palimpsest” makes the headlines every two or three years as scientists discover more effective ways –most recently (2006) pulsing X-rays– to pull forth Archimedes’ iron tainted ink, which rests in various decomposed conditions, obscured beneath an overlayed book of prayers.

In a new book “Is God a Mathematician” (which is fascinating for many reasons) the mathematician Mario Livio (2009) describes the original process by which -sometime before 1229- a scribe, Johannes Myrones, “unbound and washed” Archimedes’ original text, “so the parchment leaves could be reused for a Christian prayer book”. Fortunately, however, that “washing of the original text did not obliterate the writing completely”. What was left represents to us now what is Archimedes’ text, and is now one of the oldest (2,000 years) known texts.

Livio attributes the scribe’s actions to a broad cultural shift in the diminishing appreciation of mathematics after the Fourth Crusade, or as he noted, “in the years that followed, the passion for mathematics faded” (p. 54). Presumably then, Myrones attempted destruction and appropriation of Archimedes’ text was essentially an act of changing cultural values and of material necessity. Parchment, of course, was not as plentiful, nor cheap as paper has become for us; the text was valuable to the scribe for the parchment, upon which he could accomplish his prayer writing duties.

Since my first graduate school days, more than a decade ago, palimpsests have fascinated me. As I see it now, this concept represents my scholarly “gateway” into the socio-cultural perspective; it led to deep reflections on ways in which context (social, historical, technological, etc.) impacts writing practice and language use. As I searched my way through some of the details of “Archimedes’ Palimpsest,” there was, for example, a distinct moment when I came to more earnestly appreciate what economy meant –how the limits of our material and social world constantly impress circumstance upon us. Palimpsests, in many circumstances, represented a pragmatic response to the labor-intensive and limited distribution of parchment. It is a simple concept, but one that strikes deep. From this experience, I began to recognize contemporary incarnations, the ways in which our current practices are impacted by the strong undercurrents of our material, social, and cognitive realities. In turn, I started to study the literature. I began to recognize real world examples, in my own and others’ practices. 

It does not take long to realize that although our ability to produce and distribute writing has dramatically improved since the scribe picked up and decided to “recycle” Archimedes’ text around 1229, we are yet ever-adapting and reinventing our communicative and writing practices based upon both natural limitations, and local circumstance. History is full of these evolutions of inscription and re-inscription (through various technologies) as pragmatic and incidental, or even aggressive and explicit acts of power. And even though we have greatly improved our ability to communicate efficiently and across great distances instantaneously, the struggle between our desire and our ability to first capture and then assert our ideas in meaningful and lasting ways remains.

Clearly a great deal has changed regarding the valuation of Archimedes’ text since 1229, because in 1998 an anonymous philanthropist paid $2 million dollars for it and deposited at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore for study and conservation (see: http://www.archimedespalimpsest.org/palimpsest_making1.html). 

I am in love, and have been for years, with palimpsests because -metaphorically and literally,  they are all around us. And, if you pay attention, examples show up every so often in the news:

A Recent Palimpsest: New York Times -2008 “Consider Nepal’s new currency. Shortly after the king gave up power in 2006, the government ordered the printing of money, starting with the 500-rupee note, free of the king’s portrait. In the new design, developed by the central bank, King Gyanendra’s image was replaced by that of the noncontroversial Mount Everest. But the paper on which the new bills are printed, having been ordered long ago, still bears a watermark of the king’s face. Unable to afford new currency paper, bank officials took creative license. They slapped a dark-pink rhododendron on top of the watermark. The king and his bird-of-paradise plumed crown can be seen only if the bill is held up to the light” (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/world/asia/03nepal.html).

And, again and again, there is the “scraping” and “rewriting” all about in the world around us:

Point Made, Point Sal Sign -Photo: Damian C. Koshnick

 “I am like one of those old books that ends up moldering for lack of having been read. There’s nothing to do but spin out the thread of memory and from time to time, wipe away the dust building up there.” –Seneca