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.



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.


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:

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:

Literate practices: Rediscovering the value of recitation

Men on Succor Street -Photo: (c) Kate Koshnick Photography (

Our Changing Literacy Expectations:

We (as teachers and as a broader culture) critically underestimate the degree to which our expectations of literate practice change. Even more so, we fail to appreciate the extent to which what we expect of a literate person in today’s society is dramatically more ambitious than our recent past and that the these demands and expectations have changed over a very short period of time. No book makes this more apparent, nor outlines in greater detail the nature of these changing expectations than Miles Myers’ (1996) book, Changing Our Minds: Negotiating English and Literacy. In it, he gives a historical account, naming, categorizing and describing precisely how our expectations have shifted. Here is his timeline and the general terminology/classifications that he uses to organize his presentation:

1600 Oracy

1776 Signature

1864 Recitation

1916 Decoding

Translation 1983

After I first read Myer’s book, I came to appreciate the evolving generational differences in the forms of literacy education. They became apparent, for example, in my own family as I grew to recognize that my grandfather was taught a form of literacy that valued different kinds of “reading” than my own. My late grandfather, Robert Koshnick, was educated in a rural Minnesota one-room schoolhouse during the early 1900’s. Throughout his childhood, he was taught printing through tracing and replication (a significant overlap between his education and my own grade school work), but he was also taught to memorize and recite long passages of both prose and poetry. This emphasis on memorization (recitation on Myer’s chronology) was no longer valued by the time I was in grade school. Whenever he would quote Tynneson, Poe, Robert Service, Yeats, etc. I envied him because I did not share his ability to recite tens of poems by heart. 

1925 My grandfather (in back) and a neighbor friend during the first day of school

As Myers’ book argues, translation captures aspects of our current literate practice. The ability to translate, i.e. to summarize, re-symbolize, and transfer information from specific sources for use across shifting social, political, and professional contexts takes a great deal of training and practice to do well. Given the power and relatively availability of increasingly “hand-held” search engine devices, via Google, etc. we can find vast stores of information instantaneously -the primary skill that must be emphasized, given these trends, is to interpret and repurpose that information for shifting purposes and audiences. Where once we stressed honoring established works of poetry and literature as aesthetic and moral achievements -when we include such works now, we value instead the ability to: a) decode, and therefore learn from them; b) to summarize, and therefore symbolize for renewed intentions and purposes. These abilities do not require memorization, or recitation, largely outdated forms of literate practice.

My teaching practices in reading and writing have been utterly influenced by my understanding and appreciation of a translation literacy for modern, functional, goals and outcomes. And yet, inspired by the legacy of my grandfather’s (recitation) childhood literacy to memorize and recite poems, I have, and continue to, dedicate myself to such learning. I have done so on my own terms as an adult and often with the sneaking suspicion that -although outdated- my own childhood was intellectually malnourished by the loss of such practice. Sure, admiration of my grandfather has influenced my perspective, but for years I could sense, but could not adequately explain why the ability to recite poetry in particular felt so important and powerful.

When I was introduced to the concept and term “gignomai” however, I was suddenly able to both establish and explain just what happens when we hone the ability to memorize and recite specific passages. Ever since, when teaching those courses in writing that are explicitly grounded in the humanities, I have included the following assignment in my courses, with the following explanation of its value.

* * * * *

This is what I expect of this assignment. You are to enter into the work – populate a poem with your own identity – bring together two realms – you and a poem – until they become each something a little more familiar.

* * * * *

The Art of Poetic Memorization

                                        * * * * *

A good poem is an introduction to the world. In medieval times, a poet was called ‘a maker’. According to this understanding, a poet makes the world. And, in a way, every story, every poem is a form of making and re-making the world. Such stories, however small, are not fanciful, complete fictions – rather, they inform us about the world. They tell us how we live, often in surprising and sobering ways.

Consider for a moment the Greek word: Gignomai –born of ‘gnosis’ or “knowing” it is commonly known as the form of knowing that is ‘to become’ -a from of knowledge whereby you become that knowledge. Gignomai, or knowing, in this sense, is a happening, a becoming.

It is to take within, and a transformation occurs. Memorizing poetry – the act allows a poem to enter fully into your self both consciously and unconsciously. It transforms your views in particular instances because you can call on the relationships inherent in a poem, to evoke a feel, or felt sense, of knowing particular words, or situations more immediately and fully.

And so poetry is a happening, a making in a very sincere sense.

Poems also entertain. When you memorize a poem, like learning to play a groovy song on the guitar, you may find yourself reciting it (to the amazement of others) around a campfire, or to yourself when you are stuck in traffic waiting patiently. Many people who memorize poetry often say it can be comforting at times, to have something familiar to recite much like a secular form of praying. The act offers an immediate connection with some part of the cosmos.

* * * * *

An Example: How Knowing a Poem
Can Make the World a Bit More Familiar

                                        * * * * *

What follows below is the assignment and some suggestions on memorizing. But first read this entry from Karen McCosker’s book A Poem a Day.

“In the early 1970’s I was living in Athens. After a year, I was hoping that my father would find the courage to make the trip to see me. But despite the fact that he hated flying, loathed being away from his small, self-owned business and hometown where he knew everyone and everyone recognized him, my father did accompany my mother on this visit. While making the arduous ascent towards the Acropolis, I sensed a trepidation in his steps. He had a bad heart; it was suffocatingly hot and windless; the landscape was utterly foreign to him. He had become something he had rarely been: a stranger. I feared he might lose the psychological surefootedness that being on his own terrain gave him, want to turn back, go home. Pausing, he began to recite a poem, one by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

…Euclid alone

Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they

Who, though once only and then but far away,

Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.

Recalling what he knew oriented my father. The poem gave him breathing space in the crowd, and time to recover from the anxiety of feeling off balance. Hearing the words he had memorized helped him make his way because they suggested an an association between the strange place and the familiar poem, gathering up the distance between Athens and his upstate New York home.

Though my father often recited (no Thanksgiving or Christmas went unmarked by verse), I hadn’t realized until that morning in Athens how a single poem, even a few lines, learned by heart can transform the person who needs to hear those words at a particular time: how they can make what otherwise might have been abandoned possible.”

* * * * *
The Assignment 

       * * * * *

During the course of this term, you are expected to memorize 2 poems of at least 15 lines. You may also choose to memorize specific lines from a play of the same minimum length.

On the day of the quiz, you will clear your desks and write out the poem on a piece of paper. You will have roughly 8 minutes to write the poem out and hand it in to me. You must demonstrate a near perfect transcription for full credit.

Each quiz is worth 5% of your grade. This is an all or nothing assignment. Minimal word variations in several lines is acceptable such as articles omitted or substituted: ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘an’ and a couple (meaning 2 or 3) word variations will be allowed. Form, word, spelling and meaning must remain wholly intact in at least 14 our of your 15 lines for credit. This includes knowing the line breaks throughout your poem.

You must choose and hand in a typed copy of the poem (or lines of play) to me roughly 3 weeks before quiz day. Unless you are very talented, DO NOT try to memorize 15 lines in one night! This kind of exercise will take at least 4 concentrated sessions to learn fully.

* * * * *
Some Suggestions on Memorization
* * * * * 

*begin with 2 lines and add 2 additional lines as you become moderately comfortable with each new addition

*recognize the feel and feeling that the poem evokes; tapping into the sense or feel of the poem will help you recall details you may otherwise forget

*try to imagine the poem in a specific setting

*visually imagine the words on the page, then compare your mind’s image with the printed words; repeat as necessary

*pay attention to rhythm, rhyme, the overall music of the poem

*read the poem aloud

*use a pneumonic device  -the 1st letter of each line to form an acronym -then create a memorable line from the acronym; often the first letter will clue you into the words you want to remember


In your narrowing dark hours

That more things move

Than blood in the heart.

~Louise Bogan~

O. I. T. T.

oil is terribly thick’

*be conscious of specific words, or line breaks that you miss on a repeated basis

*look up any words if you are not familiar with them

*choose a poem you appreciate and enjoy

*recall as many lines as you can before you go to sleep; often memorization is a good tool for overcoming insomnia

*begin memorizing early and don’t worry, with a little practice anyone can memorize far more lines than needed for this assignment; just think of all of the actors that memorize the whole of Hamlet’s character

* * * * *

A Few Poems I Have Memorized:

The Way We Live
by Kathleen Jamie

Pass the tambourine, let me bash out praises
to the gods of movement and absolute
non-friction, flight, and the scary side:
death by avalanche, birth by failed contraception.

Of chicken tandoori and reggae, loud, from tenements,
commitment, driving fast and unswerving
friendship. Of tee-shirts on pulleys, giros and Bombay,
barmen, dreaming waitresses with many fake-gold
bangles. Of airports, impulse, and waking to uncertainty,
to strip-lights, motorways, or that pantheon —
the mountains. To overdrafts and grafting

and the fit slow pulse of wipers and you’re
creeping over roadways, while the God of moorland
walks abroad with his entourage of freezing fog,
his bodyguard of snow.

Of endless gloaming in the North, of Asiatic swelter,
to launderettes, anecdotes, passions and exhaustion,
Final Demands and dead men, the skeletal grip
of government. To misery and elation; mixed,
the sod and caprice of landlords.

To the way it fits, the way it is, the way it seems to be:
let me bash out praises — pass the tambourine.

* * * * *

by Phyllis Webb

The degree of nothingness
is important:
to sit emptily
in the sun
receiving fire
that is the way
to mend
an extraordinary world,
sitting perfectly
and only
remotely human.

* * * * *


Links to:

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 [];
2. Traci Gardner’s  excellent and recently updated list []

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 []. *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
ACM Writing Dialogues on RhetComp ESL
Akassi, M. English CompRhet Forum
Altbach, P. An Anthology for My Readers
Anderson, D. Writing Pusher
Austin, W. Ideawarehouse
Ball State Univ. repurposed
Baron, D. The Web of Language
Bedford BITs Bits Ideas for Teaching Weblog
Bedford, Barrios Emerging, a Blog
Bedford, Bernhardt Help Yourself
Bedford, Bernstein Beyond the Basics
Bedford, Carbone Tech Notes
Bedford, Dolmage Advice from How to Write Anything
Bedford, Gardner Teaching in the 21st Century
Bedford, Lunsford Teacher to Teacher
Bedford, Pappas FYC: Community College Style
Bedford, Pitt Instruct Teaching with Ways of Reading
Bedford, Reynolds Resources for Teachers of Writing
Bedford, Solomon Teaching Popular Cultural Semiotics
Bedford, Wardle, Downs Write On: Notes on Teaching Writing About Writing
Bedford, Zobel Adjunct Advice
Bérubé, M. American Airspace
Blackmon, S. Dr. B’s Blog
Bleck, B.
Brooke, C. Collin vs. Blog
Cadle, L. Techsophist
CandC Blog Computers & Composition Online Blog
Carter, S. Shannon Carter, PhD
CBW Council on Basic Writing Blog
CCR Composition & Rhetoric Graduate Circle
CF Blog Composition Forum Blog
Chamcharatsri, P. Composition & Multi-Lingual Writers
Ching, K. Scrivel
CLiC Converging Literacies Center
Cline, A. The Rhetorica Network
CompRhet@KU Composition and Rhetoric at KU
Crane, M. Technoliteracy
Dad, D. Confessions of a Community College Dean
Degenaro, B. Bill Degenaro
Dilger, B. CBD
EC English Companion
Edwards, M. Vitia
EMAC Emerging Media & Comm. Blog
Emmons, K. Information for Graduate Students
Faris, M. A Collage of Citations
Fireside Learning Fireside Learning: Conversations about Education
Fish, S. Opinionator
Fitzpatrick, K. Planned Obsolescence
Gardner, T. Pedablogical
Gossett, K. The Forgotten Canon
Harris, J. In My Idiom
Hawhee, D. Blogos
Highberg, N. Nels Highberg
Highberg, N. Pennies in a Jar
Hosterman, A. Hyperreal Blogging
Howard, R. Writing Matters
If:Book Institute for the Future of the Book
Is There a There There? Is There a There There?
Jacobs, A. Text Patterns
Jean, A. Media Praxis
Jenkins, H Confessions of an Aca/Fan
Jerz, D. Jerz’s Literacy Weblog
Johnduff, M. Working Notes
Johnson-Eilola, J. Datacloud
Kemp, F. Musings about Teaching and Technology
Kirschenbaum, M. Matthew G. Kirschenbaum
Knight, A. Aesthetically Good
Koshnick, D. Acomposing
Krause, S. Steven Krause’s Official Blog
Krista, K. Arete
Kyburz, B. Kind of …
Lafer, S. Stephen Lafer’s Blog
LaVecchia, C. et. al.
LaVecchia, C. Investigating Writing Program Assessment
Lessig, L. Lessig Blog
Long, R. 2River
Losh, E. Virtualpolitik
Lowe, C. Cyberdash
Lynch, J. Rhetorical Researcher
Mascle, D. Metawriting
Matsuda, P. Paul Kei Matsuda
McGinnis, M. Michael L. McGinnis
McNely, B. 5000
Meloni, J. Academic Sandbox
Moere, A. Information Aesthetics
Moffett, J. James Moffett Consortium
Montfort, N. Post Position
Moore, M. Composition and Rhetoric II
Mueller, D. Earth Wide Moth
Noon, D. Borderland
Opipari, B. Writers on Process
Pace, S. Diary of a Writing Teacher
Parry, D. AcademHack
Pigg, S. Pidoubleg
Priest, J. Border Work
Ratliff, C. CultureCat: Rhetoric and Feminism
Ravitch & Meier Bridging Differences
Reid, A. Digital Digs
Remirez, C. Mestize Rhetoric
Rettberg, J. Jill/txt
Rhetoric, Society Blogora
Rice, J. Yellow Dog
Richards, D. Resident Pragmatist
Richardson, W. Weblogg-ed
Riley, B. Digital Sextant
River, N. Pure Sophist Monster
Rodgers, M. Intent/Effect
Rodrigo, S. Confessions of a Committed Technofile
Rose, M. Mike Rose Blog
RTB Radical Teacher Blog
Sample, M. Sample Reality
Santos, M. Insignificant Wranglings
Sayers, J. Listening to Repeating
Schaffner, S. Metaspencer
Schell, E. Eastcoast-Westcoast
Schirmer, J. Against Multiphrenia
Schott, B. Schott’s Vocab
Skallerup, L. College Ready Writing
Smith, K. Weblogs in Higher Education
Spangenberg, L. IT: Instructional Technology
Spinuzzi, C. Spinuzzi
Stedman, K. Transmedia Me
Strate, L. Lance Strate’s Blog Time Passing
Sullivan, J. Free to Write
Taylor, K. Fragment/Framework
Trauman, R. Digital Bibliography
Tryon, C. The Chutry Experiment
Ttrettien, W. Diapsalmata
Walter, J. Machina Memorialis
Ward, J. This Public Address 3.0
Williams, G. WorkBook
Wittig, & Marino WRT: Writer Response Theory
Wolff, B. Composing Spaces

II. Open Publication, Institutional, & Field Resources

AAAL American Association for Applied Linguists
ACH Web Association for Computers & Humanities
ACJ American Communication Journal
AEPL Assembly of Expanded Perspectives Learning
AERA American Educational Research Association
Assessing Writing Assessing Writing international Journal
ATD Across the Disciplines
AWE Acedemic Writing in English
BALEAP British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes
Basic Composition
Basic Writing E-Journal Basic Writing E-Journal
Bazerman, C. Charles Bazerman
BBC BC British Council on Writing
Bedford Take 20 Taylor’s: 22 Writing Teachers Film
BSU Word Works Word Works: Short Essays on Teach Writing
BUOWL Bogazici University Online Writing Lab
CAI Center for Academic Integrity
CASDW Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse & Writing
CATE California Teachers of English
CCCC Conference on College Composition Comm.
CCCOA The CCC Online Archive
CCCS Communication & Critical Cultural Studies
Changing English Changing English Studies in Culture & Educ.
CiEL Currents in Electronic Literacy
CIER Contemporary Issues in Education Research
Citation Project The Citation Project: Preventing Plagiarism
CITE Contemporary Issues in Technology & Teacher Education
CLJ Community Literacy Journal
CMC Computer Mediated Communication
Composition Forum CompForum
Computers & Composition Computers & Composition Online
Computers & Writing Computers & Writing
CTech. Campus Technology
Currents in Electronic Literacy Digital Writing & Research Lab
DHC Digital Humanities Conference
Diagramming Sentences Sentence Diagrams: by Moutoux, E.
Digital Culture Books Digital Culture Books
Digital Ethnography Digital Ethnography at Kansas State
Discourse & Society Discourse & Society
Discourse Processes Journal for the Society of Text & Discourse
Discourse Studies Discourse Studies
DOAJ Directory of Open Access Journals
Doctoral Consortium in Rhetoric and Composition Doctoral Consortium in Rhet’Comp
E4.Thai English for
EATAW European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing
ECAC Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum
ELTeCS English Language Teaching Contacs Scheme
EM English Matters
Enculturation Enculturation
ESP Journal Journal of English for Specific Purposes
EWCA European Writing Centers Association
FYHC First Year Honors Composition
GCIL Georgia Conference on Information Literacy
GMU Inventio Inventio: Creative Thinking on Teaching
Hacker, D. Research and Documentation Online
HDG Humanist Discussion Group
IEEE IEEE Professional Communication Society
IJOC International Journal of Communication
IMD Interactive Media Division
InkShed: CASLL Canadian Association for the Study of Language & Learning
Inside HigherEd Inside Higher Ed.
ITESLJ The Internet TESL Journal
IWCA International Writing Centers Association
IWCA: Videos IWCA: Videos & Podcasts
JAC Journal of Advanced Composition
JACR Journal of Applied Communication Research
JDC Journal of Design Communication
JEAP Journal of English for Academic Purposes
JoTW Journal of Teaching Writing
JOWR Journal of Writing Research
JSLW Journal of Second Langauge Writing
JTWC Journal of Technical Writing & Communication
Kairos Kairos
KB Journal Kenneth Burke Journal
Language in Society Journal of Language in Society
LILAC GROUP Learning Information Literacy Across the Curriculum
LLC Journal of Literary & Linguistic Computing
LORE Journal of SD State “Practitioner Lore”
MLA Modern Language Association
NCTE National Council Teachers of English
NCTE, CE College English
NCTE, CNP Classroom Notes Plus
NCTE, EE English Education
NCTE, EJ English Journal
NCTE, ELQ English Leadership Quarterly
NCTE, LA Language Arts
NCTE, National Gallery NCTE National Day of Writing Gallery
NCTE, RTE Research in the Teaching of English
NCTE, ST School Talk
NCTE, TETYC Teaching English in the Two Year College
NCTE, TP Talking Points
NCTE, VM Voices from the Middle
NetPoetic NetPoetic: Digital Poetry & Electronic Literature
NewJour NewJour: Directory of Electronic Journals
NOORDSTER University of Groningen: Communication Skills in Higher Education
NWP National Writing Project
NWP E-Voice NWP’s: Journal E-Voice
OWJ Open Words Journal
OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab
Pedagogy Journal of Pedagogy
Philosophy & Rhetoric Journal of Philosophy & Rhetoric
Plagiary Plagiary
Pre/Text Pre/Text: The First Decade
Present Tense Present Tense: Journal of Rhetoric in Society
Programmatic Perspectives Programmatic Perspectives
Prose Studies Journal of Prose Studies
Rethinking Schools Rethinking Schools
RhetNet RhetNet
Rhetoric & Public Affairs Journal of Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Rhetoric Review Rhetoric Review
Rhetorica Journal of the History of Rhetoric
RSQ Rhetoric Society Quarterly
Russell, D. David R. Russell
Scholars Interviews and Workshops
SCWCA South Central Writing Centers Association
TCQ Technical Communication Quarterly
TEI Text Encoding Initiative
TESOL Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
TESOL Quarterly TESOL Quarterly
TEXT TEXT Journal of Writing & Writing Courses
TFJ The Fibreculture Journal
The Chronicle THe Chronicle of Higher Education
The Chronicle ProfHacker ProfHacker
The Chronicle Wired Wired Campus
The Commons Academic Commons
The JUMP Journal for Undergrad. Multimedia Projects
Transliteracy TransLiteracy: Electronic Literature
TWI The Writing Instructor
UEfAP Using English for Academic Purposes
WAC AW Archives Academic.Writing Archives
WAC Clearinghouse WAC Clearinghouse Colorado State
WLL Journal of Written Language & Literacy
WPA Council of Writing Program Administrators
WPA Journal Journal of Writing Program Administration
WRAB Writing Research Across Borders Conference
Writing Centers WCRP Writing Centers Research Project
Writing Lab Newsletter The Writing Lab Newsletter Archives
Written Communication Written Communication
WWoB Words Without Borders
Xchanges Xchanges Newsletter
Young Scholars Gallery Young Scholars in Writing Gallery
Young Scholars Writing Young Scholars in Writing
Zeitschrift Zeitschrift Schreiben

III. Job Search Sites

AcademicJobs Academic Jobs Wiki
ADE Association of Departments of English Job List
California CC’s California Community Colleges
Community College Community College Jobs
HASTAC Humanities, Arts, Science & Technology Collaboratory
HigherEd HigherEd Jobs
IWCA International Writing Centers Association Jobs
The Chronicle of HigherEd The Chronicle of Higher Ed. Jobs
WPA WPA Job Board

IV. Historical Figures & Research in Composition/Rhetoric

Comppile Composition Founders
Moffett, J. James Moffett Consortium

V. Language Parsing (Open-Source Research Tools)

Concordance Text Based Concordances
Reed-Kellogg Reed-Kellogg Sentence Diagrammer Online
Sen-Draw Sen-Draw Sentence Diagrams
Thomson Rueters HistCite
Wordle Wordle

VI. Bibliographies

Bedford Bibliography The Bedford Bibliography for Teachers of Writing
CompPile WPA-CompPile Research Bibliographies
Howard, R. Bibliographies for Composition and Rhetoric

VII. Longitudinal Writing Research

Denver Denver Longitudinal Study of Writing
PAW Professional Academic Writing in a Global Context
PIL Project Information Literacy
Stanford Stanford Study of Writing

The Economies of Palimpsest

DATE: May 15th, 2011
RESEARCH/WRITTEN BY:     Damian C. Koshnick                                    

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: 

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” (

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 

Creating “Editing Videos for Students” with Basic Desktop Technologies

About four years ago, I started looking for alternative methods to make writing and editing resources for my university students simply by using the technologies already present on my desktop. One solution was to create “animated” powerpoint slideshows. Here are several examples. To view them: 1. Download file, 2. Play powerpoint in slideshow function.


USING CTRL “F” to FIND THINGS -by Professor Koshnick

These “animated slideshows” demonstrate how to use “express keys”; how to use the comment function in combination with glossing to edit more effectively; and, how to use the CTRL “F” find function to find things on your desktop and in the documents you are editing. I am generally surprised by the number of people that do not know about, or regularly use these  types of short-cuts while writing and revising.

These videos convey, in a sense, a “psuedo-hipster” tone; they aren’t perfect, but intentionally display a mash-up feel that (when asked) students have mentioned they appreciate. As I have continued to produce these videos, two goals have been met: 1) I am providing functional writing/editing video resources for my students; 2) I have created a way to produce “animated” media files without needing to buy Camtasia, or CamStudio, etc.

Stanley Fish versus James Moffett on what is writing:


Date: Thursday, March 6th 2011
Title of Post: “Views on the subject of -Writing & Teaching Writing-”

In revisiting this archived article by Fish today:
NYTimes Opinion piece: <>]

… it is difficult not to recognize the fundamental difference of opinion about -what is writing?- between Fish and, for example, the discourse theorist James Moffett [in his (1968) “Teaching the Universe of Discourse”].

How can we agree about how to teach writing if two such divergent  views are prevalent?

View one, Fish: “… mathematics, the natural sciences, foreign languages and composition are disciplines with a specific content and a repertoire of essential skills. Courses that center on another content and fail to provide concentrated training in those skills are really courses in another subject.”

View two, Moffett: “But English, French, and foreign languages are not about anything in the same sense that history, biology, physics, and other primarily empirical subjects are about something. English, French, and mathematics are symbol systems … Symbols systems are not primarily about themselves; they are about other subjects. When a student “learns” one of these systems, he learns how to operate it. The main point is to think and talk about other things by means of this system” (Teaching the Universe of Discourse, p. 6).

A pragmatist might conclude that simply recognizing whereby both conceptualizations are possible, this is the most important thing to understand. At the very least then, we can understand how fully our views of the subject might diverge.