Unit 1: The Literacy Narrative:
The goals for this assignment are fourfold: 1) You will learn to better understand your own reading and writing processes and the relationship between the two. 2) You may gain a greater sense of your own past literacy experiences and how they have shaped how you envision yourself as a writer in the current moment. 3) You will reflect on your own schooling and educational influences and examine the social cultural, and political issues involved in accessing language fluency. 4) You will explore your understandings of the ethnic and cultural diversity of written English as well as the influence of other registers, dialects, and languages.
Unit 2: Rhetoric, Genre, Discourse
The goal of this unit is for you to understand how different rhetorical genres and discourse communities influence and create each other. We will begin this assignment with an introduction to rhetorical situations with key vocabulary for orientation. “Exigence,” “audience,” “constraints,” and “text” are key. The acronym TRACE (Text, Reader, Author, Constraints, Exigence) will be our starting point. Building from text, you will begin to look at genre, and from there, to discourse communities. The next step is to begin to notice the multiplicity of genre conventions and their relationship with various and sometimes overlapping discourse communities, and to understand the social, dynamic, and ephemeral nature of genres and their communities.
This assignment asks you to identify a discourse community and examine the ways that discourse communities inform rhetorical situations and rhetorical choices. Specific discourse communities for our use will defined by the class as specific academic, cultural, ethnic, religious, social, artistic, or other communities. One thing that discourse communities share is a common specialized interest and linguistic discourse. By closely analyzing specific discourses that we may have previously ignored or taken for granted and rhetorically analyzing linguistic artifacts, you will become more aware, not only of how discourse functions within the particular community out of which the artifact arose, but of the powers and limitations of language as it travels within and through various discourse communities.
This assignment offers a means for you to understand and use a variety of different types of research, including ethnography, analysis of artifacts, interviews, or other tactics using primary sources. The final product for this assignment will be either an analytic paper, a creative assignment, an Op-Ed or popular article, a report, a letter, a review, a website, or a multimedia project. In any case, you should emerge with a deeper understanding of the ways in which discourse communities define rhetorical situations through audience, establishing a shared language, and promoting common interests or goals.
Unit 3: Inquiry Based Argumentative Project
This assignment asks you to continue looking outside your school lives and tackle an urgent current social problem such as voter suppression, empowerment of specific communities, or the epidemic of shootings, or something that is particularly important to you and/or a specific discourse community, possibly the one they researched in assignment 2. The goal is for you to create an argumentative essay that 1) begins with focused research questions about a specific problem or issue, 2) includes primary and secondary research to identify stakeholders analyze different perspectives, 3) incorporates brainstorming about possible solutions or the repercussions of inaction, and 4) ends with a draft of a position paper. This can be either an individual or collaborative assignment, and might be used for Assignment 4 and translated into different media targeting a specific audience affected by the problem addressed.
Unit 4: Repurposed Multimodal Project
This assignment asks you to re-think, or re-envision, one of the assignments you have written previously in the semester, presenting it in a totally new genre, perhaps changing modes: for example, a revision that goes from a written essay to an audio podcast, website, graphic, video essay, rap album, or mixed modal. This assignment builds on the generic, rhetorical and audience awareness that you have worked on all semester long, asking you to consider what discourse community you are trying to reach and, not only what diction, but also what mode of delivery would be best for delivering your message.
This “translation” is key to transfer, one of the core learning outcomes of this course. If you can take a message and transform it for different audiences and media, then you are well on their way to being able to transfer writing skills across fields, disciplines and discourse communities.
Unit 5: Final Portfolio Assignment
The final portfolio assignment asks you to complete three tasks. 1) To revise selected work from the course of the semester. In so doing, you will offer prefatory remarks concerning each piece that describes the process and the evolution of the project over the course of the semester. 2) You will also write a narrative that explains your evolution as a reader and writer over the course of the semester. You will return to the first assignment you wrote for the class (the literacy narrative) and compare how your thoughts about writing and your practices about writing have evolved over the course of the semester. It is important to recognize that you should not simply state that your writing has changed over the course of the semester, but you should be able to specifically describe with sufficient detail particular moments in the semester where you can substantiate your own growth. 3) Lastly, consider how this course has prepared you for transfer—that is, for writing in other contexts. This component raises the issue of how you might anticipate how the work that you have done over the course of the semester has prepared you to compose in environments and in genres unfamiliar to you. These might be a lab report for another class, writing copy for a company’s website, or some other scenario. You will describe the steps you would take towards figuring out how to go about learning how to accomplish these writing tasks.