Successful class is successful (and I’m copying your stuff)

We shared some of our posters in class today. This was the first time we’ve met in a month. On a side note, it was wonderful to finally see everyone in person again and not in blogs! The posters were fantastic. There were some really great ideas! On top of that, I’m really inspired by all of you guys’ (and gals’) work. My own project is finally falling together thanks to discussion I had with the wonderful people in class. And on that note, I’m copying your ideas. I’m using some ideas for courses brought up by various people. I hope you’ll take the side of Girl Talk and not sue me. :p

In all seriousness though, I just wanted to say that you people are fantastic and (as much as we’ve all been struggling) I think it’s really all coming together so well! We made a learning community, and we’re taking it with us. Isn’t that wonderful? šŸ˜€

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WAC case study: Cool ideas from a fellow university

My case study (that I’m behind in finishing; aren’t we all?) is on Brooklyn College’s WACĀ program. They have some -fantastic- things going on up there. I just wanted to share a few of those things that I’ve found really great. Feel free to check out their own wordpress site too. :p

  • Writing Fellows – From my understanding, you could call these guys WACĀ ambassadors. They are a small team within the program that help various schools/courses/professors with projects. More below.
  • Writing Fellows help professors developĀ writing assignments for classes. They also help developĀ rubrics and teach ways to grade writing. It’s like tutoring professors. And anyone of you that’s teaching knows how daunting it is to figure out how you’re supposed to grade work.
  • Tutors at their learning center (and Writing Fellows)Ā – they help individualsĀ and groups. Groups! Think of a whole group from a class coming into the LC with the same paper. The tutor can help them all in a mass tutoring session. This sounds so nice as opposed to tutoring 6 people back-to-back with the same problems. Think of this like a small class workshop that offsets the professors in class lessons. Writing Fellows also offer customizable workshops for classes with topics like thesis statements, citation, and style. Soooo cool. šŸ˜€
  • The LC also has FAQs on their webpage for various things. I looked through some of the pages and found things like walkthroughĀ of certain math problems, devising thesis statements, and even ways to summarize an article. This is so great. If I just wanted a simple question answered, I’d much ratherĀ just look it up on the LC website from my own homeĀ than making an appointment at the LC and going to campus. Fan-tastic idea.

There are so many things to beĀ learned and picked up. I have to say the biggest thing I like about WACĀ is collaboration. I believe that at the very core of WACĀ lies simply the genuineĀ love for writing and the simple genuineĀ desire, passion, and love of sharing that with others. Hey, sharing is caring. (Cheeeesy, I know! :P) Just wanted to share some of this with you guys since I’ve still not finished writing up my case study.

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Blogging in the Triad

**This is a draft that I thought I had published from much earlier in the semester!**

We’re reading essays for class, and the essay my group read was “Finding the Good Argument OR Why Bother With Logic” by Rebecca Jones. The article excellently gives an overview of rhetorical devices and concepts that is understandable for anyone. Jones uses current examples to explain classic rhetorical concepts such as logos, pathos, and ethos. Her article also contains examples of activities that can be done in class to illustrate and reinforce the concepts discussed. I particularly found her thoughts on the “war metaphor” of argument intriguing. What Jones is talking about is how many people think of rhetorical argument as a war: you must beat the opponent down, destroy their ideals, and conquer them. However, rhetorical argument such as the kind taught in schools is far different from this. Teachers attempt to get students to see the opposite side of a argument, evaluate opposing statements as well as their own, and overall simply make an effective and compelling (without being offensive or degrading) argument. The war metaphor that gets tossed around really seems to muddy the waters for rhetorical argument. Give Jones’ article a read HERE and see what you think. I really enjoyed it!

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Math and English (a lot closer than you think)

Recently this summer I talked to a friend, who is enrolled in a math course. He was talking about the kinds of group work they do in class. This struck me as odd; I know I never did group work when I was taking math classes (though that was many moons ago in this English major’s life). What the professor did was go over a particular kind of problem to explain it. Then he would put the class in groups and let them work through an example problem together. Afterward, he polled the class to see how the different groups did the problems and the students could comment on each others’ work and offer how to better work the problem, or just talk their way through it together.

This was so cool! If you stretch your brain and consider math problems as a kind of sentence writing for math, then these students were doing group writing and revision. In a math class! How cool is that? I’ve never considered that peer revision could be used outside of a writing class certainly not math. WAC and WID are everywhere even when we don’t know it. This professor was having his students collaboratively learn their way through the problems and in the process also made it fun for them because they were in groups and could try to outdo the other groups. Things I’ve always considered as “englishy” things being used to effectively teach a math course. I was shocked and awed.

 

šŸ™‚

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I’m Flannery O’Connor and my characters hate me

I’ve really noticed a trend in my journals: my scribbled thoughts and characters are overwhelmingly in unpleasant situations. However, there is usually some kind of grace to be found in their suffering. Consider this quote by Flannery O’Connor, “All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal.” Unlike Flannery’s characters, my characters usually embrace that grace offered to them, I think. But, as O’Connor says, my characters’ stories are not hopeless or brutal because of the situations. They are simply people in pain that have a silver lining around them. And I can’t change that pain. Let me explain –

I’m not a sadist. I don’t enjoy hurting characters. Yes, there are some characters I work to create: they come out of an emotion or a thought or an idea. However, some come out of thin air, from a place outside of me. They are like some floating concept looking for someone to share them and I am a camera showing what I see or feel. These characters are more than my imagination.Ā  They have stories, and by changing those stories I would only be lying. I write their stories how I feel they are and I’m obligated to not change them.

The snippet of a story I found in one of my journals that prompted this essay is about an old man. He is finishing the hardwood flooring project in his home that he and his wife started. She has since died. The old man is alone and remembering the parts of life that the floor is linked to. It’s heartbreaking. I want to save the man. I want to write him a wife and a family, but I can’t. He exists now at the later part of his life. The story came to me here at the end. I cannot change its past. And I hate that. I feel for this man. I grieve for this man. But he is what he is.

Maybe that sounds weird to you; maybe you can’t understand why or how I can’t change this story. I wouldn’t blame you. It’s complicated for me too. That’s how it is though. I can’t take this man’s pain away. Though, he is hopeful. He is sad, yes, but he is also proud to have the floor finished. To have completed a long project that has lasted through the bulk of his life. I find a lot of characters like this: broken but alive and hopeful. And this makes them real. It is their imperfections, their pain, their faults, that allow us to believe them. We’re all broken. A perfect character is fanciful but never realistic. My characters are hurt, yes, but I’m no sadist, honest. I’m simply a realist with a pen.Ā  Me and Flannery’s characters might not be the happiest people you’ll ever find, but they’re enlightening and, hopefully, inspiring.Ā  And maybe you can associate with these characters’ hurts and find hope within yourself too. It’s the realest you’ll ever feel.

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Jonathem Lethem and other misc (probably thought of before) thoughts

Similar to RiP: A Remix Manifesto, Jonathan Lethemā€™s article ā€œThe Ecstasy of Influenceā€ discusses the issues of copyright and copyleft in our ever-growing society. After reading a lot of you allā€™s posts about this article, I wonā€™t bother you with the background details of Lethemā€™s argument. Instead, Iā€™d rather bring up two quotes that really got my mind going when I read this essay and see what you all have to say about them.

Number one.

ā€œArtists and their surrogates who fall into the trap of seeking recompense for every second use end up attacking their own best audience members for the crime of exalting and enshrining their work.ā€

This was the first quote that really struck me. Now, the topic of this statement is people who recreate an artistā€™s work. This is not about people downloading a song and putting it on their mp3 player. More so a person who makes a music video collage for his favorite song, or a person who parodies a song, or a person who remixes a song. The song/video is then uploaded online perhaps. And then, perhaps the music label of that artist requests that the person remove the file from online because it illegally uses their material. These people are just, as Lethem puts it, ā€œexalting and enshriningā€ these songs. By alienating fans from using art a second time, Lethem argues that it takes the artistic merit out of the work. Lethem argues that ā€œartā€ can be defined by the act of giving. Art is given to people. Something that is made to be sold may not be considered art. Thereā€™s a large grey area here of artists having to sell their art (or be patronized) to live, but thatā€™s an aside point for my discussion here. Iā€™m concerned with how the art industries are alienating their patrons (the fans, who purchase paintings, songs, albums, what have you) by telling them what they can and cannot do with the things they have purchased.

 

Consider this: producers of Shakespeare plays commonly revamp the scripts by changing the setting or time of the plot. Romeo and Juliet in current day Manhattan as children of mob-bosses. Othello and Iago as business men. Etc, etc. We donā€™t consider these adaptations of Shakespeareā€™s plays as copyright infringements. I think it would be safe to say that most people consider them artist trial and errors, or at least as ways to reinterpret and offer Shakespeareā€™s plots (which are taken from older plots anyway. But thatā€™s another post). What is so different about someone remixing a song?

Number two.

ā€œIf we devalue and obscure the gift-economy function of our art practices, we turn our works into nothing more than advertisements for themselvesā€

I think this is really where the art industry is taking us, and it loving the journey. I stated in an earlier post that now-a-days you donā€™t necessarily just buy an album of music. Instead, you buy a brand, an image, a gimmick, a cool factor. Essentially, you buy an advertisement for the record label. The sad thing is that corporations and companies are more than happy to turn art into ads in order to make a dollar for themselves. Why do you think music labels fight so hard against an artist when they want to release a free album. That promotes a change in the industry the labels donā€™t want.

 

This is turning into a very long post so Iā€™ll cut it here. To make my long post short, I loved Lethemā€™s article, and Iā€™m totally on board with the copyleft movement! šŸ˜€

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Shakespeare would have failed Creative Writing 0350

A fellow classmate of mine (wacrant2011) made an intriguing post a few days ago. He was shining some light on plagiarism, the dreaded enemy of academia it seems. We in academia have preached about plagiarism for years. “You will fail if you plagiarize”, “Do not copy others works without citing”, and “Plagiarism will result in an immediate ‘F’ or a ‘0’ ” are all common things heard on campuses. Here’s the problem though: most great poets are plagiarists. For example, many of Shakespeare’s plays are based on other authors works or older legends For example, have a look at the plot sections of these articles on Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and King Leer. They’re all based on someone’s work. That’s right people. If William Shakespeare were in college today, he would fail Creative Writing for plagiarizing.

However, we don’t discredit Shakespeare for this. We herald him for the way he took older texts and revamped them; he made them true masterpieces. So, if Shakespeare took older works and added to them, he remixed them. Much the way music artists today remix music. Though I don’t think any of the Italian poets Shakespeare copied would have been ready to sue him into submission. You see, traditional poetry has a history of copying, adding to, and recycling texts. Traditional poets were expected to write their own version of classical stories. How well the poet remixed it displayed his skill. We’ve lost that kind of sharing in our culture today. We make a song and it is ours. No one elses. Not even the song notes. RiP: A Remix Manifesto discusses this issue of copyrighting and legal rights among the movie/music industry. Have a look at the film (you can watch it for free) and see what you think. I think Shakespeare had the right idea. If William Shakespeare can remix a story into a time-honored masterpiece then why can’t musicians. It’s the same thing. I’m going to leave you all with some songs to listen to and consider if it’s plagiarism or creating anew from old.

 

Compare:

with

 

Annnnd compare:

with

 

Plagiarism? Reinvention? Rock and Hiphop!?

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