A Geopolitics Of Academic Writing (Pitt Comp Literacy Culture)

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November 2017 – Volume 21, Number 3

However, when it comes to his writing style, Andre reports that he consciously chose to represent himself, and his topic, in a particular fashion based on his positionality:. From this excerpt, it becomes apparent that he deliberately chose two different approaches for the two different unit assignments of the same course.

This also shows that he is mindful of the academic writing situation where a serious approach to a chosen topic is expected. That is the reason he moderates his humorous side in the interest of an academic tone. I put that into my writing and push it a bit too much so which is my downfall, so I got to pull back As he claims, his style in the argument essay has a fusion of humorous and academic tones.

Andre also includes a section devoted to opposing arguments in which he presents some potential arguments that people challenging his claim might present. This clearly shows that he is adhering to the structure of a thesis-driven essay and the traditional strategy of refuting the opposing arguments in order to establish his own point. In that sense, his essay is well organized. Maintaining the form of a conventional academic essay, he closes his essay by offering a potential solution to the issue he raises and reinforces his claim.

For example in my Writing class at [ He argued that blogs, or any other teaching technologies, should facilitate actual interactions in the class, but not substitute for them. Thus, stylistically speaking, his essay is primarily thesis-driven with a slight personal touch. This is significant because he is able to negotiate multiple discourse styles personal humor with objective academic style, for instance for a specific rhetorical purpose despite the fact that he is a monolingual writer trained to write in a specific way, and also despite the fact that he is writing a traditional print-based essay.

His case demonstrates a more complex view of essayist literacy in practice. As he mentions in his literacy narrative, essay and portfolio reflections, and interview with me, his essay writing has been a journey of exploration about a number of interrelated issues pertaining to his topic.

His essay form is thesis-driven—something expected of a domestic American student schooled in American academic system all his life, but, in his case, it is something carefully chosen to fit the academic audience. These two case studies are not representative of all fourteen research participants in my larger study, let alone of all domestic and international students in American higher education. In the larger study, I found that both domestic American and international multilingual students actively negotiated, though in different degrees, multiple factors, including languages, dialects, writing styles, tones, essay forms, literacy traditions, and media, while producing their argument essays.

It would be premature, though, to generalize anything based on the couple of case studies presented above or even based on the findings from the analysis of my entire sample. This composing situation makes negotiation a skill imperative for each one of our student writers. However, supporting the growth of this ability in students involves redesigning both the curricular and pedagogical artifacts we use in or for the class.

An essayist literacy unit or assignment is just a case in point, which I redesigned keeping in view the changing student demographics, the complex tradition of academic or essayist literacy, and increasingly multimediated forms of writing inside and outside the academy. In fact, it could be counterproductive for our students, rhetoric and composition as a discipline, and for American academic institutions for us to promote and enforce only the western essayist textual form in our classrooms, for doing so would be tantamount to imposing a norm from one particular culture or context on to the other.

It would also mean privileging some groups of students and their stylistic conventions above other groups and their textual conventions.


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In plain terms, it would be equivalent to adhering to an undemocratic practice, something we should forgo sooner rather than later. Relinquishing this practice would involve expanding the boundaries of the course, unit, or assignment on essayist literacy in order to create spaces for multiple languages, multiple media, literacy conventions, and subjectivities or positionalities of the essayists. However, expanding the boundaries should not be understood to mean the sacrifice of basic reading and writing skills in composition classes.

For instance, students in my class did most of the things students in any traditional writing class would do: critical summary, paraphrasing, critical responses to unit readings and texts, critical source evaluation, synthesis of multiple sources, textual and visual analysis, annotated bibliography, proposal writing, claim-making, evolving thesis, and so on. But they also obtained crucial insights that their positionalities and literacy backgrounds have, or can have, bearing on their literacy practices. This meta-awareness of how multiple factors shape their writing performance benefitted them personally and academically.

They could see that their positionalities and past literacy practices could serve as a reservoir of resources to turn to as and when needed to make their communicative acts, essays for that matter, rhetorically effective. They also gained the insight that depending on the writing context they might find themselves in, they should even be able to suppress their positionalities and past literacy habits in order to write in a style and convention of a particular genre in a particular composing situation.

Therefore, it is imperative that a course, or unit, on essayist literacy has components of multiple essay forms, multiple writing styles, multiple modes and mediums of writing, and multiple presentation patterns incorporated into it. They should even be able to negotiate those forms or styles towards their rhetorical end— effective and persuasive arguments and claims on the topic at hand.

Given the value of shuttling ability in the globalized world and classroom , I foregrounded it even in another assignment in the sequence—the remediation project. The remediation project was an extension to the argument essay assignment, where students repurposed their print-based essays for different media and different target audience.

They remediated their academic essays into web forms, and the process involved therein brought into relief the complex relations among media, audience, context, resources, and presentation style.


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  • Working on this project, students particularly understood how their rhetorical and stylistic choices are shaped by the consideration of audience, and medium of delivery. Building further on this thread, the final assignment—the collaborative documentary project—provided students with an additional opportunity to reflect on and respond to a different composing situation, where a shuttling ability of slightly different sort was called into service.

    Therefore, it would be in the best interest of cultivating negotiation or shuttling skill in students to expand the breadth of course materials by situating essayist literacies within the context of multiple media and modalities, multiple languages, and multiple literacy traditions. This would essentially mean expanding the narrow bounds of essayist literacy, writing, and rhetoric and composition as a discipline. In addition, this would mean adopting a global outlook to writing by incorporating into our curriculum, among other things, how writing is done and taught around the world and how its practice is shifting with the change in writing technologies Khadka.

    In broader terms, it all would mean the co-evolution of writing curriculum with multiple technologies, multimedia, and multiple literacy practices around the world. This would also entail larger shifts in the mission of composition classes, discipline of rhetoric and composition, and of American higher education. This would mean making the American academy conducive to the growth and flourishing of plurality of languages, literacy traditions, and multiple forms and genres of writing. You will investigate an issue, debate, problem, controversy or a question about multiliteracies in relation to other attendant issues, such as globalization, information and communication technologies, World Englishes, new media or intercultural communication in some length and depth.

    You are required to use primary and secondary, scholarly and popular, and print and digital online sources in your essay. When you research and develop your argument, you do a number of things simultaneously: extend a conversation, historicize, make a new claim, complicate an existing claim or established fact, find a gap in the studies done, and propose a solution or offer an alternative perspective.

    As a college-level student writer, you also make moves that academics make in their essays: state your thesis or theses at some points in the essay, make general or specific claims, and furnish evidences for the claims made. I am aware that it is almost impossible to come up with some grand universal claims or some irrefutable thesis or set of theses in a paper of this length, but you can and have to attempt to present a tentative claim or set of claims in this paper corroborated by the data or sources you retrieve through different research methods.

    Even though it is an academic essay and you might have been schooled to avoid personal in your academic essays, I am open to you implicating yourself in the essay i. In other words, your essay should ideally be a combination of personal and academic, experiential and empirical, and facts and narratives. As a writing teacher, I am aware that while requiring you to compose academic essay in academic English, I should not privilege one variety of English or one particular literacy tradition over other English varieties or literacy traditions or writing styles.

    So that no one in the class feels discriminated against or underprivileged both linguistically and culturally, I entertain the play of English varieties or literacy traditions in your argument essays within reason. No doubt, I want you to compose your essay in academic language, the language that other scholars in the academy use, but I am also cognizant of the fact that there is no single universal academic language across disciplines or cultures.

    In this paper, you reflect on a number of choices you make during the selection of the topic for your research, while conducting actual research on your chosen topic, while composing the essay, and while revising the essay for or before final submission. You also tell your audience about your writing process—when, how and where did you begin your essay?

    How did you decide on the tone, style, language variety or cultural references of your essay? How much time did you spend on composing or revising the draft? Why did you revise if you did? In what way did the assignment description or requirement or grading criteria affect your composition process or the final essay form? What is your overall experience of working on this particular assignment? Compose your literacy narrative in alphabets—using letters and words.

    Consider the following questions as you compose:. When and how did you learn to read or compose texts on papers and or screens? Is English your first language? When and how did you learn to speak, read and write in English? What about computers and the Internet? When and where did you first encounter them? What did you begin with? You might want to consider these questions as you compose: Where did you stand in relation to alphabetic literacy or digital literacy and where are you now?

    If you speak more than one language, you can write your story in the first language and then in the second language and reflect on the difference in the story itself because of the language. You can also talk about literacy in the first language and the second language and the degree of proficiency in each of them. You can also shed light on the cultural or linguistic differences and literate practices or talk about digital divide and literacy learning for example, English as the default language in computers or access to the Internet or computer programs and digital literacy etc.

    Video or audio record the narrative. Camera on your computer or your phone should be fine.

    notes on rhetoric, composition, dis/ability & accessibility

    The text for analysis should be carefully chosen, and should not be necessarily related to the course inquiry. It should be rich in alphabetic, audio, visual, graphic or spatial resources, or, in other words, it should be good enough for analysis. We will do some sample rhetorical analyses in the class too, so I want you to keep note of critical and rhetorical terms and concepts discussed in the class and use them in your analysis. Structurally, your analysis should have at least two parts.

    The description should be vivid and minute to the point of replicating the artifact in words. The second part is the key to the assignment: analysis of the artifact. You might want to pick on symbol, sound, shape, color, images or any other properties of the text and begin the analysis from there. Once you are done with the analysis part, you also should make an overall claim about the artifact.

    Remediation is the incorporation or representation of one medium into another. David Bolter and Richard A. Grusin argue that digital or new media are characterized by remediation because they constantly remediate present in different media the contents from their predecessors such as television, radio, and print journalism old media. Remediation, however, is not just an adaptation of the old. Sometimes, new media present old media in entirely new ways without any clue to the old and only people familiar with both know that remediation is taking place.

    And another significant fact about remediation is that it is not that only new media remediate the old but it works both ways. Television screens and newspaper designs these days look more and more like websites with convergence of multiple media and modes in those platforms. Remediation and media convergence therefore are the major phenomena characterizing the media and composition landscapes in this time of major technological change.


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    • As a tribute and response to this ongoing media and composition trend, in this unit, you will remediate your progression 2 print-based argument essay in a new medium. I encourage you to remediate it in a well-designed web site. The assignment is intended to give you an understanding of relationship among audience, medium, content and style. Upon completing the assignment, you will see, learn and experience how audience and medium shape the content and style of presentation. It is up to you to decide what media assets you want to use for composition and design ranging from videos, songs, audio interviews, images, alphabetic text from your argument essay or additional texts , graphics to animations.

      Only limitation is that all those assets and resources should be rhetorically effectively used to represent remediate your progression 2 essay, which is to say that you should attempt to present similar argument that you made in your alphabetic argument essay. Connected with the remediation project, you will also compose and post a 3-page long blog post on your profile in the course site about the rhetorical situation and composition style, audience factor and source and language variety choice, audience and document or web design, and media and composition patterns or forms.

      In other words, in your blog post you must engage the dynamics of media and message, content and forms, audience and rhetorical choices. In this unit, you will work collaboratively in a group of 3 and produce 8 to 10 minutes of documentary film. You will choose a movement or event current or historical that you find relevant and interesting and that also connects with some aspect of course theme. Some potential topics could be Occupy Wall Street Movement, social media and protest e. You might want to emulate the documentaries on Steve Jobs and Occupy Wall Street Movement we watch together in the class.

      Your documentary should incorporate a good amount and variety of sources—alphabetic texts books, articles, newspaper editorials etc. It should also demonstrate your knowledge or learning of a number of techniques such as handling video camera, still camera, incorporating voice over into the film or editing skills. The juxtaposition of different texts and narrative voice and their organic unity will be the key evaluation criteria for your project.

      Your project should also reflect your understanding of audience, textual cohesion, and ethical treatment of sources etc. You might, for instance, talk about the collection or selection of source materials, decision on English variety to be used, narrative voice or work division or other critical dimensions of the process of collaborative research and composition. Anstey, Michele, and Geoff Bull. Newark: International Reading Association, Badley, Graham.

      Through the case studies presented in the text it s clear that at the same time genre knowledge can help users execute more rhetorical savvy and enact agency, its use can also reinforce rigid structures and perpetuate gatekeeping.

      Comprehensive Exam Reading Lists · Palermo

      This issue of conformity to academic genres is addressed in chapter 8, as well, but from more-so with regard to the schooling of children. The authors use scholarship on teaching academic genres in the UK and Australia to question U. While acknowledging the power and privilege differentials between white and nonwhite students in the U.

      If this is the case, rethinking the training of language arts and composition teachers as well as the current curricula in language arts and university writing courses may be what is called for, should enough teachers and scholars see a need to bring about systemic , programmatic change. Dias, Patrick, et al. Mahwah, N. Rhetoric, Knowledge, and Society. Bartholomae, David. In this foundational article, David Bartholomae explicated the challenges of first year students in adjusting to academic discourse at the college level.

      This writer has entered the discourse without successfully approximating it. This, however, according to Bartholomae, requires students inexperienced and unfamiliar with academic discourse to see themselves within a privileged discourse that they cannot control and that selectively includes and excludes groups of readers and writers.

      While Bartholomae implied that the problem was not in the inherent defect of incoming college students, but the expectations the university community places on them to use codes and prior discourses that they have not yet had time to learn, he did not question necessity of these expectations or the role of administrators and educators in perpetuating these expectations. He takes a functional literacy approach to writing pedagogy in which academic literacy is a tool Selber and practice using it or revision makes perfect.

      Bridwell-Bowles, Lillian. Gesa Kirsch, et al. She acknowledged the limitations of academic discourse and academic essays as a genre to connect with and express the full diversity of student bodies as well as meet their rhetorical needs. Despite the advances in composition theory through theories of cognitive process, social construction and advances in technology, Bridwell-Bowles argued that as long as our language remained inadequate limited to academic discourse our vision, thinking, and feeling will not be transformative Rich Through her own experience and student examples Bridwell-Bowles admits she cannot provide concrete answers, but attempts to hypothesize the existence of a powerfully diverse discourse that allows for variation in race, gender, class, sexual orientation and other human variation.

      In this text, A. New York: Basic books, Language and superdiversity. Diversities, v. Retreived on: Nov. A geopolitics of academic writing. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, Southern theory: The global dynamics of knowledge in social science. Cambridge: Polity, COPE, B. Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures. New York: Routledge, London: Psychology Press, Pedagogies: An International Journal, v. Entering a culture quietly: writing and cultural survival in indigenous education in Brazil.

      Disinventing and reconstituting languages. London: Multilingual Matters, Development, violence and the new imperial order. Development, v. The Open Veins of Latin America. Melbourne: Scribe, GEE, J. The new work order: Behind the language of the new capitalism. Boulder: Westview Press, The social condition of higher education: globalisation and beyond regionalisation in Latin America. Globalisation, Societies and Education, v. Selections from the prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom. Disciplinary discourses: Writer stance in research articles.

      A Geopolitics Of Academic Writing

      Writing: Texts, processes and practices. London: Longman, IYER, R. Critical applied linguistics.

      Why is the topic of Academic Writing Blocks taboo?

      The Routledge Companion to English Studies. British Journal of Sociology of Education, v. The Atlantic slave trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Brazilian higher education from a post-colonial perspective. The new political economy of urban education: Neoliberalism, race, and the right to the city.

      Rio de Janeiro: 7Letras, Critical Latin American and Latino studies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, The Idea of Latin America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, Proceedings p. Critical applied linguistics: A critical introduction.

      Essayist Literacy for a Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Classroom

      Critical and alternative directions in applied linguistics. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, v. Violent deaths in Brazil surge to peak of 58, amid Olympic safety fears. The Guardian, Gambiarra: alguns pontos para se pensar uma tecnologia recombinante. Caderno Videobrasil, v. SAID, E. New York: Penguin, Retrieved on: Oct. Retreived on: Jan. Can the subaltern speak? Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. Urbana: Springer, A critique of postcolonial reason.

      Canagarajah, A. Suresh

      Cambridge: Harvard University Press, A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard educational review, v. Capitalism and slavery. Approaches to teaching low literacy refugee-background students. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, v. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. Services on Demand Journal. Articles Hidden features in global knowledge production: re positioning theory and practice in academic writing.

      ABSTRACT A key challenge for applied linguistics is how to deal with the historical power imbalance in knowledge production between the global north and south. She argues that the characteristics of global society are: […] based on concepts that have previously been worked out, not for speaking about colonies, empires or world affairs, but for speaking about metropolitan societies - that is, the cluster of modern, industrial, postmodern or postindustrial countries that had been the focus of theoretical debates in sociology for decades before.

      Of the social field within which they situate themselves, Cope and Kalantzis write: The kind of person who can live well in this world is someone who has acquired the capacity to navigate from one domain of social activity to another, who is resilient in their capacity to articulate and enact their own identities and who can find ways of entering into dialogue with and learning new and unfamiliar social languages.

      Updating their initial formulation, Cope and Kalantzis observe: We have found that the basic shape of our original position has stood the test of time. First person plural is used to join together fields of theoretical production and application. Limited and unlimited truth claims At this point, it may seem unfair to question a manifesto for being too abstract and general - it is the nature of the beast. In one passage, the authors acknowledge that their own experience, and the foundation of their proposal, relates to a single official language: We agreed that in each of the English-speaking countries we came from, what students needed to learn was changing, and that the main element of this change was that there was not a singular, canonical English that could or should be taught anymore.

      These kinds of statements are backed up by a citation of founding multiliteracies research, as the following example illustrates: COPE and KALANTZIS, , writing of the social, political and educational changes that we are experiencing in the present day, also discuss their educational impact. The changes experienced by and motivating the founders of multiliteracies also establish the framework for evaluating Brazilian educational policy and practice: In this way, the [course studied] appears to meet, in the educational field, the new requirements of constantly changing network society.

      How do I acknowledge and position myself in relation to local, northern and southern audiences? Whose knowledge am I building on? Whose interests does this knowledge serve?


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