In Assignments on October 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Please post your abstracts (as a comment) to this post. As mentioned in class, the details are as follows:


  • Suggested length: 400-600 words
  • Deadline: before midnight, October 20
  • Abstract style: more like a conference abstract (description of your topic and your line of inquiry) than like an article abstract (with a fully-formed thesis and conclusion)
  • Contents: as specific a description as possible of your project as well as your intended “use” of the project – will you present it a conference? will you send it out for publication? (include names of possible conferences/journals)
  • Follow-up: revised abstract with annotated bibliography (8-12 entries) due in two weeks


  • Suggested length: same for abstracts (400-600 words); your 8-10 source annotations should be between a half and a full double-spaced page
  • Contents: try to be a bit more specific with the abstracts this time around; the annotations should summarize the item under review and also detail how it is (not) useful to your project
  • Deadline: please post your revised abstract and annotated bib before midnight, Nov 7
  1. Writing on Film / Film on Writing: How the Composition Teacher Can Counteract and Exploit the Depiction of Writers in Films Based on Fiction by Stephen King

    Jason Kahler

    The basis of my project involves analyzing how the techne of writing are presented in selected films based on the work of Stephen King and considering how the presentation of writing in them may be used in first-year Composition to promote the concepts of good writing and counteract popular negative misconceptions about the writing process. The research portion will include drawing upon the concepts of technics / techne, in particular Stiegler’s work, some Composition theory concerning the writing subject, and of course the films themselves.

    I will be looking specifically at the films “Stand By Me,” “The Shining,” “Misery,” and “Secret Window,” looking for ways these films could be used in the classroom to demonstrate the craft (techne) of writing. I selected these films in particular for what I believe would be their resonance with college-age students, the films’ accessibility, the films’ availability, and the prominence of writers as characters and writing as action in the films. I won’t be using the original texts, instead concentrating on the films as artifacts on their own with the working theory that reading about writers / writing implies a different acceptance of the writing act than passively watching a film might.

    After discussing how writing is portrayed within each film, I will explore the various ways these portrayals may be harmful to the development of emerging writers. I will argue that these portrayals are consistent across popular media in general, and therefore could be working against our students as they struggle with their own writing or struggling to find a place for writing in their lives. I will then propose ways to insert these films—or parts of these films—into a Composition classroom in a way that will be useful to students and their teachers.

    As for use, I’d like to write a piece that could be submitted for publication in a journal like English Journal (if I angle it a bit to include high school English teaching), College English, Pedagogy, or even College Composition and Communication. My paper could be presented at teaching conventions, particularly the NCTE convention or the Convention on College Composition and Communication. I’d like to be able to present in a multi-media capable setting, weaving clips and screen shots from the films into the presentation as I speak.

  2. Adrienne Jankens
    ENG 7065
    October 19, 2010

    Abstract: The Problem of “Tuning-In”: A Reflection on Focused Auditory Attention and Journals on Process

    * For submission to CEA 2011 CFP, special topic on Technology and Active Learning in the Writing Classroom

    During the Winter 2010 semester, I worked to employ what I call “focused auditory attention” as a significant part of my composition classroom. Essentially, this attention was devoted to two primary tasks: (1) whole-group attention to and discussion of audio texts and (2) individual oral reading of student texts paired with journal writing of responses to this reading. This second task, what I called “tuning-in” journals, is the focus of this current project, as it had, to some degree, less success and a distinctly more varied reception than the first task. The journals were intended to be a stream-of-consciousness recording of ideas that could be employed to help students revise their texts, and, as a by-product, to help me understand what was going on during the writing process. Students wrote these journals after reading their drafts aloud to themselves at some point in the writing process. Journals were then submitted to me along with the students’ final drafts. At the end of the term, in their reflection papers, students expressed their thoughts on these tuning-in journals. While many indicated they were helpful, a few found them decidedly problematic, and my reading of these journals indicated problems as well.

    My goal in this current project is to examine my experiences with students last semester in an anecdotal way to identify problems that occurred with the process, and to determine, through my reading of the work below, what is problematic about asking students to compose “tuning-in” journals as a means of reflection and mindfulness leading toward revision. In examining these problems, I hope to revise my implementation of this tool, at least to the extent that I understand more fully what to consider as I present these ideas to students.

    Citing the work of Sondra Perl, Schwartz and Begley, Janet Emig, and Keith Kroll, I will revisit the premise of my project. Further, by looking at the work of Mem Fox and Paul A. Eschholz, I’d like to examine the problem of the model, specifically the model I provided to students at the beginning of the semester. Through Rotman and Steigler, I would like to look at issues with translating (or fixing) thoughts into words, and the problem of understanding writing without the benefit of gesture. Finally, through Kwinter and Muckelbauer, I hope to come to some solutions about how to further pursue this project by opening up the space between listening to writing and recording reactions to this writing, and encouraging a sort of “wildness” or openness in students’ work with their texts.

  3. The stock market, some might argue, is at the heart of the capitalist economy. Accepting the theory that mediation affects text, I will apply this to the digitalization of market. It seems that this “digitalization” has led to deregulation and increased volume and speed (think Stiegler) of transactions—so much so that the market has begun to experience unprecedented amounts of booms and busts, most recently of which was the so-called “flash crash,” wherein the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 1,000 points in a single day. Since many people of average or below-average incomes are now in the market and depend on it for retirement, these wild swings affect a much larger segment of the population than ever before.

    I will not argue against technologization but rather simply try to understand this transitional phase and what effects these new media are having on the market. Larger questions, such as the effect of these swings on democracy itself, will be addressed. I will incorporate theorists such as Lyotard, Nora and Minc, and Castell, all of whom look at technologization and its effects on society. I will also look at scholars who have studied the digitalization of financial markets. Histories of the market may help me see how it has changed over the years. My hope is to get a little more specific than most humanities studies do with this topic, but still write for a general audience.

    As for journals, I would like to submit my paper to Criticism because this journal seems to cover a wide range of topics. Does anyone have any suggestions for possible books or articles I should read?

  4. A few things to note: this is a VERY rough proposal and the title WILL change very shortly

    Unlived Memories:
    Televisual Representations and the Performative Act of Coming Out

    My essay begins with a question: “Can the black, HIV+, transsexual come out?”

    This question first appears to be quite obvious. While the performative act of “coming out,” the proclamation that I am something that is not of the norm, that I am viable has been appropriated by a variety of non-normative identity groups in some shape or form in the last twenty or so years, I still hesitate to respond to this question in the affirmative. Yes, indeed the black, HIV+, transsexual can make all the gestures that signal the event of coming out of the closet, but I wonder to which reality this body marked with race, disease, and physical inbetween-ness actually enters.
    The answer to this question, and my project as a whole, hinges on the very construction of the practices associated with the performative coming out. I suggest, though there have been many coming before that offer this same position, that coming out, the “event” in which sexual otherness declares itself present and offers the individual up as part of a community formed around gayness.
    Thus, the act of “coming out” can be read as simultaneously individual (it is highly specific to each person) but also historical (all “out” gay men have some version of their coming out story). Yet, the possibility of “being gay” collectively and individually becomes itself only made available in what Leroi-Gourhan calls “ethnic memory” through an adoption of certain beliefs and practices. Now, as Stiegler suggests, during this moment of transition from ethnic to machinic, our memories are indexed and made accessible in machine rather than societal practice. More explicitly, in the last decade or so, a signification shift in lesbian and gay identification has been brought out of the bar and into the television. Our primary moments of recognition and memories of gayness come from watching tele-visual narratives of “coming out.” These memories are adopted by the viewer, accessed if you will, and prosthetically supplemented into ones own being.
    The individual memories of each audience member (specifically for the gay audience) find historical reinforcement through the indirect activity of television watching. However, through this collectivized representation of a queer past the notion of what is allowed-to-be-presented on television comes to symbolize (at least in part) what can be remembered for the queer community. Unfortunately, what can also occur during certain historical-political moments of a desire for queer normalization is a loss of those people who are deemed “unrepresentable” on certain television programs. Thus, the question becomes: what are the effects of visibility on ‘queer’ collective memory? How are these memories imparted onto the newer generations of queer youth whose only encounters with the larger collectives of gay culture are via this indirect spectatorship of television? Furthermore, each question brings up potential problems for the connection between individual and collective memory, as what can be remembered as opposed to what can be shown are conflated.
    Yet what happens to the individual when those prosthetic memories cannot, refuse to match up with their bodies? Where goes the memories of gayness that was plagued with HIV, or racially/ethnically configured? Are these memories not made technologically available because they are un-productive? Can they be rescued from oblivion? Can they ever “come out”? Or more to the point, do they need to?

  5. Paolo Virno suggests in his 2004 work, A Grammar of the Multitude, that we are no longer dealing with a People, but with a Multitude. Where the People is a public entity, the Multitude is associated with the private, by the individual rather than the citizen. The Multitude is in part characterized by a feeling of homelessness; in an increasingly global world, Virno and other scholars have argued, any idea of the local vanishes, and with it any idea of community.

    Although Virno relates this switch from People to Multitude to post-Fordist labor conditions, he does not describe the process that led to this switch. Scholars like Bernard Stiegler, on the other hand, have suggested that increases in technology have led to a world where space no longer means what it used to. When all events are mediated, and events from all over the world can be witnessed from practically any location, the effect is to flatten distinctions like near/far. All events seem equally distant (or equally close) when viewed through the mediations of technology. It seems likely that Virno’s Multitude is the result of the process Stiegler describes.

    In Empire, Hardt and Negri touch briefly on this tension between the global and the local, noting that championing the local (whether on the level of the nation, or of the community) is a popular response to what are seen as the dangers of globalism. In their estimation, these efforts, while laudable, treat what is local as somehow natural, failing to interrogate both “the local” and the processes of globalization that the local may be participating in.

    A concrete example of championing the local takes the form of the numerous “Buy Local” movements scattered across the country. These movements pit themselves against large chains like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, arguing that small, independent businesses make for stronger communities. Supporting these businesses, consumers are told, will both improve the local economic situation and maintain a community identity threatened by homogenizing chains. Strangely, by characterizing the global as homogenized and the local as diverse, the local (which should be familiar) becomes the new exotic.

    Like Hardt and Negri, I suggest that we have yet to fully explore the rhetorical implications of such movements. Seeing “Buy Local” movements as an attempt to reform individuals as a People by creating new communities for a homeless Multitude, I am interested in exploring the ways in which such movements redefine what it means to be a member of a community, as well as the dangers of allowing communities to be redefined on these terms.

    I have submitted a shorter version of this abstract to the 8th Annual Conference on Citizenship Studies, a conference on citizenship being held here at Wayne State. In addition to that, though, this project deals with questions I imagine I will be asking as I think about topics for my dissertation.

  6. Apologies for the late post!

    Amy Metcalf
    October 20, 2010

    Generative Constraint and the Re-Emergence of Authenticity

    In the most reductive sense, Plato’s critique of writing is that it lacked immediacy, intimacy, and presence. Similar critiques are made today about character-limited social networking tools like Twitter. But just as much as we can critique the network and its constraint as lacking intimacy, it is difficult to deny those arguments in favor of its presence and immediacy. Several issues regarding social networks are subject to these criticisms and to what end? It is not only these three issues of immediacy, intimacy, and presence that are of consequence on their own, but also how they are employed to examine the emergent authenticity of networks and assemblages that operate under a generative constraint – that is, a character-limited discourse.

    Generative constraint is not a novel concept in the broad history of technological development and tools for the production and dissemination of writing. Tracing the management of generative constraint throughout the last century and mapping those occurrences can serve to illuminate the current tools of character-limited discourse and their role in the re-emergence and production of authenticity.

    For the purposes of this project, the term “authenticity” requires explication. Although some consideration will be given to the authenticity of the work produced, the term will be used to describe the general approach to the network’s capacity and potential – more specifically, its place in the chronology of technological event-ization. This treatment of the network and its generative constraint speaks to the issue of “re-emergence” and what factors collaboratively conspire to structure this deviation and seeming disregard for a history – both distant and recent – that reflects similar practices and operations.
    The path for determining the production of authenticity lies in the practice of representing Twitter as a benign network in which there exists little consequence. This is not a reductive practice of regarding the network as invaluable or highlighting its ineffectiveness which is both easy to fathom and just as easy to dispute. Instead, this mundane rendering of the assemblage parallels Sanford Kwinter’s approach to human subjectivity in Far From Equilibrium, pondering it as existing “within a broad ecological model still sensitive to the revolutionary possibilities that remain enfolded within past worlds and objects” (Kwinter 19).

    Instead of utilizing Kwinter’s approach as a potential positivist utopian view of Twitter’s capacity as a network, his words will serve as a proof that the mere existence of “revolutionary possibilities” does not an authentic assemblage make – and furthermore, past worlds and objects only serve to emphasize the recurrence of generative constraint.

    So how, then, have we re-fashioned this network to produce the very thing that seems counterintuitive to its existence? How have character-limits emerged to produce authenticity in a network that seems to have eliminated the ability to do so? Furthermore, how do the original Platonic anxieties about writing contribute to our understanding of neoauthenticity?

    Key terms: Benign/Mundane/(Neo)Authentic(ity)
    Conference: With a pedagogical angle – could sell for C&W next year
    Journal: Unsure.

  7. Orality, Literacy, and the Challenge of Defining New Writing Tools

    In his classic text, Orality and literacy, Walter Ong explained how differences in the way we experience visual and auditory information lead to differences in oral and literate cultures. Voice recognition technology, which makes it possible to turn spoken words into written text, complicates Ong’s division between visually oriented writing and aurally oriented speech. However, while new technologies require us to re-examine Ong’s conclusions, much of his analysis is still helpful in understanding the practice of writing as it impacts cognition and consciousness. In this re-examination, it becomes clear that when voice recognition software is used as a writing tool it preserves far more than it changes. If we define voice recognition as a writing tool, this raises questions about another new technology- text messaging. Clearly, texting is a form of writing. However, while it requires its users to know how to read and write, in practice texting is much more like speech. While I would like to determine how technological possibilities and constraints shape practice, I am more interested in the social context in which texting is practiced. Specifically, because texting is structured by the conversational habits found in speech, it will likely possess other traits that are typically found in speech. I will also compare texting to other technologies. In their book Remediation, David Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin explain how new technologies remediate older technologies, resulting in a genealogical relationship. While there are many superficial similarities between texting and writing telegram messages, a much closer relationship exists between cell phone use and texting. If texting remediates cell phone conversations, then it is likely that it will import certain features associated with speech. If texting resembles spoken discourse more than written texts, this problematizes common sense definitions of writing. Instead of only considering the exteriorized practices, we need to consider the interiorized practices. Instead of only considering the superficial aspects of the written text, we need to look at the way a written text works. In addition to Ong, Bolter, and Grusin, I intend to consult Marshall McLuhan’s work on orality and technology, Kathleen Welch’s book Electric Rhetoric, and a recent anthology Small Tech. To gain a broader understanding of speech, I would also like to do some reading on sign language. I intend to analyze transcripts of texted conversations that have been cited in recent news stories. I am interested in presenting my research at a conference. Because my topic is focused on technology and writing, the Computers and Writing conference seems like a good choice, but the Conference on College Composition & Communication and the Society for Literature, Science & the Arts also accept abstracts on technology related topics. I will want to do more research on specific conferences.

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