First Day, Fall 2012

Somehow it is already the first day of classes for 2012. I am not sure where my summer went.
I am excited to teach a new grad class this semester, New Media Production. The course differs from the other grad courses I teach, where the focus is on traversing and networking a complex set of readings and ideas. This course emphasizes production--learning how to use tools to do new things. If I am nervous about anything, it is that the class has over 20 students in it, with different comfort levels regarding technology.

The course also seeks to historicize the term new media, defining in light of the convergence of postmodern theory and network technology. We're opening with two staple essays for me--Ong's "Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought" and Heidegger's "The Question Concerning Technology." The Heidegger sets up our early work with Ulmer; I frame Ulmer's concept of electracy as an attempt to wrestle with Heidegger's provocation of technology/logos. (I flush out this strain of thought more in the syllabus' course description, "The Becoming of Electracy"). I've taught Ulmer's Internet Invention with undergraduates before, but I am really excited to teach the MyStory genre with graduate students.

I am also teaching an undergraduate Expository Writing course. Leahy and I completed a manuscript for Computers and Composition that outlines our rationale for teaching web writing. The abstract to that article reads as follows:
Collaborative digital tools, online communities, and the evolution of literacy create opportunities in which writing for an English class and writing for the "real" world no longer have to be two separate activities. We believe seizing such opportunities requires rethinking the desire to teach writing—a move toward what has been termed postpedagogy. We align the interactive and collaborative affordances of web writing with a postpedagogical model of learning focused on inventive practices grounded in kairotic interactions.
I'm going to give the students the article to read in preparation for our next class--the first half of the article is fairly theoretical, focusing on why institutions insist that writing (narrowly defined as academic essays) is "teachable." To rephrase Heidegger: "the correct instrumental definition of writing still does not show us writing's essence [...]" ("QCT" 313). The second half of the essay argues for organizing a class dedicated to the idea that writing cannot be taught, but can be learned. Learning writing requires attending to writing outside of the instrumental-institutional expectations. The dynamic, participatory web affords us opportunities to discover writing in the wild.
Working on the syllabus for both courses reminded me that I have a blog, and that it has been very lonely. Sorry blog.