Thursday, February 24, 2011

For my research project, I would like to revise my assignment assignment so that it may incorporate it into my English 151 class. My goal is to preserve most of the core theory behind the assignment, but narrow the scope to a clearly defined medium and genre, making it more practical for an English 151 course. To accomplish this, I will first revise my project using Dr. Rouzie’s advice. Instead of trying to build a resource base that would be the foundation of my students’ multimodal essays, I will instead assign a classical argument essay that: a.) Incorporates text and image and b.) That will be posted on a student created blog using

Inspired by the article “Writing and Citizenship: Using Blogs to Teach First-Year Composition” by Charles Tryon. Tryon’s class was able to draw in people in the blogosphere by asking his students to seek out certain blogs and link them to their own blog response. In the spirit of this, I intend to link my essay to Queer blogs such as, and with composition blogs such as, to see if I can draw a broader audience using the network affordances of the blog. If I am successful, I can revise my assignment assignment to focus on this formula of exploration. Audience and purpose will be at the forefront; I can ask my students to identify blog audiences that will care about their subjects, hopefully teaching my students a more comprehensive understanding of audience.

I have already created a blog on, and I am somewhat familiar with its workings. For my multimodal essay, I will revise an alphabetic essay that I wrote for Dr. Nelson last quarter, but also incorporate images that will help to convey the overall message of the essay more persuasively. The essay’s central focus is to question how we a composition pedagogues can explore Queer subjectivities in the classroom and hopefully capitalize on the increasing awareness of Queer brought about by the recent media coverage of gay teen suicides. The reasons I chose this essay are fourfold. First, I put a lot of work into this essay, critically assessing every bit of scholarship I could find, thus, I feel is should be shared. Second, this work will likely be of interest to Queer people as well as teachers of composition. Third, so that I can experiment with MLA formatting as well as exploring citation with images within the genre of a blog. Lastly, it will allow me to test how successful this assignment could be in the hope of using it in the spring.

Though I will not be researching collaboratively for this project, as my students will, that part of the assignment has already been tried and true during my first two quarters teaching here (though Dr. Nelson’s feedback certainly qualifies as review). Thus, the collaborative research portion is not on trial with this experiment. What is on trial is: a.) Whether I can use the blog as an easy way to encourage students to incorporate text and image into their classical argument essays b.) Whether I can use the blog to reach a target audience beyond the classroom that will respond and c.) Possible test students’ comprehension of Chapter 9 of the Allyn and Bacon guide, “Analyzing Visual Rhetoric,” in addition to Chapter 10, “Writing a Classical Argument.”


  1. Byran,
    At this stage, I suggest you take a little time to consider your options. I have no problem with your proposed project. However, given your seminar article presentation and your possible conference presentation, you might consider focusing on a multimodal piece on that that could serve multiple purposes--the basis of the presentation and an example of multimodal argument/analysis for your students.

    That said, it's up to you which one you go with. The Queer pedagogy essay sounds good and the goal of testing out how to get public blogs involved with student blogs and vice versa sounds worthy. If you do that, you'll need to revise the assignment along the way and reflect on the process, what you changed and learned etc. Keep in mind that blogs allow multimodality (sound and video, images, links, font color and size alterations, and so on), but are very limited in terms of controlling the design. This sounds like a reasonable trade-off for the purposes of the assignment revision because the emphasis is public engagement.

    Per that--One thing students will find out in engaging public blogs is that large arguments are not posted on them. If you want students to engage in genuine blog discourse, you'll want to take that into account. Maybe they should set up a blog and post shorter arguments regularly, engage other bloggers outside the course on the topic by commenting and hopefully receiving comments, and then write a substantial reflection essay on it. That could be posted too, as they would want to at least include links.

    Just some ideas to think on. . .

  2. I don't know what I would do without you. The Queer essay is 28 pages, which is probably too long for a blog. Your insight has been invaluable for gauging the scope of what I can do.

    So to make sure I understand, could I prepare my conference proposal as a blog essay? And then revise my assignment based upon what I discover? Of course I would have to reevaluate my audience, but that does seem more practical.

    I seem to consistently overestimate the practicality/expectations of these assignments. I just hope it is apparent that I am willing to put in lots of work to accomplish what I want. Does this sound better?

    Thanks again for keeping me grounded.

  3. B,
    I think you could do that. The blog will pose some limitations on design control, but will give you public access and the ability of readers to post comments. Your piece would still be longish, I assume.

    Before you plan to use a blog version for a conference, you need to confirm that computers with internet access and LCD projectors will be available. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes yes but you have to ask for it in advance and sometimes pay for it. If yes for CEAO or Cincinatti, then you can kill two birds. If computers and LCDs but no i-net, you might want to use PPT for the conference.

    In any case, if you want to still work this with an assignment for your class, you will need to rethink the assignment.

    I suggest not doing that. What I would do is just do an extensive blog or web site version of your conference piece from which you can select some for a short version to fit a 15 minute slot. So the project for our course would be a multimodal essay based on your conference topic with a reflection essay on doing that.