Writing New Media: Theory and Applications for Expanding the Teaching of Composition

By Anne Frances Wysocki; Johndan Johnson-Eilola et al. | Go to book overview

ACTIVITY 2
MATERIALITIES OF WRITING

TEACHER NOTES

GOALS

I use the various exercises of this activity because they encourage people to see the technologies we use for writing and how those technologies take part in shaping what we communicate. These exercises can help people to see how the designs of writing technologies not only encourage certain kinds of writing but that they also enfranchise some while disenfranchising others.


TIME

These exercises can be done as in-class work or as homework followed by inclass discussion.


LEVEL

I’ve used these activities with entering undergraduate students and with graduate students in classes where we are considering writing as a technological and more broadly material practice.


NOTE

These activities can be useful for beginning longer research explorations into the materialities of writing and/or seeing, because they can add concreteness to the explorations: when we see how something we had taken for granted as a simple tool has come to be designed in ways that disenfranchise some or that support only certain kinds of work, we tend to be more alert to how we use— and teach about—it.


EXERCISES

COLORFUL HANDWRITING…

Give students a short (1-2 page) writing assignment—and then ask them to turn in the assignment written in crayon (any color or colors) on any paper.

After they are finished, ask them what was different about the process of writing with crayon as opposed to pen or keyboard. What felt different as they wrote? Did they find themselves thinking differently? Did they come up with ideas they might not have had otherwise, or did they find themselves dropping out ideas because the actual writing was tedious or uncomfortable?

Ask them to look at all the pages made by all the different people in class. What adjectives do they apply to the way the various pages look? That is, do the pages look serious or refined or goofy or childish or unprofessional or creative? What qualities of the pages suggest the adjectives they name? How do they think they learned to have such responses to these texts?

-27-

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