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    Johnson 1510.121

    Project #1: Questioning a Writing Construct

    A student walks up to her professor to hand in the first major paper of the class. Gaze averted, manner tentative, she

    releases the paper from her grasp following an exasperated sigh. When prompted on her disposition, the student admits

    that writing the paper had been an anxiety-ridden and fear-laden affair. She went on to confess that she has an

    ambivalent relationship with writing. She had no problem with, in fact enjoyed, penning stories as a young child, with

    journaling during HS, with writing letters to her grandmother who lived in a different state, and with the daily informal

    writing demands of text messaging and social media. But writing this paper, writing for school, wasnt like those other

    avenues of writing. Accustomed to hearing such admissions from his students, the instructor asked why writing this

    paper caused such a negative experience: Im not a good writer Im just one of those people who isn't good at writing,

    the student replied. This confession and countless similar others that students sheepishly admit to represents more

    than just the discomfort and uncertainty that students feel while writing in school; it represents a wide-held, and

    inaccurate, folktale about writing. The student had bought into the errant, and harmful, construct that some people are just

    destined to be "bad" writers because writing isn't "naturally" easy for them. In fact, all writers harbor various assumptionsabout writing not dissimilar to the construct mentioned here, and for this project you will have the chance to identify and

    explore one such construct that interests you about writing.

    The Assignment:

    I will ask you to complete an expanded version of Assignment Option 2 from Writing about Writing (Wardle

    and Downs, 16769). I want you to select a construct about writing (mental frameworks that people build in

    order to make sense of the world (Wardle and Downs, 35)). This might be anything from the importance of

    grammar and punctuation rules to whether or not you need to always be yourself when you write . Stated

    otherwise, the construct should be something that 1) you have been taught or told about writing or 2) seems

    that most, or at least some, people (peers, parents, public, etc.) generally believe to be true. You will want toquestion this construct to see if it holds up when tested. Testing it will involve engaging in research to find out

    what other writing scholars have said and are currently saying about this constructyou may use any articles

    from our course texts, but you will also need to find and use other outside sources. I will not set a minimum

    number of sources, but you need to demonstrate that you have read enough different perspectives on the

    construct to present a thorough explanation/map (topology) of what others have said this will *most likely*

    require at least 3 outside sources.

    In the process of learning what others are saying, you will need to identify something you can add to the

    ongoing conversation, a niche (WAW, 69; something that has not been said or discussed that you can supply,

    something to extend what others have said, presenting a different perspective of an accepted idea, etc.), and

    develop your own differing and interesting viewpoint on the subjectyou'll need to make a point that adds to

    or addresses something your sources haven't already contributed to the on-going conversation. As we discuss

    the readings from Writing about Writing and Readings on Writing you will see that several of them originate

    from doing just that (Kantz, Porter, Dawkins, etc.). Read through the assignment explanation in Writing about

    Writing thoroughly, including the authors advice about brainstorming, researching, planning, drafting, and

    revising. Pay special attention to the section titled What Makes It Good?, that explains the general purpose

    of an essay like this, which is to help [readers] see a writing-related concept as a construct and understand it

    in a new way (168).

    ASSIGNMENT QUICK VIEW: Length: 2,100-2,400 words Format:MLA

    Due Dates: Proposal 9/5 Intro+Synthesis 9/21 Rough Draft 9/24

    Paper w/ Cover Letter 9/27 Peer Review 10/1 Completed Project 10/5

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    Johnson 1510.121

    Writing objectives for this assignment:

    I hope this paper will give you a chance to (a) engage in question driven academic research on writing, (b)

    learn to frame your writing within an ongoing conversation that you summarize, synthesize, and analyze in

    order to discover something to add to that conversation, and (c) to support what you write with reasoning and

    evidence appropriate to the community and situation for which you are writing. This paper should also allow

    you to (d) reflect on what writing is and how ideas about writing become normalized as "rules," sometimeswhen they aren't even accurate. Finally, I hope this experience will (e) help you gain more authority over your

    own writing and (f) gain more confidence in your ability to analyze communities and writing situations in

    order to use writing successfully.

    Rhetorical Situation:

    In order to help you accomplish this task, Im going to ask you to write this paper as an undergraduate writing

    expert (mushfaking from Gee, or fake it till you make it from a popular culture clich) writing an article

    (2100 to 2400 words) for Young Scholars in Writing, a reviewed academic undergraduate journal that publishes

    such articles (the goal here is to produce something that could eventually, at the end of the semester, be

    published in that journal, which looks really, really good on your resume or application to graduate school(!).

    Format:The journal features a section devoted to the work of students in first year writing classes. The journal requires

    MLA format, and all past issues and guidelines for submission are available on the journal's website:

    http://cas.umkc.edu/english/publications/youngscholarsinwriting/guidelines.asp.

    In addition to the articles that have been published in Young Scholars in Writing, which is the best place tor look

    for examples and ideas, Writing about Writing and Readings on Writing are full of academic articles on writing,

    and any of them (not including the non-academic readings) could be a model for your own project.

    Recommendations/Expectations: An engaging introduction that introduces a problem relevant to a writing construct and suggests

    something new that your paper will say about it.

    A synthesis (grouping individual authors by their similarities and summarizing their commonperspectives in relation to other groups) of what writing studies scholars have said about this

    problem/issue in the past.

    An indication of a problem, issue, gap, or need in the conversation that provides a niche for you to addsomething different.

    A well supported, but nuanced, argument that makes an original claim about the issue, states reasons thatshould appeal to readers of Young Scholars in Writing, and supported with evidence commonly accepted asvalid by writing scholars.

    Fair and thorough discussion of alternative views and possible objections to your claim. Discussion of the implications of your conclusions for the larger community. An organizational structure that connects the disparate parts of your paper together in a way that adds to

    the persuasiveness of your argument.

    Language appropriate to the writing community including incorporation of the various writing studiesterms we become familiar with in the course.

    Appropriate citation of all source material and a complete list of all sources.

    http://cas.umkc.edu/english/publications/youngscholarsinwriting/guidelines.asphttp://cas.umkc.edu/english/publications/youngscholarsinwriting/guidelines.asphttp://cas.umkc.edu/english/publications/youngscholarsinwriting/guidelines.asp
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    Johnson 1510.121

    This list suggests conventions that are very common in academic writing. While you should strive to include

    all of the aforementioned bullets, you do not have to rigidly follow their order. You are free to incorporate

    these elements where you feel most appropriate, but you do need to make sure that you organize your writing

    in a way that your readers can follow and understand. In short, it isnt enough for all the parts to be included;

    you need to lead readers through it all effectively with clear connections between the parts (transitions).

    Please DONT refer to the assignment or the class in your writing. In all your formal essays, you want to write

    as if you are addressing a real audience that doesnt know that you are writing this as an assignment for a class

    You need to convince them that you are writing this because it is an important and complex issue, and you

    want to provide enough context and explanation so that a real audience can easily follow your argument.

    Cover Letters:When you turn in your projects both for peer review and for my feedback (yes, you must revise your projects

    to reflect changes you made based on peer feedback when submitting your project to me) you will need to

    include a reflective cover letter that:

    Briefly states the main purpose you wanted to accomplish with the paper. Explains why you thought your project would be effective (the version for me also needs to explain what

    changes you made after peer feedback and why, and if you did not make recommended changes, why not)

    Discusses what parts of your project you think are working well and which parts you think could be better,as well as anything you would like your peers to make sure to comment on.

    Reflects on what you think youve learned about writing (what it is, how it works, your own relationshipto it) and attempts to articulate your developing theory of writing derived from that reflection.

    Important Dates:September 5thProposal for topic dueSeptember 21stIntro and synthesis of conversation due for workshop

    September 24thIn progress project with some argument

    September 27thPaper due with reflective cover letter for peers (Submit to safe-assign in Blackboard Project 1 DRAFT

    by 9:00pm)

    October 1stPeer review due (two copies, one for your peer and one for me)

    October 5thEssay due with reflective cover letter for instructor (Must be submitted to safe-assign in Blackboard)

    Reminder:

    MAKE SURE TO SAVE OFTEN AND BACK-UP ALL YOUR WORK SINCE YOU WILL NEED

    EVERYTHING FOR YOUR COLLECTED WORKS PORTFOLIOas part of your final project and your

    final portfolio. WHEN YOU MAKE CHANGES AS PART OF REVISION, SAVE THEM AS A NEW FILE

    (change the name of the file to include the version number) SO YOU WILL HAVE YOUR ORIGINAL TEXT

    AND ALL SUBSEQUENT VERSIONS TO SHOW HOW THE PAPER CHANGED.