Stick a fork in it

For your final blog post (due 4/23), I’d like you to look back at the semester and take stock of the wonderful work you did, as well as the work we did together. Think of your audience for your post as yourself, with the rest of us (and, of course, the entire Web) listening in. That is, you should write the post to be useful to a current and future you, rather than a text that might be useful to someone else (although it might be, incidentally). You might think about: a review of ideas and themes from the course; directions for future research or teaching; comments on texts you found useful for your thinking; etc. Since you all have widely varying interests and writing styles, I’m not placing a word guideline on this final post. I assume we’ll see a wide variety of responses here, from the creative to essayistic to scattered notes, etc. No need for anything fancy. Looking forward to hearing from you, as always!

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One Response to Stick a fork in it

  1. Justin says:

    For this last contribution to the blog, I decided to read back through my previous posts and trace the questions and topics that seemed to pique my interest week after week. These, I think, represent some of the enduring concerns that I’ll have to (want to) return to in my future thinking and scholarship—my hobby horses, the itches I couldn’t stop scratching.

    By a wide margin, most of my posts are about defining the concept of literacy itself. This starts in Post #1 and runs through to my latest entries. I’ve been thinking about literacy as
    • Something that we define and use rhetorically in order to make academic work legible or create strategic partnerships across disciplines
    • Like genre, a social action, something we enact or claim in order to participate in a literacy-based society (thank you, Charles Bazerman)
    • Something contextualized, situated—anchored to particular genres rather than somehow general in nature (Bazerman again)
    • As a kind of material intelligence (“intelligence achieved cooperatively with external materials”) or as opposed to mere material intelligence—I haven’t yet figured out which (DiSessa)
    • As necessarily wide-spread, infrastructural, rather than only within the purview of particular specialists (DiSessa again)
    • As triple in nature, comprising functional, rhetorical, and critical components (Selber)
    • As proficiency within one of an nearly infinite number of “semiotic domains” (Gee)

    I think that I have a lot of future work to do with these ideas. I’m always game for complicating terms and moving flexibly between equally interesting and useful definitions, but as I turn toward my projects and dissertation, I suspect that I’ll have to claim some of these ideas more than others in order to build methodologies that work for me. I haven’t done that yet—and maybe I can’t do that yet, not until I know exactly what I’ll be working on and which concepts of literacy seem to resonate more powerfully with the primary materials I go on to consider. I have a rich set of possibilities from which to draw upon, though.

    Most of my other posts, then, also share something in common: an attempt to reflect on the ideas from our course in relation to my own work as a scholar. I wrote first about how the assessment team I’m a part of at KU might tap the multiple senses of the term “literacy” in order to conjure some partnerships between the writing program and various non-humanities faculty and administrators there. That’s something that we are indeed going to do as our assessment project moves forward—an immediately powerful and effective (I hope!) outgrowth of my explorations in this class. I’ve also written here about historical methodology (especially Gitelman’s) and the different ways that I might undertake and disseminate my work as a graduate student (composing and disseminating, or at least chronicling, my PhD project work on a blog—inspired, of course, by Fitzpatrick). Both of these, too, are going to be immediately useful for the projects I’ll be starting over the summer.

    When I set all of these new questions, resources, and considerations next to a final project that I’m excited about and that could be immediately useful here at Pitt (more info coming on the 16th!), I feel like I’m walking away from this course with a really rich takeaway.