At this point in the semester, my students have pretty much mastered the “blah, blah, and blah” argument. What’s that? [read more]
When I see flags flying at half-staff, I usually know who is being honored. I’ve discovered that there is a web site that I can go to if I don’t. I wondered when I first saw the flags lowered recently if Nelson Mandela was the honoree because I wasn’t sure if the president ever issued a proclamation ordering flags be lowered to mark the death of someone who was not an American.
Today’s guest blogger is Michael Pemberton, a Professor of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University, Director of the University Writing Center, and Editor of the online journal Across the Disciplines. He has published five books, including The Ethics of Writing Instruction: Issues in Theory and Practice, The Center Will Hold: Critical Reflections on Writing Center Scholarship, and Bookmarks: A Guide to Research and Writing, 3rd Ed., and more than 90 articles on writing, writing technologies, and writing center research in journals such as College Composition and Communication and Computers and Composition. He has also actively pursued a lifelong interest in sequential art, graphic novels, and the impact these media have had on American culture.
Every fall semester, I teach a course called “Comic Book Writing in American Culture,” an upper-division offering in the department of Writing and Linguistics that attracts not only majors but a variety of interested students across campus. [read more]
With the semester nearly over here at Virginia Tech, I keep thinking about what will happen when the first-year writing students I am teaching move on to the second semester of the course and a new teacher. I worry about both whether they are prepared and how I can make that transition easier for them. [read more]
On December 8 it will be the 33′d anniversary of the death of John Lennon. In this year of historic anniversaries (the Gettysburg Address’s and the Battle’s 150th; the 50th year since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy), Lennon’s will not loom so large, and that is as it should be. There are vaster things to think about. [read more]
On a recent all-for-pleasure trip to Portugal, I visited a small village in the northern part of the country, nestled amid the mountainous port-wine growing region. And, of course, I visited a vineyard—and a port wine-making company, arriving just in time to see trucks unloading their grapes into a vast vat where they were first measured for quality and then sent on to begin the production process. I stood in the cavernous rooms with ceiling-high stainless steel barrels learning about how different varieties of port are made, and I came away awed by the fact that here, all grapes are gathered by hand and the entire process is much less mechanized than I had expected. [read more]
I want to return to my recent critical moment during grading. In short, I was frustrated—not because of the amount of work involved (that’s just par for the course at this point) but because students had problems with things we had gone over in class again and again. I felt both angry and like a failure. Then I realized I was just stuck in Clockwork Christ mode. [read more]
Students do better work when they are writing for a real audience and purpose. In the past, I’ve used assignments that ask students to write letters to the editor, to work in online forums that are read by everyone in the class, and reviews that are posted online. Students have a stronger understanding of their goals with these activities than they do when writing pieces with a less authentic audience, and as a result, I’ve had moderate success with them in the classroom. [read more]
This late autumn, my classes are writing about President Obama’s 2008 speech, “A More Perfect Union,” sometimes called the “race” speech. The speech touches on three aspects of American cultural life that are often described as taboo subjects for polite conversation: race, religion, and politics. Yet if we are to succeed as writers beyond the basics, moving out of our comfort zones can often help to push us forward. I do not offer such advice easily or happily. Instead, I offer it from memory. [read more]
When I was a kid, my very favorite holiday was Halloween: who could resist dressing up in homemade costumes (I once even got to wear my mother’s high heels!) and going from door to door throughout the neighborhood, getting invited in for hot chocolate or hot apple cider and adding more and more loot to our bags. Absolutely awesome.