Write on Location Assignment — 100 points

You may complete this “write on location” assignment as an extra credit opportunity. Please follow the directions below to the best of your ability. If you choose to participate in the corresponding research study (Dr. Ashley Holmes will discuss this with us in class on Monday, April 10), you will also be invited to submit an online survey about your experiences with this assignment. Choose a Location: Choose a local, public location—an actual physical spot or site—where you could sit and write for a short amount of time and then (ideally) publish your writing. You may choose a spot that is related to the project we are currently working on and/or you may choose a spot that allows you to brainstorm or freewrite your ideas for a current project. Visit Location with Mobile Device: Next, choose a time when you can visit your selected location. Bring a mobile device (such as a cell phone, laptop, e-Reader, or tablet) on which you could write while actually visiting the location. Write on Location: While visiting your location, find a spot to sit/stand/lie down where you can write for a few minutes. Compose a freewrite or reflection that informally captures whatever comes to your mind while you are actually, physically in the location. Ideally, your freewrite will be helpful in generating ideas and/or content for the project we’re working on. You are encouraged to take pictures and/or videos that may help you capture your experiences in this location at this moment; you can submit additional media as part of your freewrite/reflection. Either before you begin or during your freewrite, be sure to identify your...
Blog Post #10: What is exposition?

Blog Post #10: What is exposition?

The full title of this class, from the course catalog, is “History, Theory, and Practice of Exposition.” Over the course of the semester we have identified some of the formal and rhetorical characteristics of expository writing. In general, the purpose of expository writing is to explain, inform, and describe. Its organizational structure tends to be narrative or associative. Expository writing is often found in “essays,” a form or genre that, as Lynn Z. Bloom explains, often operates as a catch-all category for the heterogenous canon of short works studied in first-year composition courses.  Expository writing that describes or explains the author’s subjective experience and perception displays the markers of “expressive discourse,” that is writing through which the author develops and comes to a better understanding of her identity as a human subject in the world. In this blog post, you will offer your answer to the question presented in the title: What is expository writing? Or, in a formulation that includes modes of composition that employ more than alphabetic text: What is exposition? How is exposition different from persuasion? And what is the relationship between exposition, as a rhetorical activity, and material culture studies, as an interdisciplinary field of cultural study and analysis? What, if anything, can we learn about the history, theory, and practice of exposition from material culture studies? Or, how does material culture studies draw upon the theories, or reproduce the practices of exposition? Posting: Group 2 (and anyone else who feels like it and wants some extra participation credit) Commenting: Anyone who feels like it. Category: What is exposition? In your Blog #10 post, you should do...
Blog Post #9: Wanting Things

Blog Post #9: Wanting Things

Over the course of the semester, one of the things we have circled around is the problem of desire. To what extent is our desire for things an intrinsic and necessary part of human existence? For example, according to Csikszentmihalyi and Belk we need objects to help us form a cohesive sense of self. And to what extent is our desire for things manufactured by what Bejamin might call the “dominant ideology”? For example, advertisers convince us we need stuff not necessarily because we need it to survive or even to be emotionally and physically comfortable, but because companies need consumers to buy their products in order to turn a profit. For this week, consider the different factors that influence human desire. What role does basic necessity play in shaping our desire for things? How do the intrinsic properties of the things we desire influence our consumption habits? How much of desire is socially constructed? Posting: Group 1 Category: Wanting Things In your Blog #9 post, you should do more than offer a list of answers to these questions. Rather, try frame your post around the description of a central experience or practice from your own life, or an interpretation and analysis of the information you’ve gathered in your research for the object analysis. Please carefully read and follow the guidelines and posting information for this blog as they’ve been outlined in the Blog Project Description. Feature Image: “CONSUMED” by Mark Colliton on Flickr....
Blog Post #8: Telling History

Blog Post #8: Telling History

History’s Silences In her response to Blog Post #7, Alexis poses a number of questions about the relevance of history to material culture studies, and how we determine which of the many potential histories of an object to include in the scope of our research: What are some other challenges we may face as we continue to research the history (or histories) behind an object? How should we approach this, or what different types of histories are there to consider with your object? What can an object’s history tell us about the culture or society in relation to time? Why (or why not) is it important to look into history as we research our object?   One of the things we learn from doing this sort of work is how incomplete our historical record–material and documentary–actually often is. We realize how the narrative histories we’ve received in our textbooks, and popular sources such as movies and novels, all depend at least in part on some degree of speculation and inference. And as Prown points out in “The Truth of Material Culture,” all of our attempts to “understand another culture whose patterns of belief, whose mind, is different from our own,” are made more difficult by how “[o]ur own beliefs, our mindset, biases our view.” For Prown, the promise of material culture studies is how it helps us to cultivate a “mindless” approach to cultural studies, “at least while we gather our data”: To identify with people from the past or from other places empathetically through the senses is clearly a different way of engaging them than abstractly through the...
Blog #7: Reading Things

Blog #7: Reading Things

For the first six blog prompts, I have taken charge of selecting the readings and focus of discussion. I’ve asked you to blog about the relationship between objects and writing, the sources and nature of cuteness, the uncanny lure of dead things, the histories we read in old things, how we sort tools from weapons, and what we might learn from thinking about smart things. Now it’s your turn.   Posting: Group 1 For the post, you will choose one text (it might be an article, a TED talk, a PBS documentary, a podcast, etc.–think multimodally!) you’ve encountered in your research for the timeline project that you think could add to our understanding of material culture studies as a discipline and expository writing as a material practice. In your post, which you can model on the prompts I’ve written, you should summarize the main points and significant unresolved questions raised by the text you’ve chosen. You should also identify two or three questions or threads for further thought that might be usefully explored in a blog discussion on the text you’ve chosen. For the comments, read through the posts of your peers, and weigh in on which texts, issues, and questions you’d like to explore and why. Featured Image Credit: “‘Your turn,’ she said. ‘Step up.’” by Peter Lee on...
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