Thursday, March 3, 2011


My Satire Website’s Site Mapish Thingy

Default – This page will include a brief definition of satire as well as a short passage on modern American satire (since that would be the focus of the class). There will also be a discussion of course goals, and something resembling a lit review. As well as hyperlinks within various pages, there will also be a menu on the left with links.

Satirical Concepts

v Irony – This will discuss some different types of irony and include embedded examples. Because irony is a rhetorical technique central to modern satire, this page could end up quite long and may need to be divided into more than one page.

v Invective – After defining the term, this page will include some examples (probably from Mencken, and maybe Ann Coulter too [who rarely uses anything but invective]).

Historical Examples

v Chaucer – While Chaucer obviously isn’t American or modern, his use of irony through superlative descriptions of certain pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales is a significant historical example of irony in satire. The CT is a kind of estates satire, a popular genre during Chaucer’s time; however, estates satire typically uses invective whereas Chaucer uses irony be describing how certain pilgrims are the best at things they shouldn’t be good at (i.e. the Monk is an expert hunter).

v Swift – Like Chaucer, Swift is an important figure in the history of satire written in English. I often have students rhetorically analyze “A Modest Proposal,” so this page will likely only have a short excerpt with some of Swift’s rhetorical strategies highlighted.

v Twain – This page will include excerpts from Twain’s work (and possibly some shorter works in their entirety, such as “Advice to Youth”). Twain also seems to exhibit something of a trend in the work of white male American satirists: appealing to a sense of individualism. Even though he comes from a very different place politically then, say, Mencken or P.J. O’Rourke, all three seem to rely heavily on appealing to a sense of individualism.

Parody and Satire – This page will make an important distinction between the two terms and include examples of each. Parody has one target and tends to comment only on that target whereas satire also includes some kind of social or cultural critique, and good satire tends to be target-rich. The Family Guy provides numerous examples of satire, and I will include an embedded clip of one of their Star Wars spoofs. South Park tends to be more satirical, and I will embed a clip of a South Park news clip that satirizes the BP oil spill and Tony Haworth’s response.

Us and Them – Satire can work to bring people together, but it ultimately operates on some level to divide people into “us” and “them.” Those people who get the joke are “in” on it, while someone else is meant to be the target of the joke. This is also a good page for discussing some aspects of satire by women and African Americans, which, unlike satire by white men, often appeals to a sense of community (which makes sense if you are not in a position of privilege).

v Satire by women – Will includes examples by Sarah Vowell, Ann Coulter, and other.

v Satire by African Americans – Some examples from before and during the Civil Rights movement of the sixties. I will also see if I can find a clip from Chris Rock that I can embed.

Satire and the news

v One page will discuss The Daily Show and the Colbert Report (and possibly some lesser known examples, such as InfoMania or Super News). I’m not committed to the title of this page, but it seems like The Daily Show and the Colbert Report deserve special attention as examples of video satire because of their cultural significance. It’s worth looking at the differences in their approaches, and a program like The Daily Show provides some great examples of the affordances of video for satirizing video, especially T.V. clips.

v This would also be a good page to discuss The Onion, which uses multiple modes but is still primarily known for its online news articles. The Onion takes a satirical approach that is similar to the Colbert Report by reporting fake news that deftly follows the genre conventions of real news. Sometimes they are so successful that their stories are picked up and re-reported as if they were real (or as close to real as Fox News ever gets).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Final Project Proposal: A Pedagogical Website on the Rhetoric of Satire

Based on some of the feedback I received regarding my satirical radio assignment, it seems that it might be useful for me to construct a website that would both operate as a resource for a course I may someday teach on the rhetoric of satire and offer some pedagogical justification for such a course (and for the more general rhetorical significance of satire). Thus, this website will present theory of satire as well as various multi-modal examples. Embedded videos, links to comic strips, etc. will allow the site to show examples side-by-side for comparison, and I will be able to illustrate concepts such as the difference between parody and satire (The Family Guy tends to parody whereas South Park tends to satirize). Additionally, while fair use allows for some pedagogical use of copyrighted materials, there is also plenty of satire in the public domain that I can include on the site, such as Twain, Swift, etc.

The site will primarily use HTML, although I may also use some Java script. I've already arranged for access to OU's new server that houses faculty and student websites. The research involved will primarily consist of finding sources that discuss some of the key aspects of satire (irony, invective, the tendency of satire to divide people based on who gets the joke and who is the target of it, etc.). I will also need to find examples of the different kinds of satire the site discusses, and to properly format these examples. The course would require a lot of analysis from the students, so I may also include some resources that would be helpful in that capacity.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Using New Media to Investigate Discipline-specific Literacies

I wrote the following proposal draft in response to CEA of Ohio's CFP:

In their 2007 CCC article, Douglas Downs and Elizabeth Wardle question the ability of first-year composition (FYC) to adequately prepare students for various rhetorical contexts using a fictional cross-disciplinary discourse. They claim that “more than twenty years of research and theory have repeatedly demonstrated that such a unified academic discourse does not exist and have seriously questioned what students can and do transfer from one context to another (Ackerman, Berkenkotter and Huckin, Carter, Diller and Oates, Kaufer and Young, MacDonald, Petraglia, Russell ‘Activity Theory’)” (552). This suggests a need for what the authors refer to as “Intro to Writing Studies” pedagogy, which could lead to more WID programs, yet numerous institutional, theoretical, and financial concerns prevent many universities from implementing such programs. Thus, we must craft new and creative ways for students to investigate discipline-specific literacies within the FYC classroom. New media provide opportunities for students to explore and practice various literacies as they start to engage in the discourse communities within their chosen disciplines, even if those disciplines require multi-modal literacy (i.e. film and music majors).

My presentation will focus on navigating these concerns through the use of a multi-modal assignment that asks students to investigate the kinds of literacies and genres that constitute their disciplines and future occupations. Each student then constructs a wiki page in order to present their findings to other students new to that field of study. The multi-modal presentation of his/her findings allows the student to gain experience with some of the researched composition practices, including the use of images and/or sound within the discourse community. Furthermore, the use of a wiki not only provides students with a new means of composition, it also encourages collaboration and peer-review, and it allows the class to build a knowledge base that can be added to and revised by subsequent classes. Therefore, students will write both for an audience within the classroom and for future students who will benefit from previous research while revising it with their own.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reflecting on This Blog

In the course of writing blog posts this quarter, I realized fairly quickly that I wasn't really following the genre conventions very effectively. Initially, I conceived of this blog as an electronic venue where I would post short reading-response type essays. However, a few days after completing my first post, I remembered that I had not included a citation for the article to which I was responding. At the same time, it occurred to me that the authors of the articles to which I was responding could potentially Google themselves--or someone they know might Google them--and stumble upon my blog post. In this way, my blog's potential to reach an outside audience (however unlikely that might be) caused me to rethink my compositions as I was creating them, particularly regarding word choice. I also made some slight revisions to my first post because of these concerns. With that said, I still conceived of my audience as primarily consisting of the individuals within the classroom.

After a couple of posts, I also realized that I wasn't doing a very good job of utilizing the affordances of the blog. Those first two posts consisted entirely of text, lacking even a hyperlink, which would at least have offered some suggestion that I knew what I was doing. I think that this too may have come from my conceiving of the genre as more of a response essay than a blog post. From then on I made an effort to add some more dynamic elements to each post; however, I had some difficult in finding images that I would want to use because I was concerned about using those with open-source licenses, and because the subjects of my responses didn't seem to lend themselves well to the inclusion of images as there were few visuals I could think of that would significantly enrich the text.

CommonCraft's "Blogs in Plain English"

Hyperlinks, on the other hand, seemed to provide an easier means of adding something to a post that I could not add to a hard copy document. Even if it was just a matter of linking to the work to which I was responding, at least I knew that such links could prove helpful to an external audience should someone outside the classroom ever stumble upon the post. But hyperlinks also allowed me to easily offer additional resources to my audience of classmates, such as when I linked to the CommonCraft video I had mentioned in class a few days earlier. I would like to think that such links encouraged more productive discussions via the comments back and forth; at least that seems to be how it worked out based on some of the comments I received which referenced links.

The expectation to comment on other classmates' posts also seems to have facilitated some really interesting discussions. Sometimes, I would focus on one or two particular aspects of the readings in my own post, but then someone else's post would get me thinking about another aspect or another way of reading the article. I've used the blog tool in Blackboard to facilitate this kind of discussion; however, Bb doesn't seem to encourage the utilization of its affordances as much as blogger does, probably because students are used to using Bb but are not used to adding images or hypertext to anything they do in Bb.

I've also noticed that the genre of blogging seems to have affected my tone a bit. For instance, I tend to use more contractions than usual when I'm blogging. In fact, most of what I write is complete devoid of contractions; yet I've ended up using some in each paragraph of this reflection. It seems as though I've felt encouraged to do so by the genre in the same way that I've felt encouraged to incorporate images and links. I'm still an inexperienced blogger, but something about blogging seems to affect my tone as well as my aesthetic.

The image is linked to the source

I still have doubts about blogging assignments, mainly because of my concerns about tone and audience; however, I now recognize the differences and advantages of a "real" blog over a Blackboard blog. It seems that real blogs could further encourage students to incorporate images and links while still facilitating an ongoing discussion outside of class. I'm also considering starting another blog, so I suppose that means that I've bought into the technology.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Responding to Chapters on Responding, Peer Review, Networking, etc.

First off, Kara Poe Alexander's assignment on technology and literacy exhibits some striking similarities with my Textbook Chapter assignment. Her assignment focuses more on writing within career fields whereas mine addresses both career fields and the writing expectations of advanced courses within majors; however, my presentation of the assignment tends to privilege career fields (which reminds me, I ought to include the sample interview questions that I created for my students as part of the assignment prompt). One slight criticism of her assignment, then, comes from my own experience with a similar assignment. Students are not accustomed to conducting interviews as part of their research, and many of them will instinctively wait till the last minute to make arrangements. Then, many of them will realize that making such arrangements cannot be done effectively at the last minute (because of delays in email correspondence, availability, etc.). I require students to interview a professor within their field, but Alexander discourages this, instead requiring students to interview a professional currently working within the career field. While I can see some benefits to this approach, it will almost certainly further complicate the already potentially complex process of arranging such an interview. Also, I would be concerned about reifying the notion that the academy is somehow removed from the "real world," or, even worse, encourage the belief that "those who can't do, teach." With that said, I was pleased to find such an assignment within the book as it gives me further encouragement to continue developing my own version of it.

Since I keep referencing the textbook chapter assignment, I thought that it might be helpful to provide an example of student work. Thus, I have posted a student's essay to my audience wiki after receiving written permission from the author.

I would also like to add a warning to the list of possible things that can go wrong with multimodal compositions. Sylvia Church and Elizabeth Powell's chapter again raises the issue of file types. People employing various types of video cameras should be aware that some cameras that save videos to an internal hard drive use unusual files types that will require conversion to more standard file types, and that conversion may itself be a complicated process. For instance, I know that some Panasonic and JVC camcorders save their videos as .mod files. and these can be difficult to convert to a more usable format. I say this from my own experience with a Panasonic camcorder, and it's something that you may want to mention to students if they're considering borrowing someone else's camcorder for a video project.

Lastly, the chapter on building bridges with writing centers raises some great points about how an informed writing center can be a valuable tool in helping students navigate a complicated project.

I always encourage students to utilize our writing center, and I have used it myself, but I have not had as much interaction with the staff or the administration as I could in order to further help them help my students. Perhaps encouraging more interaction between the English department and the writing center would be a good place to start.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wiki Link

My audience wiki, used to present material on Ede and Lunsford's article, "Among the Audience." Please feel free to contribute to it.