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Image taken from Picserver.org

 

What images come to your mind when you think of a writer? Perhaps, you think of Langston Hughes, Zadie Smith, Joan Didion, or Malcolm Gladwell. Or, maybe you think of a friend who writes poetry. Or, a sibling who knows how to craft a good meme. Or, maybe you think of yourself. This project is an opportunity to craft a history of your experiences with writing and writing technologies.

 

We’ve spent the first half of the semester reading, writing, and thinking/talking about the connections between reading+writing+technology. You’ve acquired theoretical perspectives on what writing is, and how writing technologies have developed to fit the needs of communities. For the last half of the semester, I’d like you to consider your own writing habits as a site for exploration. This project asks you to create a digital archive of yourself as a writer, and to examine artifacts that help to demonstrate your own literacy history.

The Nitty Gritty

I’d like you to choose 5 artifacts from your literacy history. For the purposes of this assignment, we are using Barton’s concept of the ecology of literacy. For Barton, this means that literacy doesn’t occur only in school or academic settings, rather literacy is more like a web, or network. This means that you should feel free to engage with artifacts that aren’t just related to school; rather, think of collecting artifacts that demonstrate the varied types of writing you have crafted. This could mean you look at any of the following: song lyrics, poetry, fiction, essays, social media, notes, letters, blog posts, discussion forums, emails, a zine, a pic collage, college admission statements, lists, planner-writing, music compositions, plays for a particular sport, doodles, artwork, etc. The possibilities are endless; however, I would add that you should be comfortable sharing this artifact with the class and in your archive. While the artifacts can be a mixture of different types of writing, your archive should work to tell a cohesive story of who you are as writer.

  • In your introduction to our archive, you should include a theoretical framework (250-300 words). Using sources we’ve read in class, or others you’ve collected from previous projects, you should describe how you are defining writing and writing technologies for the purposes of your archive.
  • Your archive should contain 5 images with a 700 word entry for each artifact. Your entry should contextualize the artifact, providing us with the history and context we need to understand it.  You will use autoethnography (a research method with roots in the social sciences) to build theory from your images and experiences. That is, you will move from providing context+history to analyzing the artifact by asking questions about what it reveals about you as a writer, a user of a particular writing technology, and what connections you see to a larger issues. These larger issues can be related to discussions we’ve had in class (identity, access, diversity, writing pedagogies, writing as performance, etc.) or arise from your own analysis. You should provide some source work to document the conversation around the larger issue you see. You should have at least one cited source for each post (both scholarly and  popular articles can be considered. You should use whatever is most relevant for the claims you are making.

For example, your artifact could be a snippet of a college admissions essay. You would work to provide context/history so that we can understand the artifact, first. Next, you’d ask those analysis questions: What does this say about me as a writer? How does this speak to our theme of writing +technology histories? Or, you could ask some other question related to the themes of our course. Then, you might consider what this piece of writing says about performance and the genre of admissions essays, or you might find a connection between performing identity and code-switching (larger issues that you see connected to this artifact). With this example, you might quote a source that talks about the history of code-switching, or performing identity in writing.

  •  Finally, after you’ve followed this model for each of the 5 artifacts you will write a conclusion (500-750 words) that provides a summary of connections, themes, or disconnects you found across your artifacts and provides considerations on the connections to larger conversations. In this summary, I would ask that you engage with the following questions: What did you learn about yourself as a writer? What history presented itself to you, from the artifacts?

This project will include a museum-style gallery presentation on the last day of class.

Options

You can craft this on the blog you’ve already designed for the class, or create a separate WordPress site. You may also opt to use a different platform, such as Scalar, or Omeka.

 

Archives Examples (We’ll discuss these in class. These are examples we’ll look at to talk more about what it means for an archive to tell a story.)

AODL

A Tale of Two Plantations

Behind Barbed Wire

UNC Student Protest