Student Introduction Writing and Dialogic Discourse

I've found that more and more often, my first-year comp students are writing introductions to research papers in this manner:

MONROVIA, Liberia -- Dozens of civilians have been killed as fighting continues between rebels and Liberian government forces for control of the West African country's second-largest city of Buchanan.

Rebels seeking to oust President Charles Taylor turned back a counter-attack by forces loyal to the government Tuesday -- one day after they seized the strategical port city, about 70 miles [112 kilometers] southeast of Monrovia.

"There are bodies all over the place. Dozens of people have been killed," one Buchanan resident told Reuters by telephone. "The wounded are on the streets and there is no way to treat them."

Another resident said the dead were being carted away in wheelbarrows when it was safe to retrieve them, Reuters reported.

Why is there so much conflict in Liberia? In this paper, I will attempt to answer this question, going back to the founding of Liberia by the American Colonization Society in 1817 as a home for emancipated slaves. I will trace the historical events that led up to the current civil war and argue that white imperialism and colonialism led to a corrupt government...

Why is that? (See, I did it too.) I haven't read any Bakhtin on dialogic imagination or dialogic novel or whichever it is, but will do so this fall in my genre theory class. I wonder what he would say. Discourse, especially "academic discourse," whatever that is, has always been a conversation, to use the Burkean metaphor, but it hasn't been common in my experience to see it presented in such an outright way. I never know quite how to respond to introductions like these. On the one hand, that's how composition is, and where it's going, but shouldn't they be able to write an introduction without relying on this kind of "prompt"? Sometimes it's easy to rely too heavily on this model of introduction--and sometimes it's better to be able to summarize and paraphrase events and arguments.

(Oh, here's the link to the Liberia story if anyone wants to see it. Here's another one that I used for fact-checking.)

Comfortable sandals

I really want these but don't have the money. My friend Pamela has a similar pair and can walk all day long in them.

Course Packet for Identity and Multiculturalism

As you might know, I'm teaching a special section of Rhetoric 1101 in the fall with the theme "Identity and Multiculturalism." I've been selecting readings for a course pack, and here's what I've got so far. Hopefully I'll be able to add on to this list. If you have any suggestions, I would LOVE to hear them. This is really just a preliminary list.

Aimee had her baby!

Welcome to the world, Zachary Paul. :-) We'll have your blanket done in a couple of days.

Sorry, no flash mob photos

If you recall this previous post on flash mobs, you might be expecting a report and/or pictures from the event. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend; it turns out I had agreed to provide chauffeuring services to the sons of a professor of mine who is in the Ukraine right now. :-) No big deal, I'll just be sure to participate in the next one. You can read about the flash mob in the Pioneer Press if you like, though.

Gender Bias in the Blogosphere

Edited for detail, context, and clarity--

One of the latest big stories (memes?) in the greater blogosphere is to select the 20 greatest figures in American history. The deadline has passed, but I think many bloggers are making a list anyway. Some of the people who are getting nods are making me cringe: an honorable mention for Rush Limbaugh?! Anyway, I'm glad Meryl Yourish points out the exclusion of women in most of the lists. She calls it what it is--sexism in the blogosphere:

Which brings me back to the women. I say again, there is definitely a boys' club in the blogosphere, and this list is entered into evidence as Exhibit A. There are a lot of bloggers on that list who have some pretty thoughtul, well-researched posts. But they couldn't see fit to include a single woman?

Yeah, there's something wrong with that picture. Sexism in the blogosphere, again. [links in original]

Cross-posted at Kairosnews.

Added News to Blog; Things to Do

I added a News block to my blog. Now you can see what a lefty I am! [grin]

My to do list is always a mile long, it seems. One of my little idiosyncracies is, for the past two years, I've had Star Trek 365-day desk calendars. The first one was a Christmas gift from my friend Susan. I bought the second one myself. Anyway, I thought it would be so nifty to use the back of each day's slip of paper as a to-do list just for that day. At the end of the day, after crossing off each item on the list, I tear up the paper and dispose of it. It gives me great satisfaction. I'm forced to make my lists realistic. The pieces of paper are only about four inches by five inches long, so I can't put too much on there. Today's has a picture from Star Trek: Voyager with the caption, "Chakotay and Janeway work the helm of a new starship. 'Hope and Fear.'"

Tomorrow I need to send a bunch of citations to the Copyright Permissions Center for the course packet for my Rhetoric 1101 class this fall. The theme for the section I'm teaching is "Identity and Multiculturalism," and I have several ideas for assignments. Audre Lorde and Jamaica Kincaid are high on the list, and there are more I'm thinking of too. That needs to be my main task for tomorrow. I also have instruction sets to grade for the class I'm teaching this summer. I want to do some pleasure reading tomorrow, too, and laundry. Sheesh, I never get bored; there's always so much work to do. I feel like a workaholic sometimes--or, rather, a "stress puppy," as I was called during my time at the University of Tennessee. :-)

Wow, Alex...

You just blew my mind.

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