TA Orientation, January 10, 2014

“Writers and Their Tools” [handout: docx] [powerpoint] (Use any way you wish!)

additional: (English 333, video / blog)

WRITING WITH CLAY [images, vid]

Description: From cave paintings to clay tablets and typewriters to new media, technological advances are constantly changing the way writers write. The purpose of this workshop is to help our writing students think more strategically about the “affordances” (Cynthia Selfe) of various technologies in order to choose the most appropriate one for the job.

In this hands-on workshop, participants will explore various roles played by a writer’s tools by experimenting with materials rarely associated with writers and readers in academic contexts: clay. We’ll begin with a brief discussion of the important ways new technologies have affected the way writers write throughout time. How did writers approach a writing task when the only tools available were clay tablets? How about later as paper became more cheaply and widely available? How did the invention of the typewriter change things–not to mention the pencil, ballpoint pins, correction tape, White Out? Together we will experiment with a variety rhetorical situations and a range of likely unfamiliar tools (clay!), then discuss their impact on the resulting composition and the composing process itself. In addition to experiencing this classroom activity, participants with come away from the workshop with teaching notes for this activity, including a sample handout for students.

Goals: The workshop brings into relief several other aspects of the writing process that writers normally take for granted. As they go about their assignment, students should consider these issues:

  • How writing—whether on clay or on computers—forces them to deal with technology at the same time they are trying to get the writing done;
  • How technology affects the content of writing as well as the writing process;
  • How the type of writing they are doing influences the technology they are using
  • And finally, how the technology affects the way that they read a document or text.

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