Thursday, August 30, 2012

Reading Response: “What Is It We Do When We Write Articles Like This One- and How Can We Get Students to Join Us?”

Writing About Writing (p. 22-33)
Reading Response
“What Is It We Do When We Write Articles Like This One- and How Can We
Get Students to Join Us?” by Michael Kleine

In the article “What Is It We Do When We Write Articles Like This One- and How Can We Get Students to Join Us?,” author Michael Kleine makes an effort to express to his audience of college student readers how exactly academic researchers do their study. Kleine argues that the traditional method of “hunting” for information only leads to copying and a final paper that has no purpose. However, he feels that “gathering” information leads to discovery and adjustment to new insight during the study process. Knowing that both methods are applied in academic research, Kleine brings forth a heuristic, or problem solving strategy, that he believes researches utilize in their work. After testing his theoretical strategy on eight academic professionals from the University of Arkansas, Kleine finds that his heuristic is too simplistic and the true answer lies in the researcher’s own personal interest rather than an outside influence. Kleine’s own research is his tool to reaching his audience.

Synthesis Work:
I feel that Michael Kleine’s article has at least one connection with the article “Argument as Conversation,” by Stuart Greene. Both Greene and Kleine framed their work toward an audience of student readers, both articles are about research, and both writers agree that research should be about inquiry and discovery rather than just finding what you are looking for. These two articles differ, however, in the sense that Greene writes in the way he is trying to teach and Kleine tells more of a personal discovery story. Each article has purpose and has a way of getting the main point across, but each writer accomplishes that in a different way.

“Before you read” Exercise:
To my knowledge, every high school student in America is required to do a research paper. Every research paper is required, and is obviously going to have, sources. I know that at my high school, we found our sources at EbscoHost and certain online libraries deemed acceptable by my teacher. My sources consisted of a bunch of boring articles, a few books, and some old interviews. I would pick out certain statistics and quotes that went along with my assigned topic, and I would plug them in my paper so I could meet the assignment’s requirements. In all honesty, I have never typed a paper that I was interested in and I have never looked for or used sources in the way I would imagine that you are supposed to.

Questions for Discussion and Journaling:
1.     Kleine’s entire beginning scenario/”nightmare” matches up perfectly with my own experiences. I have spent many a night in a library “hunting” for information that will look good in the paper with a terrible topic that I plan to hand to my teacher, my only audience. I wish my research experiences were as intriguing as his was with the professors at the University of Arkansas. He was learning new things every time he interacted with them, and he actually got to test out some of his own ideas (such as his theoretical heuristic). My research has never been like that.
3.     The professionals that Kleine interviewed were doing very detailed academic research. A few of these professionals said that reading and writing are part of their research. Does this mean that reading and writing of sources? In my opinion, absolutely! If reading and writing are ways that the researcher can investigate and analyze their own thoughts, the reading and writing are sources. With that said, analyzing one’s own thoughts is how research gets started, and how the final writing gets finished. So I would have to say that these sources, along with any other text or experimental sources, are extremely important and they play a huge role in academic research.
Unfortunately, the sources I have reviewed in the past were not so interesting, important, or useful. Reading and writing were not sources to explore my mind, because at that time I didn’t even realize that was an option. I have never been interested enough in a research topic to even formulate any good ideas that I could sit and ponder about for more information. Hopefully, my next research will be like a true academic research experience.
4.     I intend to change literally and virtually everything about the way I  
approach research in the future. I’m going to try webs of ideas, brainstorming, writing things out, reading my own writing and the writings of others who have touched on the interesting topic I have personally selected for my study. I do not want to be that library night crawler anymore!

My Personal Thoughts:
I liked this article better than the last one because I could understand it a little better. Don’t get me wrong though, I did enjoy “Argument as Conversation” and it really did help my understanding of writing and research. This article though, was a little more personal to the writer, and I tend to relate to those types of writings better. I could tell that Kleine was very interested in the topic and in his research, and mostly in conveying his results to people like myself. I found his idea of “hunting” and “gathering” information very interesting, and even though Kleine’s heuristic was a little too simple, I could see what his thought process was at the time. Now I know why all my research papers in high school were so boring—because I was not interested in them and I had no previous desire to write about the topics I were given. Now I can’t wait until I get to explore a topic I will enjoy and write to an audience of caring people that are not my high school English teacher. Hopefully my experience with my next research will be comparable to the research Kleine did and explained in his article. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reading Response: "Argument as Conversation"

Writing About Writing (p. 1-21)
Reading Response
“Argument as Conversation” by Stuart Greene

In “Argument as Conversation,” Stuart Greene attempts to convince readers that argument is conversation. The audience is composed of students and Greene’s focus is explaining that an argument is not a dispute, but rather an ongoing discussion. Greene’s reasons for questioning this writing construct include the historical context behind any given argument and the fact that engaging in and leaving an argument does not mean that it is over. He also introduces his view on framing and research as inquiry, cites other authors, such as Kenneth Burk, and writes in the way he is describing (or practices what he preaches). To Greene, the dialogue related to an argument justifies it being a conversation.

“Before you read” Excercise:
I define an argument as a conflict or an upsetting conversation. I’d say that in everyday conversation, “argument” would be a bit of a buzz kill. In mostly everyone’s eyes, and argument is a negative thing. However, in academic setting, I feel that the word argument refers to an opinion or a view on a particular topic- not necessarily a dispute. The difference between an “everyday argument” and an “academic argument” is that the later is more civil.

Questions for Discussion and Journaling:

2.  Greene used an oft-quoted passage by Kenneth Burke in his work titled, “Argument as Conversation.” I feel the answer as to why Greene did this lies in his choice of title. The passage outlines a story of a man walking into an on-going argument, listening, formulating his own opinion on what he has heard thus far, engaging in the argument, and then finally leaving even though the argument continues. The argument itself is a conversation. Greene used the quote as an example of historical context, or the dialogue behind the argument. By using Burkes passage, Greene is demonstrating that the conversations that happened previous to the man walking in to the argument are part of the argument’s historical context. According to Greene, every argument has a historical context and by using this passage he could support his own argument while providing an image for the reader to relate to. 
Burke’s passage is essentially a metaphor about writing. A writer does not start from scratch; they walk into a topic that had started long before they arrived just as the man walked into an on-going argument. The writer has to do his research before formulating their opinion, just as the man listened to the argument before he made his. A writer makes their mark in the argument by producing a work to persuade the readers and by opening a door to anyone else who has an inquiry on the topic, just as the man left the argument and made room for someone else. From my personal point of view, I think Burke’s explanation is very accurate and is a great way to paint the picture of writing as conversation.
3.  The concept of framing in terms of writing is fairly simple. Framing is essentially an organizing strategy in which a writer outlines their work by identifying their position for a particular argument, explaining the particular notion they derived from the argument, and specifying any details about the topic at hand. The idea is that a writer can utilize framing to “orchestrate different and conflicting voices,” as Greene explained it. Framing is important to Greene because he uses it in his own work, and it is a good way to structure any writing. Also, Greene explains framing as “a strategy of critical inquiry.” He states that framing is a way to present ideas and also a way to unveil ideas.
The metaphor underlying framing is the “lens” metaphor. This metaphor shows that framing is like the lens a writer looks through when writing, or like the perspective they use while writing their argumentative piece.
Overall framing is a critical strategy in writing that allows a writer to put into perspective all the key points of an argument in an organized fashion while sharing ideas and connecting to the reader.

Applying and Exploring Ideas

2.  Greene’s article is a conversation. He framed his article knowing that his perspective was going to be viewed by an audience of college readers such as myself. So, in turn, the article is a conversation with the reader, ultimately the person he is presenting his framework to. With that said, it is clear that Greene certainly writes what he preaches. In paragraph 3 (p. 11), Greene states, “…you will need to support your claims with evidence in order to persuade readers to agree with you.” Shortly after, he demonstrated his own advice with the use of Kenneth Burke’s passage. That was his way of practicing what he was preaching and providing his evidence to me, the reader. All in all, I would have to say that Greene’s framing was successful and his conversation with me was effective. It was clear to understand his claims and his overall argument about writing because he was executing his own statements.

My Personal Thoughts:
In my opinion, I did not particularly like this article at first. Perhaps that was because it was my first assignment this year for college, or maybe because it actually challenged what I wanted to believe. I did not like that someone was telling my that the definition I have always known for “argument” was actually false. However, the more I read, the more I understood. By the end of that article I was completely interested in the conversation, or argument, I was having with the text. It helped me understand so much more about how to write, how to read, and how to do research that actually had a meaning to me. My previous experiences with challenge texts have never ended this well. I actually agree with this writer- mostly because I know that reading exactly what he was preaching about will help me in my future writing endeavors. For once, I enjoyed an assigned reading.

Monday, August 27, 2012

And So It Begins

Here I begin my informal writing  assignment blog for ENG 1510, section 147.