Lesson 2

Announcements and Logistics

  • Sign up for conference appointment
  • I'll be e-mailing around this weekend's readings through the Google group
  • Field trip survey: Feb 9th, Waterproofing New York

Class discussion: 210.07 Q & A

  • Wiki features
  • Course overview
  • Grading contract

Solo writing: Autopsy

Take out the piece of writing I asked you to bring today.
A. Quick responses: 2 minutes each

  1. What is this piece of writing about? What is its topic?
  2. What is the purpose of this piece of writing? Is it trying to inform someone about something? To instruct? To persuade? To critique?
  3. Who has read this piece of writing? Why did those people read it?

B. Lengthy response: Thought experiment
If someone were to find this document lying in the grass, what would they think it is? What would they be able to figure out about or guess about it based on its style, format, or content? What might they be able to figure out about you, the person who wrote it, or why you might have written it?

Ext: Consider, would it matter who that person was that found your piece of writing? Would a different sort of person come up with a different set of conclusions or guesses about what this document is?

Group discussion: What is a Genre?

Group Activity Sequence: Taxonomies of Genre [moved to 2/4]

1. Start by make a list of as many genres of communication/representation you can think of

  • Cast your net wide at first: genres of books, genres of films, written genres you've created before or read at some point in your life

2. Once you have a robust list of different genres of communication, try to separate your list into different categories based on the context that these genres are used in

  • For instance, are certain genres used in school life and others in non-school life? Are some professional genres and others recreational in some way? Are some related to one field of study (like science) and not to another field of study (like English, the humanities, social science, or art history)? Do certain genres perform different sorts of purposes from other genres?
  • It's not super important that your taxonomy be formal: decide your own categories for grouping these genre together
  • Try to come up with at least three classifications of genres that account for most of the items from your list

For next time

Blog Post 1

Prompt: How do you believe professionals in your field of interest use writing? If you are aspiring to be an engineer, begin by reflecting on what you think it means to think or work "like an engineer" and discuss how this style of thinking might relate to the kinds of writing engineers might use in their professional lives. You might reflect here also on how you have come to this understanding about what it means to think and write like a professional in your field (did you read about it? have you talked to professionals? do you have stories to tell?). You should conclude your entry by reflecting on yourself as a writer, your skills, your habits, and why (or why not) feel well suited to writing and thinking like an engineer/computer scientists/etc.

Formal constraints
Posts should probably be at least 500 words. If you incorporate quotations, please provide in-text citations or links to the sources you're quoting from. Please also TAG your posts with the main topics or ideas that seem relevant.

Due: 10pm, Monday 2/4


  • TWC Chapter 1, "Communication in the Technical Workplace"
  • John Swales, "Worlds of Genre — Metaphors of Genre" (PDF)
  • Donald Murray, "Teach Writing as a Process not Product"

Additional Homework

  • Annotate Swales and TWC Ch 1 and bring your annotated copies to class on Tuesday to share
    • Notes should include 3 elements:
    • at least three significant quotations
    • for each paragraph, write a brief note summarizing the topic, or what is being discussed
    • Also for each paragraph, write a brief note encapsulating your reaction to what is said: questions, disagreements, agreements, associations
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