Aaron J Ottinger
Study and practice of good writing; topics derived from reading and discussing stories, poems, essays, and plays. Cannot be taken if student has already received a grade of 2.0 or higher in either ENGL 111, ENGL 121, or ENGL 131.
English 111P: Digital Humanities, Lyrical Ballads, and Difference
Our main task is to improve our writing skills. First we must dispel this idea that there is something called “writing," and we all know what that is, what it does, and what it might be. We never just “write." Instead, we write “in" a particular medium and genre. We write “for" a particular audience. These conditions may determine “what" we write, and they certainly determine “how" we write “about" it. In our class we will incorporate a website, personal blog posts, and academic literary essays. We will write for academic and non-academic audiences. With these new tasks come new difficulties, so we will require new tools. You will learn about writing situations, rhetorical analysis, and “close" and “distant" reading.
If we are going to examine this shift to digital media, then why use a primary text like the Lyrical Ballads, published in 1798? First, issues of form will be especially important during the first sequence of class as we consider how these poems were re-arranged for the 1800 edition. Does a thing’s “mere" rearrangement transform it into something different? How does the rearrangement impact meaning? How does a thing’s arrangement determine audience, and vice versa? All of these questions can be addressed within the context of the Lyrical Ballads and its re-ordering. Second, these authors collaborated in their writing, which was not standard practice for the time. Even today, we tend not to think of “writing" as collaborative. Why not? Film crews, science teams, and companies are all collaborative, which allows them to do larger projects often covering more subjects and with more resources. We will test the benefits (and disadvantages) of collaboration on one assignment during the second half of class.
Last, our class will consider the more abstract theme of difference. Wordsworth and Coleridge were criticized for their choices in subject matter. Precarious characters such as, vagrants, “idiot" boys, and “mad" mothers, were not considered appropriate topics for poetry. In this sense, the poets were asking questions like, “Who counts as a subject?" Today, social media networks appear to have embraced difference and have made it easier for under-represented individuals and groups to “connect" and have a “voice." But when an online platform restricts the conditions for communication, we must ask if digital media are tools that make room for difference or if they actually attempt to identify everyone as the same. We can then turn back to the Lyrical Ballads and ask, were the authors’ good intentions drawing attention to an important economic and social problem, or eliminating concern by turning the under-privileged into aesthetically pleasing artworks.
Student learning goals
1. To demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different writing contexts.
2. To read, analyze, and synthesize complex texts and incorporate multiple kinds of evidence purposefully in order to generate and support writing.
3. To produce complex, analytic, persuasive arguments that matter in academic contexts.
4. To develop flexible strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading writing.
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading