Conventions are the formal rules and informal guidelines that define genres, and in so doing, shape readers’ and writers’ perceptions of correctness or appropriateness. Most obviously, conventions govern such things as mechanics, usage, spelling, and citation practices. But they also influence content, style, organization, graphics, and document design.
Next, we have the Finance major. He is perhaps the most credulous of all, for he has been enticed by the meretricious guarantee professed by his college. His new area of study is devoted entirely to the making of money, which is, in one sense, an ironic microcosm of university studies as a whole. Likewise, he might be quite incisive, to which his forthright approach is a testament. Our Finance major understands his goal at college, and walks brusquely towards it. Nevertheless, four years later, he too will find himself sitting in a chair behind a desk looking at a computer screen. Here, he will have no use for his knowledge of stocks, bonds, and point mutations. There is, however, one essential skill which has been learned and used in college, and will now continue to be developed.. A Finance major must – and will be – a maestro of Microsoft Excel.
Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, synthesize, interpret, and evaluate ideas, information, situations, and texts. When writers think critically about the materials they use—whether print texts, photographs, data sets, videos, or other materials—they separate assertion from evidence, evaluate sources and evidence, recognize and evaluate underlying assumptions, read across texts for connections and patterns, identify and evaluate chains of reasoning, and compose appropriately qualified and developed claims and generalizations. These practices are foundational for advanced academic writing.
This is not to say that much of the writing we would consider bad is necessarily incompetent. Graduate students and young scholars please note: many of the writers represented have worked years to attain their styles and they have been rewarded with publication in books and journal articles. In fact, if they werent published, we wouldnt have them for our contest. That these passages constitute bad writing is merely our opinion; it is arguable that anyone wanting to pursue an academic career should assiduously imitate such styles as are represented here. These are your role models.
Rhetorical knowledge is the ability to analyze contexts and audiences and then to act on that analysis in comprehending and creating texts. Rhetorical knowledge is the basis of composing. Writers develop rhetorical knowledge by negotiating purpose, audience, context, and conventions as they compose a variety of texts for different situations.
These outcomes are supported by a large body of research demonstrating that the process of learning to write in any medium is complex: it is both individual and social and demands continued practice and informed guidance. Programmatic decisions about helping students demonstrate these outcomes should be informed by an understanding of this research.
In this Statement “composing” refers broadly to complex writing processes that are increasingly reliant on the use of digital technologies. Writers also attend to elements of design, incorporating images and graphical elements into texts intended for screens as well as printed pages. Writers’ composing activities have always been shaped by the technologies available to them, and digital technologies are changing writers’ relationships to their texts and audiences in evolving ways.
The entries for the second run of the Bad Writing Contest have now been tabulated, and we are pleased to announce winners. But first a few tedious words. There is no question that we have better if thats how to put it entries than the last time we ran the contest. Some of the entries are stunning, and we think almost all of them deserve a prize of some sort.
As students move beyond first-year composition, their writing abilities do not merely improve. Rather, their abilities will diversify along disciplinary, professional, and civic lines as these writers move into new settings where expected outcomes expand, multiply, and diverge. Therefore, this document advises faculty in all disciplines about how to help students build on what they learn in introductory writing courses.
But its not just the English department where jargon and incoherence are increasingly the fashion. Susan Katz Karp, a graduate student at Queens College in New York City, found this choice nugget showing that forward-thinking art historians are doing their desperate best to import postmodern style into their discipline. Its from an article by Professor Anna C. Chave, writing in (December 1994):
Writers use multiple strategies, or composing processes,to conceptualize, develop, and finalize projects. Composing processes are seldom linear: a writer may research a topic before drafting, then conduct additional research while revising or after consulting a colleague. Composing processes are also flexible: successful writers can adapt their composing processes to different contexts and occasions.
Possibly the classic case is the English major. She knows two things: how to read and how to write. She does them well, but they don’t do her any good. That is, of course, unless she wants to teach English. Other than for those who have that goal, job prospects are limited. Journalism is a commonly considered route, although choosing a Journalism major would be the straighter path. And as a result, the university would, once again, be inserting its progeny in front of a computer screen.
Except for the hum of flies and the occasional call of a cinclodes, the silence at my campsite was absolute. Sometimes the fog lifted a little, and I could see rocky hillsides and wet fern-filled valleys before the ceiling lowered again. I took out my notebook and jotted down what I’d done in the past seven hours: got water, had lunch, put up tent, took bath. But when I thought about writing confessionally, in an “I” voice, I found that I was too self-conscious. Apparently, in the past thirty-five years, I’d become so accustomed to narrativizing myself, to experiencing my life as a story, that I could now use journals only for problem-solving and self-investigation. Even at fifteen, in Idaho, I hadn’t written from within my despair but only after I was safely over it, and now, all the more so, the stories that mattered to me were the ones told—selected, clarified—in retrospect.