Been working through Haas’ Writing Technology, which is all about materiality and literacy. (“Writing is language made material,” she begins. This is its central fact and central puzzle.) I’ve been trying to come up with interesting but meaningful ways of getting my students to think about this notion—especially in my 3383 Theories of Comp class. I don’t ever feel like we really do it justice in there, and want to do better in the future. So, in doing some early preparations for next semester (textbook requisitions are coming oh-so-soon, now), I came up with the following assignment. It borrows a bit from things I’ve picked up from Wysocki et al’s Writing New Media.
Students will take their normal class notes (in all of their classes, not just mine) with a different writing technology each day for one week. At this point, I’m thinking something like the following schedule:
Mon: Ink pen, lined paper
Tues: Traditional wood pencil, lined paper
Wed: Crayon (maybe), unlined paper
Thurs: PC in laptop mode w/word processing software
Fri: PC in tablet mode w/handwriting software.
After the week, they’d write descriptively/comparatively/reflectively on the influence of different materials on things like writing, legibility, space, format, process, cognition, attention, retention, and other issues.