May 3 Blog Post

I found Ellsworth’s comments on primary and secondary sources in the Introduction to Places of Learning to be quite interesting.  The author states that the sources she uses in the chapters following the introduction would be considered secondary sources by most readers.  She then problematizes secondary sources as having the potential to be biased or invalid interpretations of a primary source. However, she claims that with this “Western” thought, “the distinction and hierarchy between primary and secondary sources effectively relegate most women and most of Western thought’s non-Western others to the status of secondary sources” (Ellsworth 11).  The author continues that in many ways, education mirrors secondary sources in that educators merely interpret and explain the primary sources, or works, of others.  Also, Ellsworth states that pedagogy also takes a secondary status in relation to curriculum.

As an educator, I find these comments to be quite interesting.  In a way, I was a little bit offended by the author’s claim that educators are mere secondary sources.  However, I then started to wonder why I was initially upset by this.  What makes secondary sources less effective or educational than primary sources?  Depending on what is being taught, secondary sources may be the best or only option to use, but this does not make the teaching less important or effective.  As I read on in the introduction, to where Ellsworth says that secondary sources are not inferior to primary sources and a simple explanation of primary sources, but instead an attempt to refine or “make something (else) of them” (12), I realized that the author seems to be right.  I also realized that I had fallen into the exact canon of thought that she describes, thinking that secondary sources are subordinate to primary ones.

My final thought after this initial reaction and subsequent realization was that this is not the first time this has occurred this semester.  There have been many instances of our readings expanding my ideas about writing, a fact that will undoubtedly be beneficial to me as an educator.

Class Synthesis – 4/19/17 – On Multimodality: New Media In Composition Studies – Jonathan Alexander & Jacqueline Rhode

We began tonight’s class by working collaboratively in a group of three discussing the introduction to Alexander and Rhodes’ book. After collaborating for thirteen minutes, we came together as a class and came up with the following:

Who: Selfe, Sirc, Palmeri, CCCC’s (specifically the Mission Statement on page 9), Dobrin, DeVoss, Platt, Yancey, Hesse


  • We are still using linearity in new media when each medium includes its own “rhetorical affordabilities”
  • The technical is privileged over history, theory, and criticality
  • Students need to think critically of what they create and how they create it
  • What is the legitimacy of other mediums besides writing?
  • To Historicize Includes: sociocultural, political, pedagogical, affective (Body)
  • Broadening and avoiding limitations for composition and rhetoric


Dr. Campbell then posed the question: What kind of alphabetic writing engages the body?

This question was asked to make us think about how we trick our bodies into writing and why there is so much attention on the body now in the context of the composition classroom. When Alexander and Rhodes refer to the term “techne,” they are referring to the body in relation to composition and how lived experience includes digital environments and experiences. We crawled our way to an understanding of techne through class discussion, so in order to help us understand the concept of such a term, we watched a one-minute clip of Alexander and Rhodes reading their definition of techne. Alexander and Rhodes argue that ethics happens at the level of the body, and by composing, one can train the body to live in ethical ways. To conclude this discussion, Dr. Campbell left us with this question: What promise does this type of techne hold for composition?  We decided that we are as of yet unable to answer this question.

We also discussed the chapter on gaming and discussed the thought of video games as composition.  The class decided that not all gaming can be seen as composition and that it is important to recognize the difference between prosumerism in gaming and simple consumption of a game.

Before breaking out into an activity, we discussed the fact that the authors insist that scholars and professors compose multimodally.  We decided that the authors stress this for several reasons, including that it puts more multimodal composition out there for students to consume and gives these scholars a better understanding of what they are asking of their students.

The last few minutes of class were (once again) fun and enjoyable. Working in pairs, we chose one term from tonight’s reading and were granted sixty seconds to represent that term using the affordable means at our disposal. Ending class at nearly 9 o’clock with laughter and happiness is quite the affective experience.