Course Wiki


200 Points (25 points per post)
Length: About 500 words (roughly 2 double-spaced pages) per post


The Course Wiki is the backbone of 408. It serves as a space for you to develop explicit knowledge about the rhetorical expectations for writing in specific academic and popular publication venues, in your major field, and in the general public. Through several wiki posts, you will analyze writers’ citation practices, stylistic choices, and knowledge-building moves. You will use this knowledge to produce more effective writing for Projects 1, 2, and 3, and your peers and I will use these analyses to evaluate your writing as well.

Each post has a specific due date (see the syllabus and the prompts below), but because of the open-ended nature of wikis, I welcome ongoing revision. If you are not satisfied with your grade for each individual post, you are welcome to revise it once for an improved grade. Simply email me after your revisions are complete, and I will grade it in a timely fashion. No revisions will be accepted after the final project due date (Tuesday, 12/17).

Criteria for Evaluation

  • Answers each prompt thoroughly and completely.
  • Analyzes articles using the ideas and concepts from Academic Writing, as suggested in each prompt.
  • Includes specific textual examples (direct quotes) from the articles you are analyzing.
  • Cites appropriately.
  • Uses correct grammar, usage, and spelling.

Guidelines for Setting Up Your Individual Wiki Page

To create your individual page, you must first register for Wikidot and join our course wiki. You should receive an email from me inviting you to the site by Friday, 8/30. Once you have joined our site, follow these steps:

  1. In the right-hand column, you will see a blank field and a button that says “New page.” In the blank field, type in your name, and click the “New page” button.
  2. You can edit your new page by clicking “Edit,” either on the right-hand toolbar or at the bottom of the page. Practice doing so by typing a descriptive title at the top of your page, such as “Writing in History.” This is how you will add individual posts to your page.
  3. Copy the URL for your new page.
  4. On the top toolbar, click “Wiki” to return to this page. Click “Edit,” scroll down to the bottom of the page, and paste the URL for your page underneath the "Articles" heading (or, if you're feeling fancy, use the "Page Link Wizard" in the editing toolbar). Now you will have easy access to your article at all times.
  5. For each prompt, return to your page, click "Edit," and answer the questions. Note: You may want to type your answers in Word first, then copy them here, so you don't lose your work.


Wiki Post 1, 9/5

This post is a bit longer than others will be, since you’re establishing some basic knowledge. It has three parts:

First, what is the title of your chosen undergraduate research journal? Skim through several issues, and then write a short paragraph summarizing the journal’s common research topics.

Second, choose one article from this journal and analyze its citation and summary practices. Identify a passage (several sentences or a paragraph) that uses citations, and re-type it. Highlight the reporting expressions in bold. Then, analyze the passage, writing a “close reading” of this it (see AW 106-107 for a model): explain step-by-step (that is, sentence-by-sentence) how the author orchestrates her sources. As you do so, consider what relationship these voices have to one another, the author’s relationship to his or her sources, and in general the function of this orchestrated conversation within the article as a whole. Be sure to use strong, active verbs to describe the writing.

Third, based on your analysis, as well as basic submission guidelines, write a brief paragraph describing your initial take on the genre expectations of your chosen journal. In particular, how do the citation practices you've noted indicate the authors' position in relation to his or her readers?

Wiki Post 2, 9/10

Choose an article (different from Post 1) from your chosen journal, and analyze its use of definition(s). Where do the definitions tend to occur? What sorts of words or terms tend to be defined? Quote two or three specific examples directly. How does the writer present definitions (i.e., apposition [Giltrow, et al. 137-38] versus sustained [142])? Are definitions attributed to other researchers? What purpose does definition serve in the article? Does the writer seem to assume that the reader doesn’t know the meaning, or just needs a quick reminder? Does definition establish common ground? Does definition establish a precise, technical meaning? Does it seem to be a "prestige abstraction" (148) in your field? Are the meanings of words or terms contested or seen as having different possible meanings?

Wiki Post 3, 9/12

Choose three passages from an article in your chosen journal that you think readers might find difficult (or that you found difficult!) because of abstractions and nominalizations, and re-write those passages in your post. Then, unpack each passage, spreading out dense noun phrases and adding examples or clarifications (i.e. and e.g.) to clarify terms. In other words, try simplifying each passage, but without losing its original meaning. Then, write a brief paragraph in which you consider how these nominalizations and abstractions function in your chosen journal. What do readers gain from them? How do they help writers achieve their purposes? See AW 190-94 for a similar discussion.

Wiki Post 4, 9/17

Compare two articles from your chosen undergraduate research journal. Do their styles resemble one another, or do they differ? In what ways? Do they use dense nominal styles? How do they use messages about the argument? To what extent does the discursive I appear? What language do they use to forecast the shape of their argument, and what language do they use for emphasis? What presuppositions can you find? You need not address every one of these features; instead, focus on a couple interesting stylistic similarities or differences between the two articles. As usual, be sure to quote specific examples from each article.

Wiki Post 5, 9/24

Title this post "Knowledge-Making Cues."

Choose an article from your chosen journal and analyze how it makes and maintains knowledge. Answer each of the following questions:

  • Is this article quantitative, qualitative, or a combination of both?
  • Quoting a few specific examples, does the methods section (or methods statements, if there is no specific section) use agentless expressions? The methodological I? Does the researcher insert him- or herself into his or her writing? Why? Or, why would this be inappropriate?
  • Re-type a few examples of modal expressions. How are these expressions functioning in the article?
  • Re-type a few limiting expressions. How are these expressions functioning in the article?
  • Analyze the tense of reporting verbs. How does the researcher tell the story of the status of knowledge on the topic?

Wiki Post 6, 9/26

Title this post "Introductions and Conclusions"

Choose an article from your chosen journal and compare its introduction to its conclusion: how do features like modality, limiting expressions, the state of knowledge, the knowledge deficit, and high-level abstractions resemble or contrast in each section? Does the conclusion engage in moralizing statements? If so, to what social groups are the statements directed, and how are they limited?

Wiki Post 7, 10/31

Before you write, you should research possible publication venues, either in print or online. Consider not only broad national publications like Time, but also venues with more specialized, though not necessarily expert, readership. For example, Runner's World is a general publication for people interested in running. Don't limit yourself to magazines and newspapers, either; blogs and other websites could be good options as well.

Use your chosen publication venue's title as the title of your wiki post.

First, do some audience analysis: in about a paragraph, analyze the audience's likely background, education, interests, etc. If you can find specific information about the audience and purpose for the magazine, newspaper, blog, or whatever, quote it directly.

Second, locate an article from this publication that is about a similar topic to yours. Analyze this article, focusing on how it addresses the rhetorical situation: writer, audience, purpose, style, and genre. Include specific textual examples for each.

Finally, explain why you think this publication venue is a good fit for your Project 2.

Wiki Post 8, 12/5

Write a detailed plan for Project 3 based on our individual conference: what is your new publication venue for the final project?

  • What genre (i.e. editorial, blog, infographic, curricular description, etc.) will you be using? What are some of the typical features of this genre?
  • Who is your audience? Are they experts or laypeople? What is likely to be their background, beliefs, etc? What background knowledge will they bring to your piece? What will you need to explain to them?
  • What is your purpose? To inform? Persuade? Teach? Entertain?
  • How will you use the content from Projects 1 and 2? How do you think you will have to change this content to suit the new rhetorical situation?

In-Class Work

Constructing the Conversation
Research Prompt
Overview of Good Writing


Carolyn Badger
Emma Torrance
Katy Wilson
Michelle Hamilton
Dani Meyer
AnnMarie--Education Scholarship
Sarah Lawler
Sam O'Donnell
Communications Writing--Tiffany Sivets
Sam Swanson
Sam VanReese
Zachariah Nelson
Bill Grinde

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