Reading Across Platforms

Reading Across Platforms is an outline of an assignment sequence designed for students in courses that require multimodal writing and reading. Since rhetorical situation determines the skills required for effective reading and writing, I contend students need to be taught how to read across platforms. Thorough knowledge of platform features enables responsive reading/writing. Along with teaching tool features, the activity helps students reflect on the choices they make when reading and writing in different platforms. The activity is less interested in championing one tool over another (i.e. audio over database), as it in fitting students with a range of skills they can use to respond to the requirements of the rhetorical situations in which they find themselves.

List of Classroom Activities

In the document embedded below, you will find a list of activities that can be adapted and run in composition and literature courses at most undergraduate levels. The activities emphasize one or more of the following skills: collaboration; leadership; audience awareness; revision; synthesis; retention; and judgement. I assembled the list from the following texts: On Course: A Week By Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching; Literary Learning; and Mad at School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life.

Presentation Assessment Criteria


emotional connection with audience: marvel at your own works; jokes/personal narrative (humor);

Visual Rhetoric: demos, flow charts, info graphics

Sound: background, synched, projection/voice

Claim/evidence: development of argument or form in other genre

Length consistent with idea to convey

Defines key terms: directed toward audience

Does presentation offer a fresh view of the topic?

Does presentation push back against paradigmatic delivery?

Transition?: verbal and slide synch?


Too long

Too much text


Too technical–don’t define key terms

Local Revision

Please read through the following sentence and be prepared to respond to the following: How would you revise each sentence? Why would you revise each sentence?

The main goal of this work illustrated a comparison between environmentalism and hoarding. It claimed that hoarding was more like the conservation of materials rather than a mental illness.

Cronon points out a key term “wilderness” in this essay, which by technical definition, is “The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet.”

It just so happens all of my classes are held in buildings around the quad so I walk through it everyday.

In the article “Powers of the Hoard”, Jane Bennet gives her own unique view on hoarders that many people may disagree with because she relates hoarders to environmentalists.

In The Ecological Thought, Timothy Morton offers a “prequel” to one of his previous works, Ecology Without Nature.  Timothy’s main argument is that the chief stumbling block to environmental thinking is the image of nature itself. 

Example Annotations

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 Annotated Bibliography Perdue Owl

McKee, Heidi A. “Policy Matters Now and in the Future: Net Neutrality, Corporate Data Mining, and Government Surveillance.” Computers and Composition 28.4 (2011): 276-291.

McKee argues ensuring that all Internet communication moves at the same speed is vital, not only to the health of the Web, but also to digital composition. If large corporate entities can pay for faster transmission of content, then user generated content and small Web presence will diminish. She further argues that privacy laws are at best outdated and at worst geared toward protecting the rights of corporate structures over individual users. Since data collection can string together user activity across websites, privacy policies at specific sites may matter less than the larger aggregate of information about each user available to advertisers. Specific to the topic of password protection and “personally-identifying information,” McKee argues national policy shifts and can impede extensive corporate data tracking and warrantless government surveillance (282). In the face of what she sees as dwindling user and Internet freedom, McKee advocates instructors of digital composition make privacy issues part of course content through discussion of legal issues, privacy settings, Open Source Options, and interrogate rhetoric and assumptions about Internet privacy issues.

Reyman, Jessica. “User Data on the Social Web: Authorship, Agency, and Appropriation.” College English 75.5 (2013): 513-533.

Reyman argues users of social media need to remain mindful of the series of “trade-offs” in which they engage: users give up control of content in exchange for network connections that sites such as Twitter and Facebook provide (514). She explains that while most data mining is conducted with corporate interests in mind, some aggregation platforms provide useful services responsibly. For Reyman, “User data… is not merely a technology by-product to be bought and sold; rather, it forms a dynamic, discursive narrative about the paths we have taken as users, the technologies we have used, how we have composed in such spaces, and with whom we have participated” (516). Helping students reflect on user data as collaboratively produced “narrative paths” through networked connects will help ameliorate privacy concerns. Furthermore, certain open source agreements help make student publications available for to audiences who are then free to remix and revise those public domain texts, so long as the iterations remain publicly available.

Shannon, Laurie. “Eight Animals in Shakespeare; or Before the Human.” PMLA. 124.2 (2009): 472-479. 18 April 2012.

In her article Shannon compares the very few times Shakespeare uses the word ‘animal’ to the overwhelming instances of his use of specific names for animals or the word ‘best.’ Through her comparison Shannon argues that in the pre-Cartesian worldview, Great Chain of Being or God’s virtuosity in the Book of Nature, “there was no such thing as the animal” (474). Instead the human/animal binary was not essential in Early modern constructs, b/c all creatures possess a soul. This is not to suggest that the early modern world view did not place humans at the top of a hierarchy, instead, Shannon shows the scientific worldview that linked humans and animals to argue, “There are scales of being of course, but early modern humanity is relatively ecosystemic: it always has a animality (and divinity and plants and elements) in or with it” (477). Animated by the same soul and made-up of the same elemental materials, humans and animals in a text such as The Jew of Malta exist before the Enlightenment invoked “animal” to define man.  Shannon also suggests that we look to Shakespeare’s “zoography” for examples of ethical relationship between humans and animals.

Green Peace. Detox: How People Power is Cleaning Up Fashion. Online video clip. You Tube. You Tube. 24 October 2013. Web. 15 November 2013.

The authors of the video argue that the fashion industry produces glamour, profit, and environmental ruin. The greatest devastation caused by textile and garment factories around the globe is water pollution. Specifically, manufacturers dump waste from dyes and petrochemicals used to manufacture cloth into streams, rivers, and oceans. The waste contaminates waterways and contributes to the lack of clean drinking water around the globe. The video persuades audiences to only purchase clothing brands committed to reducing water pollution through a combination of data laden narration, scrolling images, scary music, and a problem/solution structure. For example, the first minute or so of the video is effective because the authors contrast clips of models in beautiful clothes and fancy urban department stores with images of toxic waste pouring into rivers and oceans. The authors reinforce the alarming images with statistics about China where a majority of textiles are produced: “320 million people have no access to clean drinking water; 40% of surface water is polluted; and 20% of urban drinking water is contaminated.” The video does not rely solely on scare tactics and exotic statistics to persuade audiences; instead, the authors devote the second half of the video to providing suggestions for problems they outline in the first half. To help clean-up water polluted by textile manufacture and stop more water from being polluted, Green peace and clothing brands/retailers such as H&M,Levi, and Zara have joined together as past of the “global Detox campaign.”  Those companies have taken steps to eliminate toxic chemicals and waste from their supply chains, and participants in “Detox” continue to demonstrate and protest to encourage more companies to follow suit and to direct consumers toward earth friendly brands. For my video on songbird devastation I will draw on the following techniques from this video: juxtaposition of imagery, problem solution structure, and awareness of audience.


The Rhetoric of Slow Violence

Rob Nixon 


What does Nixon mean by “slow violence”? Why is “slow violence” difficult to narrate?


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What formal or rhetorical techniques does Nixon argue can be used to represent “slow violence”? 

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How do his suggestions for representing “slow violence” resonate with techniques Thoreau uses?

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For Further Consideration:

How does Nixon represent “slow violence,” and its effects in “Scenes from the Seabed: The Future of Dissent”?
What techniques might you draw from Nixon to represent “long emergencies” in the various assignments you’ll complete this semester?

First Day Freewrite

Writing About Writing About Nature


Using a classroom desktop computer or your portable, please launch Word and complete the following:

Part One: Write as much as you want/can in response to the following prompts. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, etc. Just get your ideas out.

  1. Choose from one of the following terms: Ecology, Nature, Wilderness, Sacred, Human, or Animal
  2. Define the term you chose in your own words.  OR look up the word in a database and then revise the database definition in your own words
  3. Explain a personal connection or experience you have to the term you defined

Garbage Dump

Part Two: In pairs or small groups, share your term definition and personal experience. What are some points of overlap between you and your peers? What ideas or images did you ask your peers to expand upon?

Part Three: email your freewrite to

The MacBeths Eat Animals



Group One has graciously offered their script for peer review. For peer review, please do the following: 

  1. Read the hard copy of the script on your own
  2. Make note of the following: How well do you think the script will translate into the final project?; Does the proposed final project meet the assignment requirements?; What kind of argument does the script make about nature/human?; What would Tim Morton, JM Coetzee, or William Cronon say about the production?
  3. Get into the following groups to discuss your notes
    • One: David Watkins, Kayla, Justin Elsey, Jim
    • Two: Christine, Molly, Soung, Crystal
    • Three: Robbie, Daniel, David Lawson,
    • Four: Michayla, Justin Robeny, Coner, Le-My

Revision both Mechanical and Rhetorical

Revise the Sentences Below & Explain the Reasons/Rules Guiding Your Decision:

In The Ecological Thought, Timothy Morton offers a “prequel” to one of his previous works, Ecology Without Nature.  Timothy’s main argument is that the chief stumbling block to environmental thinking is the image of nature itself. 

According to Timothy Morton in “The Ecological Thought”, the “ghost of Nature” has to do with how nature has been perceived throughout the years.

The past had a blossoming natural world, while the present possess one that has been altered negatively through technology and human greed. Just like a reflection, we can never actually reach it and touch it and belong to it” (Morton 5). This exemplifies the idea that either we have lost the past nature, and it was a imagined to begin with.

“The ghost of “Nature”, a brand new entity dressed up like a relic from a past age, haunted the modernity in which it was born.

Smokey the Bear Sutra, by Gary Snyder is undoubtedly a very strange story. It entails a god who comes to earth in the form of a bear to “cure the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger: and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it. (Snyder 1)”

Script Draft Response: Sustainability at Emory

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 9.06.30 AMMolly, Soung, Justin, and Daniel have graciously agreed to go first and share the first draft of their script with us. Please read their great first draft, and then respond to the following questions in a short paragraph that you write in the comments section of this post. Also, be prepared to discuss your responses to the following questions as a class:


  • What’s the main claim/goal and what evidence/organization do they use to achieve that goal?
  • Where does the narration and visual imagery synch the best?
  • What transition(s) do you think works the best?
  • What unique ideas do the filmmakers bring to their topic?
  • How do the filmmakers incorporate contemporary ecological thought into their project (i.e. concepts from a text we’ve read this semester)?

The Use and Abuse of Animals

We are going to use electronic responders to think through JM Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello Lectures, called The Lives of Animals by The University Center for Human Values Series.

  1. Go to
  2. Enter “Virtual Room Number” #601609
  3. We will respond to the following prompts one at a time. After each round of voting, each side will have the opportunity to persuade the opposition of the rightness of their position.

Prompt #1: The Macbeth’s and Banquo’s ghost are better dinner companions than Elizabeth Costello, her son, Norma, and people at Appleton College.

  1. True
  2. False

Prompt #2: “‘An animal is no more than the mechanism that constitutes it, if it has a soul, it has one in the same way a machine has a battery, to give it the spark that gets it going; but the animal is not an embodied soul, and the quality of its being is not joy'” (TLA 33).

  1. True
  2. False

Prompt #3: Comparing the horrors of the lives of animals to the horrors of the Holocaust “‘insults the memory of the dead…[and]…trades on the horrors of the camps in a cheap way'” (TLA 50).

  1. True
  2. False

Prompt #4: “…there is no limit to the extent to which we can think ourselves into the being of another. There are no bounds to the sympathetic imagination” (TLA 35).

  1. True
  2. False

Prompt #5: “‘…the whole notion of cleanness versus uncleanness has a completely different function, namely, to enable certain groups to self-define themselves, negatively, as elite, as elected'” (TLA 42).

  1. True
  2. False

Presentation Critera Draft

Successful Presentations

Highlight problem and solution clearly

Engaging: Overwhelming facts, photos, well tested research

CRAP: no overwhelming text; attention space & design of slides; animation should reinforce theme;

Posing questions throughout

Appeal to audience, understanding audience needs, timing, & pace

Anecdote to break-up/reward

Transitions, ex: problem/solution

Blocking: movement, but not anxious; don’t hide behind podium; talk to back of the room; make eye contact



Reflection Prompt

Reflective Essay, Freewrite (15-20)


Take 15-20 and write a short reflection/cover letter that you can post to your blog page, email me, or include as a header for your argument project. In your reflection respond to the following, as they apply:

  1. State the goal of the paper and then explain how you meet that goal. Be specific, i.e. what types of appeals do you make to your audience (logos, pathos, ethos)? What types of evidence do you use and why is it effective?
  2. Did you uncover anything about your topic? OR Given more time or in subsequent projects, how would you develop your ideas farther?
  3. How does this paper compare to work you’ve written in the past? OR How do you use the technology to enhance the goal of the paper? (Msarka 33)