(Archived) ENGL 245: Writing Rivers (Spring 2018)

Illustration of proposed La Farge reservoir

Photo credit: wdrt.org

WELCOME TO CLASS! Welcome to English 245: Seminar in the Major, “Writing Rivers.” This small, interactive seminar offers a chance for you to get to know more about the major, about each other, about Wisconsin’s waterways, and hopefully even about yourselves. Through reading, writing, viewing, and doing, you’ll become more familiar with rhetorical studies and with freshwater controversies in Wisconsin. This semester, we’ll move from literary analysis to rhetorical analysis to community engagement, partnering with the Kickapoo Valley Reserve in La Farge during the second half of the course. Through that work, my hope is that you will find yourselves equipped and inspired to engage with human and more-than-human communities in Wisconsin, to consider how the stories that are told and not told shape our sense of who and what matters in our state, and to practice how to engage with community partners to use writing for the public good.

Full syllabus downloadable here.
Description of Writing Project 1, Rhetorical Critique of DamNation downloadable here.
Description of Writing Project 2, Oral History Transcription downloadable here.
Description of Writing Project 3, Rhetoric, Public Memory, and Environmental Justice in the Kickapoo Valley downloadable here.

Daily Plans

WEEK ONE (1/22-1/26)

Tuesday, January 23 | Introductions and syllabus review 

Homework for Thursday 1/25

  • Review UW-Madison Dept. of English web pages about the major.
  • Write in notebook for class discussion: What is your experience of the English major and dept.? What do English majors do? What have you read? What have you written? How do you approach texts? What are you used to learning about? What are your expectations for what you will be able to learn & do? Why are you an English major?

Thursday, January 25 | The English Major

Homework for Tuesday 1/30

WEEK TWO (1/29-2/2)

Tuesday, January 30 | No class meeting

Alternate assignment: Read about Muir Woods and take a trip there (location). Spend at least 30 minutes absorbing the site. Write a field note in your notebook: What did you observe? Who used the site (human and non-human)? What did they do there? How might this place have inspired John Muir? How does it inspire you? How does it inform your reading of Muir’s work?

Thursday, February 1 | Literary Analysis of Muir (meet in HC White 7109)
Discussion of Muir’s text as literature. What else could we read for?

Homework for Tuesday 2/6

WEEK THREE (2/5-2/9)

Tuesday, February 6 | Welcome to Rhetoric!
Review of Cox and Pezzullo’s major concepts. Discussion of Oravec’s text in light of those concepts. Introduction to rhetoric.

Homework for Thursday 2/8

Write in notebook: What are the major arguments of each? How are they built? What version of rhetoric do you get out of each text? How is rhetorical analysis performed in each text? What does rhetoric have to do with the environment?

Thursday, February 8 | Rhetorical Approaches to the Environment
Discussion of Herndl & Brown and Rivers and connections to Cox & Pezzullo and Oravec. What version of “rhetoric” is beginning to emerge from these texts? Why do we want to know this stuff before thinking about WP1? Introduction to WP1 (project description here).

Homework for Tuesday 2/13

WEEK FOUR (2/12-2/16)

Tuesday, February 13 | Screening of DamNation film (part 1) LINK TO LIBRARY STREAMING OF FILM

Homework for Thursday, February 15

  • Take copious notes about the film and the rhetorical strategies at work in it!
  • Read Marilyn Cooper’s, “The Ecology of Writing

Thursday, February 15 | Screening of DamNation film (part 2)

Homework for Tuesday, February 20

WEEK FIVE (2/19-2/23)

Tuesday, February 20 | The rhetorical ecology of ‘DamNation’
Raw discussion of DamNation – major themes, what interested you, what could you argue about, how can we unpack it? – Consider it in terms of Cooper and Edbauer’s “ecological” notion of writing and argument. Take a look at this infographic about Marilyn Cooper’s essay and this infographic about Jenny Edbauer’s essay.

Homework for Thursday 2/22

Thursday, February 22 | DamNation cont.
DamNation film discussion continued – with some context about Patagonia, the agenda of the film, presumed audience and consequence, etc. – keep thinking about the film’s “ecology.”

Homework for Tuesday 2/27

  • Complete a full length first draft of WP1 for Writing Fellow review!

WEEK SIX (2/26-3/2)

Tuesday, February 27 | WP1 Writing Fellow Draft Due
Discussion of the drafting process, activity with thesis statements and supporting evidence

Homework for Thursday 3/1

  • Continue revising WP1, Rhetorical Critique of DamNation
  • Read Jodie Nicotra’s “Assemblage Rhetorics: Creating New Frameworks for Rhetorical Action” (check your email for the pdf!)

Thursday, March 1 | The Rhetoric Ecology of DamNation
Create infographics for “Assemblage Rhetorics” – map out the DamNation assemblage

Homework for Tuesday 3/6

WEEK SEVEN (3/5-3/9)

Tuesday, March 6 & Thursday, March 8 | Emergency – no class meeting

Homework for Tuesday 3/13

  • Review:
  • Read selections from “A Thousand Pieces of Paradise: Landscape and Property in the Kickapoo Valley” (ch. 7, ch. 8)
  • Finish your revision of WP1 based on Writing Fellow feedback
  • Prepare a 1 pg. cover letter to Dr. CGD that details your revisions to WP1 during the course of the writing process
  • Put writing fellow draft, writing fellow feedback, final draft, and cover letter together in a printed packet to submit Tuesday
  • Continue reading about the La Farge Dam

WEEK EIGHT (3/12-3/16)

Tuesday, March 13 | WP1 Final Draft Due / Introduction to WP2 (here) | The Rhetorical Ecology of the La Farge Dam

Homework for Thursday 3/15

  • Read a selection from Bonnie Sterling, ‘The People Remember’ (here)
  • Read about transcribing here and here

Thursday, March 15 | Introduction to transcription

Homework for Tuesday 4/3

  • Complete transcriptions for WP2! (see instructions below)

WEEK NINE (3/19-3/23)

March 20 | No class – TRANSCRIBE!

March 22 | No class – TRANSCRIBE!

Formatting tips from the Worcester Women’s History Project:

  • Times New Roman, 12 pt. font
  • Left justified with standard 1″ (not 1.25″) margins and NO indents
  • Standard heading with all the information available:
    • Interviewer (if known)
    • Interviewee
    • Date of Interview: (Month #, 200#)
    • Transcriber
    • Date of Complete Transcription: (Month #, 2018)
    • Overseen by Dr. Caroline Gottschalk Druschke, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Single-spaced with double return between speakers
  • Speakers identified with two initials, bolded (i.e., Jane Smith = JS: ) – if interviewer name is not known, use “I” for interviewer
  • Page numbers in bottom right-hand corner of all pages
  • Include an abstract at the beginning of the transcription, immediately below the header:
    • Begin with a sentence that introduces the interviewee, her birth place/year, and connection to the La Farge Dam project
    • Transition to a direct discussion of the interview content: ‘In this interview Jane discusses…’
      • Begin with the more prominent or general themes of the interview
      • End with more narrow points that were interesting but maybe not central to the overall interview
      • Mix up the words you use to describe the interviewee’s discussion points (i.e. shares, reflects upon, touches upon, describes, highlights, emphasizes, etc.)

WEEK TEN (3/26-3/30)

March 27 | No class – Spring Break

March 29 | No Class – Spring Break

WEEK ELEVEN (4/2-4/6)

Tuesday, April 3 | WP2 Transcriptions Due via email to Dr. CGD

Homework for Thursday, April 5:

Thursday, April 5 | Public Memory and Place

Homework for Thursday, April 12:

WEEK TWELVE (4/9-4/13)

Tuesday, April 10 | CGD @ AAG – no class meeting (complete activities above)

Thursday, April 12 | Public Memory and Place

Homework for Tuesday, April 17:

  • Take some time to think through your final paper or project.
  • Review transcripts in Box folder for final project/paper inspiration
  • Begin drafting!


WEEK THIRTEEN (4/16-4/20)

Tuesday, April 17 | Discuss final paper/project ideas, begin looking at transcripts

Homework for Thursday, April 19:

  • Review transcripts in Box folder for final project/paper inspiration
  • Read all transcript summaries. Choose at least five to read. Read them.
  • Type up useful passages from those transcripts along with some notes about how they can inform your paper/project. (Almost like an annotated bibliography)
  • Start drafting your final paper OR artist statement for your creative project.

Thursday, April 19 | Final Project Workshop

Homework for Tuesday, April 24:

  • Continue reviewing transcripts in Box folder for final project/paper inspiration
  • Complete a draft of your final paper/project to submit to your Writing Fellow!
    • While I expect most people (all people?) won’t have full drafts of creative work or argumentative papers, please DO share with your Writing Fellow anything that will help them work with you on your project. Writing Fellows will be sending around cover sheets on which you should include a 2-3 sentence pitch that glosses your creative project and clearly articulates why it matters for some combination of rhetoric, place, public memory, environmental justice, and/or decolonization. If you have snippets of poems, drawings, etc., share those, too! At minimum you need to describe your project idea to your Writing Fellow clearly enough that they can offer you rich feedback about how to push the project to fully engage with the goals of the class.
  • Read “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor” by Tuck & Yang

Meet at the front door of the Memorial Union at 8am sharp! Bring warm clothes! Bring water! Bring a raincoat! Bring anything you need to make yourself comfortable on the drive!
Tentative Agenda:
8am departure from Memorial Union
10:30am arrive at KVR
Brad Steinmetz, Marcy West, Visitor Center, Dam Tower Hike, Independent Time
2:30pm depart KVR
5:00pm arrive in Madison

WEEK FOURTEEN (4/23-4/27)

Tuesday, April 24 | WP3 Writing Fellow Draft Due

Homework for Thursday, April 26

  • Review course readings from the semester – major concepts and themes – take notes!
  • Write: what concepts and ideas resonated most with you?
  • Continue working on final projects!

Thursday, April 26 | Core concepts: Rhetoric, Place, Public Memory, Decolonization

Homework for Tuesday, May 1

  • Start prepping for artist statement! Find three course readings that really resonate with your project. Be prepared to articulate how and why. What is your project able to do that a paper couldn’t. Alternatively, why did your paper seem like the best route to take?
  • Be prepared to show off parts of your project or paper in class Tuesday!
  • Consider: how did your literature background prep you for your work this semester? How was it extended?
  • Plan for distribution of La Farge projects on shared web site. Ways to capture all projects?

WEEK FIFTEEN (4/30-5/4)

Tuesday, May 1 | Writing Fellow Drafts Returned / Writing Fellow Conferences

Homework for Thursday, May 3

  • Complete online course evaluation!
  • Prepare draft of theoretically savvy artist statement or final paper – bring to class!

Thursday, May 3 | Writing Fellow Conferences / Final synthesis

Homework for Thursday, May 10

  • Complete final paper or final project + theoretically savvy artist statement!


Thursday, May 10 | WP3 Due via email by 5pm: final paper & supplementary materials