Unit 1–Part A: Inventing the 21st Century University

DIRECTIONS for Part A: Critical Reflection Blog Post-Turned-Podcast

In his canonical article, “Inventing the University” (1986), composition scholar David Bartholomae argues for a new understanding of college writers’ struggles with academic discourse. He uses the metaphor of “inventing the university” to illustrate the tension college writers experience as they attempt to represent what they know or have learned in their courses, majors, disciplines, and professions while simultaneously attempting to learn the languages and values in those spaces. College students, Bartholomae claims, must constantly push against their status as “outsiders”—outside of the language, privilege, and power of those with greater institutional knowledge and authority, like professors, TAs, department chairs, deans, and so forth.

His article, however, is almost 30 years old. In the past 30 years, universities have changed. What we consider “academic discourse” has changed; students have changed; writing and reading habits have changed. What does it take in 2015 to “invent” the university? What kinds of literacies are valued, emphasized, expected in your academic, professional, and social circles?

In a 750 word blog post (give or take ten words), update Bartholomae’s argument about what it means to invent the university, drawing on the shared readings of the unit, your understanding of composing concepts (genre, audience, persona, medium, context, purpose), and your experiences with and observations of composing situations at the University.

The following is a set of questions for you to use—mix and match as you wish—in the inventing process:

  • What is expected of you a reader, writer, and thinker? That is what are you being asked to read or watch or review and on what platforms? What are you being asked to compose and on what platforms?
  • How are you figuring out how to be a student, a member of new academic communities?
  • What tensions are you recognizing between your composing pre-college and the composing practices you are now encouraged or expected to engage in?
  • When you look around you in your classrooms and dorm spaces, who among your peers do you admire for their literary skills and practices and why?
  • What are you noticing in your university communities about what literacy practices are valued? Are you seeing any indications of literacy practices not being valued?
  • In what ways has your understanding of “literacy” changed as a result of reading, talking, and observing?
  • What might readers of your blog post be interested in knowing about the 21st century college literacies? What might surprise or intrigue them?
  • What do you want the readers of your blog post to know about you? What do you hope they see in your writing?

Be sure to include a creative title for your blog. Within the limits of Expressions, select a template and images that relate to the content of your blog post. Your audience is the general public who sincerely has an interest in understanding through your careful analysis and supporting details/evidence what it is like to learn and work and move successfully through today’s University.

Finally, we will be experimenting with creating an audio version of your blog—a brief podcast—where you will convert your ideas from the blog post into an audio file for listeners. This exercise is meant to help you explore the impact of medium on the writing situation, and in your Rhetorical Analysis essay, I will ask you to address what happened when you shifted from reading-discussing-informally writing to developing a well-thought out blog entry to creating a podcast. The podcast will be posted on your blog along with a transcript (sometimes referred to as an alphabetic version).