Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Conference Time

I'm off to conference after today's class: Wednesday I'll be at the conference of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing and Thursday and Friday I'll attend the Conference on College Composition and Communication. The first one is small. The second is huge.

I'll be thinking about research methods the whole time: at ATTW I'm meeting with a number of scholars at other universities who teach this course in one form or another. One of these meetings will be focussed on the need for a textbook which could be focussed on this class.

I'd be interested in hearing the thoughts of my students on this issue. What should be taught in a class like this, a class that serves grad students, creative writers, journalists, prfessional writers of all kinds? What disciplines should be explored?


Blogger J Elkins said...

Perhaps a book that deals more fairly with different areas would be a plus, even if not every genre is represented it would be helpful to have something that describes how research is done in different genres. That is, what are different types of research that different groups do? Who does the research, how and what do they research? Though I REALLY like to read this book I think a book that would give instances of different areas would be more helpful. Though, it should be easy reading like this one, if possible.

I hope my idea here is clear, if not please ask.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

I own a book titled “The Art of Literary Research” by Richard D. Altick. It was published in 1963. I love this book. The blurb inside the jacket says, among other interesting things, that the book is “the first comprehensive guide to the purposes and methods of literary research ever written for students of English and American literature.” Chapters are titled:
1. Vocation
2. The Spirit of Scholarship
3. Some Scholarly Occupations
a. Textual Study
b. Problems of Authorship
c. The Search for Origins
d. Tracing Reputation and Influence
e. Cultivating a Sense of the Past
4. The Task
5. Finding Materials
6. Libraries
7. Making Notes
8. The Philosophy of Composition
9. Scholars and Gentlemen

Sure, it’s an old book. But there are so many wonderful ideas and hints that can be used in any time period and in conjunction with any technology. I appreciate Altick’s prose. He doesn’t talk down to the reader. Using a couple of Altick’s chapters in a course of research methods could add an interesting viewpoint to the curriculum.

Altick’s text includes some very entertaining footnotes. Here’s one: “One is bound to admire a dissertation, accepted in 1959 at the University of Virginia, which ran to 2,313 pages.” Another: “There is no question that machines can perform in a few hours some of the most laborious operations required for literary study, such as the compilation of dictionaries and concordances. The concordance on Dryden’s poetry (1957), though compiled manually, was checked and printed out by an IBM machine, and that to Arnold’s poems (1959) was the result of a complete computer program. More are on the way.”

6:45 PM  
Blogger C625student said...

I would like a book that had more activities about research methods rather than genres. I guess, having to go through all genres is sometimes discouraging for me since I have a clear goal in mind. I acknowledge the usefulness and importance of being exposed to different genres but I doubt that they will be useful in my proposal. I think that some of the other people in the class may experience the same way. Why care about quantitative research if they are writing a poem? for example.
However, in every genre there is research and interviews, library trips, and others are useful for the one writing a master thesis, journalism, and novels. Please let me know if this makes any sense. Maybe I am not clear in what I want to say.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Sirc said...

I posted a blog in response to yours.

7:59 AM  
Blogger kotek said...

I went to a conference last weekend. It was a one day conference for engaged couples and lasted for 8 hours. I have to admit that my head hurt after listening to �important stuff� for the whole day.

How can one�s brain absorb all the information that is given? When you go to conferences, don�t you have a feeling that you are just like a sponge, and once you are filled with �water,� there is no room for more? How do you manage to absorb all the information that is given to you?

I guess one just needs to take in as much as possible and leave the rest for "the leftovers." The next day will come, and one will be hungry for the knowledge again.

I wonder if you feel the same way as I do after you come back from conferences.

1:04 PM  

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