Sep 092013
 

Welcome back to campus, FYWPers. Here are two useful reminders to get your semester going. First, why a writer should always evaluate their sources:

When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed.

Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated”.

So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket.

“When they’re proofing signs, they should really use someone who speaks Welsh,” said journalist Dylan Iorwerth.

BBC News – E-mail error ends up on road sign.

And second, why it’s crucial to know your audience:Bilingual Welsh sign stumps Scots

A sign on a Aberdeenshire building site left local people mystified because it was written in Welsh as well as English.

Building company David McLean, whose HQ is on Deeside, north Wales, put up the notice apologising for inconvenience during the work in the Bridge of Don.

But local MSP Brian Adam said that if bilingual, it should at least have been in the local dialect of Doric.

The firm apologised and said a new sign would be put up as soon as possible.

via BBC NEWS | UK | Wales | Bilingual Welsh sign stumps Scots.

Aug 092012
 

Something my wife shared with me last night: a recipe for ice cubes, about which the author says:

I am publishing this recipe, because I am sure that there are other families who have members who don’t know how or have forgotten how to make ice when the ice tray is empty.

What I like about this isn’t just the joke of performing the online recipe genre convincingly for something that shouldn’t need a recipe, but that the commenters play along so perfectly:

This recipe is horrible! Maybe I should have left them in longer than two minutes (the recipe doesn’t say how long to leave them in the freezer so I just kind of guessed) but mine came out all watery. I won’t be making these again.

There’s a shared literacy of genre and its performance allowing this to become a lively collaboration (much like the many wonderful mock comment threads on Amazon, for instance). In contrast, here’s a “text” (by which I mean, I don’t know what genre to call it) produced by the fired editors of Oxford American. I’m not posting this to weigh in on what happened or why because I have no idea (here’s an article aiming to provide some background, though). What’s interesting to me here is the schism between rhetorical purpose — ie, mounting a defense — and genre performance. The text is more manifesto than anything else, which is at odds (I think) with the audience it seems to be trying to reach and make sympathetic.

Both of these seem like useful examples for WR101 and WR121 alike.

Aug 012012
 

It’s Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town, which offers side-by-side comparisons of news coverage in the Globe and the Herald, seems like it could be useful to both WR101 and WR121 in a number of ways: talking about Boston, about bias, about writing to an audience, about the importance of consulting multiple sources, etc. If you do use it, please let the rest of us know how you did so in the comments.

Apr 142012
 
The history of bookmaking hasn’t been without its challenges, but never was its craft as painstaking as during the era of illuminated manuscripts. Joining the ranks of history’s most appalling and amusing complaints, like this Victorian list of don’ts for female cyclists or young Isaac Newton’s self-professed sins, is an absolute treat for lovers of marginalia such as myself — a collection of complaints monks scribbled in the pages of illuminated manuscripts.
@ Brainpickings

Apr 142012
 
Lady Gaga, one of the web’s commanding giga-stars – with 21.5m followers on Twitter (Stephen Fry has a mere 4m) – has recommended a book, on Facebook. “Lüc Carl Buy his book. HE’S AWESOME!!!!! Great memoir about losing weight on your own terms.” Within a matter of hours, more than 15,000 people had “liked” it, a pretty reliable indicator of a coming “viral” success…

I saw the above passage from The Guardian quoted at ArtsJournal the other day, and couldn’t help wondering how much of it would make any sense to a time traveler from 1995. Seems to me there’s a way of using this passage — and others like it — to get our students thinking about audience historically as well as immediately.

© 2014 Emerson College
All Rights Reserved

120 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116-4624
617.824.8500