Harris and His Sources

Rubric for Harris & His Sources Assignment: harris-sources-rubric-2

Spreadsheet resources: Sorting by multiple columns

Course Reserves for Harris’ main sources: http://sculib.scu.edu/search?/pMedina%2C+C./pmedina+c/-3%2C-1%2C0%2CE/frameset&FF=pmedina+c&1%2C1%2C
These books are available on 4-hour reserve. The Reserve area is behind the counter in the library on the ground level when you enter.



Harris spends most of A Teaching Subject reviewing famous research on writing instruction and re-interpreting them. You will trace the history of the key term Harris presents in one of his chapters and evaluate his interpretation of these texts by going back to Harris’ sources and

  1. recording, visualizing, and analyzing his bibliography,
  2. carefully re-reading 2-3 of the main texts he talks about in detail and offering your own interpretation of them to assess Harris’s claims,
  3. evaluating Harris’ history of this key term

We will discuss this assignment during Week 3 to give you time to begin work on it. It’s due at the end of Week 9. We will take some class time early in Week 9 to work on the assignment, but this will focus on style and organization. Your major research and analysis work should already be in place by this point.

If you have any questions about this assignment or want to discuss a draft, let me know. I’m happy to talk about/look at/work with you in person on assignment drafts; I do not comment on drafts electronically. The HUB Writing Center is also a valuable resource for working on any stage of this project, from brainstorming to polishing your final draft.

1. Record, Visualize, & Analyze Harris’ Sources

This part of the assignment will include EVERY SINGLE PUBLICATION Harris references in the chapter to give you an idea of the kind of research he did. Doing this kind of background research on his sources will put these source texts in context and help you, as newcomers to this field, get a sense of its origin and development and to help you assess the strength of Harris’ argument. For each citation, record the

  • author
  • article/essay title (if any)
  • book/journal title
  • publication date
  • how Harris uses the source in the chapter
  • other information that seems significant. Consider things like the gender of the author, the region where the author is from, where in the chapter the citation occurs, how many times a text/author is cited, etc. Feel free to come up with your own additional categories here, as appropriate for your chapter.

Once you’ve collected this information, you’ll look for trends or clusters in it. Do citations cluster around certain dates? Are certain authors or texts cited repeatedly? Where do most of Harris’ citations fall in the chapter? What different ways does Harris use his sources (as background, examples, evidence, opponents, etc)? Where do these different types of citations occur?

With regard to the digital publishing aspect of this class, you must represent the citation data you gather and analyze visually in your essay. You can any format you choose, for example

  • tables (created in Excel, Google docs, etc)
  • graphs (created in Excel, Google docs, etc)
  • timelines (created by hand or using applications like Timeline JSTimegliderReadWriteThink, or timetoast)
  • or other visual presentation formats — if you have other ideas, let me know

I’m open to other modes of representation–talk to me about other ideas you may have for showing the patterns you observe in your data. Any visuals you create must be legible (large enough to read, sharp) and embedded in or descriptively linked from your assignment. Test any linked visuals to make sure I can access them.

Whatever presentation format you use, you must also analyze your citation data to comment on Harris’ research. What do the functional, thematic, temporal, major figure trends you see in Harris argument mean? Where is he locating his history of this key term? What’s the timeline of this key term and who are its major figures? To what extent is he drawing on major journals in the field? On contemporary vs. historical research? Are there any issues with Harris’ credibility?

Your analysis of Harris’ citation data should answer the question: What does looking at Harris’ argument about this term through his citations tell us about his argument?

2. Re-Read Harris’s Main Sources

Once you’ve established the extent and coverage of Harris research through mapping all his citations, zero in on his main sources. In each chapter, Harris chooses a few influential texts to analyze closely. You will re-read 2-3 of these central texts, focusing on the parts Harris focuses on (for books) or covering the whole article (for articles). Offer your own interpretation of their major claims and purpose, and compare your reading of these texts to Harris’s. What do these similarities/differences mean? Do they relate to isolated concerns or recurring ones, based on our discussions in class and the other class readings (both other Harris chapters and outside articles)? If you disagree with some aspect of Harris’ reading of one or more of his main texts, consider what difference this makes. What arguments does Harris reading of the text allow him to make? How would his argument in the chapter be affected by your alternate reading of the same text?

Get started on library research for this part of the assignment early: you may need to order books via LINK+ or Interlibrary Loan, which can take some time. If you have any questions about what constitutes a central text for Harris in your chapter, ask me.

3. Evaluate Harris’ presentation of the key term in light of your tracing of his research

What do you make of Harris’ research on this topic and his use of sources? Is his representation fair and accurate, based on your re-reading of his major sources? Does your citation analysis suggest that his overall research is comprehensive and compelling? What, if anything, is missing based on your investigation of Harris’ research?

Writing & Organization:

You are welcome to adopt a more personal tone in this assignment, as many of the readings we’ve discussed have advocated/modeled and as many of you have been doing in your blog posts. Similar to your blog post writing, be specific in your references to evidence and precise in your interpretation of it. But your tone can be less formal and refer explicitly to yourself as a critic and interpreter. This isn’t required, but is an option, based on our reading and writing so far in the course.

Organizationally and conceptually, this is a process-oriented assignment, not a product-oriented one. Engaging deeply in the two analytical tasks is the priority on this assignment, and the assignment serves to document that work. The written assignment itself isn’t intended as s freestanding essay outside of the context of the prompt. That means you’re welcome to approach the citation analysis and close reading parts of the assignment separately, without creating a conceptual bridge between the two parts. You’re welcome to integrate the citation analysis and close reading parts more closely if your analysis lends itself to that, but it’s not required.

Requirements & Submission Instructions:

  • Compose assignment on a new page on your blog (instructions for adding a new page to your blog: http://en.support.wordpress.com/pages/)
  • include visual(s) as embedded image, embedded file, or active URL to external site
  • Submit page URL to Camino assignment dropbox
  • Length:  2500-3000 words (not counting citations–submitted as separate document, embedded in assignment page)
  • (For complete list of grading criteria, see rubric linked at top of page)
  • Due: March 10 before class (1pm)

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