Engaging a Conversation


Diagram of engaging a conversation. Options for approaching: Understand authority as constructed. Determine a text's apparent rhetorical situation (audience, purpose, context, etc.). Consider the affordances of genres/media as platforms for different conversations. Engage with texts responsibly in a variety of ways. Trace a common thread - make a conversation visible. Options for doing: Data visualization. Survey design; conducting interviews. Unpacking an author's assumptions; engage with quotations.


In this move, students learn to identify, describe, and interact with (engage) an intellectual conversation. This conversation need not feature “academic” (scholarly) voices necessarily, but it should feature a complex issue of critical importance. In this move, students synthesize what more than one author or speaker has articulated and make a conversation about the issue visible to their audience. They may begin situating themselves in that conversation, but they are not necessarily intervening into it. They may respond to a text or texts (of varying media), but they aren’t creating “original” arguments or answers.

Information Literacy Threshold Concepts

  • Authority is constructed and contextual
  • Scholarship as conversation

Habits of Mind

  • Openness
  • Persistence
  • Responsibility
  • Metacognition
  • Engagement


Assignment Writing Goals Engage Conversation
Literature review Make a conversation visible - understand authority as constructed Show relationship between several authors
Annotated bibliography Make a conversation visible - understand authority as constructed Describe each source and its relationship to each other
Podcast Consider affordances of podcasts for a conversation “Moderating” a panel of authors/sources
Research map Trace a common thread - determine a text’s rhetorical situation Track an academic conversation nonlinearly
Response Essay Understand authority as constructed - engage with texts responsibly - determine a text’s rhetorical situation Situate oneself in conversation with a particular text



Scholarly Bibliography

Bizup, Joseph. “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing.” Rhetoric Review, vol. 27, no. 1, 2008, pp. 7286.

Howard, Rebecca Moore, et al. “Writing from Sources, Writing from Sentences.” Writing and Pedagogy, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 177–192.

Salvatori, Mariolina. “Conversations with Texts: Reading in the Teaching of Composition.” College English, vol. 58, no. 4, 1996, pp. 440–54.

Sommers, Nancy, and Saltz, Laura. “The Novice as Expert: Writing the Freshman Year.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 56, no. 1, 2004, pp. 124–149.


PDF version of page