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 one or more authors has articulated and make a conversation about the issue visible to their audience. They may begin situating themselves in relationship to a conversation the author or speaker is investigating, but they are not necessarily intervening into it. They may respond to a text or texts (of varying media), and they may situate their own experiences in relationship to that text or those texts, but they aren't offering a theory that explains a pattern, or opening up new areas of inquiry.

Engaging Learning Objectives

  • Develop habits of inquiry as part of active reading practices 
    • Examine how texts present and develop ideas, including the moves a writer or text makes
    • Connect text to reader’s knowledge and experience
    • Raise questions about the work of a text (expand beyond agree and disagree)
  • Determine a text or texts’ project(s) to find a way into other texts/to formulate a response to it/to make use of a text.
    • Identify the project’s aims, or what the goals of the project are
    • Explore the project’s methods, or the practices and frameworks for analysis
    • Locate and assess the project’s evidence and examples, or how and why the author has chosen the examples they’ve decided to work with
      • Appraise the interrelationships among these and examine how they function together within the project.
      • Develop strategies for fact-finding and fact-checking
    • Assess the limits of the text’s project (including aims, methods, and use of evidence/examples
  • Identify (and evaluate) how authority is constructed in a text
  • Examine and question assumptions in a text to make a project’s unacknowledged and unanticipated consequences visible
  • Consider affordances of genres and/or modes for a conversation
  • Situate yourself in relation to a text or texts
    • Make a contribution to an ongoing conversation; OR
    • Utilize a text’s project as a framework to examine an artifact or event; OR
    • Develop a response to the text’s project

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
"Frame and Case" Analysis Utilize a text’s project as a framework to examine an artifact or event Apply the terms, methods, and/or aims of a text to a new situation
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
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.


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