The Web Project: Arguments

In the second short critical essay, students were asked to compose arguments instead of annotations (first essay) or reflections (third essay).

The "Argument" simply involved developing a thesis that would argue one position over another. Instructions for this essay were:

In this node you will take a stand, and argue your position on any of the digital texts [on the assessment list]. Think of this node as a condensed version of an essay, in that it will make a claim (similar to a thesis statement) and gesture toward a few reasons in support of that claim. This is your critical opinion, but cast in literary-critical terms.

What is different about the students' argument essay goes beyond its obvious "bite-sized" form. The idea is to encourage students to think about the anatomy of a hypertextual document, which requires self-contained nodes rather than "pages." Nodes can be understood as self-contained semantic units that constitute the components of a hypertext (Ciccoricco, 2007, p. 7). They are meaningful in isolation and in relation to the broader network in which they are nested.

The analogy between the nodes of a digital network and the post-structuralist articulations of textuality was popular in earlier theorizing on hypertext. For example, nodes were equated to Barthes' lexia or Derrida's mourceau (morsel). But the analogy is misguided and not by virtue of the fact that post-structuralist theory grew out of the print medium. Both concepts describe deconstructed units of text and refer to an interpretive act of the reader. But readers of a digitally networked text encounter hypertextual nodes that are already established. Put simply, the composition of nodes is an act of the writer. It was the task of the students, then, to compose for a hypertextual document and (ideally) conceive of textual coherence in hypertextual terms.

Mel - class of 06 Joe - class of 05 Todd - class of 07 Llew - class of 06


You Can Start Here
On the Digital
Threat / Salvation
On English Pedagogy & Contemporary Contexts
On the Course:
Motivation & Inception
Nothing Too New


On the Literary
On the Technical


Students as DesignWriters
Examples and Analysis