To familiarize themselves with the scene of writing at Saint Louis University, students are asked to research and report on a crucial or visible piece of text at SLU. This text can be written, spoken, photographed, or film. Students will then re-write (re-vise or re-imagine) this text in some way. In addition to the re-written text, students compose two memos: one describing the original text and one documenting the re-written, focusing on the why and how of that process.
Fully exploring the course themes of decision architecture and mapping, this project asks students to map a campus space or issue @SLU. “Mapping” here means the purposeful selection, arrangement, and presentation of information in a usable, primarily visual format for a specific audience. This project seeks to position the creative and constructive work of writing as important and necessary. “Mapping” here is not to be understood as the passive mirroring of “reality,” but the active creation of meanings and knowledge. In concert with a primary theme of this course, mapping of this sort productively combines theory and practice in requiring students to frame and define both their audience and their object in specific ways (theorize) in planning and composing their map (practice). Maps can be static (e.g., infographics) or dynamic (e.g., audio tours). Additionally, this project stresses document design and primary research in the form of observations, interviews, and perhaps surveys, as well as secondary research.
In order to explore the work of (professional) writers and to learn of career opportunities in the field, this project asks students to first locate a professional writer, secure an interview, prepare a set of interview questions, and develop an interviewing strategy. Students then conduct the interview and write-up a formal document reporting their findings. Students engage readings on the practice of interviewing, learning the principles of successful and ethical primary research. While in several ways this assignment stands apart from the others, the same underlying theoretical framework is at work. In the planning stages, students create the interview as an architecture, a technology, for guiding and shaping the responses of their subject. In the report document (and in the subsequent presentation) students then map out the findings of their interview, selecting, arranging, and presenting the information for several different audiences.