Drawing on her own experience as both a musician and writer, Harman uses cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) to compare different types of music notation to genres of writing. She illustrates how various types of music notation are functionally similar, yet she finds that the differences in their modes of production, distribution, and socialization lead people to view these types of notation and their users very differently.
Greenberg explores the genre of bumper stickers and studies the ways they communicate information. Greenberg learns what happens when a genre provides an outlet for people to express their feelings to others without having a direct conversation. Along the way, Greenberg draws on aspects of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) and how they relate to these funny, optimistic, and sometimes controversial additions to people’s automobiles.
Though intended to express sentiment felt by one person for another, greeting cards involve a third party—the greeting card writer. Sutton begins by examining his own bias toward the greeting card genre and goes on to explore its conventions and expectations through both personal experience and analysis of critical essays on the genre.
Dunbar explores the texts and conventions of the game of volleyball. Her use of a variety of strategies including ethnography, interviews, and secondary research illustrates the ways writing researchers can dig into the specifics of a complex activity system.
J. Michael Rifenburg
Rifenburg argues that one way Division II men’s basketball players learn complex texts (i.e., plays) is through the cognitive process of spatial orientation, which is how a player positions himself in regard to others and areas of the court. Rifenburg’s study considers the role of spatial orientation in the literate practices of a basketball team and how such a role helps writing researchers expand their understanding of what writing is and how it’s accomplished.
Wes Gaddis, Little League Youth Football coach for the Junior Varsity division of the Bloomington Cardinals, engages with writing in a variety of ways every time he coaches his team. Grassroots Writing Research Journal intern Annie Hackett and Illinois State University Writing Program Coordinator Maegan Gaddis (who is married to Wes) sat down with Wes to learn all about how his football-related research and writing strategies have evolved over the years.
Matt Del Fiacco
Writing a novel is a daunting task, and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) tries to condense all of the work into thirty days. Through CHAT analysis and surveys, Del Fiacco learns that NaNoWriMo as a genre changes the way writing practices take place, and these practices do nothing short of demand work from writers
Kristen R. Strom
Strom researches the trajectory of CATUM, a writing research tool she taught to her high school students. Through first-person point-of-view, CATUM narrates Strom’s writing research as they explore the writing tool’s trajectory through classroom spaces and students’ transfer of research and writing skills beyond high school.
Viswanath traces the trajectories of the HNY Facebook page by linking it back to some concepts of CHAT. Humans of New York is a photoblog started by Brandon Stanton that was supposed to be an exhaustive collection of photos of New York City’s inhabitants plotted on a map. Over the last four years, however, HNY began to take on a different character as Stanton started to collect short stories from the people he photographed.
Pitman recounts an experience involving the need to learn a better method of note-taking as a college freshman. The strategies he developed eventually came full circle when he encountered the concept of remediating larger stories into flash fictions. Pitman explores what implications might arise in the shifting of one text into another.
Scott takes readers through her first few weeks of English 101: Composition as Critical Inquiry and Art 109: Visual Thinking: 3-D Fundamentals. With her transfer of knowledge from English 101 and the use of CHAT, Scott is able to demonstrate the different components of the genres she encountered in an art class and provide some insight into connections between art and English concepts.
Skokan has a complicated story to tell. Telling it begins with finding the right medium for it and ends with finding a new approach to a second draft of a graphic novel. Skokan gets some perplexing criticism and attempts to use genre research. She ultimately has to re-examine her antecedent genre (television), consider production, and take apart the very thing she thought she knew so well.
Joyce R. Walker
Why use a complicated model for understanding people and their literate activities? Because literate activity is messy and complicated, especially for writers who are writing in new situations. Walker argues that the traditional model of the Rhetorical Triangle doesn’t work as well as a more modern construct, cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), to help us see where we are and what we’re doing when we write.