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Glossary

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Analysis: To analyze literally means to break the whole into parts, yet an analysis does more than just identify the main parts of a text as a summary would. An analysis explains the meaning of certain aspects of the text, such as the symbolism of images in a literary text, or the significance of data in a scientific experiment.

Archaic: These are the residual beliefs and practices that are outmoded but hang on in some ways of speaking or behaving (as when we say, "The sun rose late today."). Archaic practices are sometimes regarded with nostalgia and reverence.

Argument: When you argue, you seek to present your opinions and ideas in such a way that you affect a mental change in your reader or listener - you try to get her to agree with you, to change his mind, or at the very least, to respect your thinking. To argue effectively, you must first decide on your goal: do you seek to change minds? Hearts? To defeat those who do not agree with you? For all purposes of argument, you should consider why your audience disagrees with you and develop ways, through logic, to nudge them toward agreement or acceptance.


Brainstorming: One prewriting strategy that can help you discover many options is called brainstorming. When you brainstorm, you simply write whatever comes into your mind on the subject--as fast as you can and without making any judgments about it. In this way, you can accumulate a lot of details, ideas, and information that you can use in a variety of ways later.


Conflict: A conflict does not necessarily denote an argument or a fight, but rather a set of differing--often many differing--perspectives or emotions. A conflict can be within the self as well as between the self and others. Conflicts often occur when a person's conscious or unconscious beliefs, expectations, or desires meet with resistance of some kind; or when arguments may seem rational or logical, but somehow don't feel right; or vice versa.

Conventions: These are the expected style and format requirements of a discipline and they can vary greatly from one subject area to the next. For example, you should write a literary analysis in the present tense, but a lab report for chemistry in the past tense. Conventions include format and publications requirements such as which style of documentation you must use ij your papers, and which voice is appropriate for writing your essays.

Cultural Analysis: Cultural analysis asks students to relate the values, practices, or beliefs of a text they are reading to other, often different or seemingly unrelated ideas, beliefs, or practices from the same time period in which the text was produced. When we engage in cultural analysis, we act as social scientists taking a cross?section of a culture's development and examining the complex interrelationships of various attitudes and beliefs within a culture at a single period of time. This study of the ways in which values, attitudes, and beliefs from any single time period complement, reinforce, contradict, or work against each other is what we call cultural analysis.


Discipline: A field of study, such as history, natural science, literature or mathematics. Each discipline has certain conventions which its practitioners and students follow to create standards for academic research.

Dominant: What is referred to as the dominant are the practices that are embodied in the majority of the society or within its ruling or most powerful class. They are often beliefs, values, ways of behavior, and experiences that we take for granted. Dominant practices are usually, though not always, derived from the past and tend to be conservative.

Double Entry Journal: In a double-entry journal, students write two kinds of notes in two columns or on facing pages. On the left are the key ideas in the reading selection, with the page on which they occur, either directly quoted or paraphrased; on the right are students' thoughts about those ideas. Some students, preferring an easy-to-read method, compose their double-entry journal on a word processor.


Emergent: What is referred to as the emergent are practices that are being developed, usually unconsciously, out of a new set of social interactions, as society changes. They are often very different from and actively challenge the dominant. They start at the margins of society, and may eventually become less marginal. But they may not ever become central. They may themselves become dominant, but that is not an inevitable process.


Fastwriting: In fastwriting assignments, students time themselves for ten to fifteen minutes and write as much as they can, with no editing. These assignments are meant to allow students to get some of their initial ideas down on paper before they forget them and before the class discusses them. Students can often go back and analyze their fastwriting work after they have read more and written more reflectively to see why they initially thought or reacted as they did. Such analysis of their own work can be very helpful in enabling students to discover assumptions underlying their surface-level statements. Fastwriting close to talking through students' ideas in writing as they can get.



Historical Analysis: Historical analysis asks students to relate the values, practices, or beliefs of a text you are reading to those of a different time period from that in which the text was produced. When we look at a subject historically, we come to see that perspectives on it have developed over time, as they come to be interpreted within different social and political, or ideological frameworks. Historical analysis, as used throughout this book, is more than just pretending that you are back in time; it is the active movement back and forth from the present to the past or between two different points in the past. This study of the ways in which values, attitudes, and beliefs change or remain the same across time is what we call historical analysis.


Ideology: Ideology is the conscious or unconscious beliefs, habits, and social practices of a particular society. These often seem true, correct, and universal to members of that society, when in fact they are relative and specific to the society. Ideology pervades every aspect of our lives from our table manners to our politics; it is reflected in the kinds of clothes we wear just as much as in our religious and educational practices. We are most likely to become conscious of our own ideology when we visit or study a foreign culture whose lifestyles and customs are radically different from our own. Ideologies are continually in conflict within any society; at any given point, however, certain ones are always dominant.

Thus, all societies are made up of different and changing beliefs, habits, practices, assumptions, and lifestyles. They differ to some extent from person to person, social group to social group; or by gender, race, religion, or social class. Some are dominant, these are the ones that are embodied in the majority of the society and are usually, though not always, derived from the past and tend to be conservative. They are often, that is, though not always, residual. By residual is meant those beliefs, practices, etc. that are derived from an earlier stage of that society, often very long ago, and which may in fact reflect a very different social formation (different political, or religious beliefs, etc.) from the present. Other practices are emergent, those that are being developed, usually unconsciously, out of a new set of social interactions, as societies change.



Mapping: Also known as clustering, this is a prewriting strategy that enables you to visually represent relationships to your topic. Start by writing the topic in the middle of a piece of paper; then write related concepts around the topic until you have a map or cluster of ideas.

Myths: The myths of a culture are the beliefs that are held unquestioningly about the society: for example, in American society that everyone has equal educational and job opportunities; that all Americans strive to achieve the American Dream; that the American Dream means having a well paying job, owning a house, being in a heterosexual marriage, and having children; that any American could become.


Narrative: A narrative tells a story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. It answers the question, "What happened?" The order of a narrative does not have to be chronological - it can begin in the middle or at the end and use techniques like flashback and foreshadowing to proceed to the ending. To engage your readers, it is essential that your narrative shows the story's events in vivid detail rather than tells that certain events occurred.


Overdetermination: No one social factor causes people to take certain actions (a cause and effect relationship is called determination) because any situation is overdetermined, that is, there are many causes for a particular action, sometimes working together and sometimes working against each other. On a personal level, we are all surrounded by such a wealth of complex and contradictory ideological forces that we must continually negotiate among them.


Perspective: A perspective is a point of view from which a person or group of people looks at something at a given time. In this book, we argue that while each perspective seems "personal," it is also linked with the larger beliefs of the culture. Thus, it can only be understood and analyzed once it has been placed in those larger contexts.


Questioning: Ask questions as a prewriting strategy to find out what other information you need to address your topic or essay question thoroughly. Questions remind you of what you need to know to move forward with the writing assignment.


Residual: What is referred to as the residual are beliefs and practices that are derived from an earlier stage of a given society, and which may in fact reflect a very different social formation from the present. Residual beliefs often remain dominant long after the social conditions that made them dominant have disappeared.

Rhetoric: The art of persuasion or the presentation of ideas in clear, persuasive language that makes a powerful and convincing appeal to an audience, whether you are writing or speaking.


Summary: A summary restates the main ideas of a reading without adding too much of the reader's opinion. A useful summary involves both immediacy and detachment in order to see the trees as well as the proverbial forest. As you read the text to be summarized, mark key points by underlining and making marginal notes. Do not try to read and write at the same time because you will probably include too much too soon and too little later.

Symptomatic Reading: Symptomatic comes from symptom, which is what a doctor observes in a patient's condition or behavior that suggests an illness lies "under the surface." A doctor cannot simply accept a symptom such as a patient's cough literally; that is, the doctor cannot simply say "my patient just happens to cough a lot" and leave it at that. Rather, the doctor must read the symptom as a sign of something else and try to analyze and hypothesize about what it could mean. When readers do symptomatic readings of texts, they are similarly attentive, looking for something that disrupts the surface of the text. In medicine, it might be a nagging cough or a rash. In the text, it might be a disruption in language or tone, or a stray remark, or an unexplained contradiction. Having recognized a symptom--say a contradiction in the text--readers should not read it literally, but rather as a sign, a symptom, of something else that is going on within the larger culture.

Synthesis: A synthesis involves the combination of two or more texts, such as by comparison or contrast. As the relationships between the texts are explained, the meaning of each becomes clear.


Thesis: This is the main idea that you want to express in your essay. More than a statement of fact or an announcement of your topic, your thesis represents your unique individual approach to or opinion or conclusion about the material you are working on.


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