Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Generation of Citation Resources

If you’ve been using Son of Citation Machine to help cite sources for your writing, you may want to think about upgrading to Zotero. Zotero is a free web-based tool used with Firefox that helps writers formulate and store citations for academic papers. Zotero’s tagline is “It’s never been easier to collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources,” and the range of services that it offers to users certainly seems to back up that assessment. Zotero offers the below (

• Automatically capture citations
• Remotely back up and sync your library
• Store PDFs, images, and web pages
• Organize with collections, tags, and related
• Access your library anywhere
• Fully searchable PDFs, notes, and citations
• Cite from within Word and OpenOffice (link)
• Take rich-text notes in any language
• Import/Export your library
• Collaborate with private or public groups (link)
• Open source, free, and updated constantly

If you have an iPhone, you can also take advantage of a Zotero plug-in called BibUp. This app allows you to create a citation by scanning a book's barcode. The BibUp allows you to easily create bibliographic references by scanning books barcodes and extracts of text. "The references, including the OCRed text, can be viewed on a web page and collected using the Zotero plugin for Firefox." For more information on BibUp, visit here.

A similar application for the iPhone is Quick Cite. To be used independently of Zotero, this app allows you to scan a book's barcode and then emails you the citation in APA, MLA, Chicago, or IEEE styles. To download, visit here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Reading at Loop Campus on March 1st

As part of The Association of Writing and Writing Programs (creative writing) conference held in Chicago from February 29th through March 3rd, SNL Faculty members Deborah Holton and Patricia Monaghan will join other writers in presenting a short program of original fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Please join if you can and feel free to invite friends or interested students. The reading will be at the loop campus, 1E. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60604 The DePaul Center (Room 8011) on Thursday, March 1st at 6:15PM.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The importance of failure in the creative process

“The success of failure: Pulitzer winner’s surprising road to the top” discusses not only the writing process, but also more generally the importance of failure and grit for creativity. Jennifer Egan, the Pulitzer winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, sometimes writes up to 50 or 60 drafts of her novels. While she calls her first drafts “terrible,” she tirelessly works to improve upon them by editing, outlining, and discussions with other writers; and then by repeating each step as many times as necessary. "The key is struggling a lot," Egan says. Egan allows herself to engage in the creative struggle, which requires her to “fail” several times in her writing process before she finds her way to the often-successful end product. In writing and other creative endeavors, failure can actually pave the way to creativity. One just needs to allow themselves to learn from mistakes rather than be paralyzed by them. Read the full text here:

Happening Now: February "Bootcamps" for SNL Students

Back by popular demand, the UCWbL's "bootcamps" are for SNL writers with an incomplete grade on their transcripts. These bootcamps will help students get back on track, and they include faculty-led sessions to create a supportive academic environment for students to get assistance with writing and research. Students working on an Advanced Project or Independent Learning Pursuit are also welcome to attend the boot camp and write in the presence of experienced faculty and tutors.

The dates are as follows:

Saturday, February 18 – Loop – 9 AM to 1 PM Lewis 1309
Saturday, February 25 – Loop – 9 AM to 1 PM Lewis 1309
Monday, February 27 – Loop – 5:30 to 9:30 PM 14 E. Jackson 15th Floor

In order to register, students send an email to with their name, DePaul ID#, and incomplete course title(s) they wish to work on at least three (3) days prior to the session. They should bring a flash drive, a copy of the incomplete contract, and all prior assignment preparation materials to the session. Students should also notify their faculty mentor that they are attending.

Help Promote the SNL Writing Showcase!

Have you come across any impressive student papers this quarter? SNL Writing Showcase entries are due April 1st, 2012! Please encourage your students to submit samples of their best writing to For the application and more information, please visit

Monday, February 13, 2012

Place-based writing exercises can encourage SNL students to “make their own knowledge”

Many scholars have argued that the classroom itself is politicized space that displaces and de-identifies students (Bartholomae, “Inventing the University,” Cushman, Drew, Reynolds “Composition’s Imagined Geographies”, Owens, Composition and Sustainability, Owens, “Teaching in Situ”). Jonathon Mauk has gone so far as to argue that college students are lost in space because they are not intellectually situated in academic space. Interestingly, he mentions this is particularly true for non-traditional students (119).

Julie Drew argues that by inviting students to become “travelers” and to write about the places that they visit we allow them to situate themselves and to write from experience. Writing about place gives students power by positioning them as experts (Plevin 154). Rather than structuring instruction around “students” who exist exclusively in the classroom, but who are writers everywhere except in the classroom, Drew believes that seeing students as “travelers” allows them to be validated as writers in and out of the classroom. This aligns with Arlene Plevin’s Freireian perspective on composition. Like Brazilian liberatory educator Paolo Freire, Plevin believes that the world and humans are in constant interaction, and that students “make their own knowledge” (151-152).

For this reason, instructors might consider making students subjects in the classroom by using place as prompt. Rather than beginning an assignment with an assigned reading or developing a question that attempts to engage a diverse group of students, consider beginning one writing assignment with an individualized field trip. In the hybrid Advanced Elective that I teach, I begin with a theme, such as “neighborhoods.” We read one theoretical piece and one example travel essay on neighborhoods; then students choose a neighborhood to visit for a few hours. They post their field trip plan to D2L, and offer feedback and suggestions on others’ plans. (As a sidenote, this has proven to be a powerful use of the D2L discussion boards.) Students often share prior knowledge of places they have visited and help each other build their paper topics. When students attend their field trip, they take detailed field notes on the space. From these notes, they create an essay.

These “students-as-travelers” see themselves as conscious creators and agents of their writing, rather than as passive respondents to a given prompt. One student begins his essay by saying, “I walked with a new eye of observation.” This re-vision of neighborhood invites students into critical thinking (Dobrin & Weisser). But even more than that, this student questions what it means to live in one place and make a home in another when he realizes that his neighborhood is dominated by a culture other than his own:

Was I subconsciously ignoring what this community had to offer, afraid I would find a sense of home away from home? I was puzzled as to why I had not noticed any of these cultural symbols before, and honestly I have to attribute it to me somehow ignoring it because where I lived was not my neighborhood.

The concluding experience of his self-directed field trip and essay is when he interacts with a man on the street, and develops an understanding of stewardship. He begins to realize that neighborhoods are not always stewarded by those who live there, and through the foil of a man in this neighborhood, he begins to understand that place and home may, in fact, be disconnected:
As I was looking at the hole where this former restaurant and dance studio was previously located, a gentleman working the valet service for another restaurant close says, “we will rebuild.” … So I asked what did he mean by “we” and he began to tell me how the community would rebuild what was lost! …I also asked if he lived in the area, and his response was NO, and at that moment I felt like this was more of his neighborhood than mine, my house may be located in this area, but this was his neighborhood.

Further, students can be motivated to act in their communities and in their world by the occurrences that they document. One student noted that in her commuter neighborhood, the sidewalks on same side of the street as the train station were neatly cared for; when she tried to walk on the opposite side of the street, she found that the walk was crumbling. She noticed that the only time people walked in her neighborhood was from car to business, or car to home. As she developed her essay, she asked, “What if I found that I do not like my neighborhood?” Another student discovered a wealth of resources and crumbling community in the neighborhood of his youth. He wrote, “Palmer Park was created at the beginning of the twentieth century to bring strength and cohesiveness to the surrounding communities. It was successful for over a hundred years. Now the park has become a well resourced space almost devoid of local residents.” He reflects repeatedly on ample resources – baseball diamonds, a pool with a playground, multiple field houses with basketball courts and aerobics classes – all unused.

These three students made new knowledge by stepping out into the worlds they lived in and “walking with a new eye of observation.” Claude Hurlbert posits that this reconfiguration of rhetoric would lead to a “stewardship of our homes, lands, and minds, and also our students’ real touching and real feeling – their real work” (357). SNL students are particularly suited for this kind of real work, easily begun by re-visioning the prompt for one assignment.

Works Cited

Cushman, Ellen. “Location and (Dis)placement in Composition Pedagogy. Relations Locations Positions: Composition Theory for Writing Teachers. Eds. Peter Vandenberg, Sue Hum, and Jennifer Clary-Lemon. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2006. 358-362. Print.

Dobrin, Sidney I. “Writing Takes Place.” Ecocomposition: Theoretical and Pedagogical Approaches. Ed. Christian R. Weisser and Sidney I. Dobrin. Albany: State University of New York P, 2001. 11-25. Print.

Dobrin, Sidney I. and Christian R. Weisser. “Breaking Ground in Ecocomposition: Exploring Relationships between Discourse and Environment.” College English 64:5 (2002): 566-89. Print.

Drew, Julie. “The Politics of Place: Student Travelers and Pedagogical Maps.” Ecocomposition: Theoretical and Pedagogical Approaches. Ed. Christian R. Weisser and Sidney I. Dobrin. Albany: State University of New York P, 2001. 57-68. Print.

Hurlbert, Claude. “A Place in Which to Stand.” Relations Locations Positions: Composition Theory for Writing Teachers. Eds. Peter Vandenberg, Sue Hum, and Jennifer Clary-Lemon. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2006. 353-357. Print.

Owens, Derek. “Teaching in Situ.” Relations Locations Positions: Composition Theory for Writing Teachers. Eds. Peter Vandenberg, Sue Hum, and Jennifer Clary-Lemon. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2006. 363-370. Print.

Plevin, Arlene. “The Liberatory Poistioning of Place in Ecocomposition: Reconsidering Paulo Freire.” Ecocomposition: Theoretical and Pedagogical Approaches. Ed. Christian R. Weisser and Sidney I. Dobrin. Albany: State University of New York P, 2001. 147-62. Print.

Monday, February 6, 2012

For your viewing pleasure…new items on the SNL Writing Website!

Visit the SNL Writing Website,, for the below:

1. A new interview with SNL graduate and former Writing Center Tutor Stephen Hall in which he tells how SNL students can be successful writers, discusses working on his Advanced Project, and tells how the Writing Center can help SNL students.

Recognizing the writing-intensive curriculum of the SNL program, Stephen encourages SNL students to enjoy writing as a process. Even though SNL students have many demands on their time, he believes that it is helpful to view writing as a several step endeavor. Stephen says students need to take time to think about the given writing assignment, time to jot down and outline ideas, and time to write multiple drafts. He offers the example of his own work on his Advanced Project on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and how he allotted himself plenty of time to delve into the material by thinking, researching, and writing about ADHD before he started his first draft.

As an UCWbL tutor, Stephen reminded students how they are uniquely positioned to develop their writing stylistically. This sound bite captures Stephen’s attitude towards taking advantage of academic writing, “So often outside of the academic world, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to own your own voice and to communicate that voice. The School for New Learning certainly fosters an atmosphere where one’s voice can be discovered and heard.” Stephen closes by encouraging students to use the UCWbL not as an editing service, but rather as a place to explore the entire writing process from ‘end to beginning;’ first determining what the final outcome of any given writing project will be.

2. Do you know students writing an Independent Learning Project this quarter? If so, direct them to here to view two new sample ILPs in the focus area, titled "Learning Six Sigma Theory" and "Collecting and Classifying Folklore."

*Please note that the interview with Mary Erl on writing 10 Independent Learning Projects has been moved from the main page to the ILP page,

UCWbL provides a second set of eyes for SNL Faculty

The UCWbL provides “copy-editing services to any faculty member whose writing project has been accepted by a journal or press for publication." See: If you would like to take advantage of this service, please contact UCWbL director, Laurie Dietz, at Remember that the Writing Center can give feedback at any stage of the writing process, even if your writing project has not yet been accepted for publication. Visit here for more information.