MLA: Attention Economy

party-hatsSession 194, Saturday, 10:15

This is a live blogging of the session.

Inspiration from Composition as a Happening, by Geoffrey Sirc, said that in 1976 Composition became no fun. Is there a role for fun? Affective engagement.

David Moody, Florida State U, “All Hands On: Attention Economy in the Classroom

40 yrs ago attention span 20 min., now 2 minutes

The average intro student thinks of writing as a single goal. Practicing composition demolition and recompose. Recomposition makes new composition happen.

Getting attention is the economy we are looking at.

We are using fun to get their attention. Focus and fun are opposites. Fun is a vacation. Focus is work. Fun is the result of deviating from expectation.

Classrooms create routine actions. Attention can drift.

Fun is meant to help us get attention.
1991 College English “We don’t talk much about enjoyment…”

Are we using fun as bait and then tossing students back into boring, serious classroom?

Autocratic course, introductory course, restricting access… Prevent information overload. Course design limits the overload for students. Students are rarely cognizant of this benefit. Managerial role obvious in PowerPoint (50 pages of info in 5 slides).

Assuming any tool actively keeps attention denies the agency of the student.

Practicing classical rhetorical technique can help students. Attention cannot be kept. Techniques of interest. Fun rhetoric punctuates as it emphasizes.

Once fun becomes normal, it becomes boring.

Pleasure is not short-lived. Fun is short-lived. Composing is often pleasurable because we have deviated from expectations.

Kenneth Goldsmith. Composing Day. 800-page book retyping of NYTimes.

Creative work must absorb, not distract. Fun risks more deviation. Creative work must flow. Pleasure can flow. Fun does not.

In a recompositionist’s approach to writing multiple arrangements are examined. Switch intro and conclusion. Intros become poems, videos, … Some of these narratives get acted out in the composing process.

20 possible arrangements of 5-paragraph essays.

The idea is that it can be pleasurable to recompose, so that the stress of writing seems more fun. Recomposing can create new work. The new work can be integrated into the text. The final text can be significantly different. Management of composition will turn student into composers.

Fun is a one-night stand. It’s a distraction.

Fun is decomposition. Teaching with fun teaches lower attention.

Wonder what a fun presentation of this information would have looked like? Would fun have allowed the group to accept the information? Would the group have accepted something fun? Or does scholarly work remain too staid for fun?

Might have brought the book and a daily New York Times. Started with the attention-gaining opening. (Moody used three.)

Have funny visuals for the points. Less verbiage and more pedagogy.

I thought this would be significantly pedagogical. (Although I should not have expected that as my proposal was pedagogically focused and it was not accepted.)

Clearly he does not believe we should use fun. It’s odd that he is here at a “fun” panel. Attention is something he does support.

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