Writing Workshop II/ Keefer

Writing is like working out: if you don't do it everyday you get flabby. Research should be an exciting discovery if you let your imagination and curiosity feed the meticulous process of scholarly organization or the tumultuous waves of artistic creation. Think of the cat, whose curiosity is endless:

Course Objectives

Although Writing Workshop II is a research course with stringent academic requirements, it should also be a time to explore the way you think, to develop your writing style, and to discover a personal methodology that works for you. As you write and improve your research skills, think about the following questions:

1) Do you prefer to build your own house or to evaluate, analyse and synthesize the contruction of others'? (Creative vs. Critical Thinking)
2) Do you start with a view of the big picture or do you need to piece together the details before you can understand what you're talking about? (Deductive vs. Inductive Thinking)
3) Do you prefer to see, read, hear or feel things? (Sensory Preferences)
4) Do you like clear-cut goals and definitions or do you prefer to wrestle with ambiguity, surprising yourself with different shades of meaning and interpretation?
5) Are you trapped in a compulsive rigidity of formulas and protocol or are you lost in a chaotic wilderness of creativity?
6) Are you afraid to play and make a fool of yourself or are you so wild you can't conform to anything?
7)Do you need more structure or do you need to let go?

No one is completely creative or critical, inductive or deductive, but it's good to examine preferences, so we are aware of our limitations and strengths. Although everything is related, this course is organized into two components, the creative and the critical.


A. To refine our thought processes of finding and developing a thesis, constructing logical arguments through inductive/deductive/cause and effect reasoning, analyzing logical fallacies, and focusing, narrowing, classifying and organizing topics of interest.

B. To become familiar with library resources, including indexes, abstracts, bibliographies, and databases.

C. To become computer literate and communicate online with each other, the NYU community and the World Wide Web.

D. To master the techniques of scholarly documentation as outlined in the MLA Handbook, as well as the style manual pertinent to your specialty and the current Internet site on the subject.

E. To complete a 5-8 page midterm paper on a subject of your choice with a clear, well-formulated thesis developed and expanded through every paragraph, expressed as a question to be answered, a statement to be defended and a dilemma to be explored using inductive, deductive and/or cause/effect reasoning with at least a full page of bibliography.

F. To take a midterm exam on documentation, logic, research sites and sources, and methodology.

G.To complete a final research paper of expository writing (at least 10 pages) connected to the course theme of Language and the Body or TimeSpace (see my other web sites) with a 3 page bibliography including online sources, books, articles, audio-visual aids, and interviews. Hopefully, this will be creative as well, the culmination of your independent, original work.


While critical thinking is based on the principles of Aristotelian and informal logic as well as American academic thinking, creative thinking is a more ambiguous experiment. We will be playing with such concepts as homospatial and homotempøral structuring, mindbody experiments to stimulate the synaptic firing across the corpus collosum with rhythm, images and dynamics (merging of right and left brain), Janusian processes (the door opens both ways), and unpredictable sequencing to break our traditional linearity. These creative experiments will be part of the PROCESS of the course and will be measured in a PORTFOLIO, composed of weekly entries of your choice in any genre: photos, computer graphics, poems, short stories, monologues etc. You are encouraged to play, have fun, make mistakes and make a fool of yourself, as long as you submit one entry per week in chronological order. The PROCESS part will also include oral communication: interviews and class speeches on your subject. You must include at least one tape in your PORTFOLIO.


Grades are not the professor's punitive judgement of students, but rather a contract between equals. Therefore all submissions will be marked Excellent, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. 50% of the grade will be based on process: 20% for attendance/participation, and 30% for the portfolio; and 50% on final projects: (30% for the final paper, 10% for the midterm paper, and 10% for the midterm exam.) The following criteria can also help you understand the grading contract but grades will also be curved so that there is at least one A in every class.

To get an A you must:

1) Have no more than one absence;
2) Submit or present all assignments on time;
3) Have Excellent research papers and portfolio with no Unsatisfactory assignments throughout the semester.

To get a B you must:

1) Have no more than three absences;
2) Submit or present all assignments on time;
3) Have Satisfactory research papers and portfolio with no more than one Unsatisfactory assignment throughout the semester.

To get a C you must:

1) Have no more than five absences;
2) Make up all assignments by the last day of class;
3) Have a Satisfactory portfolio and final paper with no more than 3 Unsatisfactory assignments throughout the semester.

N.B. To get an A, your work must be free of grammatical errors. If you still have trouble with grammar, it is recommended that you take WWI or Grammar Strategies concurrently as WWII is a research methodology and advanced writing course.

TEXTS: (Under Keefer/WWII in the NYU Bookstore)
MLA Handbook (1995)
Engel, S. Morris. With Good Reason. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.
Pick up Creativity and Madness and Perfume under my course Language and the Body and any other books pertinent to your research.

Naturally, your personal bibliography will include books, articles, video, audio, interviews and on-line material of your choice. Individual conferences, debates, library aerobics, group brainstorming, interview techniques and lectures will be scheduled according to your needs and progress. Try to come to every class on time; if you're absent, check the assignments with a classmate. Take advantage of the class news group and the internet to help you research your material, and your classmates to help you with cross-editing.

Click on my course Language and the Body for bibliography, texts, brainstorming and ideas about the course theme. Don't be afraid to put strange things together because that will make you more original. Become an exotic chef of the mind with a cat's curiosity!

Research Sites (Where to find things)
Traditional versus Cyber Rhetoric
Exercises anyone can steal because I can always create more.