note: 'discussion' tab above is for posting comments, observations and/or questions about our readings


Active reading means reading with pen and highlighter, noting unfamiliar words, favorite passages, key terms and responding in the margins with questions and ideas. It also may mean re-reading several times - especially if the text is difficult. Active reading is conscious, alert, looking for central meaning, logic, patterns, connections. The practice of active reading automatically enhances your own writing as your awareness dawn and you begin to simultaneously assess the content and the construction of the texts you read.

Here are a few readings to get you started....

New Yorker Interpreter.pdf - John Colapinto (a missionary-turned-linguist studies an amazing tribal language)

New Yorker EUREKA.pdf - Jonah Lehrer (recent brain research & how to tap in to your genius)

The Performative Icon.pdf - JSTOR article about how icons communicate

"Living Like Weasels" - Annie Dillard (vividly detailed, thought-provoking creative nonfiction with poetic rhythms)

"She UnnamesThem" - Ursula LeGuin (a very short story simmering with significance & enhanced with poetry)

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The American Scholar" (reflections on learning & inspiration)

"Self-Reliance" (encouragement for originality)

The Wisdom Paradox - Elkhonon Goldberg book review:

NPR: Bored? Try DoodlingTo Keep The Brain On Task

NPR: In Milliseconds, Brain Zips From Thought to Speech

NYT: Does the Brain Like E-Books?

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

(especially see ch. 7 to read about pursuit of illicit literacy)

other useful links....

Richmond Writing Center

Writer's Web online handbook

Richmond Writing blog

VISUAL LITERACY: reading involves attending to more than just text

As the Web continues to expand, we will continue to experience an explosion of images, often at a rapid rate. For this reason, it is crucial to develop a visual literacy that focuses attention on non-textual details to "read" them for significance. We do this kind of reading all the time: we read the sky for the weather, we read facial expressions, we read the mood of a group of people, we read the tracks we find on a trail. Visual literacy involves paying close attention, noticing specific details and interpreting them in their context. This can be applied to art, graffiti, official images and advertising - the most crucial area for critical attention. What details emerge from a close reading of the images below?

EXERCISE: study the images closely and choose the one you find most provocative. Write a paragraph describing specific details and how you interpret them, pick the second most provocative image and repeat the process. Conclude with a third paragraph that ties the images together in some way by a common theme, visual arrangement, etc.