Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Final Exam

As a concluding evaluative activity for this course, the final exam will combine several kinds of knowledge media (oral, handwritten, and typed). These are the required steps:

  1. A preliminary blog post (less formal, a review and prep for the exam)
  2. An in-class "salon" (an oral-written activity held Tues. 12/13/2011 from 8-10am)
  3. A final blog post (more formal, based on steps 1 and 2, due by Wednesday, 12/14/2011 at noon)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Unit Four Project: Academic Paper

For this end of unit evaluation students will be writing a traditional academic paper.
We have grouped students according to topic into teams of two or three people. Members of your team will help you to brainstorm your specific topic, find sources, and review your draft. Option: You may create a collaborative paper together, provided that it is three pages and two sources per person.

Length: 3-4 pages (750-1000 words). For collaborative papers, 3-4 pages per person.

Sources: At least two sources (per person in a collaborative paper), properly documented in MLA format, including a Works Cited page. You are not restricted to sources from your bibliography assignment, and you are encouraged to consult the bibliographies of your peers that touch on your topic. Online sources will also be permitted, properly documented.

Due Dates:
  • First draft, Tuesday, Dec 6th in class. Bring a printed copy for review by your peers.
  • Final draft, Thursday, Dec 8th (by end of the day). Submit 1) The final paper; 2) peer critique form from Tuesday; 3) First draft from Tuesday.
During this last week of class (Dec 1-8), your blogging should focus on this final paper. Create one or more "in-process" posts in which you talk through your writing development process. Ideas:
  • Brainstorm about how to connect your topic to the learning outcomes
  • Respond to sources from others' bibliographies that relate to your topic
  • Post a proposed thesis statement and request input
  • Post a draft of your paper. 
Be sure that you do not simply post, but that you interact online with your topic team members or those from your home group.

See below for topic teams.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Unit Four: Print Knowledge

Eisenstein's famous study of
the effects of printing
The final unit for our course on Reinventing Knowledge pertains to print. What are the institutions, the cultural patterns, the conventions of communication and of thought that emerge when a society adopts printing as its primary intellectual medium? These are the larger questions we mean to explore.

Our calendar is as follows:

  • Intro to Print (Tues, Nov 8)
  • Intellectual Property, Copyright, Censorship (Thurs., Nov 10)
    Read: Walter Ong, "Print, Space, and Closure" (13 page PDF)
  • The Protestant Reformation (Tues., Nov 15)
    Read: Martin Luther, "Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation"
  • Learned Communication / Scholarship (Thurs. Nov 17)
    Read: Reinventing Knowledge, Chapt. 4: The Republic of Letters
  • Guest Lecturer: Royal Skousen (Tues., Nov 29)
  • Print and Science (Thurs. Dec 1)
What follows is a required field trip and a bibliography assignment, both of which we expect students to work into their blogging during this unit:

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Rosetta Project

To conclude our unit on written knowledge, we will be doing a two-part project, working within the civilization-based groups in which we met recently. (We will not be changing the blogging groups; this is just for this assignment.)

Our purpose is to help reach the learning outcomes of understanding communications media and sharing knowledge by doing two activities that require you to deal with the material nature of written communication, languages and scripts, and the kinds of content typical of specific civilizations.

Part One: Create an Artefact
Due: Thursday, Nov 10

Working within your new civilization-based groups
  1. Decide upon a brief message that you will write, appropriate to a chosen culture within your civilization group (no longer than 10-12 words)
  2. Select the appropriate language and script from that civilization.
  3. Select an appropriate medium for that message, again, based on the chosen culture or civilization.
  4. Create your artefact
  5. Bring this artefact to class on Thurs., Nov 10
  6. Prepare some blank media that will be three times the length of your first artefact (this is for part two).
As decided within the group, take responsibility for each of these components and blog about your choices and the process of creating your written message. 

Example: Let's say we are in the Americas group and we choose the Maya language. We might consider a message related to astrology since the Maya were calendar keepers. Of course, we would choose the Maya ideographic language and script, and would choose either stone or another appropriate medium that is authentic to that civilization (We are willing to accept reasonable approximations of original media, such as material you might get at a craft store, though you may wish to check with us). After making our message on a piece of stone that's 3x3 inches, we would prepare another stone that's about 3x9 inches that's blank.

Part Two: Create a Rosetta Thing!
Due: Tuesday, Nov 15

Each group will be receiving one of the artefacts from another group, along with the blank medium they've prepared. 

Help! This makes no sense! 

That's right; you are going to translate this artefact as follows, approximating what occurred with the actual Rosetta Stone. Again, working in your civilization-based groups:
  1. Translate the foreign artefact into English (use whatever resources are at your disposal, except make any translation resource reliable; Google Translate is not on that list.)
  2. Translate this into the language and script which you used in part one.
  3. Use the blank media that you prepared, and create a Rosetta Thing that includes
    1. A re-creation of the same language from the original artefact you received
    2. An English translation
    3. The translation into your chosen language and script
Example (continued):
Let's say that we in the Americas group receive a strange object from the Greek group. So, we have to figure out how to translate Greek into English. Maybe we find a professor of Greek and bribe him with chocolate to help us. Then, because we have this extra bit of stone from Part One, we copy the Greek from the Greek's object onto our stone, then add to this our English translation and our translation into the Maya language and script. Along the way, we blog about the obstacles and insights, and the actual process of creating the physical written object.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Authenticity (of content / message, of appropriate language and script; of medium)
  • Collaboration (evidence of each group member contributing)
  • Aesthetics (skill of execution. Is this lame, or is this cool?)
  • Documenting of process (each individual on his or her blog)
  • Intelligent reflection on how this exercise contributes to course learning outcomes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Wave the St. George and weep.

Then check out "I Vow to Thee My country," and for fun and political incorrectness, this.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Unit Three: Written Knowledge

Cuneiform tablet (creative commons licensed
by Unhindered by Talent)
Writing was an invention that didn't just change civilization; it became one of its foundational institutions. For the next few weeks we will be focusing on the effects of writing on the history of civilization.

Of course, from studying oral knowledge, we have already seen that language and the power of speech has been central to society -- to art, religion, politics, etc. The question now is, how do societies change with the advent of writing?

For one thing, new institutions emerge that depend upon the things that writing can provide that a merely oral-based society could not.

Class Performance: King Benjamin's Speech

Students in Honors 201: Reinventing Knowledge at Brigham Yong University learned about oral knowledge by together memorizing and reciting the entire speech given by King Benjamin in The Book of Mormon (see Mosiah 2:9 - 5:15). They memorized this within a week's time and worked both individually and within groups to prepare the 30-minute speech: