Book Review Project

Each of you will review a book from the list of recent books (see below) having to do with computers and writing after these introductory comments. Each of you will give a 10 minute or so video “presentation” about your book (which we’ll watch in class), and each of you will also write a brief (1500 word or so) review of the book.

Here’s how this will work:

  • Below is a list of the books that are available for review. I’ve tried to come up with a list of books that are mostly “current” (less than five years old) and that address a variety of issues important to scholars in “computers and writing.” Some of these books are highly theoretical, while others are rooted in more pragmatic issues. Most of these books offer information applicable to teachers of students at a variety of different levels, some are very much about pedagogy and writing studies, while others are only indirectly connected to teaching.
  • If you don’t see anything on this list that you want to review, I will consider alternative suggestions. However, you should be aware that you will need a compelling reason to convince me to allow you to review and report on a book not on this list.
  • During class on January 28, everyone will sign up for both a book and a date when their review will be due. If you aren’t here that day, I will likely pick a book and a due date for you. Books will be chosen on a friendly “first-come, first-serve” basis where the people who sign up to do their reviews earlier in the term will have first choice on the books to review, and vice-versa. This means you will probably need to be flexible to review a couple of different titles, and it also means that if there is a particular book on the list you are really interested in reviewing, you will want to sign up to deliver your book review sooner in the term. I reserve the right to slightly alter choices in terms of books and dates for giving reviews if necessary, and I will assign books to review and dates to report for anyone who has not signed up during this class meeting.
  • Once you chose a book and a date to report to the class on your book, you cannot change your mind and the deadline for your presentation and review is firm. We have a tight schedule this term, and it could be difficult if not impossible to reschedule “late” reports.
  • “How the heck are we supposed to give an electronic/online presentation?!” you may be asking. Well, this is one of the intentional “challenges” of the assignment because it will require you to figure this out. But basically, each of you to record a 8-10 minute YouTube video and share your link to that video with the class. Here are two examples from past students that are pretty good:
  • Most of you probably have the equipment for making this video presentation. For example, the best “camera” I own is my iPhone, and the software I would use to edit this video together is iMovie.  For those working with MS Windows, the application you’ll probably use is Movie Maker, though there are some other products out there. If you don’t have access to a video camera, let me know and I’ll help you out. And of course I will be happy to meet face to face with any of you to sort out any technical problems.
  • Don’t forget that you need to write a book review essay too, and it is due the week you give your presentation! For whatever reason, this was something that some students seem to forget. Also, this assignment is one that may offer publishing opportunities for you! When I was soliciting colleagues in the field about book review ideas (via an email list I’m on), a couple different people who edit different venues in the computers and writing/digital humanities fields expressed interest in publishing reviews of recent work. And what could these reviews look like? Here are two examples, quite different from each other but both approaches could meet the assignment:

Here is the list of books you can review (the links are to

Arroyo, Sarah. Participatory Composition: Video, Culture, Writing, and Electracy. Southern Illinois UP, 2013. (Definitely about composition studies issues as they connect with technology; probably pretty theory-heavy, too).

Banks, Adam. Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age. Southern Illinois UP, 2011. (This book is a little older than I would prefer to include in a list like this, but this is also one of those important books that is really well-regarded.)

boyd, danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University Press, 2015. (I’ve read parts of this and other work from boyd [who doesn’t capitalize her name for some reason], and while I am not completely sure I agree with her arguments, it’s interesting and she’s a good writer. There’s a free PDF version of this book here.

Brown, James. Ethical Programs: Hospitality and the Rhetorics of Software. University of Michigan Press, 2015. (This looks interesting to me; it’s definitely going to be theory-heavy. There is an open-source version here, though if I were doing this review, I’d probably go ahead and buy the book).

Carr, Nicholas. The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us. WW Norton & Company, 2015. (Carr is a well-known critic/skeptic of all things technology, and I am certain that this book is in that vein. This is a “pop press” sort of book.)

Carpenter, Russell, Richard Selfe, Shawn Apostel, and Kristi Apostel, Eds. Sustainable Learning Spaces: Design, Infrastructure, and Technology. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. (This is an electronic edited collection of essays that I’m including because of the focus on pedagogy, technology, and “learning spaces,” meaning physically on campuses and the like. This is only available electronically.)

Lambert, Alexander. Intimacy and Friendship on Facebook. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. (I don’t know much about this beyond what’s on the page, though there was a review of this book in Kairos.)

Palmeri, Jason. Remixing Composition: A History of Multimodal Writing Pedagogy. Southern Illinois University Press, 2012. (Well-reviewed book– I know that students have reviewed this book before and liked it.)

Pedersen, Isabel. Ready to Wear: A Rhetoric of Wearable Computers and Reality-Shifting Media. Parlor Press, 2013. (I don’t know much of anything about it, but I like the description quite a bit.)

Ridolfo, Jim. Digital Samaritans: Rhetorical Delivery and Engagement in the Digital Humanities. University of Michigan Press, 2015. (This is by one of the editors of our Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities collection we’re reading for class; probably pretty theory-heavy but interesting I am sure. There’s an open-source version here, though if I were doing this review, I’d probably go ahead and buy the book).

Standage, Tom. Writing on the Wall: Social Media– The First 2,000 Years. Bloomsbury, 2014. (I’ve read much of this book. Standage discusses the history of early writing technologies– graffiti during the time of the Roman empire, for example– and argues these were the first social media tools.)

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Basic Books, 2012. (I think Turkle’s basic argument here is completely and utterly wrong, but hey, that’s just my opinion. Pretty much a “popular press” kind of read).

Ulmer, Gergory Electracy: Gregory L. Ulmer’s Textshop Experiments. The Davis Group, 2015. (I don’t know much of anything about this book, other than Ulmer is an interesting and complicated writer in composition studies. Could be cool).

van Dijick, José. The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media. Oxford UP, 2013. (Well-reviewed; it looks interesting to me at least).