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It is not uncommon to lament the widespread use of “textspeak”or what is perceived as the general decline of grammatically correct English. Enter Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes,” a parody of Robin Thicke’s controversial “Blurred Lines.” In the former, the lyrics denigrate the imagined listener for taking liberties with Standard English—but I would argue that that, too, is just as controversial.
In the same way that Thicke’s song denies women their agency, Yankovic denies the value of dialects other than “academese.” Indeed, he sings that ”Literacy's your mission,” which narrows the definition of literacy to a specific type—a type to which new literacy and community literacy scholars, for example, might object, since its emphasis is on reading and writing in a particular style.
Dan Melzer. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2014. 148 pp. $24.95 pbk.
Reviewed by: Jason Tham, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN
Writing assignments are one of the fundamental pieces of classroom discourse that contain rich information about the rhetorical contexts of writing across the curriculum (WAC). This book presents Melzer’s study of 2,101 undergraduate writing assignments in 100 postsecondary institutions in the United States.
Reviewed by Traci Zimmerman, Academic Unit Head and Professor, James Madison University
For scholars and educators, having access to knowledge and being able to share ideas is the bedrock upon which our entire educational and democratic enterprise depends. For Aaron Swartz, information access and dissemination was seen as a fundamental human right, a right certainly worth fighting for, and a fight that would ultimately lead to his tragic suicide at the age of 26. Brian Knappenberger’s film deftly tells the story of Aaron’s life as a way not only to illustrate and advance the cause for which he lived but also to catalyze questions and inspire change as we understand and examine the circumstances of his death.