computational thinking, carnegie mellon
Sponsored by
microsoft research
  Please note: as of February 2013, this site is no longer being actively maintained or updated.  
  Seminar series organized by Roger Dannenberg  
David Kaufer,
Professor and Head, Carnegie Mellon English Department
Learning to See Rhetorical Design through Computational Thinking

Tuesday, February 19, 2008, 2:30 pm, Newell-Simon Hall 3305


In this research, the rhetorical design of a text refers to patterned surface manifestations (e.g., point of view, lexical types, lexical bundles, metadiscourse and other pragmatic indicators) that provide readers with qualitative impressions of the experiences writers project for them. These patterns are difficult to notice or monitor during serial reading for content but become more noticeable when a reader lingers over a text to study how an accomplished author managed to create hard-won effects or a less accomplished writer failed the challenge. Such active lingering over textual artifacts is fundamental to education in the humanities and leads to much implicit learning about how texts of various types are usefully taken apart or pulled together. With the aid of computational thinking, however, these patterns can be archived for explicit learning and vocabularies can be developed to describe textual experience in standard ways both for classroom use and in research in comparative genres. This talk provides a background into this research and its applications in teaching designers how to think about writing and textual researchers how to think about genre as variations in the experiences a text can convey.


David Kaufer is Professor and Head of English at Carnegie Mellon and Co-Directs the Master of Design Program in Communication Planning and Information Design. His research interests lie at the interface of rhetoric and design, rhetorical theory, and comparative genres. He is the co-winner of the Ellen Nold Award (with Chris Neuwirth) for research in computers and writing. He has co-authored four books and two textbooks and has published over 80 research articles. He is on the National Steering Committee of the Rhetoric Institute, the Arm of the Rhetoric Society of America that organizes seminars and workshops in interdisciplinary research in rhetoric.