Quilt, After Magritte: Key to Dreams
ENGL 3179/5179: Elements of Electronic Rhetoric
Office hours: TBA. Other times by appointment
- Course address: http://erhetoric.org/Erhetoric/
- Course updates: follow @mcmorgan Use #erhet3177
Prerequisite: Completion of ENGL 1151 and ENGL 2152, or permission of instructor.
- Stoner and Perkins. Making Sense of Messages,Houghton Mifflin, 2004. ISBN-10: 0205564518. I recommend renting this book or buying it used. We're using chaps 1 - 8.
- Myers, Greg. The Discourse of Blogs and Wikis. Continuum, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-1847064141
- Other readings and media linked to and distributed by the instructor
- Our approach is descriptive rather than prescriptive.
- Our approach is methodical rather than scatter-shot.
- Our approach makes explicit use of theory.
- And so we engage in a method of description, analysis, and interpretation.
- learn some of the fundamentals of rhetoric and rhetorical analysis
- learn a systematic method of study and analysis by which to approach a rhetorical message
- become a more deft, practiced, and critical consumer and producer of digital media
Hopefully - and while this is your responsibility, I'll do my best to make it possible - you'll gain in insight into your self as a user and creator of media, digital and otherwise. I hope that you might come to a better understanding of how we adapt language to new situations and new media; and, even more, I hope you become more adept at adapting yourself.
A rhetorical focus is a focus on how messages work. Not so much on what a message means because most of the time the meaning is pretty obvious once it's seen. That is, we're not looking at personal meanings ("What this message means to me is...") but public, shared meaning, meaning that both writer and reader invest in and employ rhetorical resources to create: the writer in creating the message and the reader in interpreting that message. A rhetorical focus addresses the larger rhetorical situation that the message operates in. A rhetorical focus demands that we take a step back from the text we're looking at, and work with the text from outside the rhetorical situation, rather than from a reader's impression or a gut reaction. And a rhetorical focus means we sideline intent, because messages typically mean and operate in ways rhetors don't necessarily intend.
The questions we're addressing are
- how does this message work
- in what context
- to do what
- with what significance
Our work with these questions will be social, grounded, specific, particular. Our approach is exploratory, methodical, pragmatic, social. We're going to try things out - then see what they mean. We will not come to any final, absolute conclusions about them. But we can develop some insights, illuminate matters. And that's enough.
- observing and note-taking
- discussing and comparing notes with others
- making maps and diagrams - with some notes
- discovering patterns - and discovering what's left out of the message
- more notetaking and discussion - revising and adding to notes
- classifying / defining / reclassifying - by drawing on notes you've taken
- interpreting - again, drawing on notes you've taken and worked with
- sharing what you have found
So, expect to take lots of notes on paper and online. Expect to make lists and diagrams. Expect exchange and two-way commenting based on those notes, lists, and diagrams. Expect to work with others to develop approaches, methods, observations, analyses, ideas.
Writing the wiki is an integral part of this course and your learning for this course. As your notes progress, you will begin, I hope, to cross link to the notes and observations of others. University students and professors are now in the business of making their course work in progress available to those interested; it's another new rhetorical practice of digital space.
The wiki is a FishBowl wiki: The world can see what we're posting, search engines can locate it, but only registered users can edit and post comments. Registered users include past and present students in the class and academics who request editing for good pedagogical reasons. AboutThisWiki
I will also offer face to face meetings at our scheduled time for questions, tutorials, seminars, face to face exercises, or just work time - whatever we or you might need to do that week. These meetings are voluntary. Some of them I'll plan, such as seminar discussions on a reading or project, or a Q and A period. Others will be wide open: I will be in the classroom for questions, and you're welcome to come and engage in discussions, collaborations, and practice.
Back story: When I discussed with students running this course online, some did not want to lose the face to face discussions, the chance to work collaboratively face to face, and the opportunity to just hang around and socialize after the course sessions. At the same time, the BSU administration is encouraging faculty to offer more courses online. The hybrid you're part of is an effort to address both requests. Attending the voluntary face to face meetings, engaging in discussions, working together face to face, will make it a slightly different course than being wholly online. I'll be looking into recording face to face seminar discussions and Q and As and having them posted online so that everyone can access them.
This is not a self-paced class, however. Reading assignments, exercises, discussions, presentations will be assigned and due week by week. In great part this is so you can see how others are handling the material, and work in pairs. The wiki we're using makes it a common practice to see how others are approaching a problem. (It's been a common practice in the visual arts for generations. Sculptors, designers and painters often visit the studios of other artists to see how they address a problem. Academic apprenticeship is catching up.)
While I will be reading much of what you post on line, I won't be commenting on everything. My job in commenting on your notes is to help you practice and master the analytical methods of this class, analytical methods that undergird many classes and most disciplines. So for notes, I'll do three things:
- Especially near the beginning of the course, I'll link to and comment on some good examples of note-taking - examples that address the situation well, examples that I find demonstrate good approaches. I'll point them up and explain what I find strong about them.
- I will periodically comment to you directly on your note-taking, to let you know how you're doing and to give you some directed advice.
- I will assign points to your note-taking as part of your grade for that project, with general advice on what you're doing well and how to improve your note-taking for the next project.
Especially at the beginning of the course, I will ask you to structure your notes in particular ways. I might, for instance, ask you to use headings to organize your notes, placing your observations under Description and your notes on analysis under Analysis. This request isn't frivolous. It allows me to see not just that you understand the method but how you understand what you're doing. (It's better than using a quiz or exam.) See Stoner and Perkins, chaps 1 - 2 for more.
I'll also encourage you to look at how others are approaching the exercises and assignments by visiting their always-in-progress wiki pages, and I'll encourage you to ask them questions and make observations on how they are approaching the problem - just as you would in any good face to face workshop.
- Making a video presentation, posting to YouTube or elsewhere.
- Making a slide-driven online presentation with examples and audio, posting to SlideShare or elsewhere.
- Using Prezi.
- A multimodal, linked, wikipage.
- A screen cast.
- Using the medium we're studying, when appropriate.
I want to offer the option of face to face class presentation, so I'm looking in to having those presentations video or audio recorded.
Project presentations will be made available online, wherever is appropriate, but linked to your WikiName page. All are expected to visit every project and to respond to some: We'll work out who and how when the time arrives. I'll evaluate your work on your notes for a project when you submit your presentation.
I'll post grades and brief comments on D2L as the semester progresses. I may respond to your notes and exercises on the wiki page, either in the page itself or in the comments, or by email, depending on what's appropriate.
Final grading tries to balance mastering method (in note-taking and other assignments) with synthesis of knowledge (by means of presentations). Points come from your writing: there are no tests or quizzes. My rough cut is this:
- Notes and other assignments - 50 - 60%
- Presentations - 30 - 40%
- Engagement and helpfuless - 20%
As the course progresses, I may adjust the balance between notes and presentations if this plan doesn't reflect what's happening in class. Right now, I'm considering three projects of 300 points each, for a total of 900 points. The total number of points may increase.
Final grades will follow the usual scale.
- A = 90 - 100 %
- B = 89 - 80
- C = 79 - 70
- D = 69 - 60
- F = below 60 %
We'll see how projects and presentations go. Sometimes they don't work as expected. If a revision is warranted (that is, if by revising a project, something can be learned, better articulated, better understood), you'll have the opportunity to revise.
WikiName page, on which you will add links to wiki pages you're working on for notes, exercises, projects. Everything on the wiki is visible to the world although it's editable only by registered users. Over the years, the wiki has grown to include work of former students on past projects: This is now shared content for this course we can all draw on.
For projects, you may want to or have to work and store your content on other sites. In that case, you'll add a link to your work in the appropriate wiki page.
If you would rather work on your notes on your own wiki or blog, or supplement your work on this wiki elsewhere - by embedding your own images, for instance - by my guest. In such a case, place a link to your work on your wiki page or embed the image using the appropriate tag. See FormattingRules: Images. The advantage of working with a wiki over a blog is that wiki pages are readily editable, blog pages less so. Where ever you work, expect to revise and edit notes over time.
Early in the semester, I'll ask the grad students to discuss grad requirements. Here are two I've considered and we have used in the past.
YouTube, rss news aggregators... Prepare a short report on what you did and how it went.
This statement is subject to change. You'll be informed if I do change it, and changes will be marked on the statement.
below the line
This course is part of the minor in Electronic Writing, and part of the Undergraduate and Grad Certificate in Electronic Writing. Other courses in the series are
- ENGL 2150: Tech Writing
- ENGL 3177/5177 Weblogs and Wikis
- ENGL 3179/5179 Elements of E-Rhetoric
- ENGL 4169/5169 Web Content Writing
- ENGL 4180/5180: Capstone Project