ENGL 3179/5179: Elements of Electronic Rhetoric
Office hours: TBA. Other times by appointment
- Course address: http://erhetoric.org/Erhetoric/
- My wiki home page: http://biro.erhetoric.org
- Course updates: follow @mcmorgan or @bsuDigiHum
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 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. 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
- discussion and comparing notes
- 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 in notes you've taken
- interpreting - again, drawing on notes you've taken and worked with
- presenting what you have found
So, expect to take lots of notes on paper and online. Expect to make lists and diagrams. Expect face to face and computer mediated collaboration based on those notes, lists, and diagrams. Expect to work in pairs and groups to develop 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.
Things come up, so if you must miss a class, let me know asap. Email or phone my office. To find out what you missed, refer to the wiki and talk to your classmates.
Missing more than four classes will likely affect your final grade. If you miss six, I will ask you to drop.
- Silence your phone during class, and put it away. You won't need it during class.
- No eating. Be careful with drinks.
- If someone is talking - me, others - restrict your typing to online notes. We can pause the discussion now and then so you can catch up on notes.
- Use computers in the classroom to extend and supplement what happens in class: taking notes, looking up concepts.... rather than as a distraction from what's happening in class. If you're not paying full attention to what we're discussing and doing in class, it's hard to participate meaningfully in the discussion.
Responses to and evaluation of projects will take place in class. If you don't have a presentation done the class day it is due, you miss that evaluation, which will cut into your grade - and the value of your evaluation - for the project. Again, it's best to present or turn in what you have rather than coming to the evaluation empty-handed.
I'll evaluate your work on your notes for a project when you submit the presentation.
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 under gird many classes and most disciplines. So for notes, I'll do three things:
- Especially near the beginning of the course, we'll look at some good examples of note-taking - examples that address the situation well, examples that I find demonstrate good approaches. I'll point them up in class 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.)
You'll will also get feedback on your notes from your colleagues. And because notes are generally posted on line, you will be able to see how others approach the problem.
- Notes and other assignments - 50 - 60%
- Presentations - 30 - 40%
- Attendance, preparedness, engagement - 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 presentations and projects 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.
Early in the semester, I will meet with 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
- ENGL 4170/5170 Web Design for Content Writers
- ENGL 3530/5530: Teaching Writing with Technology
- ENGL 3530/5530: Teaching Writing with Technology
- Prof Morgan was ill. Class cancelled until Thursday
- Longaker, chap 4, pp 102 - 123.