Rhetoric, Composition, and Computers

Course Goals:

This course is designed to introduce you to the theoretical and practical elements of composing arguments for public audiences in the digital age using new technologies. You will examine foundational principles of classical rhetoric as they are enacted in traditional print media and as they are reconfigured in/by electronic media. You will apply those principles as you analyze and produce digital (or digitally enhanced) compositions that make use of a variety of currently popular software applications (including especially cloud-based computing sites).


Because this is an introductory course that explores the intersections among rhetoric, composition, and computers, you will not be expected to learn any particular digital composing applications in serious depth; nonetheless, you will be expected to learn about (and begin to make use of) a handful of contemporary applications that will facilitate electronic communications. In past courses, for example, students have learned to utilize programs like GarageBand, Audacity, Acid, Photoshop, Weebly, Prezi, and WordPress—all at an introductory level, and all through a lens of rhetorical theory and practice. This will be a highly collaborative class: you will learn through seminar-style discussions, through workshops in which you teach each other new software applications, and through shared processes of writing and revising.



The writings you produce for this class will primarily consist of the following:

  • email interactions and/or blog posts related to classical rhetorical theory;
  • a 2.5-hour long workshop/presentation in which you teach the class members about a specific digital publishing technology—articulating both theory and practice;
  • a series of “low stakes” mini digital compositions, and
  • one substantive digital composition in which you make use of an array of digital tools in a rhetorically effective way.


Because of how collaborative and interactive this course will be, attendance will be mandatory: if this is a semester in which you cannot come to basically every weekly class session, this is not a course you should take at this time.



There will be no textbook for the course; a collection of readings in PDF form will be made available on the course website, free of charge.