Sem Composition (Digital Techs & Study of English)

The purpose of this course is to introduce students in composition and rhetoric to key issues, central questions, and developing literacy and pedagogy practices in the emerging subdiscipline of computers and composition. The course will explore broad-based concerns about rhetoric, culture, and digital technologies in dialectic with more specific concerns about literacy education.  The course will be guided by these questions:  In what ways are the primary concerns of composition and rhetoric being addressed, elided, or reconfigured by digital technologies? (Such primary concerns revolve around the theoretical and practical implications of communication as persuasion, as identification, as civic duty, as social action, and as ethical responsibility.) How is public discourse in a digital world defined and assessed? In what ways do we compose our students as subjects when we teach them discursive practices within digital formations? How do technological structures shape (and get shaped by) the roles of teachers, students, classrooms, and institutions?ctivities:

The course will involve students in theory-building and application as well as practice and reflection. Students will develop theoretical frameworks for interrogating technology and its role in teaching writing; as they move through such course material and toward a focused research project, they will explore the rhetorical nature of digital environments currently being adopted by composition workers, such as popular Web 2.0 sites that include commercial and private blogs (eg: WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger), social news sites (eg:HuffpostDaily Caller, and Civil Beat), Wiki sites (eg: Wikipedia and Wikidot), and social networking portals (eg: Twitter and Facebook). Students will also explore, at an introductory level, common software applications being utilized in the teaching of contemporary public discourse, including web-design (eg: Dreamweaver), image manipulation (eg: Photoshop), podcasting (eg: Audacity); and video production (eg: Windows Movie Maker, Apple’s i-movie, and YouTube).  The course will thus provide a structure within which students can think both theoretically and pragmatically about their roles as rhetoricians and teachers of writing in the digital age.

Most in-class time will be devoted to discussions and/or collaborative workshops involving new media technologies. The discussions will sometimes be face-to-face and sometimes virtual. Students will have common readings about which they will post weekly online responses (25%).  Each student (perhaps on his/her own, or perhaps in pairs for a shared grade) will also research and present to the class a specific software application, demonstrating and critiquing the ways in which that application facilitates, hinders, or reconfigures the work of composition and rhetoric (25%). As the course progresses, students will rely on such shared knowledge-making to stake out and begin developing major individual research projects (50%). Each student’s major project—which will take the form of either a traditional seminar paper or a new media composition—will attempt to explore one way in which composition studies is being shaped by digital technology.

No prior experience in teaching writing with technology is necessary; however, a basic understanding in and experience with word-processing, web-browsing, and e-mail is expected.

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