Rhetoric, Comp & 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.