Course Objectives

“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is, everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you … the minute that you understand that you can poke life … that you can change it, you can mould it … that’s maybe the most important thing.”

-Steve Jobs

“Writing used to mean arranging words in a particular order to be printed with ink on the cellulosic entrails of a tree. You wrote for people, and you hoped that the marks you made would leave a permanent impression upon the world. Today, writing can refer to anything from posting a one-line status update on Facebook to dashing off a 10,000-word blog entry. Your readers include not just humans but algorithms, and your goal is not immortality but a momentary piercing of the ever-shifting zeitgeist.”

-Alexis Madrigal (2011)

My aim with this course is to further develop your own literacy and rhetorical awareness—your ability to read texts critically and make meaningful connections to them through writing, especially in digital and networked environments. This class is designed so that you make several connections between how semiotic systems (a fancy way of saying media), plain old writing, and digital networked spaces (DNS) all work. When this class is done, we will understand these concerns well enough to create something useful for other people. By the end of class you should understand that:

  1. writing does work in the world for people
  2. researchers make knowledge and so can you
  3. researchers engage in experiential, primary, and secondary forms of research and writing
  4. rhetoric is a useful way of understanding how to position oneself within writing, research, and technological settings
  5. we collaborate with technologies to get writing, research, and our social lives done

Don’t let the technological emphasis of this class scare you! You don’t have to have any experience with computers to do well here. We, as a class, will tackle answers to your problems with technology, writing, literacy, and research.


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