Department of Rhetoric & Writing
Department of Rhetoric & Writing

Graduate Courses

Rhetoric and Writing faculty offer courses on varied topics each semester through the English department. Below is a sample of courses that have previously been offered. You can also visit the English department's website to view course descriptions.

Spring 2020

E 387M • Femnsm And Rhetorical Thry

35730 • Hill, Angela
Meets T 11:00AM-2:00PM PAR 214
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Feminism and Rhetorical Theory

This course explores feminist rhetoric during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and introduces students to key debates, concepts, and contributions emerging from feminist theories and movements. We will analyze diverse texts to learn how feminists construct arguments, while students develop their own positions in relation to feminist claims. We will interrogate why some articulations of feminism have become prominent and who gets to speak for women as a group. These questions then turn us to how feminism frames its object(s) of analysis and foments social change, focusing specifically on theorizations of the sex/gender/sexuality matrix and constitutive entanglements with race, class, culture, and region. Topics covered include the existential nature of Woman; the discipline of Women’s Studies; housework, sex work, and gendered divisions of labor; citizenship; violence; and biopower. Students will also become versed in texts addressing liberalism, materialism, feminist standpoint theory, intersectionality, transnational feminism, black feminism, and queer and transgender feminism. To engage with the diversity of feminism, assigned texts reflect a robust range of methodologies, analyses, and rhetorical styles.


E 387R • History Of Rhetoric

35735 • Roberts-Miller, Patricia
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 214
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This course will consider the history of public deliberation, and how theorists of public deliberation use the past to make arguments about the present state of public deliberation. Each class will have some primary material from a much-disputed era or incident and examples of historians of rhetoric and theorists of public deliberation using that era/incident. Students will write short pieces for every class, a book review, and a seminar paper or prospectus.
Readings will include:

•    Thucydides, selections from The History of the Peloponnesian War (Lattimore and Hobbes translations); Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Politics; Hobbes, selections from Leviathon
•    Cicero, selected speeches; Arendt, The Human Condition
•    Machiavelli, selections from Discourses; Hamilton et al., selections from The Federalist Papers
•    John Locke, Two Treatises of Government and Habermas, selections from Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
•    Frederick Douglass, various speeches, and selections from Stephen Marshall’s City on a Hill from Below and Nicholas Buccola’s Political Thought of Frederick Douglass
•    Various articles from Annals of Genetics: a Journal for the Scientific Study of Racial Problems and Elizabeth Shea, How the Gene Got Its Groove, and John P. Jackson, “Whatever Happened to the Cephalic Index”
•    Theodore Bilbo, selections from Take Your Choice; Reinhard Luthin, selections from American Demagogues; and Pat Gehrke, “The Southern Association of Teachers of Speech v. Senator Theodore Bilbo: Restraint and Indirection as Rhetorical Strategies.”
•    Various, selections from The Third Reich Sourcebook; Karyn Ball, Disciplining the Holocaust; Mark Ward, Deadly Documents



Fall 2019

E 384K • Disciplinary Inquiries

35260 • Charney, Davida
Meets TTH 3:30-5:00PM FAC 7
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Disciplinary Inquiries

This course serves as a deep dive into current issues in writing/composition studies. We will begin by examining some fundamental concepts and issues that have given rise to inquiry in the discipline. We will also explore some of the latest permutations of these issues in recent books, dissertations, and journal articles.

The starting and never-ending point of this course is the nature of inquiry. What does a good research question look like? What makes a question original? Why are some questions compelling to the field while others seem ho-hum? Why are some questions productive while others never pan out? How can big woolly entanglements be combed out and braided?

We will explore a variety of observational research methods available to scholars in our fields. The course help you read studies that use these methods. But more importantly, you will also practice defining productive research questions, exploring a variety of methods for pursuing those questions, and getting hands-on familiarity with a few key methods.

Required Texts

Linda Adler-Kassner & Elizabeth Wardle. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Utah State UP, 2015

Gary Tate, et al. A Guide to Composition Pedagogies, 2nd Ed. Oxford UP, 2013

Ann Blakeslee & Cathy Fleischer, Becoming a Writing Researcher, Routledge, 2007

Lee Nickoson and Writing Studies Research in Practice: Methods and Methodologies by Lee Nickoson, SIUP, 2012

Various journal articles posted on the class Canvas website.


E 388M • Digtl Publics: Media/Cities

35275 • Boyle, Casey
Meets W 3:00-6:00PM PAR 102
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Rhetoric and media have been intertwined with the formation of publics since antiquity. For instance, Aristotle spoke to the importance of a medium’s limits when, in Politics, he stipulates a state’s ideal size should be restricted to the largest gathering in which a speaker could be heard by all (557) and a space that could be taken in at one view (559). This example suggests that, even in antiquity, civic organization depends on persuasive debate but that persuasive debate depends in turn on the means for circulating information. Where the example gives way for today is that no longer are the members of a public beholden to a physical location since digital media allow for gatherings to take place across the globe. Publics are now hosted in online discussion forums (Reddit, 4Chan), emerge through online social networks (#BlackLivesMatter, #tcot), and sustained by digital algorithms and sensing technologies embedded within smart and sentient cities (predictive policing, algorithmic traffic controls). It is clear then that---from the Agora to the algorithm---publics are in-formed by media (digital and otherwise) and those media render citizenship to be an all-encompassing practice.

This course will provide students an introduction to foundational theories of publics as well and a deep engagement with recent scholarship examining the role that digital media plays in creating, sustaining, frustrating, and re-inventing public life through techniques of digital citizenship. Course assignments will trace those readings by affording students opportunities to explore key concepts in public theory with practices in researching and writing with multiple media.

Assignments will include regular reading responses, an analysis of an online community in conversation with a key concept of public theory; a multi-media webtext of a social media event, and the development & deployment of an Arduino-based smart sensing device (a project that includes a proposal, progress reports, device development, and a final rationale that explains how it intervenes in digital publics).

Readings will include selections from: The Public and its Problems, John Dewey; The Phantom Public, Walter Lippman; The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Jurgen Habermas; Publics and Counterpublics, Michael Warner; Public Modalities, Daniel C. Brouwer and Robert Asen, et al; Counterpublics and the State, Robert Asen; Kill All Normies, Angela Nagle; Distant Publics, Jenny Rice; Networked Publics, Kazys Varnelis; Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics, Zizi Papacharissi; Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, Zeynep Tufekci; Program Earth, Jennifer Gabrys; The Stack, Benjamin Bratton; Extrastatecraft, Keller Easterling.


Spring 2019

E 387M • Transnational Rhetorics

35800 • Diab, Rasha
Meets F 9:00AM-12:00PM PAR 214
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Overview

As a positive value and phenomenon, transnationalism highlights the potential for increased connection and movement of peoples, ideas, values, or goods across national borders. As a phenomenon, transnationalism raises numerous questions for rhetoric and writing studies and has energized new lines of inquiry. Rhetoric can be used to obfuscate global capitalist forces or promote coalitional possibilities; rhetoric can be used to deny (im)mobility and precariousness facing peoples, celebrate intellectual tourism, or call forth a global citizen who has rhetorical skills commensurate with an increasingly transnational world and networks of (dis)association.

Because rhetoric, ethics, and pedagogy have a long history of being bound to one another, we will explore questions related to these terms separately and together. So, in this seminar we will explore the trans and national in transnational rhetoric as well as the impact of each on the imaginaries, exigencies, and ethical responsibilities of the rhetor/rhetorician and educator. A number of questions will guide our explorations of transnational rhetoric:

  • Why is there a call for a global and transnational turn in rhetoric and writing studies?
  • What are the features and goals of this turn?
  • What theoretical frameworks inform/pave the road for this turn? What theoretical and analytical frameworks are developed to realize these goals?
  • What would a geopolitical or transnational approach to rhetoric and writing studies look like?
  • What are the relations between language policies/writing models and a transnational orientation? How and why do writers develop and maintain local and transnational connections at one and the same time?

These questions will help us grapple with this complex entity named transnational rhetoric and attend to recurring questions about the rhetorics of encounter and knowing the other, rhetorics of power and representation, and rhetorics of (im)mobility and (dis)location.

Potential Reading

  • A Course Reader: May include articles and chapters like:

Jacqui M. Alexander and Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s "Cartographies of Knowledge and Power," Vanessa Andreotti’s "An Ethical Engagement with the Other," Paolo Boccagni’s "Rethinking Transnational Studies," Kenneth Burke’s work on Identification from A Rhetoric of Motives,  Diana Brydon’s "Critical Literacies for Globalizing Times," Sylvanna M.Falcón and Jennifer C. Nash’s "Shifting Analytics and Linking Theories," Thomas Faist’s “Towards Transnational Studies,” Wendy Hesford’s “Global Turns and Cautions in Rhetoric and Composition Studies,” Breny Mendoza’s "Transnational Feminisms in Question," Chandra Mohanty’s "Transnational Feminist Crossings," Saskia Sassen’s “Local Actors in Global Politics,” Shu-Mei Shih’s "Towards an Ethics of Transnational Encounters," Raka Shome’s "Transnational Feminism and Communication Studies," Lynda Walsh’s "Accountability: Towards a Definition of Hybridity for Scholars of Transnational Rhetorics," Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s "Diasporas Old and New: Women in the Transnational World" and "Setting to Work (Transnational Cultural Studies),"and Bo Wang’s "Comparative Rhetoric, Postcolonial Studies, and Transnational Feminisms."

  • Books/Journal Special Issues: May include:

Aikam, Hokulani K., Maile Arvin, Mishuana Goeman, and Scott Morgensen. “Indigenous Feminisms Roundtable.” Spec. issue on Transnational Feminisms. Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies 36. 3 (2015): 84-106.

Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Aunt Lute Books, 1987.

Canagarajah, A. Suresh, ed.  Literacy as Translingual Practice: Between Communities and Classrooms. Routledge, 2013.

Dingo, Rebecca A., Networking Arguments: Rhetoric, Transnational Feminism, and Public Policy Writing. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.

Dingo, Rebecca, Rachel Riedner, and Jennifer Wingard. Spec. issue on “Transnational Feminisms.” JAC, vol.33, no.3/4, 2013, pp.517-669.

Grewal, Inderpal. Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms. Duke University Press, 2005.

Hesford, Wendy S., and Eileen E. Schell. Spec. issue on “Transnational Feminist Rhetorics.” College English, vol.70, no.5, 2008, pp. 461-540.

Swarr, Amanda Lock, and Richa Nagar, eds. Critical Transnational Feminist Praxis. State University of New York Press, 2012.

Pedwell, Carolyn. Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Requirements

Besides regular attendance and reflective engagement, you will be expected to

  • Lead class discussion,
  • Present a book report (Reading list will be provided),
  • Develop a conference proposal (You will choose a conference relevant to your area of study), and
  • Write a seminar paper: You will develop your conference proposal into a researched, seminar-length paper to be handed in by the end of the semester. During the semester, research reports, exchange of early drafts, and conferences with me will provide opportunities to share ideas and to get feedback.

E 387R • Clascl Rhet Through Centuries

35805 • Walker, Jeffrey
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 214
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CLASSICAL RHETORIC (THROUGH THE CENTURIES)

This course will examine the classical rhetorical tradition, with an eye to its contemporary uses. The first half of the course will focus on classical (ancient) rhetoric per se, while the second half will rapidly overview (some of) its post-classical iterations and modifications — e.g., in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Modernist eras — depending in part on student interests and projects. Within the general overview, possible foci will include: relations between rhetoric and poetics; rhetoric and technology (orality/literacy, etc.); the rhetorical paideia (rhetorical pedagogy and the liberal arts); rhetoric, politics, and practical wisdom (phronêsis); rhetoric, philosophy, and the “regime of Truth”; rhetoric and/as critical hermeneutics.

Primary readings in classical rhetoric are likely to include: the fragments of the early sophists; Isocrates; Plato (Gorgias, Phaedrus, Protagoras, Ion); Aristotle (Rhetoric, Poetics); Cicero (De Oratore); Quintilian; Dionysius of Halicarnassus; Hermogenes; Longinus On the Sublime; Augustine (De Doctrina Christiana); and rhetorical “handbooks” (technai; artes). Readings from later periods may include selections and extracts from Medieval and Renaisssance artes, Erasmus (De Copia), Sidney (Apology for Poetry); Neoclassical and Romantic “lectures on rhetoric and belles lettres”; Nietszche; and such modernist figures as I.A. Richards, Kenneth Burke, and Chaim Perelman. Recommended secondary readings will include general histories of rhetoric and rhetorical education (e.g., Kennedy, Conley, Bizzell/Herzberg), as well as studies of particular periods and/or figures (e.g., Schiappa, Pernot, Marrou, Cribiore, Murphy, Lanham, Sloane); an extended bibliography will be provided.

Requirements probably will include: several brief oral presentations (discussion openers, reports); a conference-paper-length oral presentation on the student’s chosen research/writing project; and an expanded (up to article-length) seminar paper on that project.


E 388M • Rhetoric & Digital Cultures

35810 • Graham, Samuel
Meets W 4:00PM-7:00PM PAR 104
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Rhetorics of the digital are increasingly pervasive in western cultures. From technologies of scientific discovery and the logics of medical normalization to NSA surveillance and social media filter bubbles, digitality frequently takes center stage. As a result, there has been a great deal of rhetorical and cultural theory devoted to exploring, critiquing, and developing pedagogy that accounts for the role of digitality in a variety of spheres from western cultures writ large to localized practices of scientific inquiry or writing pedagogy. Even more recently, new intellectual efforts under the rubrics of new materialisms and digital humanities have begun to push rhetoricians to take digital infrastructures more seriously both as objects of inquiry and methodological resources. Correspondingly, the Spring 2019 edition of E 388M is devoted to exploring central figures and concepts in rhetoric and digital cultures. Our exploration thereof will focus on five major thematics: 1) knowing with numbers, 2) counting to control, 3) digital deliberation, 4) re-tooling rhetoric, and 4) computers and composition.

Students will complete the following assignments:
• Discussion facilitation
• Annotated Bibliography
• Literature Review
• Seminar Paper

Probable Texts:
• Bodies in Flux, Christa Teston
• Circulation, Writing, and Rhetoric, Laurie Gries & Collin Brooke
• Image and Logic, Peter Galison
• Masters of Uncertainty, Phaedra Daipha
• Modest_Witness, Donna Haraway
• Picturing Personhood, Joseph Dumit
• Rhetoric and The Digital Humanities, Jim Ridolfo & William Hart-Davidson
• The Birth of the Clinic, Michel Foucault


Fall 2018

E 387M • Performative Rhetorics

35955 • Davis, Diane
Meets T 3:30-6:30pm, PAR 104
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Performative Rhetorics

In his 1955 Harvard lectures, published posthumously in 1962 as How to do Things With Words, J. L. Austin outlined the basic tenets of speech-act theory in its contemporary form, offering a tentative but perhaps necessary distinction between the "constative" and "performative" functions of language. While the constative utterance offers a statement that describes or articulates "what is," the performative utterance produces, transforms, institutes. Austin for the most part located performative language within the realm of intentional consciousness and limited his analyses to instances of "relative purity," excluding citations of performative speech (e.g., those by "an actor in a play")—a position Derrida famously deconstructs. Nonetheless, Austin's lectures demonstrated that performative utterances collapse the distinction between saying and doing, severely problematizing the conception of language as a transcendental structure of meaning (what Saussure calls langue). Again. What currently goes by the name speech-act theory, in other words, can be understood as one recent articulation in a centuries old debate between philosophy and rhetoric. What's in question in it, to paraphrase Nietzsche, is whether there is any (transcendental) being behind concrete acts of saying (what Saussure calls parole). Whereas John Searle attempts in Speech Acts to systematize Austin's subversive insights within a logical framework, arguing that "an adequate study of speech acts is a study of langue," many of the most influential contemporary thinkers have resisted this effort, situating Austin's lectures on the side of (sophistic) rhetoric, as a re-affirmation of the awesome and undeniable positing power of language (as parole). However, human speech acts are not the only instantiations of performativity relevant to rhetorical studies, and we will be at least as interested in operations of “the performative” that are neither linguistic nor strictly human. We will first zero in on rhetoric's substantializing effects, on its capacity for concrete manifestation via, for example, hate speech, (psycho)analytic speech, and political speech. We won't attempt a comprehensive approach but will instead start with a quick bounce into Gorgias and Plato, leap ahead to Austin and his contemporary interlocutors, and then spread out into linguistic avenues not so explicitly associated with speech-act theory proper. Freud, for example, had his own theory of performative linguistics, as did Althusser. And we will close with an investigation into a pre-performative and anahuman rhetorical force (not a “power”) that exceeds and is the condition for linguistics, a kind of quasi-transcendental rhetoricity, then, the ontologizing (materializing) effects of which go all the way down. Probable Texts Austin, J.L. How to do things with Words. Harvard UP, 2003. Barad, Karen. “Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 2003, vol. 28, no. 3. 801-830. Bennett, Jane. “A Vitalist Stopover on the Way to a New Materialism.” In Diana Coole and Samantha Frost. Introduction. New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics. Durham: Duke UP, 2010. 47-69. Borch-Jacobsen, Mikkel. “Analytic Speech: From a Restricted to a General Rhetoric.” The Emotional Tie: Psychoanalysis, Mimesis, and Affect. Trans. Douglas Brick et al. Stanford UP, 1992: 62-74 Butler, Judith. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. Routledge, 1997. Critchley, Simon. “Remarks on Derrida and Habermas.” Constellations Volume 7, No 4, 2000. 455-465. Derrida, Jacques. Limited Inc. Trans. Samuel Weber and Jeffery Mehlman. Northwestern UP, 1997. Derrida, Jacques(1986) ‘Declarations of independence’, New Political Science, 7: 1, 7 — 15. Derrida, Jacques. “Performative Powerlessness: A Response to Simon Critchley.” Constellations Volume 7, No 4, 2000. 466-468. Felman, Shoshana. The Scandal of the Speaking Body. Stanford UP, 2003. Freud, Sigmund. “Psychical Treatment.” In A Case of Hysteria, Three Essays on Sexuality, and Other Works (1901 – 1905) SE 7: 283-307. Freud, Sigmund. Preface to Bernheim’s Suggestive Therapeutics. Pre-Psycho-Analytic Publications and Unpublished Drafts (1886-1899) SE 1: 73-88 J. Hillis Miller. “Performativity as Performance /Performativity as Speech Act: Derrida’s Special Theory of Performativity.” South Atlantic Quarterly 106:2, Spring 2007. 219-235. Ingold, Tim. “People Like Us.” In The Perception of the Environment. New York: Routledge, 2000: 373-91. Jabr, Ferris. “How Brainless Slime Molds Redefine Intelligence.” Scientific American. November 7, 2012. Web. April 27, 2017. Kirby, Vicki. Quantum Anthropologies: Life At Large. Durham: Duke UP, 2011. Marder, Michael. “What Is Plant Thinking?” Klesis – revue philosophique 25 (2013): 124-143. Searle, John. Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge UP, 1997. Lectures TBA Searle, John. “Reiterating the Differences: A Reply to Jacques Derrida.” 1977. Vitale, Fransesco. “The Text and the Living: Jacques Derrida Between Biology and Deconstruction.” The Oxford Literary Review 36.1 (2014): 95–114. Probable Assignments 1. Weekly Reading Posts: Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings on the canvas course site under Discussions. One or two people will be responsible for writing the opening post for each reading, to which others will respond. Whether you’re responding to a classmate’s post or offering your own read, these “substantial responses” should offer a real engagement with the material that takes us into the text, using quotes and page numbers, and posing questions and/or offering reflections on passages or ideas. 2. Three Summary/Response Papers: Formal, one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers that are interested less in opinions than in relationships and that are to be read aloud in class and then handed in to me. Margins are optional, but no smaller than 11 point font and no more than one letter-sized page. The first half of each paper should be a concise but thorough summary of one of the assigned texts. The second half should be your reading of that work "across" another text we have read in class. Please don't be fooled; these one-pagers are hard as hell—they demand perhaps a higher level of reading/writing savvy than a traditional essay. Until you get the hang of the process and the style-cramping format, expect to rewrite at least once, maybe several times. The grading will be rigorous; excellence will be required. The hope is that when you leave this course, these short, dense papers will offer you a base for one or more publishable papers. 3. One medium-form seminar paper: A 15-ish page, double-spaced paper, in which you accomplish one of the following: define the significance of performative theory for rhetorical studies, writing studies, or literary studies read an issue, a cultural event, a philosophical approach, or a literary (or other) text through the lens of performative theory (ex: Felman, Butler, Ronell) do something I can’t imagine right now (must be approved: make me an offer)


E 387N • Archives: Theory And Methods

35960 • Longaker, Mark
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM PAR 102
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Archives: Theory and Research

Once applied strictly to collections of manuscripts, ephemera, and other such rare materials--often delicate due to its notable age, always hidden in a faraway library--the term “archives” now commands a much wider definition. Archival research no longer means poring over yellowed pages or personal letters. It may mean culling through digital artifacts. It may mean collecting the signs of publicly experienced emotions. “Archival research” may mean picking over personal curiosity cabinets or visiting private collections of esoterica. Once the provenance of fussy historians, the archives are now open to everyone. Once the skill of navigating a library finding aid, an “archival research method” may now include the collection, preservation, curation, documentation, or even the creation of electronic remediations. All such changes require that we ask, “What is archival research and what are its methods?”

In this class, we will attempt a series of answers to this question.  We will visit a few repositories in Austin. We will read articles and scholarly books about archival research. We will work together on a collection of papers relating to the foundation of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin. We will also, as a class, read a selection of works about archival theory and research methods. Projects include: One explanation of an artifact found in a local repository, along with discussion of how the artifact was found, explanation of the artifact’s historical and archival context, and exploration of possible research made available by this (sort of) artifact. A group project, curating for public display papers related to the founding of the Department of RHetoric and Writing. An individual project collecting, curating, documenting, and theorizing materials relevant to a research project of the student’s own design and interest.


Spring 2018

E 388M • Digital Field Methods

35265 • Boyle, Casey
Meets W 3:00-600pm, PAR 104
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Digital Field Methods

Emerging media technologies have fundamentally altered how we research, communicate, and share knowledge about our objects of scholarly study. In addition to offering more modes for examining and discussing those objects– image, sound, video, visualization, etc.—emerging media technologies also contribute new techniques of measurement that help open up fields of wider activity as objects of study. For instance, rhetorical scholars, using new and emerging media, can expand the study of a traditional political protest beyond the words of speeches to also gather and collect ambient data from that object’s field that includes images, sounds, network usage, interviews, traffic patterns, architectural structures, and a great many more points of research. For today’s researcher, deploying emerging media technologies for academic research presents a number of ethical challenges (ethics in both practical and responsible senses) for doing quantitative research (such as numerical data & visualizations) as well as qualitative research (digital ethnography and/or ambient research collection). This course aims to examine those ethical challenges by surveying digitally-based methods that will help students establish responsible and sustainable field research practices. In this course, students will learn to use media for collecting research data, selecting data for making research claims, and re-collecting research for online, digital publication. Students taking this course will read and respond to a number of texts and be responsible for leading a class presentation. Students will also be expected to write a proposal, design and implement a collection plan, and compose a semester-long research project using digital media appropriate to its field of inquiry. Readings will include: Middleton, et al., Participatory Critical Rhetoric; McKinnon, et al. text + FIELD; Pink, et al., Doing Digital Ethnography; Rogers, Digital Methods; Feyerabend, Against Method; Laurie Gries, Still Life With Rhetoric; Liza Potts, Social Media in Disaster Response; Vannini, Non-Representational Methodologies, as well as articles and selections by Wendy Hsu, John Law, Erin Manning, and others.


Fall 2017

E 384K • Disciplinary Inquiries

35790 • Charney, Davida
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM FAC 7
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DISCIPLINARY INQUIRIES FOR RHE AND DLL STUDENTS

This course is designed to give students greater familiarity with a variety of observational research methods available to scholars in rhetoric and writing studies, digital literacies and literatures, as well as literary studies. The course will aid students in their reading of studies that use these methods. But it is also intended to impart the necessary confidence to take up an appropriate method when a research question leads in that direction. The starting and never-ending point will be to explore the nature of research questions per se. What makes a question original? Why are some questions compelling to the field while other projects never pan out? How can big woolly entanglements be combed out and braided? The conversation engendered by such questions will better position students to identify issues that they may study further in Master’s Report and dissertation research.

Much of the semester will be spent trying out the methodological moves that researchers make on a small scale by reusing materials from concluded studies. The data collection methods will include both naturalistic observation and systematic designs. Depending on the interests of those enrolled, the analytic methods will be chosen from interviews/surveys, discourse analysis, read-aloud/write-aloud protocols, and pre- and post-tests.

STUDENTS WILL WRITE THREE 5-PAGE PAPERS THAT REPORT OUTCOMES FROM SMALL-SCALE APPLICATION OF DIFFERENT METHODS; THEY WILL ALSO WRITE AN 8-10 PAGE RESEARCH PROPOSAL (SUITABLE FOR SUBMITTING TO AN IRB) THAT JUSTIFIES A RESEARCH QUESTION AND LAYS OUT A METHOD.


E 388M • North American Genre Theory

35810 • Spinuzzi, Clay
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 6
(also listed as INF 385T)
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Sociocultural Approaches to Technology: North American Genre Theory

In 1984, Carolyn Miller wrote the pivotal article "Genre as Social Action," applying Bakhtin's genre theory to rhetoric and thus theorizing genre, not as a collection of structural components, but as recurrent responses to rhetorical situations. This article became one of the origin points of North American Genre Theory (NAGT), an approach that draws from Bakhtin and other sociocultural theorists to account for how texts regularize and stabilize in regular use. With its materialist, situated approach to genre, NAGT has been mobilized for a variety of uses, including (especially) understanding digital texts in complex activities.

In this course, we will develop a strong theoretical understanding of NAGT, starting with the texts of the Bakhtin Circle and examining how the notion of genre developed as it was taken up by North American scholars such as Miller, Bazerman, Berkenkotter, Russell, Freedman, Schryer, Schuster, and others. Special emphasis will be given to how NAGT allows us to make sense of assemblages of digital texts. Students will use NAGT as a starting point for their own seminar papers as well as gaining experience in producing digital texts.

·       Annotated bibliography
·       Literature review
·       Digital storytelling, centered on a case, phenomenon, or set of articles related to NAGT
·       Seminar paper


Spring 2017

E 387M • Rhetoric And Writing Study

Roberts-Miller, Patricia

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This class has three main goals: first, to give students an overview of where the field(s?) of writing studies stand at this point; second, to teach students methods of inferring where a "conversation" is in a given discipline; third, to enable students to improve their writing processes.

Students will write several short assignments, such as: close imitations of introductions from various journals; close analysis of metadiscourse in articles; literacy narratives; reviews of journals; research questions; research calendars. Students will also write a long (5000 word) review article, critical literature review, prospectus, research proposal, or research paper.


E 387M • Rhetorical Theory And Ethics

Davis, Diane

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Though he was a masterful rhetorician himself, Plato famously ranted against sophistic rhetoric because it, unlike the “true dialectic,” was not an ethical use of language: it aimed at (evil) seduction rather than (good) truth. Centuries later in the Ethics of Rhetoric, Richard M. Weaver argues, in Plato’s footsteps, that rhetoric is ethical only when it urges commitment to dialectically secured principles, e.g. truths. The notion that rhetoric is ethical (or good) only when it operates in the service of previously established truths continues to dominate our ethico-political scene. However, once such metaphysical prejudices dissolve, once both “the good” and “the true” are understood—even to the tiniest degree—as effects of language (or what Levinas calls “discourse”), this clean, supplemental relation between rhetoric and ethics gets complicated. How are we to understand an ethics that is dependent upon language? How are we to understand this relation between rhetoric and ethics once the iffiness of doxa comes to replace the certitudes of episteme? What is left of ethics once its traditional “grounds” become a function of the interplay of rhetorical principles (audience, exigence, context, tone, arrangement, delivery, timing, etc.) and the very structure of address? Does this leave the ethical imperative impotent? Purely relative? In Postmodern Ethics, Zygmunt Bauman attempts to counter this putative relativity by proposing that ethics today, after the “fall,” takes place when I choose to be responsible, in the instant that “I assign the right to make me responsible” (86). But this position presumes to answer all the questions we will hold open in this course: it presumes a knowable other and a self who has both the freedom to choose and the knowledge of what it means to be responsible.

In this course, we will begin with the presumption that ethics and language are indissociably linked in the question of responsibility, which, etymologically speaking, comes from the Latin respondere (to respond, to answer to) and suggests the obligation to respond to the call of the other. However, we will not presume to understand ahead of time either the origin or the effects of this “call,” nor will we presume that it operates only within the realm of the human. In Altérités, Jacques Derrida admits that what leaves him "reticent" about all current discourses on ethics is that they operate on the presumption that the "other" is necessarily another "myself"—a(nother) rational subject, a(nother) speaking consciousness, even another (human) Dasein, just like me—that they fail to attend to the question of the "other," to the otherness of the other, proceeding instead on the basis of an unquestioned appropriation. Emmanuel Levinas proposes, further, that responding to the other is not a choice I get to make but an imperative that gives me to be: the priority of the other, according to him, is not a function of my generosity; it is my (nearly) existential predicament. And yet, responding to the other’s call, as Avital Ronell has repeatedly shown, consists simultaneously in a deracinating experience of being-called that interrupts the presumption of spontaneity and in an experience of undecidability, as you can never be sure the call is a call or that it's meant for you: "How, precisely, can we know?" (Stupidity). The question that remains for the infinitely obligated addressee, as Lyotard puts it in The Differend, is whether what is coming through as a call really is a call--rather than, for example, a "fantasy."

In this seminar, we will hold ourselves within the complex intersections of rhetoric and ethics, where decisions are necessary but the “grounds” for making them cannot be secured, where the trial of decision involves an encounter with the undecidable.

Probable Texts

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics
Badiou, Alain. Ethics
Ballif, Michelle. “Historiography as Hauntology.”
Butler, Judith. Giving Account of Oneself
Derrida, Jacques. Of Hospitality and “Eating Well”
Kant, Immanuel. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
Levinas, Emmanuel. Ethics and Infinity and "Substitution"
Lispector, Clarice. The Passion According to GH
Lyotard, Jean-François. Just Gaming
Marder, Michael. Selections from Plant Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil
Plato. The Phaedrus
Rivers, Nathaniel. “Deep Ambivalence and Wild Objects: Toward a Strange Environmentalism.”
Ronell, Avital. Stupidity

Probable Assignments

§  Weekly Reading Posts: Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings on the class discussion board. One or two people will be responsible for writing the opening post for each reading, to which others will respond. Whether you’re responding to a classmate’s post or offering your own read, these "substantial responses" should offer a real engagement with the material that takes us into the text, using quotes and page numbers, and posing questions and/or offering reflections on passages or ideas.

§  Three Summary/Response Papers: Formal, one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers that are interested less in opinions than in relationships and that are to be read aloud in class and then handed in to me. Margins are optional, but no smaller than 11 point font and no more than one letter-sized page. The first half of each paper should be a concise yet thorough summary of one of the assigned text. The second half should be your reading of that work "across" another text we have read in class. The goal is not to come to some hasty conclusion and prove it to us, nor to use one text to discredit or take jabs at the other (your task is much more difficult than simply taking sides), but to expose relationships, questions, and/or insights that take place at the intersection of these two works. Exposition, in this specific sense, is your aim--rather than formal argument.

§  One conference paper proposal: A formal, tight, and irresistible 500-ish word paper proposal for a (real) conference in rhetorical studies, composition studies, or literary studies (or, make me an offer) in which you will address some aspect of the theme of this course: rhetoric and ethics. The word limit should match the CFP for the conference. Proposals will be uploaded to the class discussion board, peer reviewed, and turned in to me.


E 388M • Accessible Rhetorics

Boyle, Casey

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This course, first and foremost, examines relationships between bodies and technologies. To pursue this examination, we focus on accessibility as an opportunity for rhetorical invention. That is, instead of understanding technology as either enhancement (for a "normal" body) or reparative (for a "disabled" body) we shall consider all technology--with a focus on communication technology--as (rhetorically) inventive of new and different kinds of embodiment. After an introduction to theories of embodiment alongside a survey of historical approaches to disability accommodations through key sources in rhetorical and disability studies scholarship, the course closely attends to communication media and accessibility, honing in on the many theoretical and practical accessibility concerns that arise through ongoing innovation of new and emerging media.

Course projects include: regular and routine reading responses; an access-oriented revision plan for an existing online text; a physical computing device for accessibility;  a final project (composed, in part, by the course's prior assignments) into a multimodal text that engages a problem/possibility for accessibility and rhetoric.

NOTE: No prior experience with accessibility, media tools, or physical computing is required. 


Fall 2016

E 387R • Feminism, Historiog, Rhetrc

Diab, Rasha
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Graduate Seminar: Feminism, Historiography, and Rhetoric

Overview

As we undertake this study of the history of rhetoric, we will consider a variety of rhetorical practices from antiquity until modern times, recovering rhetorical practices of women from the West, Near East, and Far East including women like, Enheduanna, Aspasia, Christine de Pizan, Mary Astell, Sojourner Truth, Rigoberta Menchú, Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, and many others. We will also explore how rhetoric theorists revisit the economy and ideologies that support/impede the perspectives and practices of women rhetors.

In addition to exploring the rhetorical practices of women speakers/writers, this seminar focuses on the intersection of feminist scholarship, historiography, and the study of rhetoric across cultures. The three lines of inquiry converge to underline a commitment to re-visit and re-tell the history of rhetoric, an investment that we see slowly emerging in the late 1970s and gaining momentum since the late 1990s. To explore the rationale and telos of this convergence, we will recover women’s contributions to and perspectives on rhetoric (theory and practice) and re-examine our conception of the rhetor, definition of and expectations for rhetorical practices, and stances that women adopt/adapt to realize their goals and aspirations.

The ultimate goal of our exploration is to

  • build on your knowledge of feminisms and the critique of the canon;
  • deepen your appreciation of how rhetors respond to, critique, and challenge the affordances and constrains of their communities; and
  • address on-going controversies that energize rhetorical studies, reflecting on the possibilities and limits of historiographic methods and assumptions.

Readings

- A Reader:

  • Selected articles/book chapters written by Deborah Atwater, Reem Bassiouney, Lindal Buchanan, Sue Carter, Rebecca Dingo, Wendy Hesford, Gwen Pough, Malea Powell, Elaine Richardson, and Eileen E. Schell
  • Selected primary texts from Gloria Anzaldua, Mary Cavendish, Christine de Pizan, Audre Lord, Sojourner Truth, and Alice Walker

- Books

  • Ballif, Michelle, ed. Theorizing Histories of Rhetoric. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2013.
  • Glenn, Cheryl. Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1997.
  • Jarratt, Susan. Rereading the Sophists: Classical Rhetoric Refigured. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991.
  • Pough, Gwendolyn. Check it while I Wreck it: Black Womanhood, Hip Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004.
  • Rami?rez, Cristina Devereaux. Occupying our Space: The Mestiza Rhetorics of Mexican Women Journalists and Activists, 1875-1942. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2015.
  • Rawson, K., and Eileen E. Schell. Rhetorica in Motion: Feminist Rhetorical Methods & Methodologies. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010.
  • Royster, Jacqueline Jones, and Gesa Kirsch. Feminist Rhetorical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2012.

- Journal Special Issues

  • Hesford, Wendy S., and Eileen E. Schell. "Configurations of Transnationality: Locating Feminist Rhetorics." College English 70.5 (2008

Requirements

Besides regular attendance and reflective engagement, you will be expected to

  • Lead class discussion (10%),
  • Present a book report (10%) (Reading list will be provided),
  • Conference Proposal (10%) (You will choose a conference relevant to your area of study),
  • Seminar Paper (70%): Develops your conference proposal into a researched, seminar-length paper to be handed in by the end of the semester. During the semester, research reports, exchange of early drafts and conference with me will provide opportunities to share ideas and to get feedback.

E 388M • Networked Writing

Spinuzzi, Clay
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Writing is perhaps our most flexible tool. Since its invention in 3200 BCE, this tool has been used for a remarkable range of activities—and has been combined with other technologies to shape what is possible in different societies and contexts. And current information and communication technologies—such as social media, instant messaging, and collaborative writing spaces—are also making their mark, changing how we read, write, compose, and argue.

In this class, we’ll examine writing as a tool that interacts with various information and communication technologies, and we’ll try out various information and communication technologies to better understand how they interact. We’ll draw on insights and theoretical perspectives from rhetorical theory and digital writing studies, but also from adjacent fields such as anthropology, sociology, communications, information science, and organization studies. By the end of the semester, students will have produced a seminar paper that can serve as a base for developing a publication in an appropriate journal.


Spring 2016

E 387M • Extrahuman Rhetrcl Relation

Davis, D
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This seminar will attend to the scene of responsive engagement with or among nonhuman others. Traditionally, rhetoric names a specifically human art or science, requiring at least one discrete human subject at the center of its operations. Even what the discipline of communication studies calls “extrapersonal communication,” which involves communication with a nonhuman other (an animal, a plant, a deity, a ghost, an object, a machine, etc.), presumes first of all a preexisting human subject who uses rhetoric to establish the connection. However, we will honor this weighty inheritance in the tradition of what Avital Ronell calls the noble traitor, taking it up in order to expose its limits and presumptions.

We will, for example, examine the ways in which “the human” is produced through ahuman or inhuman communications very broadly conceived; attend to a generalized notion of rhetoricity—a fundamental affectability, persuadability, or responsivity—that remains irreducible to “speech” and symbolic exchange more generally; interrogate the predicament of addressivity or responsivity in the face of (or among) animals, objects, deities, and the dead—but also deconstruct the clean distinctions implied in such designations as “the animal,” the object,” “the dead,” and “the divine,” exposing the ways in which these dangerous supplements are mobilized in the name of the collective noun “the human.”

Probable Requirements:

  • Semi-Weekly Talking Points: Informal notes analyzing/exploring key issues in the readings. 
  • One short paper, to be read aloud and then handed in, which will explicate the "cultural artifact" (a text, a theory, a philosophy, an architectural style, etc.) you have chosen for the semester, across which you will read the texts of the course
  • Summary/Response Papers: Formal, one-page, single spaced, beautifully polished, and terribly insightful papers that summarize the assigned reading and then respond to it by "reading" it across your cultural artifact--to be read aloud in class and handed in
  • A 4-6 page review of a work associated with the theme of the course written for a journal of your choice in rhetorical studies.

A Few of the Potential Readings

  • Philosophy and Rhetoric, Special Issue, 2014. “Extrahuman Rhetorical Relations: Addressing the Animal, the Object, the Dead, and the Divine.” Ed. Diane Davis and Michelle Ballif. Contributors: Avital Ronell, Cary Wolfe, Laurence Rickels, Joshua Gunn, Elissa Marder, Thomas Rickert, James Brown, Michelle Ballif, Diane Davis, Steven Mailloux, Michael Bernard-Donals.
  • Rickert, Thomas. Ambient Rhetorics.
  • Jane Bennett. Vibrant Matter.
  • Martin Heidegger. Basic Philosophical Writings.
  • Emmanuel Levinas. Existence and Existents.
  • Michael Marder. Plant Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life.
  • Jacques Derrida. The Animal That Therefore I Am, selections from Specters of Marx and The Gift of Death. Cary Wolfe. Zoontologies.
  • Michelle Ballif. “Historiography as Hauntology: Paranormal Investigations into the History of Rhetoric.” Theorizing Histories of Rhetoric. Ed. Michelle Ballif. SIUP, 2013.
  • Avital Ronell. Selection from “The Kant Satellite” in Stupidity on Abraham’s relation to God.

E 388M • Sociocultl Approach To Tech

Spinuzzi, Clay
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In this class, we will examine sociocultural approaches to technology, especially activity theory (AT), a theoretical framework that is used widely in studies of digital writing, professional writing, and workplace writing as well as education, human-computer interaction, and affiliated fields. We will use this framework for critically understanding how people interact with technology. Although AT is a popular framework, it is often deployed loosely—sometimes too loosely.

To ensure that we deploy it properly, we will read works by activity theorists and affiliated scholars such as Lev Vygotsky, Yrjo Engestrom, Bonnie Nardi, and Victor Kaptelinin, as well as applications to digital writing research (Russell, Bazerman, Schryer, etc.). We will also discuss sociocultural critiques of AT. Based on those readings, students will develop an annotated bibliography around a particular AT concept, define that concept in a literature review, and develop a seminar paper that applies AT in depth to one or more digital texts.

Students are welcome to this course regardless of their level of familiarization with technologies.


Fall 2015

E 387R • Beginnings Of Rhetoric

Walker, Jeffrey
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This course will examine the beginnings of Rhetoric as a discipline in 5th-4th century Greece, i.e., from the early sophists to the death of Aristotle — but with attention, too, to later developments, depending on class personnel and interests. Among the topics to consider are: pre-classical precursors; rhetoric across cultures; rhetorical historiography and the “long history” of rhetoric; epideictic and “practical” rhetoric; rhetoric and civil community; rhetoric and poetics; techne and creativity; the rivalry between Plato and Isocrates (and their sucessors); rhetoric as an educational system; and the “ends” of rhetoric. Primary texts will include Sprague (ed.), THE OLDER SOPHISTS; Isocrates (complete); Plato (selected dialogues); Aristotle, RHETORIC and POETICS; the anonymous RHETORIC TO ALEXANDER; and some representative examples of rhetorical lore and practice in particular (historical, material) contexts.

Requirements: short, oral in-class presentations; a 15 to 20-minute  “conference paper”; and a 15 to 20-page paper.


E 388M • Rhetoric & Digital Humanities

Boyle, Casey
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This course will survey the development of Digital Humanities alongside a careful examination of Rhetoric and Composition’s sub-fields of Computers & Composition and Digital Rhetoric. Set as a conversation between two separate but related scholarly traditions, the course will explore productive overlaps and future potentials for how the two fields may mutually inform one another’s future possibilities.  Readings and assignments will involve an array of media production, providing students an introduction to the many genres that comprise Digital Humanities projects: proposals, data sets, markup practices, promotional websites, project presentations, white papers, grant proposals.  Potential texts may include: Debates in the Digital Humanities, Ed. Matthew Gold; How We Think, Hayles, Rhetoric and Digital Humanities, Eds. Ridolfo & Hart-Davidson; Macroanalysis, Jockers; Understanding Digital Humanities, Ed. Berry; Reading Machines, Ramsay


Spring 2015

E 387M • Marxism In Rhet/Cul & Lit Thry

Longaker, Mark
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Marxian theory and politics have been repeatedly derided as a dead letter, continually consigned to the "dustbin of history." (This is Leon Trotsky's phrase, later repeated by capitalist apologists like Francis Fukuyama and Tom Brokaw, apparently with neither cognizance of nor ironic reference to its author.) Yet Marxism keeps appearing as a ground for various theoretical and political projects, particularly among humanities scholars in rhetorical, cultural, and literary studies. This seminar will explore the persistent themes of Marxian politics and theory as well as the various efforts to build on, utilize, alter, and mobilize the Marxian tradition. We will assume that there is no one Marxism, but rather a lengthy conversation whose beginning happens to coincide with and rely heavily on the writings of one thinker—Karl Marx.  Working from that assumption, we will traipse through several intellectual threads and the writings of many people including but not limited to: Public-Sphere Theory (Jurgen Habermas, Michael Warner, Jodi Dean), Humanism (Herbert Marcuse, Terry Eagleton), Cultural Studies (Antonio Gramsci, Lawrence Grossberg, Michael Berube, Ann Cvetkovich, Simon During), Postcolonial Theory (Edward Said, Etiene Balibar), Posthumanism (Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Antonio Negri, Franco Berardi, Alain Badiou, Slovoj Zizek), and Critical Pedagogy (Paolo Freire, Ira Shor, Henry Giroux).  While engaging the Marxian tradition, we will assume, as Marx did, that the purpose of intellectual labor is political action—not to interpret the world but to change it.  Specifically, we will examine the applicability and effects of Marxism in three disciplinary realms: rhetoric, culture, and literature. We will also examine what Marx would call “praxis,” the pragmatic-political work that one engages by simply being part of a social formation. In rhetorical, cultural, and literary studies, the question of praxis brings us to the methods of analysis—how does Marxism encourage us to look at a variety of texts, and what political work does that (do these) mode(s) of analysis perform in a specific moment of history?

Assignments:

Students will be responsible for writing: A summary of a book, placing the text in conversation with the reading that the rest of the class must complete, and relating the text to the Marxian tradition as a whole.  A summary of an article also placing the text in conversation with the reading that the rest of the class must complete, and relating the text to the Marxian tradition as a whole.  An independent project (such as a conference or seminar paper) that engages or applies Marxism in some fashion.


E 387M • Rhe/Wrt: Comp In 20th-21st Cen

Roberts-Miller, Patricia
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This class has three main goals: first, to give students an overview of where the field(s?) of writing studies stand at this point; second, to teach students methods of inferring where a "conversation" is in a given discipline; third, to give students the skills that will enable them to explore methods of inferring academic genres, and consider strategies for explicit instruction in academic writing.

Students will write several short assignments, such as: close imitations of introductions from various journals; close analysis of metadiscourse in articles; literacy narratives; reviews of journals; research questions; research calendars. Students will also write a long (5000 word) review article, critical literature review, prospectus, research proposal, or research paper.

Texts:

Hyland, Ken. Disciplinary Discourses.

            Disciplinary Identities.

Swales, John. Academic Writing for Graduate Students.

            Genre Analysis.

Various authors on procrastination, time management, gender and academia, writing program administration.


E 388M • Actor-Network Theory

Spinuzzi, Clay
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Sociocultural approaches to technology: actor-network theory

In this class, we will examine sociocultural approaches to technology, especially actor-network theory (ANT), a theoretical framework most famously associated with French theorist Bruno Latour. We will examine ANT's possibilities for critically understanding how people interact with technology. ANT is a popular framework in some quarters, but it is also hotly contested by those who understand it and frequently derided by those who don't.

To ensure that we do understand it, we will read works by actor-network theorists and affiliated scholars such as Bruno Latour, Michel Callon, John Law, and Annemarie Mol, as well as various sociocultural critiques of ANT, including those by Nardi and Engestrom. Based on those readings, students will develop an annotated bibliography around a particular ANT concept, define that concept in a literature review, and develop a seminar paper that applies ANT in depth to one or more digital texts.

Students are welcome to this course regardless of their level of familiarization with technologies.