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Writing with Digital and Social Media Mini-Courses

Credits: 1 | May be elected 3 times for credit | May be elected more than once in the same term

In WRITING 201, students analyze and apply rhetorical principles in their writing with digital media. A variety of topics and innovation in pedagogy are hallmarks of this course. Why pay attention to multimedia in a writing course? As members of a media-saturated culture, we know that print text is only one form of "writing" and communication, and sometimes it is not the most effective choice. Because all of us make sense of texts and issues in a variety of ways, this course will ask students to utilize multimodal (visual, aural, kinetic, etc.) forms of communication and become more informed and critical consumers of digital media writing themselves.

Writing 201.001 - The Rhetoric of Reddit

There’s something for everyone on reddit, from the incredibly niche, such as r/sorryjon, exclusively dedicated to combining Garfield and cosmic horror, to more broad and encompassing interests, like r/news or r/politics. As a social aggregation and user-generated discussion site, reddit is currently the 6th most popular website in the United States. Users submit content to subreddits (2.8 million and counting) on specific topics, engage in conversation, upvote and downvote contributions, and accumulate karma based on the votes their contributions receive. This emphasis on shared and collective content reveals much about the rhetorical construction of online identity and communities. We will explore how online identity is formed on reddit, and how different stakeholders participate in subreddit discourse, from admins to mods to contributors to lurkers. We will visit consistently popular subreddits, like r/AskReddit, r/IAmA, and r/aww, alongside subreddits defined by your own self-interests. We will question how networks of power and privilege affect reddit’s design. This course will provide a framework for you to more deeply consider how you build your identity as an online conversant, as well as understand reddit’s role as a politically influential aspect of social media. Course expectations include weekly reading and responses and a research-based final presentation. Class time will be primarily discussion-based. 

Writing 201.002 - Yik Yak and Affect

In Yik Yak and Affect we focus on how posts on Yik Yak participate in a rhetorical and social discourse, and we attempt to apply affect theory to a social app. In other words, we delve into Yik Yak to discover, describe, and define affects that arise as we use the app. The course explores new practices in multimodal and digital writing, with a special attention to the many social situations when subjects and objects participate in meaning making. Students do not need any special technical expertise to take this course, although having a smart phone or tablet to access the app is necessary. Students who are pursuing a minor in Writing or in Digital Studies are invited to enroll.

Writing 201.003 - The Rhetoric of Maps

Any map is a calculated rhetorical construct based upon an understanding of what is legible to its user. If maps are representation, then they are always created from a position of culture, bias, and values. We will consider how power is enacted in mapping, with an emphasis on digital maps. We will dabble in ArcGIS Story Maps and OpenStreet Map, but we will also visit archival scarcities in the Clements Library and the Clark Map Library. Course expectations include weekly reading and responses and a research-based final digital map composition and accompanying presentation. Class time will be a mix of discussion, maker labs, and lectures.

Writing 201.004 - Writing with ChatGPT

ChatGPT, a human-like AI chat bot, went live on November 22, 2022, and has since acquired millions of users. In this course, we will investigate ChatGPT’s features, including its use as a digital tool for writers. Through course readings and discussions, we’ll consider how ChatGPT might shape notions of authenticity, authorship, citation, editing, and plagiarism. Throughout the class, students will experiment writing with ChatGPT in all stages of the writing process. As a final project, students will submit a portfolio that critically reflects on their experiences writing with ChatGPT.

Writing 201.005 - Instapoetry, Prosody, and Performance

Some of the great debates and mysteries of poetry will live on forever: What makes a poem a poem? What makes a poem...good? And what does a “good” poem compel us to do? These questions take on new light in the growing world of poetry influenced by and housed in Internet-spaces—from bite-sized reflections on Instagram, platitudes on Tumblr, to performances on YouTube. Together we’ll study the community-sharing, aesthetic, critiques, and more of “Instapoetry” while celebrating poets who are more off-the-grid.