ENGL491 - Digital Rhetoric

Prerequisite: Students must have satisfied the Fundamental Studies Academic Writing requirement. Credit only granted for: ENGL489J, or ENGL491. Formerly: ENGL489J. Examines the social significance of the ways digital texts are composed and circulated. Explores why it matters how the web is written and who does the writing, understanding the Internet as rhetorical from its content and communities to the code, protocols, and policies that control digital distribution. Includes active experimentation with digital tools so students can expand their theoretical understanding through critical making.

Description from the instructor

As Adam J. Banks tells us, “Acts of writing, the social networks and cultural contexts in which they occur, and the technological networks in which they take place and are disseminated still involve systems of power, still reflect the relationships between individuals and groups within those systems, and still entail questions of what it means to be and how we come to see, hear, sense, and know the world with all of those technologies, power relations, social networks, and cultural contexts” (Digital Griots, 2011). In other words, the digital spaces in which we spend so much of our time are rhetorical all the way down, from their content and communities to the underlying code, protocols, policies, laws, and even hardware that governs digital distribution. It matters how our digital worlds are written and who does the writing.

This upper-division rhetoric course is about the social significance of the ways digital texts are composed and circulated. This semester we will focus our explorations through the lens of technofeminism, attending the histories and effects of intersectional feminism in digital and digitally-mediated spaces. We will consider the power of the rhetorical choices already made for us as well as the possibilities of our own agency online. Our work together will take up concepts and concerns offered by a range of approaches to digital rhetorics – including material rhetorics, rhetorical code studies, and multimodal composition. Class meetings will emphasize discussion of course texts as well as active experimentation with digital tools as we expand our theoretical understandings through critical making. Course workload includes readings, short essays and multimedia texts, Wikipedia-based writing, an academic research paper, and a final exam.