Introduction to Writing, Rhetorics, and Literacies

Course Description


In this course, we will be exploring writing, rhetoric, and literacy through the lens of multimodality. The course will move through four major units: Image, Sound, Video, and Multimodality. Each unit will culminate in a project demonstrating your ability to analyze and communicate through that particular modality. Throughout the semester, we will read, write, and think through each of these modalities within the framework of design as we consider questions such as: What designs are most effective for communicating information through this medium? How do some designs encourage (or discourage) certain discourses, rhetorics, and/or mobilities over others? What design strategies are most effective for creating rhetorically powerful interventions into digital and physical spaces? The technical and rhetorical skills gained throughout the first part of the course will be called upon in the final unit as you propose and create a multimodal project about a cause, issue, or idea important to you.

Assignments


Weekly Reading Responses

Each week, you will write a short 500-word response that 1) summarizes the main points and claims of the readings using relevant quotes and paraphrase, 2) synthesizes these main points and claims into an overall “takeaway” about the readings, and 3) connects this “takeaway” to the modal focus of our current unit (e.g. image, sound, video, multimodality). At the beginning of each class on Tuesday, you will be assigned a different reading group where you will read and discuss one another’s reading responses.


Discussion Leaders (Groups of Three)

Discussion leaders formulate specific discussion questions for that week’s reading and lead class discussion for their selected week. Each group is responsible for selecting an additional media to pair with that week’s reading that they can show in class. This could be a short YouTube video, a podcast episode, or even a video game. However, keep in mind that the presentation of your media should not take longer than ten minutes. As you prepare for your presentation, be sure to read through the Discussion Leader Guide.


Image Assignment
Written Component

Drawing from the principles outlined in Chip Kidd’s Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, analyze the design strategy of a company or organization, focusing specifically on how well it aligns with the rhetorical goals of the organization. For instance, you might look at the design strategy of a local nonprofit and describe how its use of images, font, and layout on its website and/or social media pages persuade people to view the organization in a particular way.

Modal Component

Design an infographic that explains a concept or process we have come across in class. Your audience is other ASU students.


Sound Assignment
Written Component

Subscribe to one of the podcasts listed on the podcast analysis detailed assignment description and write an essay analyzing how the podcaster(s) uses audio to tell a story, explore an idea, provide information, and/or to persuade an audience. Your analysis can either be about a particular episode of the podcast or a technique you have observed throughout several different episodes.

Modal Component

Using only audio that you find through free online databases, tell a story about someone developing literacy in a particular domain (e.g. learning to read, use a computer, cultural literacies, etc.). Consult the resources section for copyright-free audio databases.


Video Assignment
Written Component

Choose an informational YouTube and/or online video series and do a cross-analysis of three to four episodes, analyzing them for form, content, structure, audience, tone, etc.

Modal Component

Use Videoscribe or another video editing software to create an explainer video about a rhetorical figure. Explore options for rhetorical figures on the Silva Rhetoricae website: http://rhetoric.byu.edu/.


Multimodal Advocacy Project

For this assignment, you will propose a multimodal campaign that raises awareness about an important idea or cause connected to a location (broadly defined). For instance, you might create a social media campaign that promotes pet adoptions for a local animal shelter. Or, you might decide to write a series of blog posts examining how Instagram pictures about the Grand Canyon change how the public comes to conceptualize the park as a “natural world wonder.” As you can see, you can take this assignment in a lot of different directions. Part of the creative work within rhetorical studies is in envisioning a final project and then formulating concrete steps to complete it. Although your proposals might touch on a variety of topics and ideas, they should all have at the very least 1) a section describing the medium through which your project will be completed (e.g. podcast, video series, website, augmented reality tour, etc.) and 2) a detailed description of how (and when) you will complete the project, and 3) a brief list of the knowledge and resources you will need to acquire in order to complete it (e.g. video editing, sound editing, historical research, interviews, etc.).

Resources


Schedule


Unit 1: Writing/Image

Week 1

T

  • Syllabus and assignment overviews
  • “The Psychological Comforts of Storytelling” (Atlantic article)
  • Howsound, "Show, don't tell"

Week 2

T

  • DUE: Reading Response 1
  • “All Writing is Multimodal” from Naming What We Know
  • “The Power of the Image” (Guardian article)

Th

  • “Failure Can Be an Important Part of Writing Development” from Naming What We Know
  • “Writing is Informed by Prior Experience” from Naming What We Know
  • Anne Lamott, “Shitty First Drafts”

Week 3

T

  • DUE: Reading Response 2
  • W.J.T. Mitchell “There are No Visual Media”
  • A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design Pgs. Cover page-73

Th

  • DUE: Image Assignment (upload to Canvas before start of class)

Unit 2: Literacy/Sound

Week 4

T

  • DUE: Reading Response 3
  • Street and Lefstein, “Why study literacy?” and “Literacy as Social Practice”

Th

  • “Writing Speaks to us Through Recognizable Forms” from Naming What We Know
  • Jessica Abel, Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio “Story Structure” (107-143)
  • Podcast Analysis Workshop

Week 5

T

  • DUE: Reading/Listening Response 4
  • Howsound Story Structure
  • 99% Invisible, “Sounds Natural”

Th

  • Audacity Workshop

Week 6

T

  • “Writing Addresses, Invokes, and/or Creates Audiences” from Naming What We Know
  • Radiolab, “Making the Hippo Dance”
  • Howsound, “Sound Matters”

Th

  • DUE: Sound Assignment (upload to Canvas before start of class

Unit 3: Rhetoric/Video

Week 7

T

  • DUE: Reading Response 5
  • “Writing is Performative” from Naming What We Know
  • Choose two rhetorical figures to read about from the Silva Rhetoricae website

Th

  • “How to Optimize Your Video for YouTube” (Search Engine Watch)
  • Video Analysis Workshop

Week 8

T

  • DUE: Reading Response 6
  • “Rhetoric is Synonymous with Empty Speech” from Bad Ideas About Writing
  • Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg “General Introduction” from Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present

Th

  • Video Production Workshop

Week 9

T

  • Fall Break

Th

  • DUE: Reading Response 7
  • Writer/Designer “Analyzing Multimodal Projects”
  • A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design pgs. 96-117

Week 10

T

  • DUE: Reading Response 8
  • Writer/Designer “Choosing a Genre and Pitching Your Project”

Th

  • DUE: Video Assignment

Unit 4: Multimodality

Week 11

T

  • DUE: Multimodal Project Proposal (upload to Canvas by 9am)
  • Conferences for Multimodal Project Proposal

Th

  • Conferences for Multimodal Project Proposal

Week 12

T

  • DUE: Reading Response 9
  • Writer/Designer “Working with Multimodal Sources” and “Designing your Project”

Th

  • Multimodal technologies workshop

Week 13

T

  • DUE: Reading Response 10
  • Visualizing Information for Advocacy pgs. 4-19

Th

  • Writer/Designer “Drafting and Revising your Project”
  • Outlining/Scripting workshop

Week 14

T

  • DUE: Reading Response 11
  • Katherine Isbister, How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design pgs. 1-10
  • Read about and play one of the games on molleindustria.org

Th

  • Multimodal project workshop

Week 15

T

  • Conferences

Th

  • No class, Thanksgiving

Week 16

T

  • Final Projects Due (upload to Canvas before class)
  • Project showcase

T

  • Project showcase cont'd