RHE 312: Inventing Electracy (Spring 2009)

How do argument, rhetoric, and writing change in the age of the Internet. Greg Ulmer argues that we are experiencing a shift from literacy to "electracy." Electracy is a "new apparatus" that calls for new practices and new ways of thinking and writing. What are the new compositional and rhetorical practices necessary to navigate electracy? Who will invent these new practices?

This course will begin the work of inventing elecrate (rather than literate) practices. We will not only apply theories, we will create new theories. We will not only read texts in a new way, we will create new texts. Using Ulmer's method of "mystory," we will create what he calls "wide images" using pbwiki software. Doing this work in a wiki will allow you to publish your work for a wider audience, track your revision processes, and easily link together the various communities that have helped shape you as a writer. By documenting and cataloging the various cultural forces that have shaped you as a reader, writer, and thinker, you will develop an image that encapsulates your singular approach to public policy questions and/or the work of your scholarly discipline. Can that singular approach be the one that changes how others addresses such questions? Can your wide image create a shift in the conversation?

This course is designed to accommodate a broad range of interests. Anyone (the creative writer, the journalist, the filmmaker, the engineer, the biologist) can benefit from the "mystorical" process. By asking students to take account of what has made them the thinker they are, this course aims to present students with a unique way of understanding how they approach writing in their discipline and in public spaces. Our textbook, Internet Invention, provides short writing exercises that will help you build material for each of the major web pages in your "wide site." This writing will happen in various modes: video, audio, text. In creating these materials, you will be doing two things: 1) Inventing your wide image; 2) Helping to invent the electrate apparatus. Albert Einstein's wide image was a compass that his father showed him. This wide image shaped Einstein's thinking and eventually changed his discipline and the world. What will your wide image be?

Work in this course will be evaluated using the Learning Record, a portfolio-based assessment tool that asks students to gather evidence and argue for a grade.

[Image Credit: "Invention" by Eduardo Paolozzi by Ko:(char *)hook]