Follow the links below for descriptions of our assignments.

Rhetorical Exercises / Digital Remakes

As we read Crowley and Hawhee's text, we will be completing the rhetorical excercises at the end of many of the chapters. Those exercises were designed by ancient rhetoricians who hoped to provide their students with a rhetorical sensibility. By developing multiple arguments, crafting stories, and playing with language, students of rhetoric are "tuning their instrument" and preparing themselves for rhetorical situations. These exercises are also used for invention - for the development and discovery of arguments.

We will use these exercises toward the same ends as we brainstorm and tinker with ideas for our digital remake of Lauren Redniss' Radioactive. In order to bring these exercises into digital rhetorical situations, we will remake the exercises themselves. After completing these exercises via writing, the primary technology of the ancients, we will ask the following question: How could this same exercise be carried out using a digital technology? We will be workshopping various tools for digital composition, and we will learn the basics of various software packages. As we learn these tools, we will use them to remake these ancient rhetorical exercises. For instance, if we have written a fable in words, we will then ask: What would that fable exercise look like if we used sound, image, or any other method of digital composition? How do these technologies change the exercise? What new rhetorical possibilities are opened up by digital technologies? What possibilities are foreclosed?

These are the questions we'll ask ourselves as we complete these exercises. We will use the exercises as ways to explore the rhetorical possibilities of digital composition, and each of these exercises will stand as opportunities for you to consider how you might like to create a digital remake of Radioactive.

When evaluating these projects, here are the questions we'll be asking:

  • Have you used the written version of the rhetorical exercise to generate ideas and arguments?
  • Does your exercise demonstrate an effort to apply the terms and concepts of the textbook chapter?
  • Does your digital remake of the exercise take advantage of the rhetorical possibilities of your chosen technology?
  • Do these exercises demonstrate that you are working toward an idea for your digital remake of Radioactive?
  • Were your assignments turned in on time? (Reminder: We do not accept late work.)

Digital Remake of Redniss' Radioactive

Lauren Redniss' Radioactive uses word and image to present narratives and arguments. It pushes the boundaries of the printed page, forcing us to consider different ways of presenting stories, arguments, and information. Redniss has presented a multimodal account of the life and work of the Curies while also showing us how those their stories are part of a broad network of information.

Our task will be to create a digital remake of Redniss' text. She has shown us how to combine word, image, and primary documents and to reimagine what a book can be, and we will take that lesson into digital rhetoric and writing. How could we remake a portion of Redniss' narrative by using the various digital technologies we have explored in this class? How can we remake some portion of Redniss' text in order to make our own argument, and how can use the affordances of digital technology to do so? Redniss' expanded her available means of persuasion beyond print, telling her stories and making arguments by using various media. How can we do the same with digital technologies?

We have been composing rhetorical exercises throughout the semester, and we have also been creating digital remakes of those exercises. These assignments were designed so that we could explore the rhetorical possibilities of various digital technologies. Those exercises have provided us with opportunities to invent, and we will use what we've learned to create a digital remake of Radioactive. That remake will take some portion of Radioactive as its inspiration, and it will use digital technology to make an argument. Your argument can be about anything that relates to Radioactive. It can address the history of science, love, radioactivity, technology, death, and much more. Redniss addresses a number of intersecting themes and makes various arguments in her text (some are more explicit than others), and you should use her text as inspiration for your own attempt at an argument.

I encourage you to use one of your rhetorical exercises as a "rough draft" for this project. Those exercises should have provided you with ways to think about Redniss' text and to imagine how you might use various digital tools to remake some of her arguments in a new way.

In addition to creating a digital remake of Radioactive, you will write a 750-word reflection on your remake that details how you approached the project and what you hope it accomplishes. This document should serve as a way for you to reflect on the process and to provide us with insight into how you've used digital technology to make an argument.

When evaluating these projects, here are the questions we'll be asking:

  • Have you applied the terms and concepts of the textbook in the creation of your digital remake?
  • Does your remake make an argument (or can make more than one)?
  • Does your remake take full advantage of the rhetorical possibilities of your chosen medium?
  • Have you transformed some portion of Redniss' argument or narrative? Does your remake do something new with her material, showing us some new possibilities by "translating" her work into some other medium?
  • Does your remake demonstrate an understanding of the significance of Redniss' narratives and arguments? Does it demonstrate an understanding of how she's used particular media toward specific ends?
  • Does your reflection document explain your process and the logic of your remake, providing insight into what you hope the remake accomplishes?
  • Does your reflection document observe the word limit of 750 words?
  • Was your assignment turned in on time? (Reminder: We do not accept late work.)

Short Response Paper on Limbo

Due Date: 4/15

In our readings and discussions, we have addressed how games use rules and procedures to make meaning. We'll put those ideas to the test by conducting a close analysis of Limbo that focuses on how its procedures make make meaning and how it might be redesigned as a persuasive game, a game that uses processes rhetorically.

We have been asking these questions in class: How do a game's mechanics make arguments? What are those arguments? What is the significance of those arguments, and how are the connected to the game's story? Remember that procedural rhetoric is different from verbal rhetoric, visual rhetoric, or textual rhetoric. The images and text of the game do in fact make arguments, but that is not what we're focused on here. Instead, we are examining the procedures of the game and explaining how those procedures mount arguments.

Our task in this paper is to transform Limbo into what Bogost calls a "persuasive game." While Limbo does in fact use procedures as an expressive medium, it does not necessarily use those procedures to persuade. How could we redesign Limbo in order to transform it into persuasive game? This is the question you'll take up in this short paper. You will propose a redesign of the game and then explain how your redesign would make Limbo a persuasive game. Your proposed redesign should focus on how the game uses procedural expression. You can address visuals or sound as well (that is, you could redesign these components of the game), but you must also address the game's procedures. How would your new version of Limbo use computational procedures to make an argument? What would that argument be?

Papers should be no longer than 1000 words (roughly: Times New Roman, 12 point font, three double-spaced pages) and should be uploaded to Dropbox prior to our class meeting on 4/15.

When providing feedback, we will be looking for the following:

  • Does your redesign make Limbo into a persuasive game?
  • Does your paper explain your proposed redesign in detail?
  • Does your paper explain and describe the procedural argument that your redesigned game would make?
  • Does your paper focus on how the procedures of your redesigned game would be used to persuade?
  • Is your paper written effectively and coherently with very few grammatical errors?
  • Is your paper formatted correctly (double-spaced, observes the word limit, name in upper-left-hand corner)?
  • Was the paper turned in on time? (Reminder: We do not accept late work.)

Procedural Authorship Project

Due Dates:

4/22: Version 1.0 Due
4/29: Version 2.0 Due
5/6: Version 3.0 Due

Throughout our discussions of games, computational art, procedural authorship, and procedural rhetoric, we’ve been discussing how computational procedures can be used to express ideas, to make arguments, and to create certain kinds of experiences. Procedural expression uses computation as more than a vehicle for text and image. A procedural author uses computation itself as the expressive medium.

In this collaborative project, you will use procedures to express ideas and make arguments. In teams (one student from “Computational Art” will team up with two students from “Digital Rhetorics”), you will combine your expertise to create a computational artifact. That artifact can be a game, but it does not have to be. The primary goal here is to use computational procedures as an expressive medium. The audiences interacting with your artifact should be afforded the opportunity to reflect on how rules are shaping what is or is not possible. Your job is to make an argument or express an idea by way of computational procedures.

Your procedural authorship project should express an idea or make an argument. The students in “Digital Rhetoric” have spent the semester examining how digital tools and environments expand our available means of persuasion. In doing so, they have explored “argument” in a broad sense. We typically think of argument narrowly: I argue an idea, and my audience either accepts or rejects that argument. However, argument rarely happens in these ways, and this is particularly true when using procedurality. An audience interacting with a computational artifact will often glean various arguments from that experience, arguments that appear over and beyond what the artist/writer/rhetor has intended. This is what we expect will happen in these projects.

In addition to using procedures to create something, you will also write a 1000-word reflection on your artifact. This writing should describe both your process and what you hope the piece accomplishes. These brief essays (authored collaboratively) provide you with some space to explain the choices you’ve made and the goals of your project.

Both Meg and Jim will evaluate these projects, and we will do so with the following questions in mind:

  • Have you used procedures as an expressive medium? Does the project use procedures to express an idea and/or make an argument?
  • Does the project allow an audience to reflect on the procedural system you’ve authored, opening up space for reflection, dialogue or critique?
  • Does your reflective essay explain your process in detail, explaining the choices you made, your revision process, and what you hope the piece accomplishes?
    Is your essay written clearly with no grammatical errors?
  • Was your project submitted on time?