Assignments

Hypothesis Annotations

For some of our readings, you will be using a tool called Hypothesis to highlight significant passages and to record observations about those passages. The goal here is to read together, to try to make sense of what we are reading in a collective way. Annotations are due by 8:00pm on the day before we meet to discuss the reading.This provides me with an opportunity to review your annotations before our class meeting.

These assignments will be important material for your LR. Hypothesis allows you to annotate certain passages and to record "page notes" (notes that apply to the entire reading). You may also find that you want to reply to another student's annotations. While I do not require any specific number of annotations or notes, I will be looking to see that you have put forth a good faith effort to complete the assignment.

There are many ways to approach this method of collective annotation. Here's a guide developed by Dr. Nathaniel Rivers at St. Louis University, which presents some "do's" and "don'ts" of collaborative annotation. Annotations to our readings might do a number of things, including asking questions, pointing to another related source, connecting a reading to other readings in the class, or any other approach that you think might be useful to you and your classmates.

There's only one strict rule when it comes to these annotations: You can't say "I agree" or "I disagree." This may seem counter intuitive, but the goal of our readings isn't to agree or disagree with the author or even with one another. The goal is to ask questions, to figure out why the author is making certain arguments, and to consider what is most important about the argument we're reading.

Ender's Game Response Paper

During our class discussions of Ender's Game, we have been applying Booth's terms to scenes in the novel in order to analyze various moments of persuasion. Our goal is to use Booth's terms to either shed new light on the novel or, potentially, to help us understand Booth's terms and theories in a new way.

You will do this same thing in your response paper, analyzing some moment in the novel with Booth's terms.

1) Identify and summarize a moment in Ender's Game that you would like to analyze using Booth's terms. You do not need to explain every component of the scene you're analyzing, but you do need to describe in detail the most important components of it and provide some context of how the scene fits into the rest of the novel.

2) Identify and summarize the terms or concepts from Booth that you would like to use to analyze the moment you have identified. This section should be detailed and should serve to show that you understand Booth's term and can explain it to someone who may not be familiar with his theories.

3) Conduct your analysis by explaining how Booth's terms apply to the moment you have chosen. You should be citing specific moments and passages when you do this and not just speaking in general terms about the scene you have chosen. You should be choosing multiple examples to support your analysis.

4) Explain how your analysis can help us understand the novel in a new way or how your analysis might help us understand Booth's concepts in a new way.

Your paper can be no more than 1,000 words, and it must do all four of the things listed above.

When providing comments on these papers, I will be looking to see that the paper does the following things:

  • Responds to the prompt above.
  • Provides a detailed response to the prompt, using specific examples from the book to support your claims.
  • Shows evidence that you have incorporated feedback from me and your classmates as you have expanded and revised the paper. (You'll have opportunities to get feedback during class discussion and during our writing workshop day.)
  • Demonstrates a careful writing and revision process.
  • Is carefully written, generally free of grammatical errors, and observes the word limits described above.

Little Brother Twine Game

As we read Little Brother, we'll be learning some of the basics of making games and interactive stories using the Twine platform. You'll be making your own game in response to Little Brother. While Twine allows us to make complex games, your game will be a "mini-game" and will not require you to use all of the complex possibilities afforded by the Twine platform.

In Little Brother, Doctorow is using fiction to teach the reader about technology, surveillance, hacking, and a range of technological concepts. Your mini-game should take this same approach, but instead of using only narrative to teach these lessons, you can use the features of a game or interactive narrative. By presenting your player with choices, you can teach them in a way that is similar to what Doctorow is attempting.

Your game must be completable in about three minutes, must offer multiple possibilities (each play through should yield somewhat different results), and must teach the player something from Little Brother. Doctorow gives us multiple moments when he's teaching the reader about technology, and you should choose one of these examples as the basis for your game.

"Birds Aren't Real" Response Paper

Birds Aren't Real is a project that attempts to raise awareness about conspiracy theories, but it does so in a unique way - it tries to use rhetrickery for good.

As we have discussed all semester, Booth defines rhetrickery as the "whole range of shoddy dishonest communicative arts producing misunderstanding - along with other harmful results. [It is] the arts of making the worse seem the better course." In his book, Booth does not really allow for the fact that rhetrickery can be used in ethical ways. He argues that rhetrickery is always bad. But Birds Aren't Real does attempt to do this. It is not trying to put forward a conspiracy theory but is instead trying to offer a critique of conspiracy theories.

We then have to ask if the project succeeds in using rhetrickery for good. Is Birds Aren't Real a project that engages in ethical persuasion? If so, why? If not, why not? In your 750-word response paper, you will be taking up this question. You will need to provide specific examples both from Birds Aren't Real and from Booth's discussion of rhetrickery to answer this question.

Your goals in this brief response paper will be to use detailed examples from "Birds Aren't Real" (their website, the New York Times article and podcast, or any other materials you can find) to make an argument as to whether or not the project is an ethical attempt to persuade people. You will need to be clear about how you are defining what it means to "ethically persuade" and how that definition does or does not apply to the Birds Aren't Real project.

When providing feedback on this project, I will be asking the following:

  • Have you answered the question of whether Birds Aren't Real engages in ethical persuasion and explained why you are arguing that this is or is not so?
  • Have you made clear how you are defining the concept of ethical persuasion?
  • Have you cited relevant passages from Wayne Booth where necessary?
  • Have you applied your definition of ethical persuasion to the Birds Aren't Real project by using specific evidence and examples from Birds Aren't Real materials and practices?
  • Does the paper observe the word limit, and does it show evidence that you have carefully revised prior to submission?

Using Rhetrickery for Good, an AI-generated essay

You've read about (and now written about) about Birds Aren't Real, which attempts to use the tools of rhetrickery (lying, deceit, etc.) to critique and poke fun at disinformation, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and more. In your final project, your job is to write an essay based on our "studies in rhetrickery" readings that describes your own version of this same approach.

What is another kind of project that can we imagine that would use rhetrickery for good? What technologies or practices would be used in such a project? What would the goals of that project be? What audience would the project hope to reach, and why? Your job in this paper is to describe such a project by answering these questions.

When describing your own "rhetrickery for good" project, you can draw upon these readings and resources:

  • "Digital Propaganda: The Power of Influencers"
  • Philadelphia Art Museum Workers' use of memes during their strike
  • Feels Good Man (film)
  • "Lexicon of Lies"
  • "Exposing Russia‚Äôs Effort to Sow Discord Online: The Internet Research Agency and Advertisements"
  • "Media Forensics and DeepFakes: An Overview"
  • Headliner (videogame)

But there's one more twist for this project: You have to use the AI text-generation tool GPT-3 to write your paper. This paper will be written by an AI, and any changes you make to the text will have to be indicated in boldface. The goal of the project is to edit the text generated by the AI as little as possible and to use GPT-3 to generate a paper that responds to the paper prompt.

In addition to generating the paper using GPT-3, you will be responsible for a brief 3-minute presentation during which you will reflect on your experience using GPT-3 to write a paper. Each student will present on their experience of using this tool and will share slides during that presentation. This will mean documenting your process as you use the tool with screenshots and notes.

When I provide feedback on the paper, I will comment on it the same way I normally would, commenting on areas where the paper does or does not meet the assignment, or commenting on areas that require revision. In other words, I will be responding as if a human wrote the paper. In those remarks, I will be asking if your paper:

  • Provides a detailed description of your "rhetrickery for good" project.
  • Provides a detailed description of what technologies or practices would be used in your project.
  • Describes the goals of your rhetrickery project.
  • Describes the audience for your proposed project.
  • Uses specific examples from the readings to describe your proposed project.
  • Is carefully written, generally free of grammatical errors, and observes the word limit.

Your presentation will be made in Google Slides and will be no more than three minutes long. It will be a reflection on your experience using GPT-3 technology to generate your paper. When providing feedback, I will be asking if your presentation:

  • Provides a detailed reflection on how you used GPT-3 to generate your paper, including screenshots and any other documentation of your process.
  • Describes your struggles and discoveries using the tool.
  • Offers a discussion of the advantages and/or disadvantages of using the tool in this way.
  • Demonstrates that you have carefully designed your slides following the approach we've covered in class.
  • Observes the time limit.