Course Overview

In May 2005, the comedian Sinbad was declared dead by Wikipedia. Upon receiving a number of calls from friends, Sinbad’s managers assured everyone that he was very much alive. Who authored Sinbad’s Wikipedia entry?

During a February 2007 press conference, President Bush was asked whether expressions of discontent about his Iraq war strategy served to “embolden” the enemy. He responded by pointing out the importance of audience: "The only thing I can tell you is that when I speak, I'm very conscience [sic] about the audiences that are listening to my words.” Considering that millions of people read or listen to Bush’s remarks on a daily basis, how does he determine his audience?

According to the Wikipedia article for the album “Night Ripper,” the song “Minute By Minute” by DJ Gregg Gillis (a.k.a. Girl Talk) samples 13 songs including Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland, 1945,” Warren G and Nate Dogg’s “Regulate,” and Steely Dan’s “Black Cow.” What is the “text” of this song?

Rethinking Rhetoric
The study of rhetoric often revolves around a rhetorical (or “communications”) triangle: author/audience/text. But what is the state rhetorical triangle in wired world. What is the state of rhetoric and writing in an era of what Greg Ulmer calls “electracy”? How should we rethink ethics, politics, identity, intellectual property, or any number of other things given the rise of electronic networks?

This course will explore such questions (and many more). In this class “writing,” will be something more than text on 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper. We will work with aural and visual media, and we will broadly define (or redefine) what writing is. Some possible projects include reading and contributing to Wikipedia, creating audio mashups and podcasts, and contributing to a class wiki. Such writing projects will be rhetorical in nature—designed for specific audiences in specific contexts with a specific goal in mind. However, we will also discuss how these texts can (and will) be put in new contexts for different purposes with different audiences.

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