YouTube and Detroit: The State of the Debate

Due Dates
12/8: Video Presentation Due
12/8, 12/10: Presentations

Submission Guidelines: Public URL of your Prezi submitted to prior to class on 12/8. The subject line of your email should read: "[Your Name] Prezi link" (e.g. "John Smith's Prezi link")

Most of our work this semester has focused on how scholars discuss Detroit. Together, we constructed a research database that reflects much of that scholarly work, and our anthology projects are an attempt to make sense of that database. This project will take a slightly different approach by examining the public conversation about Detroit. For this assignment, our database will be YouTube. Thousands of videos on YouTube address the topic of "Detroit." Further, comments posted to videos and "video responses" are evidence that people are not only making visual arguments (with videos) but are also discussing the content of those videos. In many ways, YouTube is a database reflecting the public conversations about millions of topics, and it will be our task to make sense of the YouTube conversation about Detroit.

Much like your anthology preface makes an argument about the state of the scholarly debate amongst scholars, your YouTube presentations will examine YouTube clips in an attempt to understand the state of the public debate about Detroit. You will be using Prezi ( for this project, and you will present your findings to the class on 12/8, 12/10.

Your task is to analyze the state of this debate, and this will require research. A YouTube page contains a lot of data beyond just a video clip, and it is your job to analyze that data.

Who posted your videos?
You will have to do your best to figure out who posted the video. This does not mean tracking down the name of the person who posted it. Instead, it means figuring out if that user has posted other videos and drawing conclusions from these findings. By researching a user's contributions to YouTube, you can get a sense for their motives and you can evaluate their ethos.

What is the context of each clip?
Some videos on YouTube are from news reports, TV shows, or movies. This changes the context of the clip, and it changes who the "author" is. So, your main task is to provide some context for who the "author" of this clip is. Was this footage shot by news cameras, or is it amateur footage? When was the footage shot, and when was it posted (this two dates can be very different)? Was it posted in response to another clip? Are there similar clips that this clip is in conversation with? Are there comments posted? Do these comments reflect the "conversation" surrounding this clip? What kinds of debates have arisen around this video? Is the clip in a category? Has it been tagged? (Note: Categories are groupings created by YouTube to sort videos. Tags are descriptive words determined by users.) How might this category/tag affect the context of the clip?

Who is the audience?
Can you you gauge who the video was intended for? How does it attempt to persuade that audience? What strategies are used to reach that audience? Does it succeed or fail?

Rhetorical analysis
What strategies are used in the clip? These could be visual strategies (camera angles, closeups), audio strategies (music, sound), or verbal strategies (arguments made by people in the video). Just as you've analyzed arguments from journals, you'll be analyzing the arguments made on YouTube. Revisit the tools we've learned in Having Your Say as you analyze these clips.

Grade Criteria
This assignment accounts for 15% of your final grade. When grading your presentation, I will be evaluating the following:

* Your presentation can be no longer than 10 minutes. Did you stay within the time limit?
* Have you discussed the rhetorical strategies of the videos you've selected?
* Have you done research on the clip? Who posted it? Who is the audience? What is the purpose? What are the responses (video or text)?
* Have you put videos into conversation with one another and reflected the "state of the debate"?
* Is there evidence that you've spent a significant amount of time on the project?
* Was the assignment completed on time? (Reminder: I do not accept late work.)

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