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 both 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 nor 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 five 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 (cryptography, Internet protocols, etc.), and you should choose one of these examples as the basis for your game.

Group Project: Misinformation/Disinformation Campaign

In this class, we study Wayne Booth's breakdown of different types of rhetoric. Booth's definition of "rhetrickery" is what we often think of when we hear politicians or other public figures use the word "rhetoric." Booth defines rhetrickery as the "whole range of shoddy dishonest communicative arts producing misunderstanding - along with other harmful results. The arts of making the worse seem the better course."

We've read about various kinds of digital rhetrickery, including things like Deepfakes and Troll Farms, but we've also read about ways that artists, activists, and others might use similar tactics toward more ethical or just ends. Groups and initiatives such as the Yes Men and Birds Aren't Real use the tools of digital disinformation and propaganda to expose wrongdoing and to raise awareness about conspiracy theories or the manipulation of information.

Our final project in this class will be to build our own similar disinformation campaign, using to tools of rhetrickery in similar ways. As a class, we will develop a campaign, and using what we've learned this semester we will build an online presence for that campaign. This could include creating websites, social media accounts, digital graphics, videos, audio, and more. It will also mean a great deal of writing. The class will plan the campaign together, and students will take on different roles to work together in building this project.

On our last day of class, all members of the class will deliver a presentation about the campaign, its goals, and the processes you used to create materials. Individual students should look for opportunities to document their own contributions to the project so that they can use that documentation in their LR.