Advanced Composition: Rhetoric, Technology, & Social Media


This course asks you to engage with one fundamental question: how and why does technology matter to writing and rhetoric? As we explore the relationships between these terms, we will investigate and perform a number of genres. In fact, the four graded elements of this course represent four different approaches to writing, rhetoric, and technology. As we investigate topical questions about social media, we will also discuss rhetorical elements (including audience, form, delivery, and credibility, to name but a few) and consider how technologies might change the ways that we communicate. 


Though there is some additional information following the reading schedule, everything you need to know to succeed in this class can be summed up by three rules.

  • Respect yourself; respect your colleagues; respect me.
  • Almost everything is negotiable if you can make a compelling enough argument.
  • If you do all your work and come prepared to class, good grades tend to take care of themselves.


There is no required book for this course; instead, I�'ve provided links to those readings available on the open web. Any readings not linked on the reading schedule will be housed on Canvas.


At the beginning of the semester, we'll establish a Twitter hashtag for the course. My goal is to use Twitter to encourage an ongoing discussion of course concepts and give each of you an opportunity to participate in classroom discussions. This will also allow you to ask questions and receive quick responses from me and your peers.


Course Blog or Kalman Project (20%)
Over the course of the semester, you will compose and post 6 blogs of at least 300 words that respond to and/or grapple with our readings. These blogs are a large portion of your grade, and I expect them to thoughtfully deal with at least two of our course readings. To receive full credit for a post, you should also productively engage with at least one of your classmates and respond (in a timely manner) to any comments you receive on your blog. (You should post at least 2 entries by each of the dates listed on the reading schedule, but posts aren'�t strictly due until the final week of classes. You can see an example of a well done blog for this course at


In the vein of Maira Kalman�s work (found here:, create a pictoral essay/collection that features at least 25 pictures and short snippets of text that help explain an idea or explore a question raised by our readings. In the interest of equanimity, this essay/collection should cite or link to at least 6 of our readings. (I'�ll check your progress on each of the dates listed on the reading schedule, but I won�'t give a final grade until the last week of classes.) .

PechaKucha (25%)
A PechaKucha is a slide presentation: you will choose 20 images that will each appear on screen for 20 seconds. (These pictures should either be personal pictures or creative commons licensed; no copyrighted material, please.) You can either narrate along with the pictures or you can record a voiceover that narrates your images. For our purposes, this presentation (and the accompanying images) should reflect on or extend our some facet of our discussion of Jeff Rice�'s Digital Detroit as it relates to a location of your choice. (See examples at

Definitional Text (20%)
Our course description includes 3 highly debated terms: rhetoric(s), social media, and technology. In an 800-1000 word page paper or webtext, offer a definition (or an anti-definition) for one of these terms. You should use at least 2 of the texts we�ve read in your discussion.

Term Paper (35%)
Compose an essay of 7-10 pages that takes up one of our case studies (or another relevant case that has been approved by me) and explores the rhetorical, ethical, and/or technological questions raised by that case. To put it another way, describe your chosen case and tell me what the particular case tells us about rhetorics, ethics, or technologies. In the final weeks of the semester, I will meet with each of you individually to discuss a draft of this essay.


Image by Andreas Eldh and available on Flickr.