Course & Assignment Description – Congo Coltan War PSA (2.2)

Course Description
Rhetoric 330c: Advanced Studies in Digital Rhetoric (topics course)

University Course Catalog
An advanced course that examines the role of information technologies in communication. Taught using networked computers.

Instructor Syllabus Course Description
This course will explore the changing dynamic of rhetorical invention in relation to (emerging) multimodal/multimedia discourse–specifically, exploring the impacts of digital cultures and digital communicational technologies on the possibilities and potentialities of/for rhetorical invention. We will focus on (1) how emerging digital ecologies have opened communicational possibilities beyond the singular limits of written (alphabetic) texts, and (2) how these changes in communicational technologies, specifically the media (and mediums) of digital communication, radically alter how we come to and come to understand rhetorical invention.

With our focus being on digital communication technologies and rhetorical invention, we will approach the course in terms of knowing (theoretical knowledge),doing (practical/pedagogical knowledge), and making (productive knowledge)–placing an emphasis on making. This emphasis is paramount as making not only opens a variety of ways to engage different types, kinds, processes, and practices of rhetorical invention, but also is one of the key advantages of working in digital culture where making, not knowing, takes center stage.

As part of this course, students will be introduced to varying classical rhetoric concepts and then be asked to consider and discuss the evolution of those concepts in light of a digital age: reconsidering not only audience, text, rhetorical situation, and authorship and authority, but also issues of ethics, of civic engagement, or even the unfolding possibilities for thought itself (unfolding via changes in the communicative apparatus).

Assignment Description
Digital Video Project Assignment

Digital video is ubiquitous in our culture. From large screen blockbuster production to the “institution” of television all the way to viral (and non-viral) microvideos, we are exposed to digital video at alarming rates. We are a digital video consumer culture. But are we critical consumers? Do we engage these productions with a conscientious and critical eye? Do we understand the rhetoric(s) and rhetorical messages/purposes these digital videos put forth? And conversely, do we understand how rhetorical invention (and its techniques) shift when we move into the medium of video, when we move into creating video-based discourse and/or rhetorical messages?

The DVP is designed to open these issues to students through the avenues of digital video production. We will engage making as a way for palpating different possibilities for rhetorical invention (and, more generally, for understanding how linkages occur/emerge in motion images). Additionally, using the film The Five Obstructions as our guide, we will generate a list of our own obstructions that may be employed in the creating of these DVPs. Thus, students will be required to compose/produce a digital video that addresses an issue of critical concern in relation to the course readings and/or course discussions on rhetorical invention and to do so while employing one of the class’ determined obstructions.

Students may chose to cut and edit open source footage currently available to them through the Internet Archives, they may choose to work with (remix and/or recut) copyrighted material in some limited capacity (being sure to follow effective documentation procedures), or they may choose to shoot new footage. Or they may engage some combination of all three. While more specific guidelines may be discussed in class, the major guiding criteria for these videos include:

– Must be between 120 to 300 seconds in length.

– Must be made available via Web browser.

– Must engage, explore, make comment on a topic relevant to our course focus.

– Must include credits/sources (in the DVP as well as in printed form).

Additionally, while more specific explanations of grading criteria will be established and discussed in class, the digital video projects will primarily be evaluated upon the depth and quality of topic engagement and the quality of the overall digital video project (its production and editing and rhetorical effect).

In addition to the video production, each student will also be required to complete an Invention Exploration/Analysis Paper (critically examining the obstruction chosen and how that inventive choice impacted/altered the possibilities of the given message being generated).

Each student will also be required to complete a 250-500 word Reflection Paper on the process of making these videos and how that process relates to or differs from “traditional” writing processes.