Writing About Material Culture

Dr. Robin Wharton

Office: 25 Park Place, #2434
Office Hours: M/W 3-4 pm, T/Th 11-noon, and by appointment

Course Overview

ENGL 3090 builds on the competencies developed in English 1101 and 1102, with a special emphasis on composition intended to explain, inform, and describe. As with any kind of writing, expository writing is rhetorical; it has a purpose, audience, author(s), and context. Consequently, this course will continue to develop your ability to identify, analyze, and respond to rhetorical situations.

Regarding the purpose of the writing we’ll be doing this semester, the other primary subject matter of this course will be the material world of objects through which we move in our day to day lives. We will consider why we are driven to create, use, consume, and accumulate things. Why and how do we form emotional attachments to inanimate objects? What do the possessions we own say about us–about our social and economic status, our cultural and ethnic identities, our psychological profile? To what extent is human behavior and expression dependent upon tools, prostheses, and other material goods? Does being human require a world of objects against which or through which we can define ourselves? These are the sorts of questions the field of material culture studies has evolved to answer, and these are the questions we will take up and examine in our reading and writing.

Finally, we will consider the place of expository writing as part of a larger multimodal project of exposition. In addition to writing, we use a variety of other modes—oral, visual, electronic, nonverbal– to interact with and communicate about the material world. Developing your ability to integrate your writing with these other modalities will improve your rhetorical expertise.

Summary of projects: The course includes the following projects, which are designed to engage you in the processes and rhetorical analyses involved in expository composition: a class blog, a series of very brief Twitter “essays,” a digital model and detailed textual description of an artifact, a collaborative timeline detailing the “evolution” of the objects the class has chosen to study, a multimodal object analysis, and a final portfolio. Unless otherwise noted, all documents and artifacts will be submitted on Google Drive or here on our course website.

The blog, Twitter essays, 3-D model and object description, timeline, and 3-D model will all build towards and contribute to the multimodal object analysis and your final portfolio. Failure to complete projects early on will make completing later projects that reuse or remix work from previous projects more difficult. It’s especially important, therefore, to keep up with the work in this course.

Reading: As a class, we will all read some materials in common (chapters from the textbooks as well as articles), but some of your reading will be selected, using criteria I provide, based on the specific subject matter you choose to address in your compositions.

Reflection: Many studies about the relationship between learning and reflection indicate that long-term learning takes place during reflection about the work rather than simply in doing the work itself. Thus, following each of your projects, you’ll submit a reflection that will require you to analyze and explain your learning and composition process.

Many thanks to R.E. Burnett (LMC3403) and Cydney Alexis (WRIT 1133), whose syllabi and course design have been reused and remixed in the syllabus and design of this course.

Image credit “Cuckoo clocks / Kuckucksuhren” by Hellebardius on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/libaer2002/2976349320.

Blog Post #10: What is exposition?

The full title of this class, from the course catalog, is “History, Theory, and Practice of Exposition.” Over the course of the semester we have identified some of the formal and rhetorical characteristics of expository writing. In general, the purpose of... read more

Weekly Overview

This is an overview of the readings and deliverables for the week of:

Image credit “coins” by Jeff Belmonte on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffbelmonte/403289348.

Course Calendar

Click on the entry for a particular date for more details.

Project Descriptions

Project 1: Blog

I have posted a detailed document outlining the project and general guidelines for professional blogging to Dropbox. You might also find Dan Cohen’s description of the “blessay” to be useful, and links to the class blogs from previous iterations of the course are here and here. I’ve divided you up into two groups. In the prompt for each week, I will identify which group will be posting and which group will be commenting that week. You will post and comment as individuals, but your group assignment will determine whether you are posting or commenting in any given week.

Audience and deliverables: Throughout the semester you will maintain individual commentary and reflections about the course readings, our in-class discussions, and  your own material culture analyses with our class as audience. In the weeks when you are in the posting group, you will create a post in response to the prompt for that week. In the weeks when you are in the commenting group, you will offer substantive comments to at least two of the posts created by your peers. This blog is for our class and interested readers; it is also available to the public.

Project Details

Extra credit: The blog responses are the only way you can earn extra credit in this course. You can earn more credit by offering comments beyond the two that are required in those weeks when you’re in the commenting group, or by commenting on your peers’ posts–in addition to writing your own post–in those weeks when you are in the posting group.

Flexibility: Many, though not all, of the prompts ask you to create a post that directly relates to issues and best practices connected with the project on which you’re working. Some of your posts may be included in your portfolio as indicative of your thinking about course subject matter and your own composition processes. 10 post prompt categories and related reading: Each week, I will post the prompt to which you will be responding to our class blog. The prompt will include required and recommended reading to further your understanding of the prompt topic.

The blog will cover ten topics:

  • Post 1. Week 1 — Writing and Material Culture
  • Post 2. Week 2 — Cute Things
  • Post 3. Week 3 — Dead Things
  • Post 4. Week 4 — Old Things
  • Post 5. Week 5 — Sharp Things
  • Post 6. Week 6 — Smart Things
  •  Post 7. Week 8/9 — Reading Things
  • Post 8. Week 10 — TBD
  • Post 9. Week 11 — TBD
  • Post 10. Week 12 — What Is Exposition?

Project 2: Twitter Essays

Click here for the evaluation rubric.

This project asks you to compose two “essays” of 140 characters–no more, no less–and post them to Twitter, using the hashtag “#gsures” (“res” is Latin for “things,” so “GSU Things” is our hashtag, but I’m open to suggestions on this as well). Jesse Stommel, the inventor of the Twitter essay, describes the form this way:

Tweets often attempt to convey as much information in as few words as possible. A tweet could be seen, then, not as a paragon of the many potential horrors of student writing, but as a model of writerly concision.

Here’s the prompt: What do objects teach us about ourselves? Answer w/ a Tweet of exactly 140 characters. Tag it #gsures. Be creative! Don’t waste a character.

(These instructions are exactly 140 characters, so this gives you a sense for how much space you have to work with.)

Project Details and Reflection Prompt

Before tweeting, you’ll post three drafts of your essay to the forum in the collaborative Google Doc. We’ll spend time workshopping drafts in class, and you will provide peer review feedback to one another in the forum. Reviewing and revising these essays provides a unique opportunity to think about sentence-level revision as substantive revision.

 

You’ll then post a revised essay on Twitter. The only rule is that you must include the hashtag somewhere in your Tweet. You can add additional hashtags or links, but you can only write one Tweet and it must be exactly 140 characters. Feel free to address any aspect of the question in the prompt. You can offer a revised definition of the word “object” or narrow in on a more specific topic. Spend time carefully composing, making sure every character of your tweet is necessary and meaningful. As you work, think also about the components of a traditional essay: a hook, an argument, supporting evidence, etc. While you can take creative license in how you interpret the word “essay,” you should at least be able to make an argument (if pressed) for how your Tweet functions as an essay.

In your reflection, you will respond to the following (challenging) prompt:

Rather than thinking about this prompt as a series of questions that you answer in order, approach your reflections as an essay intended to explain the choices you made over the course of the project, how your intentions evolved, and what you learned from engaging with this project, along with the readings and class discussions.

How did your understanding of the relationship between people and things or your understanding of what an object/artifact/possession is and does change as you worked through this project? What new details or associations were brought into focus?

A corollary question to consider is, What did you learn about how linguistic, spatial, and visual modes work together in exposition? How does the function of linguistic content change or evolve in multimodal contexts?

In addition to responding to these questions, your reflection should give me some insight into your research and composition process. I want to hear about anything that helps me to understand the work you put into this process, your writing process for the linguistic content, your selection and revision process for the multimodal content, decisions you had to make about trade-offs between conventions and expressive content in this medium, the “angle” you took on the project, etc. I like to hear about strengths of your project and also weaknesses, as well as what you would change if you had more time.

Above all, have fun! I value creativity, thoughtfulness, professionalism, and analytical rigor. I grade your projects accordingly. I do not have an “ideal” project in mind; instead, I like to be taught something meaningful and surprised.

Project 3: Object Description/3D Model

Click here for the evaluation rubric.

For this project, you will write a prose description of your object, create an item description–including structured metadata and digital surrogates–on Omeka, and construct a 3-D digital model of or related to the object you have chosen to study in your multimodal object analysis. Your model can be an artistic rendering or a precise reconstruction. You will create a digital model using the tools available at GSU’s CURVE. You can create a model of the object (either the whole thing or just a part of it) you are studying, or you can create a model of something–such as a geographic location, a set of data points, a tool used in making the object, etc.–that is closely related to or helps us to understand something significant about the object you’ve chosen to study.

As you are working, you should document your process for drafting the object description and constructing the model through written reflections or journal entries, images, and whatever other means you may find useful. You will submit your model via Google Drive as a .zip file, your prose description via Google Drive as a Google Document, and your Omeka item description will be created on the project Omeka site www.atlantaartifacts.net.

Project Details and Reflection Prompt

Included in your item description on Omeka, you will upload at least five (5) digital images. At least two (2) of those images must be high-quality photographs of your object. The remaining three (3) images can include additional photos of your object, or images of other objects (such as advertisements, undamaged specimens, reconstructions, etc.) associated with your object.

This project is intended to help focus or re-focus your attention, to help you notice new details or make new associations that you might otherwise overlook. You might experiment with a couple of different approaches–documenting your experiences as discussed above–before settling on one. In your description, you might experiment with different perspectives (first person, second person, that of the object itself, etc.). How does the prose description compare to the item description in Omeka? What does it add, and how does it work with the Omeka item description to fulfill an archival or display purpose? In your model, you might integrate labels that identify significant attributes of your object or the site being modeled, and these labels might be straightforward identifiers of the model’s physical features, or they might be fanciful, intended to evoke questions in the viewer’s mind about what the model is or what purpose it is intended to serve.

Throughout the process, consider what role description and modeling play or should play in material cultural studies, as archival, observational, display, or descriptive strategies. In your reflection, you will respond to the following (challenging) prompt:

Rather than thinking about this prompt as a series of questions that you answer in order, approach your reflections as an essay intended to explain the choices you made over the course of the project, how your intentions evolved, and what you learned from engaging with this project, along with the readings and class discussions.

How did your understanding of the relationship between people and things or your understanding of what an object/artifact/possession is and does change as you worked through this project? What new details or associations were brought into focus?

A corollary question to consider is, What did you learn about how linguistic, spatial, and visual modes work together in exposition? How does the function of linguistic content change or evolve in multimodal contexts? In your model, what expository functions (explanation, definition, description, summation, comparison, contrast, entertainment, persuasion, etc.) are performed by each of the various modalities?

In addition to responding to these questions, your reflection should give me some insight into your research and composition process. I want to hear about anything that helps me to understand the work you put into the model, object description, and Omeka item entry, your writing process for the linguistic content, your selection and revision process for the visual content, decisions you had to make about spatial relationships as you tweaked your model, the “angle” you took on the project, etc. I like to hear about strengths of your project and also weaknesses, as well as what you would change if you had more time.

Above all, have fun! I value creativity, thoughtfulness, professionalism, and analytical rigor. I grade your projects accordingly. I do not have an “ideal” project in mind; instead, I like to be taught something meaningful and surprised.

 

Project 4: Interactive Timeline

Click here for the evaluation rubric.

For this project, you will conduct research relevant to understanding the history and cultural significance of the object you began documenting in Project 3, and you will present some of your research as an interactive timeline that documents, describes, narrates, and explains the history of your object, ideally from multiple perspectives (e.g., personal, cultural, technological, economic, social, etc.). In creating the multimedia entries describing events on your timeline, you can use the photographs and digital model you created for Project 3, and you may also choose to create new images, and borrow (with attribution and citation) images created by others. In addition to text and images, your entries might also integrate video, hyperlinks, and sound recordings (again, provide attribution and citation when using or re-mixing pre-existing material).

Your timeline must comprise at least ten distinct entries, and each entry should make use of at least two modes. You can compose your entries however you wish, but your final timeline submission will be in the form of a Google spreadsheet, submitted on Google Drive, the template for which is available here. We’re using this template because it is compatible with the Timeline JS tool built by Knight Labs. You can access a complete tutorial on using Timeline JS to create interactive timelines on the project website. You will also create a page in your working Omeka exhibit that includes an (200-250 word) introduction to your timeline, and integrates the timeline display as described in Step 4 of the Timeline JS tutorial.

Project Details and Reflection Prompt

As with the other projects we’ve completed so far, I encourage you to be creative. You might build your timeline entries into one seamless narrative, or you might treat each entry as a mini expository essay. You might narrate your entries from the perspective of the object(s), from the perspective of individuals who play significant roles in the history of the object(s) your timeline describes, alternate between these two perspectives, or take on the role of a neutral (or maybe even alien) observer. In addition to information you uncover in your research, you might also identify, describe, and explain how the history of your object sheds light on the reading we’ve been doing in class. Experiment with the different methods of material culture analysis we’ve encountered thus far. And you should also feel free to model your prose on the writing we’ve been studying.

In your reflection, you will respond to the following (challenging) prompt:

Rather than thinking about this prompt as a series of questions that you answer in order, approach your reflections as an essay intended to explain the choices you made over the course of the project, how your intentions evolved, and what you learned from engaging with this project, along with the readings and class discussions.

How did your understanding of the relationship between people and things or your understanding of what an object/artifact/possession is and does change when you begin to document the history of your object? What did the act of identifying, describing, and explaining significant events in your object’s history reveal about the significance of objects in human lives?

A corollary question to consider is, How does working in a form that encourages and even requires multimodality change the way you communicate? What modes did you employ? And what rhetorical techniques (explanation, definition, description, summation, comparison, contrast, entertainment, persuasion, etc.) did you implement via each of these modes and why?

I addition to responding to these questions, your reflection should give me some insight into your research and composition process. I want to hear about anything that helps me to understand the work you put into the timeline you created, your writing process for the linguistic content, your selection and revision process for the visual content, decisions you had to make about spatial relationships as you tweaked your display post, the “angle” you took on the project, etc. I like to hear about strengths of your project and also weaknesses, as well as what you would change if you had more time.

Above all, have fun! I value creativity, thoughtfulness, professionalism, and analytical rigor. I grade your projects accordingly. I do not have an “ideal” project in mind; instead, I like to be taught something meaningful and surprised.

Project 5: Multimodal Object Analysis

Click here for the evaluation rubric.

For this project, you will compose an object analysis, using the guidance provided in Kenneth Haltman’s “Introduction” to American Artifacts. Over the course of the semester, we have read a number of essays that you can use as models. These include, “Lucubrations on a Lava Lamp: Technocracy, Counterculture, and Containment in the Sixties,” by Jennifer L. Roberts; “The Truth of Material Culture: History or Fiction,” by Jules David Prown (Prown’s analysis of the teapot); ” “The Cultural Work of a Mohegan Painted Basket,” by Stephanie Fitzgerald; and “Style as Evidence,” by Jules David Prown.

In your object analysis, you may draw on the methods of observation, research, and interpretation exhibited in these essays. You may also use them as formal and stylistic models as you consider how to organize, and craft the tone or authorial perspective in your object analysis. Your object analysis should comprise about 2500-3500 words, and it should be multimodal, integrating images, video, graphs, sound recordings, diagrams, etc., in order to provide a rich and detailed exposition of your object and what study of your object helps us to understand about the culture that created it.

You will post your final multimodal object analysis to the exhibit you have been building around your object on our Omeka site.

Project Details and Reflection Prompt

Your completed Omeka exhibit will be the final submission for this project. In addition to the object analysis page, it should include: a landing page that provides a brief introduction or overview of the exhibit, a page displaying your (possibly revised) timeline, and a page where I can embed a web–hosted version of your 3D model. You can use this template as a model for organizing your Omeka exhibit, or you can use your own organizational plan as long as it includes all of the elements listed here.

As with the other projects, you will also submit a detailed reflection with your final draft. The reflection should be submitted on in your Google Drive “Multimodal Object Analysis” folder.

As with the other projects we’ve tackled so far, I encourage you to be creative. Your object analysis should be grounded in careful observation and meticulous research, but it can use language and imagery that is affective and provocative. Feel free to play around with your authorial voice or persona, and consider crafting a “character” of sorts, like those personas that we encounter reading Walter Benjamin, or the studies of David Wilson and the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Remember, while your object analysis should be credible and to some extent persuasive, the primary purpose of your object analysis is to describe, explain, and inform, rather than to convince your audience about the “correctness” of your observations and interpretation.

In your reflection, you will respond to the following (challenging) prompt:

Rather than thinking about this prompt as a series of questions that you answer in order, approach your reflection as an essay intended to explain the choices you made over the course of the project, how your intentions evolved, and what you learned from engaging with this project, along with the readings and class discussions.

How did your understanding of the relationship between people and things or your understanding of what an object/artifact/possession is and does change as you worked through this project? What new details or associations were brought into focus?

A corollary question to consider is, What did you learn about how linguistic, spatial, and visual modes work together in exposition? How does the function of linguistic content change or evolve in multimodal contexts? In your multimodal object analysis, what expository functions (explanation, definition, description, summation, comparison, contrast, entertainment, persuasion, etc.) are performed by each of the various modalities?

I addition to responding to these questions, your reflection should give me some insight into your research and composition process. I want to hear about anything that helps me to understand the work you put into your object analysis, your writing process for the linguistic content, your selection and revision process for the visual content, decisions you had to make about spatial relationships as you tweaked the presentation of your final draft on the blog, the “angle” you took on the project, etc. I like to hear about strengths of your project and also weaknesses, as well as what you would change if you had more time.

Above all, have fun! I value creativity, thoughtfulness, professionalism, and analytical rigor. I grade your projects accordingly. I do not have an “ideal” project in mind; instead, I like to be taught something meaningful and surprised.

Project 6: Portfolio

Audience and Deliverables: This project involves the compilation of a writer’s portfolio. Each of you, working individually, will create a digital, web-based, public portfolio to showcase your work in this class.

Because this project is intended to help you either begin or polish a professional portfolio that can be used outside the context of this course, the portfolio you create will be a hybrid academic/professional portfolio that will accomplish the following goals:

  • Demonstrate through examples of multimodal exposition and written reflection a knowledge of relevant rhetorical terms and concepts and an ability to apply these terms and concepts in your own expository composition process;
  • Demonstrate individual intellectual growth, significant accomplishments, and important contributions in this course;
  • Demonstrate the technological competencies you have employed and developed over the course of the semester;
  • Offer a big-picture narrative of the course, its themes, its goals, and its final learning outcomes;
  • Offer a well-organized, well-designed, and engaging user experience

The audiences for the portfolio will simultaneously be me–as the evaluator of your progress and learning in the course this semester and of your revised artifacts, the intended audience(s) for the artifacts you are revising and including in the portfolio, and potential employers or other outside evaluators interested in learning about your qualifications and experience.

Project Details

You have three options for hosting your portfolio website. First, if you already have a professional or personal website that is hosted by an external provider (i.e., not Georgia State), you may use that website as a platform for your portfolio for this class. Second, you may register and host a new domain at a very low cost ($25/year) with the non-profit, educational hosting provider Reclaim Hosting (www.reclaimhosting.com). Third, if you are not yet ready to invest in creating your own independent personal or professional website, you may use your personal blog site provided through sites.gsu.edu to host your portfolio (here is a list of installed themes that are responsive and might work well for a portfolio).

 

 

Required Deliverables: The portfolio should accomplish the pedagogical goal of engaging you in meta-cognitive reflection regarding your learning over the course of the semester. For that reason, you will select three project artifacts to reflect upon (you may include more than three, but you must have at least three). You must revise at least one of these artifacts, and the best portfolios often demonstrate substantial revision of all of the artifacts included. Each artifact selected for inclusion in the portfolio should be introduced by a short (150-250 words) process narrative that includes discussion of the following things:

  • the process for creating the original final draft,
  • what you learned through peer review, my evaluation, and class discussions, and
  • how you revised the artifact in response to feedback and using knowledge and skills gained over the course of the semester (for at least one, and possibly all three artifacts)

In your selection of artifacts for your portfolio, please follow these guidelines:

  • Each of the three artifacts must be from a different project. Thus, you cannot, for example, select two blog posts and another project artifact (Twitter essays, photo study, timeline, 3-D model, or multimodal object analysis) as your three portfolio artifacts.
  • For the artifact(s) you choose to revise, you should preserve your original final draft for reference and possibly even display in your portfolio, in order to demonstrate what changes you made during your revision process between the original final draft(s) and your revised portfolio version(s).

You may include more than three artifacts in your portfolio, but you must choose at least three to reflect upon. Similarly, you may revise more than one of your portfolio artifacts, but you must revise at least one. You draw material for your process narratives from the reflections that you’ve written for Projects 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Further, the goals outlined above include demonstrating your intellectual growth, significant accomplishments, and important contributions in this course. To that end, the portfolio must include a cover letter or introductory reflective essay (500-750 words) that describes what you have learned and how you have improved your expository composition processes and rhetorical knowledge over the course of the semester, using the three artifacts and your revision(s) as supporting evidence.

Optional Deliverables: In class, after going over the project goals and required deliverables, we generated a list of contents that would be useful in achieving the goals outlined in the “Audience and Deliverables” section of this project description. These include, but are not limited to, a personal biography, a digital version of your resume, a list of courses you’ve taken. If you have questions about what, in addition to the required portfolio elements, you would like to include on your portfolio site, I am happy to discuss them with you.

Project duration:

  • Semester-long project
  • Final Portfolios due Friday, May 1 at 9:00 am

Useful Resources:

  • “Creating a Successful Online Portfolio,” Sean Hodge, Smashing Magazine, March 4, 2008: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/03/04/creating-a-successful-online-portfolio/
  • University of Washington Expository Writing Program ePortfolio example: “QLiu”: https://sites.google.com/a/uw.edu/qliu-portfolio/ (note, while the organizational format and requirements for this portfolio are different from those in this course, the reflections, the student’s descriptions of how each piece evolved through the process, the discussion of the student’s own evolution as a writer over the course of the program, and the manner in which exhibits and reflections are linked into a seamless document provide useful examples of strategies that you may find helpful in putting together the portfolio for this course)
  • University of Miami, Ohio The Best of Portfolios 2012 and The Best of Portfolios 2013 (Here again, use these examples to get a better understanding of the portfolio and particularly the reflective essay as a composition genre, rather than as “go by” documents or forms that you are trying to replicate)

Image credit “Shoes” by Beverley Goodwin on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bevgoodwin/12114063533.

Syllabus

General

ENGL 3090-Expository Writing: Writing About Material Culture

Fall 2015 │T/Th 2:30-3:45 pm │ CLSO 303

Instructor: Dr. Robin Wharton

  • Office: 25 Park Place #2434
  • Office Hours: M/W 3-4 pm, T/Th 11-noon, and by appointment; I am able to meet during office hours or by appointment via Skype or Google Hangout if that works better than an in-person conference
  • Contact: rwharton3{at}gsu{the dot goes here}edu

Writing Consultant: Ms. Jessica Rose

  • Office Hours: T/Th between 9:30-10:30 (Library 4th floor), and by appointment
  • Contact: jrose18{at}student{dothere}gsu{dothere}edu

All work must be submitted by the scheduled due date and in accordance with project guidelines. As a general rule, I do not accept late work, or work that does not meet formatting and submission guidelines outlined in the project description.

I reserve the right to change the policies, schedule, and syllabus at any time during the semester.

Learning Outcomes

This course follows the guidelines established by the English department for courses in the rhetoric and composition track. The learning outcomes for this course can be found here.

Attendance

In this course, students are expected to adhere to the Georgia State University student code of conduct.

This includes the university attendance policy. Excused absences are limited to university-sponsored events where you are representing GSU in an official capacity, religious holidays, and legal obligations such as jury duty or military service days. Absences for all other reasons will be counted. You are permitted four absences without penalty. Missing more than four classes will result in a deduction of 5 points from your “Attendance, preparation, process work, and participation” point total for each additional absence. Missing seven or more classes will result in automatic failure of the course. In the event of extended illness or family emergency, I will consider requests for individual exemption from the six-absence limit on a case by case basis.

Class Schedule

See Course Calendar for reading and assignment/project due dates.

Overview of Projects and Grade Calculation

Over the course of the semester, you will be completing a series of projects, each of them building towards and contributing to a multimodal object analysis and your final portfolio. Failure to complete projects early on will make completing later projects that reuse or remix work from previous projects more difficult. It’s especially important, therefore, to keep up with the work in this course.

Each project includes multiple parts, including drafts, peer review, and reflection. See the Project Descriptions page for details about the process, deliverables, and deadlines associated with each project. Your grade will be calculated out of 100 points:

  • Project 1: Blog 15 points
    • Semester-long project
    • Weekly deliverables (alternating weeks between posting and commenting)
  • Project 2: Twitter Essays 5 points
    • Process work = 2 drafts + 2 peer review workshops
    • Final drafts due by midnight on September 3 & 8, and reflections due by midnight September 11
  • Project 3: 3-D Model and Object Description 10 points
    • Process work = 2 drafts + 2 peer review workshops
    • Final drafts and reflections due by midnight October 13
  • Project 4: Timeline  15 points
    • Process work = 2 drafts + 2 peer review workshops
    • Final drafts and reflections due by midnight November 3
  • Project 5: Multimodal Object Analysis 25 points
    • Process work = 2 drafts + 2 peer review workshops
    • Final drafts and reflections due midnight December 11
  • Project 6: Final Portfolio (In lieu of a final exam) 15 points
    • Semester-long project
    • Final portfolios due midnight December 11
  • Attendance, preparation, process work, and participation 15 points

Participation and Office Hours Visits

Participation includes taking part in in-class discussions, completing assigned reading, process work, exercises, and other homework assignments, participating in group activities including peer review, and developing a professional relationship with me through office visits, email communication, and asking questions before, after, and during class.

Please take advantage of my office hours: they exist for your benefit. While I won’t do your work for you (e.g., I won’t proofread your documents), I will respond to your specific questions. In my experience, students who regularly use office hours tend to do well in the course. If you’re not able to come during my scheduled office hours, please contact me, and we’ll arrange another way to meet.

Academic Honesty / Plagiarism

The Department of English expects all students to adhere to the university’s Code of Student Conduct, especially as it pertains to plagiarism, cheating, multiple submissions, and academic honesty. Please refer to the Policy on Academic Honesty (Section 409 of the Faculty Handbook). Penalty for violation of this policy will result in a zero for the assignment, possible failure of the course, and, in some cases, suspension or expulsion. Georgia State University defines plagiarism as . . . “ . . . any paraphrasing or summarizing of the works of another person without acknowledgment, including the submitting of another student’s work as one’s own . . . [It] frequently involves a failure to acknowledge in the text . . . the quotation of paragraphs, sentences, or even phrases written by someone else.” At GSU, “the student is responsible for understanding the legitimate use of sources . . . and the consequences of violating this responsibility.” (For the university’s policies, see in the student catalog, “Academic Honesty,”http://www2.gsu.edu/~catalogs/2010-2011/undergraduate/1300/1380_academic_honesty.htm)

Accommodations for Students With Disabilities

Georgia State University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students who wish to request accommodation for a disability may do so by registering with the Office of Disability Services. Students may only be accommodated upon issuance by the Office of Disability Services of a signed Accommodation Plan and are responsible for providing a copy of that plan to instructors of all classes in which accommodations are sought. According to the ADA (http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:s3406enr.txt.pdf): ‘‘SEC. 3. DEFINITION OF DISABILITY. ‘‘As used in this Act: ‘‘(1) DISABILITY.—The term ‘disability’ means, with respect to an individual— ‘‘(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual…major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. ‘‘(B) MAJOR BODILY FUNCTIONS.—For purposes of paragraph (1), a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Learning Technology

If you have them, you may bring laptops or mobile computing devices to class for use in in-class activities. Students should use these devices responsibly for class-related work. If they become a distraction for you, me, or other students in the class, I will ask you to put them away. Occasionally I will will request a device-free learning environment for a discussion or learning activity, and students are expected to honor such requests.

Language conventions

This course presumes that because you were exempt from or passed English 1101 and then passed English 1102, you have a basic knowledge of standard American English, including but not limited to variations in sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, parallel structure, dangling modifiers, grammatical expletives, possessives and plurals, punctuation, capitalization, word choice, and various other grammatical and mechanical problems. If you are someone for whom this knowledge and practice are a struggle, this course gives you time to improve. If you do not, your grades will be severely affected. You have resources available at GSU to help you improve your knowledge. In the Writing Studio (http://www.writingstudio.gsu.edu/) you can work one-on-one, in private, with a tutor to improve. Writing Studio tutors can also help you to help you refine already strong competence, moving from good to excellent. The Purdue OWL (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/) has resources to assist you with identifying and correcting common grammar, punctuation, and usage errors, and to help you with formatting citations and bibliographies.

Receiving a grade of “incomplete”

In order to receive an incomplete, a student must inform the instructor, either in person or in writing, of his/her inability (non-academic reasons) to complete the requirements of the course. Incompletes will be assigned at the instructor’s discretion (if you have specific criteria for assigning incompletes, put them here)and the terms for removal of the “I” are dictated by the instructor. A grade of incomplete will only be considered for students who are a) passing the course with a C or better, b) present a legitimate, non-academic reason to the instructor, and c) have only one major assignment left to finish.

Student Evaluation of Instructor

Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State. Upon completing the course, please take time to fill out the online course evaluation.

Project and Assignment Submission

All final projects must be completed and received by their due dates in order to pass the course. All parts of a project (i.e., drafts and reflections), including ungraded parts, must be completed by their due dates in order to pass the project.

See individual project descriptions for how to turn in each deliverable.

All projects and deliverables must be turned in to me before the due date and time. I will not accept projects or assignments in my mailbox or over email unless noted in class or in the assignment or project description. If you know that you will be unable to turn in a project or deliverable on time, please contact me in advance of the date in question: we may be able to make arrangements for you to turn your project or deliverable in at another time. Because every major project will be completed in stages, over the course of three to four weeks, you should always have something to submit by the deadline, even if it’s a working rather than a final draft.

For English Majors

The English department at GSU requires an exit portfolio of all students graduating with a degree in English. Ideally, students should work on this every semester, selecting 1-2 papers from each course and revising them, with direction from faculty members. The portfolio includes revised work and a reflective essay about what you’ve learned. Each concentration (literature, creative writing, rhetoric/composition, and secondary education) within the major may have specific items to place in the portfolio, so be sure to check booklet located next to door of the front office of the English Department. Senior Portfolio due dates are published in the booklets or you may contact an advisor or Dr. Dobranski, Director of Undergraduate Studies. See the English office for additional information.

Texts and Resources

In all of my classes, I make every effort to keep text and materials costs under $75. Unless otherwise noted below, I expect students will have access to all required texts and resources from the first day of class.

Students should not expect to “get by” without reading assigned texts. Unlike some lecture classes, where the lecture is a review of assigned reading, this is a seminar course in which the assigned reading is preparation for a discussion or application of the information and ideas presented in the text. To put it another way, by completing assigned readings before class, we establish a basic shared knowledge base upon which we can build thoughtful conversations and productive work sessions.

It’s OK if the reading sometimes raises more questions than it answers; I expect that to happen often, in fact. Make a note of your questions. Let them circulate in your thoughts in the hours before class, and then bring them up in your blog posts and our class discussions.

Required Reading

Arola, Kristin L., Jennifer Sheppard, Cheryl E. Ball. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014) — http://bit.ly/1tbI2aI

Additional readings will be posted to the class website or to Google Drive

Recommended Reference

Lunsford, Andrea, et al. Everyone’s An Author. (WW Norton, 2013) — http://bit.ly/1tpOtr1

Many of the essays on material culture studies will be drawn from the following texts:

When I post the reading for each week in the weekly overview, I will identify which one of the books listed above contains the assigned essay. I have included here links to the listings for these books in the Georgia Interconnected Libraries (GIL) catalog. To complete the readings drawn from them, you can check out these books using GIL Express, or you may stop by my office and borrow the GSU library copies that I have checked out.

Required Materials and Resources

  • Access to a laptop or desktop computer for daily use.
  • Access to email on a daily basis.
  • An account on Twitter.
  • Google account (You may use an existing account, or you may create an account just for use in this course).
  • Access to computer software and programs used for digital composition and editing (I am always able to recommend free or very low-cost open source alternatives to more expensive proprietary software such as Microsoft Office, InDesign, Photoshop, etc.)
  • Individually-owned web domain hosted by an ISP other than GSU (for the final portfolio).
  • Funds for printing or binding class materials (posters, infographics, formal reports, etc.).

Recommended Materials and Resources

Image credit “labor day” by Ginny on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ginnerobot/2820269648.

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