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PWR 1KA: Rhetorics of Innovation: Transformations and Missed Opportunities

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Did you know that BOTH a hybrid car and a fully electric car were invented, tested, and sold—over one hundred years ago? What killed them? Model T marketing and cheap gas. What would the world look like if the electric car had used…better rhetoric in their advertising? What contributes to one invention’s success—but another’s failure? This class will study rhetoric and writing through analysis of documents and media, from the 1893 World’s Fair to Gladwell’s TED talk on Norden’s Mark 15 bombsight. Moving from rhetorical analysis of innovation to placing texts into conversation, in this class you will choose to explore one innovation deeply through research.

Examples of Research Topics

Potential successful topics you might choose are electric vehicle infrastructure, the promise of Natural Language Processing, dating apps, AI psychiatrists, or drones for animal conservation. With each topic, you will seek to analyze the rhetoric surrounding the innovation, and determine how it might be best positioned for success.

PWR 1 Assignment Sequence

Rhetorical Analysis

(1500-1800 words; 5-6 pages) For this assignment, you will choose from a variety of genres of communicating about an invention (Tweets, letters, poems, audio interviews, academic articles, interactive media) to analyze how a particular text functions rhetorically.

Texts in Conversation Essay

(1800-2400 words; 6-8 pages) The texts in conversation essay will allow you to write research proposals to develop a research question that will become the focus of your Research-Based Argument. This assignment will also allow you to understand a chosen invention as socially situated and influenced by financial, social, and psychological factors.

Research-Based Argument

(3600-4500 words; 12-15 pages) You are invited to conduct research to arrive at a stance in relation to the same invention or idea explored in the TIC essay. You will then compose an academic research-based argument to support that stance. This will be the culmination of your gathered knowledge both of a single invention or idea as well as of the rhetorical factors contributing to the success or failure of inventions. The argument should demonstrate an understanding of social and political systems as well as pathways to using rhetoric assist an invention’s success.