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PWR 2AB: Makers, Crafters, Hackers: The Rhetoric of DIY

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Fall 2021: Not offered

Winter 2022: Sect 1 TTh 9:30AM-11:15AM

Spring 2022: Sect 1 TTh 9:30AM-11:15AM; Sect 2 TTh 11:30AM-1:15PM

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP) 

Prerequisite: PWR 1, ESF, ITALIC 95W, or equivalent

Course Feature: WR-2 requirement

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.” - Joss Whedon

“We have to keep getting kids interested in making things and getting their hands dirty and getting them into their world.” - Adam Savage

When is the last time you made something? Did you write a poem? Write a program? Knit a sweater? Build a robot? Have you made any of the things you use every day?

In this course we will delve into the fascinating world of DIY (do it yourself) movements. You will examine the values, politics and ethics of DIY, such as what making has to do with empowerment and resistance, or whether our ideas of making and makers are gendered or attached to assumptions about class, ethnicity and ideology. You will consider questions such as: How does making change our relationship to the world around us? Who is considered a maker: an inventor? A painter? A worker at a shoe factory? What does it mean to hack, remake or redesign your life? We will look at perspectives on making from visual artists to Mythbusters, literary salons to Maker Faire. 

As you learn about both writing and speaking, you will craft communicative acts in multiple modes and media. You will learn what it means to write for the ear and how it differs from writing effective scholarly arguments. From creating powerful oral presentations to translating your text-based papers into public-facing podcasts or videos, this course will give you a chance to try your hand at communicating your ideas in meaningful ways that reach both academic and broader audiences.

Major Assignments

Research Proposal

(5 minute live oral presentation; written text of 900-1200 words): You will select a specific aspect of DIY culture to analyze and then take a position on. Your proposal must pose a researchable question, identify an initial set of possible sources, and reflect on what your study can contribute to both the scholarly and public conversation on your subject. You will write the proposal and deliver an oral version in class. Examples include: the importance of DIY technology in developing nations, the development of the rights of makers through labor union movements, or changing uses of the “artisan” label in hipster culture.

Written Research-Based Argument

(3000-3600 words; 10-12 pages) You will shape your argument by finding the ingredients that provide impact and substance, including research on a variety of sources to contextualize and give nuance to your proposal. You will craft these elements into a persuasive, well-communicated argument that shows careful attention to style and writing technique.

Delivery of Research

(10 minute live oral presentation with appropriate multimedia support) You will remake the draft of your written RBA into a live oral presentation that you will deliver to the rest of the class. You will be encouraged to persuasively and purposefully incorporate multiple media or supporting materials, such as props, demonstrations, videos or dynamic visuals.

Genre/Modes Assignment

(1-2 minutes recorded presentation; written text 1-3 pages) You will create a short podcast of 1-2 minutes that communicates an aspect of your research to a general audience. You can choose to feature a specific piece of your project or profile the primary results of your main argument. You will have the option to propose this assignment as a collaborative project with another student from the course.