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PWR 2CA: Networked Rhetoric: Communities, Collaboration, and Communication

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Fall 2021: Not offered

Winter 2022: Not offered

Spring 2022: Not offered

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP) 

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

Course Feature: WR-2 requirement

Do you tweet daily? Snap your life? Have an Instagram account? Do you frequent reddit? Read online fan fiction? You probably answered “yes,” to one of these questions; according to a 2015 study, 24% of people under 20 are online “almost constantly,” and 71% participate in more than one social media platform.* Scholars call these online forms participatory media, that is, types of media in which readers do more than just passively absorb content: they create, curate, collaborate, and participate in creating experiences and community online. And, as you probably know from your own social media usage, increasingly digital networks push the boundaries of basic social interaction past entertainment to function as sites for marketing, self- and brand-promotion, knowledge-sharing and -making, and advocating for social/political change.

In this class, we'll approach these issues from the perspective of both theory and practice. On the one hand, we'll spend time analyzing participatory media, looking at social media profiles (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), communities (Wikipedia, fanwikis, reddit), and even social media celebrities (Twitch streamers, Instagram models, etc.) through the lens of the digital rhetoric scholarship. On the other, we’ll assess the potentials of these tools for the modern scholar. From using our blog, to social bookmarking, and experimenting with other interfaces, you’ll explore different modes of online networking while pursuing your own research projects focused on contemporary digital culture.

Major Assignments

Research Proposal

(5-minute live oral presentation; written text of 900-1200 words) For this assignment, you'll propose a research project that investigates a specific aspect of social networks or participatory culture (i.e., crowdgaming; Facebook, facial recognition, and privacy; kickstarter culture; brand endorsement on social media; user-created content in online gaming; meme culture; Brogrammer culture or women in tech fields). You'll compose your proposal in both written and oral form to develop an understanding of how changes in medium affect the delivery of an argument.

Written Research-Based Argument

(3000-3600 words; 10-12 pages) You'll develop your initial investigation into a full engagement with some aspect of social media or online participatory culture. You'll be strongly encouraged to supplement your secondary research with primary research (i.e. fieldwork, interviews, participating in blogging or an online discussion forum), as appropriate to your topic.

Delivery of Research

(10-minute live oral presentation with appropriate multimedia support) You’ll deliver your argument as an oral presentation, relying on multimedia support. You might, for instance, give a tour of Twitter to explore the politicization of hashtags; visit Chinese social networking sites for a comparative analysis of international alternatives to Facebook; demo a meme generator for a project on viral cultural capital; or explore a players' forum for a project on the social features of massively multiplayer games.

Genre/Modes Assignment

For this assignment, you'll experiment with different modes of communicating (audio, video, graphic timelines, digital annotation, etc.) as part of a multimodal research log that supports you in your research process. In the final entry, you’ll reflect on your experience working in multiple modes.