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PWR 2EI: Knock Off: Rhetorics of Copying, Memeing, Modding and Piracy

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Catalog Number: PWR 2EI

Instructor: Eldon Pei

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP) 

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

Course Feature: WR-2 requirement

Unoriginality. Is it really such a crime? Maybe. It really depends on who you ask. The theme of this class is how unoriginality shapes cultures and societies, especially in this age of re-posts and remixes, when available technologies make it easier than ever to borrow other people’s ideas, to privatize and de-privatize information at scale, and to come up with new innovations by meshing together things that already exist. Are prior generations’ concepts of intellectual and cultural property becoming obsolete? Or should we be holding on even tighter to what’s ours?

Copying, memeing, modding and piracy. They’re all around us. What will you add to the (re)mix?

Examples of Research Topics

Many students who take this class are eager to dive into topics involving music and fashion remixes, content virality, social influencing, cross-cultural mixing or fan subcultures. Others present captivating case studies focused on situations where IP laws are shown to be antiquated and easily abused, or where people’s ability to freely “borrow” from one another crosses over into exploitative cultural appropriation. Still others feed our fascination with technologies that imitate nature, extend natural processes and functions, or replicate our own human abilities (e.g., creating art, writing research papers) using AIs trained on massive numbers of existing works.

PWR 2 Assignment Sequence

Research Proposal

(5-minute live oral presentation; written text of 900-1200 words) Situates your research topic in relation to this course's theme, summarizes a conversation to which you will be contributing and identifies your research questions and exhibit sources.

Written Research-Based Argument

(3000-3600 words; 10-12 pages) Draws upon various published texts and your own analysis of exhibit sources to craft a line of argument that, in turn, contributes meaningfully to the existing conversation about your topic.

Delivery of Research

(10-minute live oral presentation with appropriate multimedia support) Leverages your RBA research and line of argument to offer the class a novel take on the course's theme.

Genre/Modes Assignment

(3 450-word blog posts) Your blog posts will shed light on your research questions by picking apart your project's main exhibit sources. This assignment will overlap with the initial draft of your Written Research-based Argument.