WRITING 200

writing200

More information on Writing 200 courses in the Fall 2014 LSA Courseguide.

In WRITING 200, students analyze and apply rhetorical principles in their writing with “new media.” As members of a media-saturated culture, we know that print text is only one form of writing, and sometimes it is not the most effective choice. Because all of us make sense of texts and issues in a variety of ways, these courses ask students to utilize multimodal (visual, aural, etc.) forms of communication and become more informed, critical consumers of new media writing themselves.

Writing 200 Courses

Digital Media Production
This course investigates the conceptual and practical differences between traditional print and digital media via the example of the magazine. Students will master basic principles of visual and digital rhetoric, as well as develop facility with current digital publishing features and applications. Each student will also write, assemble, curate and publish a prototype magazine of their own design and interests as an example of their understanding of course principles.

Ethos and New Media

Classical rhetoric defines ethos as the skilled presentation of a writer’s character. The ancient Greek rhetorician Isocrates claims that character plays an important part in persuasion. However, there are differences between establishing character in the fixity of printed-paper and in the apparent impermanence of web 2.0.

In this course we will think critically about this classical concept and understand its implementation in new media venues: the blogger's ethos, the social media ethos (Facebook, Twitter, Google+), and the video ethos (YouTube, Vine, Instagram).

This course will introduce students to elements of authorial presentation in the many social situations of web 2.0, and we will try to answer this specific question: how can we present ourselves in these platforms?

Throughout the course, students will actively engage with these social platforms, reflecting on the differences and similarities between real and virtual personas. Students should be familiar with the web to take this course, but they do not need any other specific technical expertise.

Previous Course Topics

22 Ways to Think About New Media

It’s probably fair to say that new digital media have changed the ways you write and communicate – with your friends and family, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and the next big thing; at school, on CTools, Google Drive, Piazza, Lecture Tools, and the like; at work, via email, WordPress, even video. These new tools and platforms – and a range of other technologies – are also changing the ways that scholarly research and discovery take place.

From historians mapping Underground Railroad sites in Detroit using GIS software to choreographers mapping the movements of the human body using motion capture technology to environmental scientists mapping geographical vulnerability to climate change using large-scale data analytics – many researchers and practitioners are asking different questions, following different processes, making different kinds of arguments than they did, or could, even ten years ago.

In 22 Ways to Think about New Media you will meet some of these scientists and artists, and also publishers, curators, policy experts and more, from schools and disciplines across campus. They will visit our class each week to share the ways that new media technologies have transformed their work. On days we don’t have visitors, we will have opportunities in smaller-group discussions and interactive collaborative work to explore some of these media ourselves via readings and assignments that give you the chance to follow your own interests.

New Media for Non-Profits

Non-profit organizations rely on new media to raise money, attract volunteers, and promote their mission. This course offers you the opportunity to see new media writing through the eyes of people who work for non-profits and other philanthropic organizations. We will consider the importance of developing a new media communications strategy, including social media. We will also experiment with various media, including podcasts, webpages, and video, for telling non-profit stories. The centerpiece of the course is your hands-on work with a local non-profit organization, where you will create a piece of new media writing from brainstorming and conceptualization through development and launch.

Powerful Electronic Portfolios: Crafting Your Online Image

More and more frequently, prospective graduate students, employees across fields, and artists of all kinds are expected to have an online presence. In fact, most recent online application forms have a space for entering your website URL (in many cases, an ePortfolio). But is one online portfolio as good as another? How is the internet, for good or bad, influencing professional development and self-representation? How can you be sure you’re making the most accurate and best possible impression? In this course we will pursue the question of what makes a successful online presence—specifically, an effective ePortfolio—by reading widely (in and across fields), analyzing a variety of samples, writing frequently, and ultimately developing our own electronic portfolios. We will explore how to analyze and respond appropriately to different rhetorical situations, how to develop a distinctive and appropriate voice, and how to make a case for ourselves through thoughtful text, navigation, and design. Students will leave this course with an ePortfolio draft that they can continue to develop and re-imagine for a variety of purposes: academic, professional, and/or artistic.

The Rhetoric of Social Blogging: Interactive Writing About Race, Identity and Social Justice

Following the campus-wide Understanding Race Theme Seminar, this class will consider the emergence of social weblogs about race, identity, and social justice as unique linguistic and visual texts. This mini-course will teach students how to create a blog that is in dialogue with the Winter 2013 Theme. We'll begin by talking about the history of social weblogs, and we'll look at some of the vast number that exist. We will investigate how text and image work together to expand on a wide variety of issues - from general ones like identity and immigration, to more specific ones like LBGTQ, community organizing and Detroit. We will talk about writing with a specific audience in mind: communities broadly interested in issues of social justice and identity. Strategically, we will consider how to present our blogging ethics, how to use links effectively, how to write social content that achieves a social purpose, and how to engage a community interested in the dialogue about understanding race.

Everyone's A Critic?: The Art of the Online Review

From blog rants to reader comments in Amazon.com to reviews in the New York Times, the Internet has provided anyone a space to write a review of just about anything. But is one opinion as good as another? How do we write reviews effectively and persuasively? How does the shift from print to Internet influence the rhetorical capabilities of reviews? And how has the Internet, for good or bad, transformed the traditional “elitist” arts review by affording everyone a voice?

In this course we will pursue the question of what makes a successful review by reading widely, analyzing a variety of online reviews, writing frequently, and ultimately developing our own review site/s. We will explore questions of audience, the relationship between text and image in online reviews, and the more and more frequently blurred distinctions between critic and artist, and marketer, reader and consumer. We will engage rigorous peer workshops, participate in teamwork, and consider reviews themselves as cultural products.

Remix Culture: Translation Across and Within New Media

Digitization has increased the speed, ease and popularity of remixes, but translation between and among media is as old as art-making itself. This class examines both that history and our mashed-up present, and gives students a chance to theorize and practice pastiche, homage, and collage. Results, of course, will be mixed.

Writing About Performance in the New Public Sphere

How do we respond to performance in the online world? This combination of seminar and workshop helps students find innovative ways of exploring the rhetoric of performance — from reality TV to classical dance — by creating new media writing such as blogs, podcasts, videos, interactive maps, and more.

The Audio Essay: Remix and Creative-Nonfiction Approaches to the Podcast

In this course on the audio essay, students will learn how to compose and publish their own podcasts, using a mixture of music, sound effects, and narration. Because many students are already savvy at creating sonic environments with their iPods and smartphones, we will begin the course by working with music. How can the music playlist function as a kind of essay? Is it possible to tell a story or construct an argument using only music?

Using the creative nonfiction genre as a model, students will then write an original audio essay, which they will record and edit in a program like Garageband. By listening to audio essays historical and contemporary (from Orson Welles to Laurie Anderson to Ira Glass), students will learn effective techniques for pacing, audio layering, and balancing anecdote with reflection. Finally, students will consider whether they can enhance their audio essays by introducing visual elements, in the form of an audio slideshow.

The Rhetoric of Blogging: Writing for an Invisible, Interactive Audience

This mini-course teaches students how to create a blog on the topic of their choice. We’ll begin by talking about the history of weblogs and by looking at some of the vast number that exist. We will investigate how text and image work together to create different tones and rhetorical strategies, and we’ll talk about writing well for the online audience, including blogging ethics, using links effectively, how to write stylish content that achieves a specific purpose, and how to think about the community a blog can create and the attention it can receive. You must be familiar with the web to take this class, but you don’t need any other specific technical expertise.

Creating Professional Portfolios: Self-Presentation in Digital Environments

Is the era of resumes and cover letters over? In this mini-course, students contemplating their transition from college to work or graduate school create a professional electronic portfolio that enhances their online self-presentation and provides a more expansive, more nuanced, and more accurate picture of their skills, experiences, and ambitions.

Persuasive Games: Making Meaning with Video Games

Video games not only entertain, they also make claims about our world and how it does, could, and should work. Students in this course will study what games say and how they say it, analyzing them from the perspectives of visual and procedural rhetoric, and will design games to convey their own views. They will create their own game analysis blogs and collaboratively create and workshop games that they will make publicly available.

This is not a programming course, but a course in writing and rhetoric. Students will have access to a couple of varieties of drag and drop design software but will also be free to use other tools and design methods.

Composing with Images

Our increasingly mediated public sphere — in which people frequently turn to online forums to explore, read, and make art and make arguments — heightens the importance of images, of visual rhetoric. As the time people are able/willing to dedicate to reading lengthy work continues to shrink, fluency with visual literacies becomes an increasingly valuable tool in a writer’s toolbox. Web 2.0 technology makes creating and distributing images easier, but also raises questions: What constitutes visual literacies? What is the place of traditional text in a visually-driven world? What responsibilities come with the power to create, alter, and distribute visual images with relative ease? How does the medium of the image address audiences, make and support claims, and foster (or shut down) discussion?

In this course we will examine visual rhetoric as a genre, explore a range of image compositions in various online settings, and pursue the question of what makes successful — and ethical — visual compositions. We will engage in open discussion of rigorous readings, work in an open-lab setting, run peer workshops, and participate in teamwork in order to formulate responses the questions of the course.

Rewriting the World with Google Maps

Google Maps is one of the most pervasive, robust, and quietly revolutionary of online applications, providing a bird's eye perspective on our planet with an unprecedented degree of detail and flexibility. But what are the implications of this powerful and adaptable technology? How do new media forms like Google Maps and GPS (Global Positioning System) allow us to describe the world with greater accuracy?

This seven week mini-course aims to familiarize students with these forms of new media writing while asking them to question critically how online environments alter our perceptions of "real world" space. The class will first review the rhetorical choices of existing websites, virtual reality environments, and site-specific artworks. We will examine how text, image, and audio interact to engage the viewer and to create a sense of place.

Each student will then develop an online project on a subject of personal interest or academic relevance; the only requirement is that the student's project must in some way address geography or physical location. Possibilities include a guide to Ann Arbor's sushi restaurants, a neighborhood-based ethnographic study, a map displaying where each of van Gogh's canvases was painted, or a blog designed to document a semester abroad. Each student will evaluate and choose the online platform best suited to the purposes of the project, whether it be a wiki, a blog, or a simple website self-authored in Dreamweaver. Students will then integrate Google Maps modules into their web pages and customize these maps with photography, audio, video, and text.

Through class tutorials and workshops, as well as reading and writing assignments outside of class, students will consider how interactive mapping and other new media can most effectively organize and convey their place-based research and writing.

Argumentation: Using Web Sites to Make Your Case

Whether you are an Econ student looking to engagingly present data, a Psych or Sociology concentrator hoping to create winning case studies, or a Communications or Poli Sci concentrator wanting to clearly document public policy issues, web sites are an excellent, flexible medium in which one can fashion effective and complex arguments. In this mini-course, each student will create a web site that pursues an argument related to an issue in their discipline. To this end, we will learn about web research databases, as well as basic web authoring via Dreamweaver, while examining model web sites to discuss the different ways that this medium shapes argumentative strategy. We will also examine how to integrate basic audio, video, and/or PowerPoint into your web site projects. This course, which presupposes only the basic skills of anyone who uses the computers in the Fishbowl, is for all who wish to expand their writing ability in this new media form, and the assignments are geared to accommodate a wide range of interests and objectives.

Because of the flexibility of the assignments, you will be able to take the projects you create in this course and utilize them as part of the work you do within your concentration.

The Interplay of Text and Image

This course will explore new media writing for websites, blogs, podcasts, digital photo essays, and social networking. More specifically, we will be concerned with the visual as it relates to language: how text and image interact to create meaning, establish voice and tone, and elicit interactive responses from the reader/viewer. In addition to performing critical analysis of existing new media forms, students will produce examples of these forms. Our projects will include an interactive website, a podcast, a digital photo essay, and a social networking experiment. Each student will also co-author an academic blog where s/he discusses course readings, explores ideas about the interaction of text and image, analyzes examples of the new media forms we are studying, and examines his/her own production of new media writing.

Visual Science: Writing and Presenting PowerPoint and Posters

This one-credit, seven-week course aims to provide you with a critical, theoretical background in visually presenting scientific research. We will consider such issues as story, voice, audience, and the function and forms of persuasion in PowerPoint presentations. As well as critiquing and responding, you will engage in a range of writing activities to help you visually present information in a subject of your choice. Peer review and class discussion are key components of the class. This class is run as a workshop and tutorial class, i.e., class time generally focuses around discussion of readings and relevant issues, presentations and discussion led by class members, and work-shopping of exercises and assignments. You will be expected to complete work outside of class times, including set readings and assignment writing.

Infinite Canvas: Web Comics and Internet Self-Publishing

Digital illustration and web comics have been a part of internet culture since before the introduction of sophisticated GUI (graphic user interface) protocols in the mid-1990s. From T.H.E. Fox in the days of Compuserve and FTP to Netboy to the development of webcomics hosting services like Comic Genesis, inventive illustrators, designers and writers have recognized the unique potential of the internet to create, publish and distribute products that find their origins in print culture but have grown with and adapted to the increasingly sophisticated nature of digital media. In this sense, Infinite Canvas tells the cultural and technological story of the Internet via the history of web comics themselves.

In this class, however, students will not only trace this history, but learn how to manipulate contemporary design and web publishing tools to create their own web comics; the course will culminate with each student's publication of a hosted and fully realized web comic, one that demonstrates facility with digital rendering, animation and design. The course will be divided into historical/conceptual units (including theory of visual media, history of web comics, the business model of self-publishing and the online web comics community) and production units (in which students will familiarize themselves with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash and web hosting services) that will progress from the creation of single images to strips and panels and finally multi-"page" or animated visual narratives.

No prior familiarity with design software or web comics is necessary; nor is a background in fine arts. Interested students need only have a willingness to explore the opportunities presented by the fusion of word, picture and motion. All are welcome!

Students will be evaluated on their ability to produce (and reflect upon the production of) increasingly complex web comics. Students will also be evaluated on their ability to contextualize their efforts in the form of written essays and "production diaries" as well.

Viral Video Rhetoric: Propaganda and Persuasion in a Digital Democracy

Did everyone including your mother send you the link to Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed a Dream"? Did you post the "Yes We Can" video to your Facebook page? Were you tempted to make your own version of Beyoncé's "Single Ladies"? Millions of people have seen these videos, passed them along, and even created their own versions of them. But why? What does it mean when a video goes “viral” and how does it happen? Digital video and web sites like YouTube have democratized video distribution and production, allowing ordinary people to reach audiences formerly available only to networks and film studios. In Viral Video Rhetoric, we will consider how creators of successful online videos use rhetorical strategies to craft persuasive and effective messages that compel viewers to disseminate them. After studying different viral video techniques — parody, mash-up, visual argumentation — students will produce their own videos to launch online while analyzing their rhetorical choices and strategies at every step.

Visual Science: Writing and Presenting PowerPoint and Posters

This one-credit, seven-week course aims to provide you with a critical, theoretical background in visually presenting scientific research. We will consider such issues as story, voice, audience, and the function and forms of persuasion in PowerPoint presentations. As well as critiquing and responding, you will engage in a range of writing activities to help you visually present information in a subject of your choice. Peer review and class discussion are key components of the class. This class is run as a workshop and tutorial class, i.e., class time generally focuses around discussion of readings and relevant issues, presentations and discussion led by class members, and work-shopping of exercises and assignments. You will be expected to complete work outside of class times, including set readings and assignment writing.

The Photo-Essay Online: Image and Word in Web 2.0

This course will allow students to explore the role of photographs as they exist in a range of web environments. Focusing specifically on photo-essays, as arrangements of images and texts, students will take a range of photographs, write about their own and others’ work, and choose an appropriate means of display. We will consider the rhetoric of digital archives, photosharing sites, and the implications of new image-based technologies like PhotoSynth and enhanced podcasting.

The Interplay of Text and Image

This course will explore new media writing for the Web, blogs, podcasts and video. More specifically, we will be concerned with the visual as it relates to language: how text and image interact to create meaning, establish voice and tone, and elicit interactive responses from the reader/viewer. In addition to performing critical analysis of existing new media forms, students will produce examples of these forms (a website design and accompanying text, a podcast, and a video proposal/storyboard). Each student will also author a blog where s/he will discuss course readings, explore ideas about the interaction of text and image, analyze examples of the new media forms we are studying, and examine his/her own production of new media writing. All texts and new media examples for this course can be found online at the course Ctools site.

Documentary Michigan: Writing Arguments in New Media Genres

In this class, each student will produce a research documentary composed of text, image, audio, and video elements on a topic of personal interest. These documentaries will be published online as multimedia web pages. While we will use a number of user-friendly tech tools in this class, previous technical experience is not required--everyday familiarity with web browsers and word processors is sufficient for enrollment.

This class will ask you to move beyond merely “creating” multimedia projects to thoughtfully composing and arranging multimedia elements into a single cohesive argument. You will find yourself deeply engaged with the topic when you not only have to put your thoughts to paper, but also express them through sound and examine them through the lens of a camera. Perhaps just as importantly, you’ll be evaluated on your ability to inspire that same feeling of connection and investment in your documentary’s reader/viewer, and that’s where this class’ emphasis on argument, rhetoric, and composition comes in.

Because all media in all forms share similar principles of composition and rhetoric, our exploration will be guided by many of the written and oral persuasive tools used for centuries, including Aristotelian logos, ethos, and pathos as well as the Toulmin system of argument generated in the mid-twentieth century. While some of our course texts will exist in written form, we will also examine existing real-world models for multimedia, including sources as diverse as podcasts, full-length video documentaries, Youtube videos, comic books, and photo essays in order to better understand best practices in these various forms and how best to combine them to make a cohesive persuasive documentary.

Watch This: Argumentation and the Video Essay

In this era of YouTube and personal videos, anyone can create a video with the potential for it to be viewed by a wide audience. Often these videos are just for fun, but can video creation also be a vehicle for powerful arguments? In this course we will combine the pervasive and easily accessible form of video with essay conventions, such as having a thesis and using evidence, to better our understanding of visual literacy and argumentation. We will ask questions such as how do images create meaning, how do images affect text and vice versa, and how does the accumulation of images and how we edit them create arguments?

Students will be introduced to ideas of visual rhetoric through the analysis of readings and video showings by established video artists as well as YouTube amateurs, then will apply what they have learned to the creation of a single video essay on the topic of their choice (place, politics, art, home, advertising, history, etc) which intervenes in and complicates their subject in some way. In this way, each video project will enter into conversation with the world.

This is not a course in video production: the only technology used will be digital cameras and imovie. The main focus of this course will be creating visual arguments, not video storytelling. This course should be useful to any student who wishes to understand how images create meaning, the effects of combining text and image, or creative forms of argumentation. Students in all departments are invited to explore their interests through this medium.