Home > Syllabus

Syllabus

WRD 408/A&S 300 Digital Composing
Dr. Jeff Rice
Meeting Time: T/R 12:30
Office Hours: by appointment
Email: j.rice@uky.edu
Site: http://useless.as.uky.edu

The media theorist Marshall McLuhan once wrote, “The age of writing has passed. We must invent a new metaphor.” His statement creates for 21st century writing practices a series of challenging questions: How do composing practices change as we move from print based media and methods to digital environments? How do we express ourselves in web spaces, with video, with presentation software, in social media? What does it mean to communicate in a visual and connected culture? Online, where so much material circulates, how do we create and then archive more material for future usage? What are the new metaphors we will use or are using to describe our forms of expression? This course asks students to consider such questions as we approach contemporary problems and issues by designing digital responses.

In this course, students will
1. Learn to address current issues or problems via digital responses
2. Learn to compose with a variety of digital software and applications
3. Learn research skills to inform composing
4. Learn how expression changes when media selections change
5. Learn rhetorical skills relevant to digital composing
6. Learn how to compose to various digital spaces such as websites, archives, or social media

Because a considerable amount of digital information is build on the premise of archiving (databases), our task will be to learn composing strategies suitable for archival work, even if not in a traditional sense of what the archive is or what purpose it serves. With an endless amount of online information to work from, how does one create and share collections of ideas, knowledge, messages, arguments, etc.? What is important, and what is not? What persuades, and what bores? What do we want to save, and what do we want to discard?

In this particular section, students will construct a digital archive called a “useless archive.” The useless archive, as opposed to an institutional archive, stores and preserves what has often been considered unimportant: rough drafts, anecdotes, memories, liner notes, forgotten pictures, details from pictures, gossip, discarded texts, unusable texts, throwaway material, etc. All of this material, the useless archive proposes, is as important as what we traditionally store for future knowledge. Because we have easy access to digital spaces for such storing, we will compose a digital archive in order to highlight a point or series of points we have not yet considered because we have not yet paid attention to this material. We will, in other words, learn a rhetorical practice suitable for building archives (collections) of focused information.

Our task will be to:
1. Identify a subject to archive (local music, food group, business, street or neighborhood, dormitory on campus, athletic team, park, etc.)
2. Search, scan, record, collect, film, and store found materials relevant to a useless archive.
3. Compose and arrange online our archives on the class Omeka site.

We will spend all semester constructing our archives. We will do our work in incremental steps in order to:
1. Learn the process of composing.
2. Receive feedback as we build our archives so that we can make adjustments and improve along the way.

Throughout the semester, you will be asked to show your work in progress. Thus, to succeed, no one can wait until the final minute. All of our work is building toward a final project. But before that project is due, you will talk about your work and receive feedback on it. The focus of this class is student work, not the memorization and testing of such memorization. While readings will provide ideas and models, your work is our focus.

Computer requirements:
Access to a personal computer or computer on campus
Audacity (free to download)
Video (with one’s phone, camera, video camera, or with checked out camera’s from UK)
Internet connection at home or on campus

Texts to buy:
The Dustbin of History – Greil Marcus

Assignments:
Proposal (100 pts): Students will write a proposal for the semester long project that outlines purpose (why build this archive), context (where will this archive fit with other studies or interests), proposed research (what one will collect, where one will search, what one will read), and expected audience (who will be interested in your project). 4-5 pages.

The Collections Parts I and II (100 pts/ 50 pts each): Twice in the semester, students must post collected materials as ready to be graded. Collected materials are dated and tagged as they are posted. They cannot all be posted on the same date. Pace your materials by researching and collecting two or three times a week. Collected materials will include:
1. Excerpted and cited sources
2. Annotations of cited sources
3. Linked sources
4. Commentary on sources
5. Speculation about sources
Sources may be websites, books, newspaper articles, magazine articles, images, posters, objects, films, TV shows, songs, album covers, government documents, scientific documents, and so on.
These collections will be directed by online, useless archive sources. Part I will use the following useless archive sources for research:
1. Boing Boing (http://boingboing.net)
2. Metafilter (http://www.metafilter.com)
3. Reedit (http://www.reddit.com/)
4. Waxy (http://waxy.org/)
5. Kottke (http://kottke.org/)
6. Everything is Terrible (http://www.everythingisterrible.com/)
7. Stellar Interesting (http://stellar.io/interesting)
8. Grantland (http://www.grantland.com)
9. Neatorama (http://www.neatorama.com/)
10. Laughing Squid (http://laughingsquid.com/)
11. Fresh Creation (http://freshcreation.com/)
12. Google Books (http://books.google.com)
13. Swiss-Miss (http://www.swiss-miss.com/)
14. We Make Money Not Art (http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/ )
15. Bibliodyssey (http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.com/)
16. Look at This (http://seehere.blogspot.com/)
17. Cynical C (http://www.cynical-c.com/)
You can only use these sites for material. Due Sept 11

Part II will be based on the Chuck Klosterman method of video breakdown. Watch Klosterman’s breakdown of the following music videos. Find your own video online related to your project. Performa similar breakdown of what you have found.
1. Led Zeppelin’s “In the Evening” (http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/6696852/in-evening)
2. Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” (http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/6780938/frankenstein-monster)
Due Oct 16
Each collection must generate a substantial amount of material. Substantial is an ambiguous term. It puts the burden of proof on you rather than on a page or number count. Your archive is as good as YOU make it. My assessment is based on how substantial your work is (i.e., it’s not frivolous or last minute).

Presentations (100): Students will do an Ignite PowerPoint presentation on work in progress.
Ignite
The Ignite method requires that you
Present on ideas in five minutes.
Use only 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds.
In the five minutes, you must:
Hit key points.
End on a powerful image that leaves your audience thinking or prompts questions.
Sept 18-20

Audio Recordings (100 pts): As part of the research process, students will conduct at least two interviews of individuals relevant to the project, edit them, and include them in the archive. Pick interview subjects who mesh or can be meshed with your collected materials so far.
Due: Nov 6

Images/Video (100pts): As part of the research process, students will make or find images and video to include in the archive. Images will be labeled (tagged) for search purposes and assembled in the archive space for assessment.
Due: Oct 23

Participation (100 pts). Students must participate actively in class. This is not a lecture course; it is a hands on course where participation and interaction are required for learning and success. Participation means being a part of class (not checking email, playing games, doing homework for other classes).

Project (200 pts): The Useless Archive. On the class Omeka site, students will construct a useless archive that assembles all of the semester’s work. By project’s due date, you will have already assembled a significant amount of material based on the two collection assignments, the audio assignment, and the image/video assignment. The final task is the assembly on the website as a collection for final viewing and the addition of needed material.

The archive takes all the material in the collection, and turns it into an exhibit.

An accompanying, explanatory narrative will be done as well so that users can understand the archive’s purpose as well as how to navigate the archive. The archive is a synthesis of all of the semester’s work. The archive identifies a pattern among disparate material and gives coherence to its work by making that – as of yet unknown – pattern visible to a specific audience. Your final assembly - as an exhibit - shows the patterns. Your narrative, as well, explains your motives, your choice of assembly, what you’ve discovered, what your archive does The narrative will be at least 1,500 words.

Grading Scale:
750-800pts A
700-750pts B
650-700pts C
600-650pts D
- 600 F

If you have a documented disability that requires academic accommodations, please see me as soon as possible during scheduled office hours. In order to receive accommodations in this course, you must provide me with a Letter of Accommodation from the Disability Resource Center (Room 2, Alumni Gym, 257‐2754, email address jkarnes@email.uky.edu) for coordination of campus disability services available to students with disabilities.

Fine Print: 1. Attendance is mandatory. Class discussion depends on the entire class being present. Because this course meets two times a week, you are allowed two unexcused absences throughout the course. After that, your final grade will drop by one letter grade for each additional absence. Prolonged absences due to illness or absences due to having to attend a university sponsored event (athletics, theater, music, field trip) will be excused if you provide me with proper documentation from an appropriate authority. You are responsible for all work due for any missed class as well as for the readings and work for the following class. You are also responsible for any work covered during the class you missed. You should get the phone numbers of a couple of your classmates in case you miss a class. You can also contact me by e-mail.
2. Don't be late to class. The class depends on your presence in order to conduct peer review and other in class activities. Three tardies will count as one unexcused absence.
3. Assignments are due on the class day they have been assigned for. Late work will not be accepted.
4. All assignments (unless otherwise noted) will be composed according to MLA style.
5. All students are expected to honor the University's Honor Code. All work must be your own. Copying work without giving credit is considered plagiarism. Evidence of plagiarism will be dealt with according to the university's regulations.
6. Turn off your cell phones when you come to class. There is zero tolerance for cell phones going off in class and points will be deducted from your final grade if your phone repeatedly rings.
7. Many different opinions will be expressed in this class. Students are expected to respect the views of other students. Sexist and racial hate speech will not be tolerated. A difference of opinion will naturally result and is expected and encouraged. But students must still respect the viewpoints of the other students in the class.
8. The classroom is not a space for public grievances. If you are upset with a grade or some other class related issue, you should make an appointment with me so that we can discuss the problem and resolve it. If you are not satisfied with the results of that meeting, you can then follow university procedures for grievances when the course is completed. Do not, however, make the class space, the wiki, email or any other site a place for your complaints.

Schedule:
Week 1 August 23
First day of class

Week 2 Aug 28-30
Identifying an archive
Working with Omeka

Readings: Marcus
Learning video/Learning audio
How to collect/research

Week 3 Sept 4-6
Readings: Marcus

Week 4 Sept 11-13
“In Love with a Lincoln” Maira Kalman http://kalman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/26/in-love-with-a-lincoln/
Part 1 Due
Readings: Marcus

Week 5 Sept 18-20
Presentation

Week 6 Sept 25-27
Readings: Harper’s Index
http://useless.as.uky.edu/articles/harpersindexaug2000.pdf
http://useless.as.uky.edu/articles/harpersindexjan09.pdf
http://useless.as.uky.edu/articles/harpersindexsept04.pdf

Week 7 Oct 2-4
“Nota Bene: If You ‘Discover’ Something in an Archive, it’s Not a Discovery” http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/nota-bene-if-you-discover-something-in-an-archive-its-not-a-discovery/258538/

“Actually, Yes, it is a Discovery if you Find Something in an Archive that No One Knew Was There.” http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/actually-yes-it-is-a-discovery-if-you-find-something-in-an-archive-that-no-one-knew-was-there/258812/#.T-PnO99UfWc.facebook

Week 8 Oct 9-11
Readings: Johnson/Finnegan. Reflecting on archivist role
“What is this a Picture of?: Some Thoughts on Images and Archives:” http://useless.as.uky.edu/articles/Finnegan.pdf

“Autobiography of an Archivist” http://useless.as.uky.edu/articles/johnson.pdf

Week 9 16-18
Collections Part II Due

Week 10 Oct 23-25
Images/Video Due

Week 11 Oct 30-Nov 1
“The Geeks Who Saved Usenet” http://www.salon.com/2002/01/08/saving_usenet/
“The Great Library of Amazonia” http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.12/amazon.html

Week 12 Nov 6-8
Recordings Due

Week 13 Nov 13-15
Writing Commentary

Week 14 Nov 20-22
Thanksgiving

Week 15 27-29
Projects Due

Week 16 Dec 4-7 Classes End