What is this course about?

[no_toc]In this course, we are investigating embodiment and emergence in digital rhetoric. In the Phaedrus, for example, one argument made against writing is that once an author records his thoughts in that medium, the thoughts become disembodied; they circulate without the author, in contexts where he will not be present to explain or defend them. Viewed another way, though, written words are still embodied, that is they exist in a material form. And viewed yet another way, written texts are an extension of their authors’ bodies, part of an authorial persona that can be injured, conserved, celebrated, debated, etc. Indeed, this latter view is what links assessment of your senior rhetoric and composition portfolio to assessment of you as a writer and student. We will consider how digital composition tools and methods affect our understanding of how rhetoric is embodied, and the relationship between rhetorical artifacts and the bodies that create them.


Emergence is a term we use to describe processes–like evolution, or consciousness for example–in which multiple, sometimes simple rules or causes interact in a complex system to produce effects that might be predicted with varying degrees of accuracy, but are not determined by the operation of rules or causality. Some teachers–I am one of them, actually–believe learning might be an emergent quality of the classroom, something for which we can create ideal conditions but not something we can force to happen or entirely control. Similarly, some rhetoric scholars have begun to apply systems theory and ideas about emergence in thinking about the relationship between rhetorical artifacts and the rhetorical situations that produce them. We will analyze some of their work and the response it has generated.

English 4320 focuses on a specified topic–emergence, embodiment, and digital rhetoric in this course–and also satisfies the second Critical Thinking Through Writing (CTW) university requirement for English majors in Rhetoric and Composition. Your own work will be at the center of the class, which will involve analysis, production, and revision of digital texts. You will also research careers in writing and publishing and explore the choices writers make to produce, edit, and revise texts in a variety of genres. In terms of production and delivery, the course will give you opportunities to critically engage, compose and revise in a number of modes (sound, image, text) in order to see how each of these modes allows for different ways of knowing and meaning making. We will analyze and develop work in various media including print, audio, visual, and web.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • Intensive practice in critical thinking, analysis, writing, speaking, listening, and composing
  • Skills in observation and revision
  • Multiple ways to experiment with a range of compositional modes, approaches, and styles
  • The ability to produce and design effective documents using multiple modalities
  • Practice in conducting primary and secondary research
  • Practice in working with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively

Thank you to Mary Hocks and Beth Burmester for sharing their syllabi with me.

What will we be doing?

This course has four major projects:

  • Critical Thinking Through Writing (3) | 300-600 points
  • Rhetoric and Composition Portfolio with Reflective Essay (1) | 250-500 points
  • Career Review (1) | 200-400 points
  • Digital Capstone Composition (1) | 250-500 points

You will earn points for each major project. In addition, you will also earn points for general class participation (400-??? points). In general, this course is designed to reward the quality and quantity of work you do. The more you put into the course, the more you will get out of it–with regard to both your learning and your grade.

Critical Thinking Through Writing | 300-600 Points

For this project you will choose two readings per unit to analyze. You will compose a response essay in which you summarize both readings, describe how they are in conversation with one another, and offer a critical evaluation of what they contribute to our understanding of embodiment, emergence, and digital rhetoric (100-200 points per response essay).  Compose 750-1,000 words max per response essay. Compose more response essays for more points (up to 100 points per submission, for a max total of 600 points on this project).

Your response essays will be created as blog posts on your WordPress site, in the category “Response Essays,” and tagged appropriately with the title of the readings you have analyzed. You will submit links to your response essays using the form on your WordPress site.

Due Dates:

Your first response essay is due on January 25th by 11:59 pm; the second and third response essays are due the first day of the relevant unit of study, by midnight:

  1. CTW Response Essay 1: 11:59 pm on January 25th
  2. CTW Response Essay 2: 11:59 pm on February 23d
  3. CTW Response Essay 3: 11:59 pm on March 22d

Once a unit has ended, no more points will be awarded for responses to that unit’s readings. Late responses can be submitted for completion credit (but not for points) until midnight on March 22d.

How to compose a CTW reading response:

Project Purpose and Goals: This project is designed to develop and demonstrate your critical thinking ability. Critical thinking in English means working toward the expression of an informed, valid, and persuasive understanding of a text. Critical thinking activities in our discipline include the following:

  • interrogating the reciprocal relation between the production and reception of a text;
  • analyzing the components of a text’s form; summarizing a text’s argument and purpose;
  • evaluating the merit of a text according to literary and rhetorical criteria (while also considering the role that changing ideologies and fashions play in assessing value;
  • and articulating a writer’s own point of view within relevant literary, historical, and theoretical frameworks.”

Ultimately strong reading responses for this course will reflect your understanding of and intellectual engagement with the readings’ main ideas. They will clearly articulate your evaluation of the readings’ credibility, their value as rhetorical or literary works, and the ideological or intellectual perspectives that shape them. Finally, strong responses will communicate your ability to use written language persuasively and effectively.


Your response essays will be created as blog posts on your WordPress site, in the category “Response Essays,” and tagged appropriately with the title of the readings you have analyzed. You will submit links to your response essays using the form on your WordPress site.

Read through each text once, annotating it, then use the text and your annotations to compose an answer to these questions:

  • What is the text?
  • Who wrote it?
  • What is it about?
  • What are its main ideas?
  • What are the strength’s and weakness of the text from both a logical/rhetorical and aesthetic/literary perspective?
  • What questions does it provoke or leave unanswered?
  • What ideological, cultural, social, technological, historical, or political forces are at work in the text?

Then return to both texts. Re-read and annotate them again, then use the texts and your annotations to compose a response to these questions:

  • How are these texts similar and why?
  • How are they different and why?
  • Is one of them more or less credible, persuasive, or well-crafted than the other? In what way, and why?
  • Are the creators in conversation with one another? Is one text an application of ideas from the other? Is one text a refutation of the other? Do they represent opposing points of view or two different ways of looking at and thinking about the same problem?


*Use the literary present tense

*Cite paraphrased details and quotations (see MLA guide for in-text citation)

*Use and explain quotations

*Include the bibliographic information (see MLA guide for end citation)

*Consider multi-modes when composing in the blog post: spatial, visual, linguistic

Critical Thinking Through Writing Rubric

Critical Reading:

  • ANALYZE: How well does the student analyze language in texts? To what extent does the student reasonably identify flaws in logic and gaps in craft?
  • APPLY: To what extent does the student productively question assumptions offered by texts? How effectively does the student critique texts? How effectively does the student apply theoretical concepts to texts?
  • SYNTHESIZE: To what extent does the student offer insightful or unique observations of texts? How effectively does the student test her hypotheses about texts against the available evidence?

Critical Writing:

  • ANALYZE: To what extent does the student identify writing problems or challenges? How effectively does the student apply writing strategies for particular writing situations?
  • APPLY: How effectively does the student select linguistic and structural elements in her writing? To what extent does the student effectively execute writing strategies?
  • SYNTHESIZE: To what extent does the student effectively create texts that use language, writing strategies and structures in innovative ways.

Reflective Reading/Writing:

  • ANALYZE: To what extent does the student recognize her personal assumptions and biases in her analysis of texts (outside texts and/or those of her own creation). To what extent does the student effectively diagnose her reading/writing processes.
  • APPLY: How well does the student demonstrate an understanding of how her personal assumptions and biases affect her reading and writing processes?
  • SYTHESIZE: To what extent does the student understand how her intellectual and aesthetic positions project onto future texts she reads and writes?

Assessment Scale:

  1. Insufficiently or infrequently
  2. Unevenly, with some competence or some frequency
  3. Competently and frequently
  4. Masterfully and frequently

Rhetoric and Composition Portfolio with Reflective Essay | 250-500 points

Portfolios are due at the midpoint of the semester in which the student has applied to graduate. Please confirm this date on the university’s academic calendar. Please note that portfolios WILL NOT be accepted after the due date and WILL NOT be evaluated until they are complete. Since a successful portfolio is a requirement for graduation, students who miss the deadline WILL NOT be able to graduate until the following semester.

English majors in the Rhetoric and Composition concentration create graduation portfolios online at http://sites.gsu.edu. A complete graduation portfolio consists of an author’s biography, a minimum of eight texts or artifacts (each accompanied by a brief introduction), and a critical reflection of 1200 to 1500 words. Assignments uploaded to your online portfolio will come from each of your completed Rhetoric and Composition courses. The critical reflection demonstrates your understanding of rhetoric and your development as a writer while a student at GSU.

Every student will include at least one text or artifact from both English 3050 and 4320 (CTW requirement and Senior Seminar). Other courses will vary, depending on that student’s choice of electives within the concentration.

Download the complete instructions for senior portfolios here.

Working and final drafts of the portfolio are due by the following dates:

  • Draft Portfolios due: class time, February 9th
  • Draft Critical Reflective Essays due: class time, February 16th
  • Final porfolios due: 11:59 pm, February 29th

You submit drafts of your portfolio to me using the submission form. Submit final drafts for graduation requirements by March 1 (or the midpoint of the semester in which you plan to graduate) at http://www.wac.gsu.edu/EngDept/signup.php. Portfolios can be submitted after February 29th for completion credit in this class (but not to fulfill this semester’s graduate requirement) until April 1st, but submissions after March 8th will not be awarded any points.

You can view and download complete instructions for the senior graduate portfolio here.

Portfolio Assessment

Each portfolio will be read by two English Department faculty members who teach in the Rhetoric and Composition concentration. In the event of widely divergent readings, a third faculty member will read the portfolio. The assessment form faculty members will use when responding to your graduation portfolio can be found attached. If your portfolio is determined to be insufficient or incomplete in any way, you will be notified by a staff member in the English Department and asked to revise and resubmit your portfolio. If you are required to resubmit, please make an appointment with a Rhetoric and Composition faculty member for guidance.

The faculty reading your portfolio and I will use the same assessment rubric to evaluate your portfolio:

Senior Exit Portfolio–Assessment Form

Name of Student:


Concentration: Rhetoric and Composition

  1. The student’s work demonstrates knowledge of the language and history of rhetoric.
  2. The student’s work demonstrates the ability to write with structural integrity and conventional usage.
  3. The student demonstrates the ability to think critically through writing (CTW).

Overall Evaluation:


Evaluation scale:

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor
  5. Inadequate
  6. Can’t determine

Career Review | 200-400 Points

For this project, you will research and compose an asynchronous or recorded presentation about a career of interest to you. Your presentation should be based on a review of one of the books from the career book review list and interviews with or observations of people in that career.

Your presentations will be created as blog posts on your WordPress site, in the category “Career Reviews,” and tagged with the name of the career being reviewed. You will submit links to your career reviews using the form on your WordPress site.

This project is due in the following stages:

  • Book review (~500 words): 11:59 pm, March 8th
  • Summary of Interview/Observation (~500 words): 11:59 pm, April 12th
  • Career review presentation (Prezi, video, podcast, or equivalent): 11:59 pm, April 19th

As long as you submit each of the required elements by the due date, you can submit extra career review elements for  additional careers at any time until April 12th (25-100 points per extra element, up to a max total of 400 points for this project). Late career reviews can be submitted for completion credit (but not for points, see late work policy below) until 11:59 pm on April 26th.

Composing your Career Review:

Project Purpose and Goals: This project is designed to help you make or think about the transition from being an undergraduate student in the Rhetoric and Composition concentration in English to being a professional who uses rhetoric effectively in authentic workplace situations. Even though you may already have a career, it will be helpful for you to think about how you will transfer what you’ve learned in college to other contexts. Further, in this project, the class will crowdsource a set of resources that will be helpful to you and your peers as you continue your professional development after university.


Your career review will be based on research. You will read a book that describes work, challenges, and opportunities in a field that requires advance rhetoric and composition knowledge and competency. You will conduct field research in the form of an interview with or observation of someone working in the job you’ve chosen to study. And finally, you will craft a presentation–a recorded “TED Talk”-style oral presentation, a podcast, or a Prezi with voiceover–that your peers can view asynchronously to learn about the career you’ve studied.

In your book review, interview/observation summary, and presentation, you should endeavor to answer the following questions:

  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this career?
  • What are the required or preferred qualifications for this career, in terms of education, experience, and aptitude?
  • What are the pros (salary, travel, quality of life, etc.) and cons (salary, travel, quality of life, etc.) of the career?
  • What are the long-term opportunities available to someone pursuing this career?
  • How might someone go about entering this career? Where are jobs advertised? How does one network within the profession? How might one best craft a resume to catch the attention of recruiters or hiring committees?
  • What special considerations should be taken into account? Is this a career historically dominated by men, for example? Is this a career that is rapidly changing, in ways that will present challenges to new workers entering the field in the next five-ten years? Is this an emerging career where applicants often have to define the role for recruiters and supervisors, in addition to explaining why they’re qualified and doing good work, in order to be successful?

For your book review, you will select a text from the following list:

(TEXTS may be a library book or purchased on your own as print or ebook edition)

Lives on the Boundary by Mike Rose (paperback and e-book; lots of different teaching positions and two experiences of graduate school)

Another Planet: A Year in the Life of a Suburban High School by Elinor Burkett (paperback; looks at teachers and students, the language arts teacher is in her first teaching job and first year at this school)

In the Deep Heart’s Core by Michael Johnston (paperback; autobiography of a Teach for America, first-year high school teacher in Mississippi)

Careers in Writing, Second Edition, edited by Blythe Camenson (2008) (also available as an e-book)

The Art of Making Magazines: On Being an Editor and Other Views from the Industry, edited by Victor S. Navasky and Evan Cornog (2012) (also available as an e-book)

Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the 21st Century by John B. Thompson (paperback and e-book)

Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know about Editors Do by Gerald C. Gross (paperback and e-book)

The Subversive Copyeditor: Advice from Chicago by Carol Fisher Saller (editor of the Chicago Manual of Style Online and a manuscript editor for Chicago University Press) (paperback and e-book)

The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly (e-book)

The Web Content Strategist’s Bible: The Complete Guide to a New and Lucrative Career for Writers of All Kinds by Richard Sheffield (e-book)

How to Get Started as a Technical Writer by James Gill (e-book)

Careers in Grant Writing by Caroline S. Reeder (paperback)

Making it in Public Relations: An Insider Guide by Leonard Mogel (paperback)

I’m an English Major: Now What? by Timothy Lemire (paperback and e-book)

Great Jobs for English Majors by Julie DeGalan (paperback and e-book)

Others with instructor approval



Digital Capstone Composition | 250-500 Points

In this final project, you will create a multimodal digital composition that explores the themes of the course. Each of you will propose a project, and work with me to establish guidelines for what the final deliverable should be and the rubric for evaluating your work. If you are interested in building from another project, you are welcome to work with materials from three projects that already involve student collaborators here at GSU: the Hoccleve Archive, the Phoenix Project, or Unpacking Manuel’s. You can extend a project you’ve undertaken in another course, community group, job, or internship. Or you can do something entirely new. It’s up to you. As a class, we will discuss ideas and establish some basic parameters to guide you as you refine the purpose and scope of your projects.

Your capstone composition will be created on or uploaded to the web, and you will submit a link to your final project using the form on your WordPress site.

Your project is due in three stages. You must complete all three in order to receive points or completion credit for this project:

  • Proposal: 11:59 pm, March 29th
  • Presentations: in class April 12th & 19th
  • Final Draft: 11:59 pm, April 29th

Students may turn in final drafts of the capstone composition early, by 11:59 on April 22, for early feedback and 25 bonus points. No capstone projects will be accepted after 11:59 pm on April 29th.

Proposing Your Project

Purpose of a proposal: The final form and scope of your project will be determined by you, in consultation with me. The proposal qualifies as your planning document for your capstone project. It communicates to me your expectations and plans for your final multimodal composition in this course. I will read the proposal and offer you feedback on what you might revise given your purpose for the project, the audience, and the time constraints of the course. The proposal will serve as an agreement between you and me on what is expected for your final project, so if you decide to change the focus or audience, for example, please let me know in writing. I will then take the revisions into account when I evaluate your final project.


Your proposal will comprise the following elements:

  • An abstract (500 words) that outlines the audience, purpose, context, and anticipated form of your project
  • An annotated bibliography of at least seven entries that identifies and discusses the theoretical and scholarly work that informs your approach to the final project (at least five sources), and examples or models of the kind of artifact you would like to produce (at least  two sources)
  • A Gantt chart that outlines a project work schedule

After you turn in your proposal, you and I will meet to discuss your proposal and work plan. Following the basic guidelines and expectations we establish together as a class, you will work with me to determine the rubric by which your work will be evaluated.

Participation | 400-??? Points

~Ask not what you can do to earn credit for this course; ask what you will do to earn as many points as you possibly can.

During the course of the semester I invite you to engage with the course material and assignments, with your peers and with me, consistently and in inventive ways. I will assign points to your work reflecting the level of your participation both inside and outside of class. I will also subtract points for failing to participate (e.g., missing class) so as to fairly reflect your level of engagement with the course concepts. Your goal is to accrue as many points as possible during the semester.


If you complete all of the major projects, come to class prepared, and miss only two class meetings, you will earn at least 1,400 points. Once you complete all of the major projects and accrue 2,400 points, you will automatically receive an A in the course!!!

Your points will be recorded in your class notebook on OneDrive and available for you to view at any time.


I hope to encourage your participation by offering points as follows, but please suggest your own projects and activities for potential points:

Study group organization and participation: up to 25

Individual office hour visit: 20

Group meetings with instructor: 20

Blog posts reflecting practice of course concepts: up to 50

Constructive commentary on blogs: 15

Extra submissions to course archive: 10/per

Extra CTW responses: up to 100/per

Create Facebook groups around topics, projects or readings: up to 50

Contribute to the glossary of terms: 15 per

Reviews of campus and local performances, shows, and presentations: up to 40 per

Complete Lynda.com tutorial on a relevant technology and demonstrate the skill learned: up to 50

Suggest something!

**Be sure to let me know when you have completed points-potential work that doesn’t automatically get counted. Generally, you will do this by writing up your work as a blog post and submitting the link to your post via the submission form. This gives me opportunity to discuss the work with you and give you general feedback you can take to your work as a whole.


While participation is ongoing, some opportunities for earning points expire when the major project with which they are associated expires.

  • CTW Responses for Unit 1 Readings: 11:59 pm, February 2d
  • CTW Responses for Unit 2 Readings: 11:59 pm, March 1st
  • CTW Responses for Unit 3 Readings: 11:59 pm, April 5th
  • Career Reviews: 11:59 pm, April 26th
  • Portfolios: 5:00 pm, March 1st
  • Capstone Compositions: 11:59 pm, April 29th

To make things interesting, small prizes (e.g., Starbucks gift cards, coupons for local businesses, etc.) will also be awarded to points leaders each week starting in Week 3.

Submitting your work . . .

Use this form to submit pretty much everything for which you’d like to earn points–study group reflections, major project drafts, contributions to our course archive, etc. I will keep track of when you come to see me during office hours for individual or group conferences. For everything else, however, you will need to submit a link to evidence of your work on your own site, on Zotero, on Google Maps, or elsewhere on the web.

If you ever have questions about what kind of evidence you need to provide to document your participation and how to submit it, stop by during office hours or ask the question before or after class. You’ll earn points for the office hours visit, asking the question, and for finding a way to make the information available to the rest of your classmates.

What is the general plan for the course, and when are things due?

The detailed course calendar and a week-by-week overview are available below. Here is the general plan for the course; keep in mind that this general plan is subject to change:

Getting Started and Graduation Portfolios

  • Introduction to the course
  • Individual website set-up (sites.gsu.edu)
  • Introduction to graduation portfolio
  • Complete Syllabus & Course Info Take-Home Quiz (up to 40 points, January 19th)

Unit 1 | Embodiment

  • First CTW Response (11:59 pm, January 26th)
  • Draft Portfolio (class time, February 9th)
  • Draft Critical Reflective Essay (class time, February 16th)
  • Annotations in Hypothes.is (up to 40 points per reading):
    • Plato or Derrida (January 26th)
    • Lane or Hunter (February 2nd)
    • Perry or Chatelain (February 9th)

Unit 2 | Emergence

  • Second CTW Response (11:59 pm, February 23rd)
  • Final Portfolio (11:59 pm, February 29th for this class, March 1st for graduation)
  • Career Book Review (11:59 pm, March 8th)
  • Annotations in Hypothes.is (up to 40 points for each reading):
    • Reeves, Hahn, or Clemens & Nash (February 23rd)
    • Rizzo or Latour (March 1st)
    • Bennett, Bogost, or  Edwards (March 8th)

Unit 3 | Image, Sound, and Gesture

  • Third CTW Response (11:59 pm, March 22nd)
  • Capstone Composition Proposal (11:59 pm, March 29th)
  • Career Interview/Observation Summary (class time, April 12th)
  • Career Review Presentation (11:59 pm, April 19th)
  • Capstone Composition Final Draft (11:59 pm April 29th)
  • Annotations in Hypothes.is (up to 40 points per reading):
    • Visual annotations of Hocks or Humphrey (March 22nd)
    • Visual annotations of Radiolab, Hulin, Sousanis, or Peaker (March 29th)
    • Sonic annotations of Lipari, Bessette or Selfe (April 5th)
    • Sonic annotations of Halbritter, Alexander, or Stadler (April 12th)
    • Gestural annotations of Bauman or Jones and LeBaron (April 19th)

Weekly Overview

Click here to open the Weekly Overview in a new tab or window. This is an overview of the readings and deliverables for the week of (to access the Google Doc click here):

Course Calendar

Click on the entry for a particular date for more details. To access and subscribe to the calendar via Google, click here.

How will my grade be calculated?

You will earn points for just about everything you do in this course–attending class, completing in-class work, studying, major projects, contributing material to our collaborative course archive, etc.:

  • Critical Thinking Through Writing (3): 300-600 points
  • Rhetoric and Composition Portfolio with Reflective Essay (1): 250-500 points
  • Career Review (1): 200-400 points
  • Digital Capstone Composition (1): 250-500 points
  • Participation (including attendance): 400-???

You can also lose points for missing class, failing to turn in a project on time, coming to class unprepared, etc., etc. At the end of the course, if you have completed all four of the major projects (Critical Thinking Through Writing, Rhetoric and Composition Portfolio, Career Review, and Digital Capstone Composition), your letter grade will be assigned based on the points you’ve earned. In order to pass the course, you must complete all four of the major projects. FAILURE TO COMPLETE ANY OF THE MAJOR PROJECTS WILL RESULT IN AN AUTOMATIC GRADE OF “C-,” MEANING THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO RE-TAKE THE CLASS.

If you complete all four of the major projects, earning at least the minimum number of points for each and miss no more than two class meetings or required online assignments (given in lieu of the second class meeting each week), you will earn at least 1,400 points and pass the course with at least a grade of “C.” After that, your grade will be determined by the number of points you’ve earned in total. Students who complete all four of the major projects and earn at least 2,400 points will automatically receive a grade of “A.”

For those who earn below 2,500 points and more than 1,400 points (and complete all the major projects), the top earner from each section will determine the grading scale for the rest of section.

For instance, let’s say the top earner in your section completed all of the major projects and accrued 2,500 points. She will get an A+ and everyone who completed all of the major projects and earned at least 2,400 points will get an A. Further, the top points score of 2,500 determines the grading scale for everyone who completed all the major projects but didn’t earn at least 2,400 points as follows:

A-/A: major projects complete + 2,250-2,500 points
B-/B/B+: major projects complete + 2,000-2,249 points
C/C+: major projects complete + 1,400-1,999 points
Non-passing: one or more major projects incomplete, or fewer than 1,400 points total

You will be able to view a record of which major projects you’ve completed and how many points you’ve earned at any time your notebook on our class OneNote site.

What texts and other resources will I need?

In all of my classes, I make every effort to keep text and materials costs under $75. Unless otherwise noted below, I expect students will have access to all required texts and resources from the first day of class.

Students should not expect to “get by” without reading assigned texts. Unlike some lecture classes, where the lecture is a review of assigned reading, this is a seminar course in which the assigned reading is preparation for a discussion or application of the information and ideas presented in the text. To put it another way, by completing assigned readings before class, we establish a basic shared knowledge base upon which we can build thoughtful conversations and productive work sessions.

It’s OK if the reading sometimes raises more questions than it answers; I expect that to happen often, in fact. Make a note of your questions. Let them circulate in your thoughts in the hours before class, and then bring them up in your blog posts and our class discussions.

Required Reading

  • All required readings are linked in the course calendar

Recommended Reference

  • Arola, Kristin L., Jennifer Sheppard, Cheryl E. Ball. Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014) — http://bit.ly/1tbI2aI

Required Materials and Tools

  • Access to a laptop or desktop computer for daily use.
  • Access to email on a daily basis.
  • An active student account on sites.gsu.edu.
  • A Hypothes.is account (You may use an existing account, or you may create an account just for use in this course).
  • Access to computer software and programs used for digital composition and editing (I am always able to recommend free or very low-cost open source alternatives to more expensive proprietary software such as Microsoft Office, InDesign, Photoshop, etc.)

On Campus Learning and Tech Support


ENGL 4320-Senior Seminar: The Rhetoric of Space and Place in Atlanta

Spring 2016 | UL302c

T Hybrid | 11:00 am-12:15 pm


Instructor: Dr. Robin Wharton

Office: 25 Park Place #2434

Office Hours: M/W 9-11 am, and by appointment; I am able to meet during office hours or by appointment via Skype or Google Hangout if that works better than an in-person conference

Contact: rwharton3{at}gsu{the dot goes here}edu

All work must be submitted by the scheduled due date and in accordance with project guidelines. As a general rule, you will not receive any points for late work, or work that does not meet formatting and submission guidelines outlined in the project description.

I reserve the right to change the policies, schedule, and syllabus at any time during the semester.


You earn points for coming to class and lose points for unexcused absences. You earn 20 points for coming to class, and lose 20 points for each absence. In addition, you will earn from 20-40 points for completing required online assignments given in lieu of the second class meeting each week. Failure to complete a required online assignment will result in a 20 point deduction for each missed required assignment.Arriving to class late will result in a deduction of 10-20 points.

In this course, students are expected to adhere to the Georgia State University student code of conduct. This includes the university attendance policy. Excused absences are limited to university-sponsored events where you are representing GSU in an official capacity, religious holidays, and legal obligations such as jury duty or military service days. Absences for all other reasons will result in a points deduction as outlined above. In the event of extended illness or family emergency, I will consider requests for individual exemption from the general attendance policy on a case by case basis.

Accommodations for Students With Disabilities

Georgia State University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students who wish to request accommodation for a disability may do so by registering with the Office of Disability Services. Students may only be accommodated upon issuance by the Office of Disability Services of a signed Accommodation Plan and are responsible for providing a copy of that plan to instructors of all classes in which accommodations are sought. According to the ADA (http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:s3406enr.txt.pdf): ‘‘SEC. 3. DEFINITION OF DISABILITY. ‘‘As used in this Act: ‘‘(1) DISABILITY.—The term ‘disability’ means, with respect to an individual— ‘‘(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual…major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. ‘‘(B) MAJOR BODILY FUNCTIONS.—For purposes of paragraph (1), a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Language Conventions

This course presumes that because you were exempt from or passed English 1101 and 1102, you have a basic knowledge of standard American English, including but not limited to variations in sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, parallel structure, dangling modifiers, grammatical expletives, possessives and plurals, punctuation, capitalization, word choice, and various other grammatical and mechanical problems. If you are someone for whom this knowledge and practice are a struggle, this course gives you time to improve. If you do not, your grades will be severely affected. You have resources available at GSU to help you improve your knowledge. In the Writing Studio (http://www.writingstudio.gsu.edu/) you can work one-on-one, in private, with a tutor to improve. Writing Studio tutors can also help you to help you refine already strong competence, moving from good to excellent. The Purdue OWL (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/) has resources to assist you with identifying and correcting common grammar, punctuation, and usage errors, and to help you with formatting citations and bibliographies.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • Intensive practice in critical thinking, analysis, writing, speaking, listening, and composing
  • Skills in observation and revision
  • Multiple ways to experiment with a range of compositional modes, approaches, and styles
  • The ability to produce and design effective documents using multiple modalities
  • Practice in conducting primary and secondary research
  • Practice in working with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively

Academic Honesty/Plagiarism

The Department of English expects all students to adhere to the university’s Code of Student Conduct, especially as it pertains to plagiarism, cheating, multiple submissions, and academic honesty. Please refer to the Policy on Academic Honesty (Section 409 of the Faculty Handbook). Penalty for violation of this policy will result in a zero for the assignment, possible failure of the course, and, in some cases, suspension or expulsion. Georgia State University defines plagiarism as . . . “ . . . any paraphrasing or summarizing of the works of another person without acknowledgment, including the submitting of another student’s work as one’s own . . . [It] frequently involves a failure to acknowledge in the text . . . the quotation of paragraphs, sentences, or even phrases written by someone else.” At GSU, “the student is responsible for understanding the legitimate use of sources . . . and the consequences of violating this responsibility.” (For the university’s policies, see in the student catalog, “Academic Honesty,”http://www2.gsu.edu/~catalogs/2010-2011/undergraduate/1300/1380_academic_honesty.htm)

Learning Technology

If you have them, you may bring laptops or mobile computing devices to class for use in in-class activities. Students should use these devices responsibly for class-related work. If they become a distraction for you, me, or other students in the class, I will ask you to put them away. Occasionally I will will request a device-free learning environment for a discussion or learning activity, and students are expected to honor such requests.

Receiving a Grade of Incomplete

In order to receive an incomplete, a student must inform the instructor, either in person or in writing, of his/her inability (non-academic reasons) to complete the requirements of the course. Incompletes will be assigned at the instructor’s discretion and the terms for removal of the “I” are dictated by the instructor. A grade of incomplete will only be considered for students who are a) passing the course with a C or better, b) present a legitimate, non-academic reason to the instructor, and c) have only one major assignment left to finish.

For English Majors

The English department at GSU requires an exit portfolio of all students graduating with a degree in English. Ideally, students should work on this every semester, selecting 1-2 papers from each course and revising them, with direction from faculty members. The portfolio includes revised work and a reflective essay about what you’ve learned. Each concentration (literature, creative writing, rhetoric/composition, and secondary education) within the major may have specific items to place in the portfolio, so be sure to check booklet located next to door of the front office of the English Department. Senior Portfolio due dates are published in the booklets or you may contact an advisor or Dr. Dobranski, Director of Undergraduate Studies. See the English office for additional information.

Student Evaluation of Instructor

Your constructive assessment of this course plays an indispensable role in shaping education at Georgia State. Upon completing the course, please take time to fill out the online course evaluation.