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Note: the format is not done, but this way we have a raw text back up of the other wiki.





Welcome to English 15, one of three core required courses in rhetoric at Penn State University. These courses are required for all Penn State graduates - not because we wish to torment you with classes in communication production and analysis, but because rhetoric offers you techniques and insights necessary to all of the disciplines. Rhetoric is usually understood as a way of transforming the feelings, ideas and opinions of others, but you can use rhetoric as an investigative tool as well. For example, by studying the language and images used in your field of study, you will learn a great deal about what that field of study takes for granted, which will help you learn to learn. In this course you will write for persuasion - you will attempt to move someone to do something, such as change their mind. And you will write for inquiry - by putting ideas into different contexts and forms, you will explore problems and find unexpected solutions. The first axiom of this course is: Think practically about what you are trying to do with words, images, sounds, smells, feelings, even chemicals. Composition is the practice of finding the right mixture for any given goal. Goal number one, of course, is survival.


By all accounts, we live in an ecosystem under stress and burgeoning with information. Multimedia composition will help you learn techniques of information and attention management. Information has been defined by scientist Gregory Bateson as "the difference that makes a difference", so you will be taught how to differentiate all of the information you browse and produce. The class will stress the importance of becoming an adept of information. Check out the DigitalProposal for background on how this class is changing in response to our shifting information ecology. By blogging five days a week, you will write much more than usual and develop new capacities as writers. Most importantly, you will learn to build a rhythm and a process for composing. By taking this process with you after the class is over, you will be prepared for a lifetime of composition in media not yet invented. Your FinalProjects - the equivalent of a 10-12 page paper - will be put into an Eportfolio, your personal webspace at Penn State.


In response to the infoquake, you will be offered some simple but very effective tools: Narrative, definitional argument, argument by analogy, evaluative argument, causal argument, proposal arguments, and tropes, tropes, tropes.


First Assignment:


Browse and buy Weston text, McCloud


As always, read all of the links on the syllabus for that day. Such as this one:




And this one:




Back to TheSyllabus





License Arguments - Innovation, Collaboration, and the Commons


By sharing our work, we enable many unexpected connections. In this course, we will share our writing in order to form a community or writers, improving our writing together. We will begin by sharing, in writing, the story of who we are.




SelfNarratives - Here are some self narratives written by Penn State Students in earlier incarnations of this class.


Assignment: Compose a SelfNarrative as discussed in the IntroductionToNarrative link above and post it to the blog page for your class.



Back to MondayWednesdayFriday Syllabus




Narrative and Self Definition


Just as a painter/photographer such as Andy Warhol highlights aspects of himself through color, perspective, and setting in a self portrait, so too can a self narrative bring out aspects of a writer and occlude others. How have you cast yourself in your self narrative? How might you remix it?


SelfNarratives and Self Fashioning: Becoming Who you R


Penn State Mission Statement








  • Read all of your classmates' Self Narratives



  • Sample (with attribution) from at least two classmates narratives.




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Narrative and Self Transformation: Narrative as a tool for Becoming Who U R


By writing a narrative about yourself, you may begin to reflect on the fact that you are continually undergoing transformation. Narrative is a tool that organizes that transformation into a pattern. Now remix your self narrative by (1) Making sure there is an agent and an action in each sentence and (2) Write the self narrative from the perspective of the version of your self you would like to become: the one who is looking back on this assignment four years from now.


Understanding through alteration: The remix.




One of the easiest ways to remix a narrative is to combine it with another narrative. Often this works best if the other narrative is rather distant from the original - as when \"Clueless\" takes a Jane Austin novel and plants it in 1990's mall hopping Los Angeles. This introduces a bit of novelty into the story and surprises, and perhaps engages, readers. We might be expected to resist stories that are at a distance from our experience, but I encourage you to just listen to other stories and pay attention to the patterns in them. What patterns can you find in the following section of [The Diamond Sutra], a sixth century Buddhist text at some distance, it would seem, from contemporary Happy Valley? Post a blog tonight in response.


Narrative as Problem Solving Tool. Is narrative an argument? Discuss ( Hint: Argument = Claim + Reasons that make sense to some audience)


Here trope, there trope, everywhere a trope trope. Notice that a trope, as a turn of phrase, is actually a deviation from the standard use of a term or series, but it is not just any deviation. It is a bending, intentional or unintentional, that compresses and intensifies some aspect of the author's intended or unintended meaning. You can make a trope on purpose by substituting part for whole, cause for effect, carry out a reversal, or simply repeat.




Remix and revise your self narrative to be graded.


Back to MondayWednesdayFriday Syllabus







Audience, Dialogue, and the Commons: On the importance of actual audiences


Neural Marketing - In this article, you can read about how marketing logos can affect your brain. Indeed, all of us, as rhetors seek to alter the consciousness of audiences, as individuals in common. Branding is one way to use rhetorical forms to alter consciousness, and branding repetitiously uses language and images to brand itself upon our attention. The case of Pepsi and the Yin Yang symbol shows that these branding strategies very likely draw on common strategies that humans have long used to attract and re-direct attention. For example:




I want to remind you to read every link on these pages, and to read your classmates blogs, because, well, We Are...


The psychologist Carl Jung described Archetypes as the core components of the myths by which human beings make sense of themselves and the world. Often we think of "myth" in negative terms, as when you say that \"that's a myth that Pepsi forgot to put the word \"God\" on their new patriotic cans!\", but for Jung and many other analysts, myths are powerful "softwares" affecting our consciousness. Tropes and archetypes are very useful to you as a writer, because they help you find common ground with your audiences. They are also incredibly slippery in an argument, as one turn of phrase can enable another in response. A trope is both a standard way to state something - a cliche, a commonplace, even a stereotype - and a particular twist or \"turn of phrase\" given to the common place.


What happens when audiences themselves become the writers? The Los Angeles Times is beginning a feature called the Wikitorial What effect do you think this will have on our news content? Please blog about this. Remember to make an argument - a claim with reasons that support your claim.


In order to help you think about the effects of audiences (such as us) becoming composers from the bottom up, please browse and play with the following:


Commontimes - News from the bottom up. Just add wiki for best results!


Wikinews More news from the bottom up. Compose some now!



Also for next time:


Read and respond to your classmate's blogs!


Back to MondayWednesdayFriday Syllabus




Here's an email a teacher, MitoChondriac, received from a student, as teaching and learning became a two way dialogue:



"From: Jessica Bunnell

To: rmd12@psu.edu

Date: Jul 27, 2005 10:19 PM

Subject: Post article


Here's [that article from the Post I mentioned]. It's interesting the way the

article was written, like the comparison to Napster, making the spread of

public information seem like a renegade idea. Maybe I am naive, but it seems

to me that pressure from lobbyists is a sorry excuse to not be able to write

unbiased reports. And worrying about liability, or about stepping on someone's

copyrighted toes, to the point that the best solution seems to be denying

people of information altogether is equally lame (or something slightly more



At least the website seems like a neat resource...




"Thanks Jess! I will add it immediately, along with your email, to my course for teaching instructors how to use wikis to teach writing...Phew, that's a mouthful, but if you are not ok with the reproduction of your email on the wiki, please let me know. Here it is:




We can remove your name if you like also. But thanks for the tip - this will be a very helpful teaching tool. If you have any other ideas about how to teach rhetoric to undergraduates or anybody else, feel free to add them to the wiki.


Was great to see you the other day, and I will keep my eyes open for job listings. You did the right thing!





The Fundamentals of Dialogue:


(1) Address your interlocuter where they are. These does not mean you should talk "down" to them or "up" to them. Instead, forge a connection.

(2) Listen with eyes and ears.

(3) Be generous with your interpretation of [premises]. Query premises. How does dialogue differ from debate?


Assignment: Engage in a dialogue with a classmate on the topic: What paper topic would be cool and interesting to research for a FinalProject? Are there any relevant Congressional Reports or other documents that can help you here or here? Post the dialogue to the wiki. You may use IM and post the script (or even a selection of dynamic script) if you like. IM scripts can be useful for invention - that part of the writing process when you a creating your vision of the topic and the argument.


The Dialogue Continues: (optional)


"You mean think about a dialogue as an exchange of information that yields a bonus?" "I guess so, if I could define \"information\"".



Back to TheSyllabus




Whenever we argue, we argue in common. This is perhaps most clear when we engage in counter-argument. In our courts of law, we hear "objection!" as a request to introduce counterargument. [Counter-argument engages with objections] a composer imagines will bother a reasonable reader. Counter arguments need not only come from the imagination, although the imagination is a fine place to search for them. Dialogue is another tool we can use to discover and work with counter arguments.


From Dialogue to Audience, and the Commons: On the importance of actual audiences: Audiences are stakeholders that are affected by the decisions we make. They first take shape in our imagination.



Pattern Recognition:FindYerCluster and begin thinking about building your Zine


For next time:


Just Blogging: Find a narrative online or in the New York Times, and respond to it.


Back to MondayWednesdayFriday Syllabus




A Reading Quiz will test your knowledge of your classmate's blogs as well as the NY Times for the past few weeks. If this quiz goes well, there will be no others.


(1) Why you are reading: community and topic formation. Look for patterns that indicate a topic you would be interested in working on for a FinalProject. Look for clusters of topics and people for collaboration.


(2) Narrative and Definition are both about what they leave out! ( premises and gutters)


Understanding Comics



Addiction and its Discontents; prolepsis and alternative histories as counterargument


Next time: FindYerCluster and begin thinking about building your Zine


One or Several Definitions


What should define your working group for the semester? Such a cluster should have at least three and no more than five members. You may, in time, form MegaClusters if you summon a MegaProject, but for now try pitching a cluster to work with.


One definition that Penn State has productively argued with itself about is diversity. definitional slide for fun and profit - polysemy and capture; making leaky definitions work for you. What should be Penn State's defintion of Diversity? Compose a definitional argument about





diversity. Draft is due 09/18 by midnight. Remember to engage the strongest counter arguments you can find to your position, and to treat them fairly. Your arguments will be stronger for it!


Back to MondayWednesdayFriday Syllabus




Working with Definitions


Defining Diversity


Basic Prose Style by Craig Waddell - The basics, and free


Old information - new information. In most sentences and paragraphs, you should flow from old information to new information. Follow that simple rule!


ExtraCredit: Compose a definition for the Wikipedia


Back to TheSyllabus






More Definition: What is music? TropeADope



Suggested Reading:


You can even properly and objectively redefine upstairs and downstairs into instairs and outstairs! - Buckminster Fuller, Inexorable Evolution pp. 15-35.



Back to TheSyllabus



all together now: rhetorical process as rhythm

assignment in 4 parts


The image above was sampled from levitated.net's illustration of attractor sets. The programmers who designed this illustration seemed to have music in mind when they wrote this script. "People seek connections with others whom have common interests," they claim. "Through these connections, they are unknowingly brought into a vast network of friends and associates." Sound is one of the best connectors we have -- making and discussing sound yields many unintended and unexpected connections. Last week, we asked you to use dynamic text interfaces to FindYerCluster. Now that we've begun to dabble with sound, we'd like to once again rehearse forming a commons, this time focusing our attention on sound.


rhetorical force of the sample


Listen: Jean Knight - Mr. Bigstuff, NWA - Xpress Yourself. At first, Dr. Dre seems to have borrowed bass, guitar, and horns. Yet the bass line comes from elsewhere, and nonetheless works just as seemlessly with the Stax house band guitars and horns as Duck Dunn's bassline did in the first place. As a group, find similar examples of molecular music making, and write about the different effect that the "same sound" can have when it is displaced into different sonic contexts. Click here for a page full of iconic exemplars of musical sampling, highly recognizable sounds that became recognizable precisley because they have been sampled into many diverse contexts. Communities form just to track such movement. Yeah. Now, consider the ways that popular samples muster attention. What else do samples do?

1.Use freesound to select samples for a specific purpose.


gimme moire: beat-matching


2. sequencing and sharing sounds within a cluster (tuning and prolepsis)


resonance - rhetorical principle of movement; the artists formerly known as audience


rhythmic entrainment


read and listen: 3 notes and runnin' - selecting from the commons, mixing, uploading to the commons


*audacity fx - mix it, trope it

Audacity is a free easy-to-use sound editor that allows you to dramatically alter sounds and turn your computer into a remix engine with almost miraculous capacities


multiple arbitrary function generators and patchbays - depatterning/patterning


noise and "the beholder's share"


3.remixing with effects, for affect


narrative and dialogue : recursion on SeptemberSeventh


now get audacious with your peers' prose: the spectrum of tonal effects


Postproduction: it's the sharing


4. sequencing and sharing sounds with another cluster



Review How tos.



Fit and finish: CropandBurn to FormPDFs.


How to take text off the wiki and turn it into a lovely printed document. Now hand it in!


Second Graded Assignment Due: remixed best definitional argument. Mixmaster blog.


Back to TheSyllabus





From Definition to Transformation How to write a How-To


How to look at Salvador Dali's "Metamorphosis of Narcissus"


Recursion on SelfNarrative remixes : Tuning a How-To to an audience.


Assignment: Write up a How To and post it to the wiki. What are the characteristics of your intended audience? If you like, you can add and/or SignificantlyImprove one from wiki.ehow.com


let's try this one in class


here's another example that needs some revision


Back to TheSyllabus



Enthymeme: an Algorithm or recipe for testing arguments because it helps you reflect your premises and find your audiences. When you program a computer, you tell it what to do: a computer will accept the logic of the syllogism "sight unseen." Circuit closed. Enthymemes, on the other hand, are open to question, and evolved as prototypical participatory structuring of language. When we write and then pause to carefully consider and tinker with the major premise of our enthymemic proof, we can determine patterns of resonance and dissonance; in other words, we can find a compositional rhythm just by cooking up enthymemes, as long as we remember to use them to fine-tune (listen) for audiences. Tuned and retuned again, enthymemes are like solicitous syllogisms. Enthymemes tune into uncertainty, and effective enthymemes tune to the exigence that defines one particular commons or another, clustered as they are around a particular narrative, question, or problem.



(1) Grade a paper in class, compressing the argument into an enthymeme with major and minor [premise] - 20 minutes


(2) Definition redux; definition and counter argument; the rule of three; essential versus operational; looking essential- 10 mins


(3) Work over some defintional arguments deploying enthymeme.


(3) Looking for the essential difference: From Definition to Analogy


[Analogies in the field]


analogy and counterargument: the pitfalls of sameness and difference


Assignment: (1) Find an analogy (2)Introduce it and discuss its audience and context. (3) Discuss the likely effect of the analogy on your audience (4) Give counterargument by finding an essential difference between the two terms of the analogy. How would you point out this difference to this audience? To a different audience?



(1) analogy and counter-argument: the pitfalls of sameness and difference


(2) Rhetorical Process: the invention of better analogies through prolepsis


(3) Rhetorical Process: Revising argument and revising analogy


(4) Ethos and argument; Registering to Vote; the arguments against registering to vote


Assignment: Revise your analogy blog into a complete analysis of the effects of the analogy. Be as specific as possible about the analogy's effects on other audiences. Respond to another student's analogy blog and suggest counter-arguments as well as different audiences with different responses.



Back to TheSyllabus





FindYerCluster and and build your Zine


More differentiation: On the distinction between union and rapture


Assignment: Take your revised definitional paper and revise it by introducing an analogy that reframes the argument. Remember that new counter arguments may emerge with your analogy. Draft analogy argument due October 4 at midnight. Final revision will be due October 6 at midnight.


Back to TheSyllabus




Review analogy blogs in class. Final analogy revision due October 6.


Crap Shoots


Did Cortez have Greeters?


Stop me before I eat again


Next time:


Revise another student's analogy blog. Introduce at least one new counter argument.


Read Browsing Genocide


From Analogy to Causation; the importance of being causal


Back to TheSyllabus



Analogies are also good transitional tools. What is the best analogy to use to communicate Darfur?


Analogy of the past


Our own skeletons


Unwanted Analogies and Unintended Consequences


What are the differences?


The Rwanda Analogy


Next time:


Prepare by learning about E-Portfolios




Next: causality



Causality, problem solving and everyday life: The causal narrative


What caused Darfur?


Weekend Assignments: (1) Revised Analogy blog submitted for grading. (2) Read Causation and Cambodia and blog about at least one other site you find on the cambodian genocide.


Did that really happen? The Case of the Moon Landing and Visual Rhetoric


Back to TheSyllabus



Work on causal drafts



Back to TheSyllabus


Revised causal argument is due to wiki by midnight.


From telos to amplification: making everything a cause. How to cause "diversity"? A case study from The School of Information Sciences and Technology]





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Looking around for Order: Stigmergy



The universe has been unfolding for between 12 and 14 billion years, and in that time a good deal of order has emerged. Once established, order - such as a spiral - can, then, become a model, a sample even, for further order - we need not ever begin from "scratch" in such an orderly ecology. We can even, indeed, begin from \"scratch\" - the interruption of one order that allows another to emerge. This principle of playing with already existing order is known as stigmergy, and can be a useful principle when faced with a task in multimedia composition. Instead of staring at a blank screen, trying to "produce" something out of nowhere, find a template or a model and begin to play with and alter it. Troll for tropes, ape archetypes. Begin with this definition of stigmergy and remix it until you understand it. What might be [some sources of stigmergy] for your rhetorical process?


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The Heart Sutra is a sixth century Buddhist text designed to empty the reader's mind, allowing it to become still. In such stillness, thinking or contemplation can happen. How do the rhetorical strategies in the sutra - repetition, reversal - help to empty your mind even as it offers you content? What are some other ways in which language can be used to alter consciousness? How does altering consciousness differ from communication?


Try simply looking at the form of this ancient text, without seeking to understand its meaning. A very useful way to begin writing is from what Zen tradition calls \"Beginner's Mind\" - a state of mind where you don't know anything, don't feel any remorse about not knowing, and can then begin to ask very simple questions.


This musical group from Mali seeks to alter consciousness. What strategies does it share with the Heart Sutra? What state of mind does it help induce in you as you listen?




Back to TheSyllabus






Sampling and Stigmergy: Using and Sharing Templates


Definitional Blog: What is Plagiarism?


Definitional Blog: What is a MashUp?


Knowledge Sharing and Blogs: Blogging Soldiers




Back to TheSyllabus


Work on revisions of samples in class. Try asking it these three questions:


*Is there an agent and an action in each sentence?


*Is information organized from old to new from sentence to sentence? Paragraph to paragraph?


*Is there a claim and a set of reasons that is defended?


Find a sample to begin thinking about your final project and your Zine.



Back to TheSyllabus





Evaluative Argument


Evaluative arguments are useful for making decisions and helping others make decisions. You might, for example, make an evaluative argument about a movie, arguing that your roommate should go to the movie because it was so "awesome." He or she will likely ask for more details, and a convincing argument from you would include a claim and a set of reasons to support the claim. Or you may argue with the theatre manager and make your case that you should receive your money back because the movie print was bad or the projector was malfunctioning. One good way to make an evaluative argument is to think about the ways you might alter the object or event being evaluated, as in " It was a good meal, but the black beans were too salty." In this case, you imply that you would have added less salt. Choose a movie or a film and evaluate it, providing readers with a claim such as "Boogie Nights bears repeated viewings" and a set of reasons to justify the claim, such as "The film's opening shot welcomes viewers into a labyrynth of compelling characters caught between their own egos and the shifting technology of video and film." Note that an evaluative argument is often a causal argument in disguise: the opening shot causes me to become fascinated with a world that would otherwise hold little interest for me. Filling out this argument would entail breaking down the aspects of the shot and the film that, taken together, cause me joy and insight.


Remember that any evaluative argument is, like any other argument, tuned to the preferences and inclinations of particular audiences, even as you seek to transform the preferences and actions of your audiences.




Choose a film or song and make an evaluative argument about it. Be sure to view the film and/or listen to the song before writing! And be as specific as possible about segments of the song of film in your discussion. Online films abound - try the Prelinger archives or www.commontunes.org for free music. Or you could evaluate a classmate's musical composition from freesound, or your own.


Evaluation due October 30


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Field Evaluations: How Evaluations Exceed Their Audiences


Wiki Culture




Back to ConstantlyMutatingSyllabus


Proposal Arguments are great way to get things done. They summarize a project and show that it is both interesting and feasible. Look over the links. How would you alter these proposals for proposals pitched to this wiki?



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Working Through Proposals


Same samples:



Final Paper Music


Film Papers


Your Curriculum








Next time: Draft Proposal Text Due to wiki; What problem or question are you going to address? Why does it matter? To whom?


Some Words About Division


A wiki "page", of course, is not a page at all, but is instead a potentially InfiniteWindow of information.


Assignment: (1) Refine proposal to include at least three sources, including two from the library. ( 2)Offer feedback and counterarguments to two other student's proposals. (3) Start thinking about which sources you would want the class to read to discuss.


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Some Words About Division


A wiki "page", of course, is not a page at all, but is instead a potentially InfiniteWindow of information.


Assignment: (1) Refine proposal to include at least three sources, including two from the library. ( 2)Offer feedback and counterarguments to two other student's proposals. (3) Start thinking about which sources you would want the class to read to discuss.


Back to TheSyllabus




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