Course Descriptions and Materials

Below, I have the major descriptions and course materials from my more recent courses, as well as potential planned courses. There are a blend of Google Docs, PDFs, and sites, but let me know if you have any further questions or requests (bekeegan@syr.edu). I totally believe in sharing materials. For student feedback on particular courses, please e-mail.

Taught

WRT 302: Advanced Studio: Digital Writing (Syracuse University, Spring 2018):

From the Catalogue: May include document and web design, multimedia, digital video, web logs. Introduction to a range of issues, theories, and software applications relevant to such writing.

My Description: As the name suggests, this course focuses around “digital writing,” a range of situations, literacies, and modalites centered around digital technology, ranging from image editing to web design. The course should create a concrete exposure to digital writing skills, giving a chance to produce a website and use various design and multi-modal digital tools. The course also hopes to explore the theoretical, ethical, and rhetorical implications behind those skills and their role in our personal, professional, and civic lives. While any prior familiarity to digital composing is welcome, it is not a requirement and the course should attend to a range of abilities.

Course Site

WRT 205: Advanced Research Writing (Syracuse University, Summer 2017):

From the Catalogue: Study and practice of critical, research-based writing, including research methods, presentation genres, source evaluation, audience analysis, and library/online research. Students complete at least one sustained research project.

My Description: As the capstone to the writing requirement at SU, this course focuses on research-based writing across different contexts, genres, and audiences. The course will emphasize the social and rhetorical dimensions of research writing, exploring how research-driven writing works in varied communities with different goals. I take a more process and reflection-focused approach, culminating in a final “inquiry project” and a portfolio that builds from your writing and process work throughout the semester. The course includes more practical elements of research writing, like source gathering and evaluation, as well as deeper theoretical concerns regarding the ethics and rhetoric of research. In particular, our unit of inquiry will center on writing and technology, using design-driven thinking to consider thorny issues at the intersection of technology and society.

Course Syllabus and Calendar

WRT 105: Practices of Academic Writing (Syracuse University, Fall 2016):

My description: WRT 105 is an introduction to literacy and its relationship to cultures, communities, identities, media, and technology. You will write, revise, edit, and reflect with the support of instructor and peers. You will also engage critically with the opinions and voices of others as you develop a greater understanding of how your writing can affect yourself and your audiences.

The course will engage with literacy, analysis, and argument, practices that carry across academic disciplinary lines and into professional and civic writing. These interdependent practices are fundamental to the work you will do at Syracuse University and in your careers and civic life.

Syllabus, Calendar, and Projects

CLARE 110 (St. Bonaventure University, Fall 2014):

From Department: This course will help you develop writing and critical thinking skills you will draw on to succeed at St. Bonaventure. Toward this end, we will focus primarily on critical reading, writing, and argumentation skills as well as the analysis of cultural texts and the study of language through the lens of semiotics, rhetoric, ideology, and social action. We will thus be interested in how we encounter various aspects of the world around us as signs that embody and negotiate different meanings and power structures, and we will also be interested in how we are persuaded and moved to think, act, and feel by these texts. As you develop your critical capacities, you will take up writing as both an academic practice and an instrument of social change. (3 credits)

My Description: The primary first-year writing course at St. Bonaventure, this was meant as a class to focus on more fundamental writing skills, the conventions of academic writing, and slightly more rhetorical and critical set of literacies. The primary structure was around the semiotics of various domains, from space to music, and the readings covered both fundamentals of academic writing, like They Say/I Say, and more critical issues, like gender and race The syllabus was a centralized document, which we edited to individual tastes; therefore, it primarily represents department goals and values.

Syllabus, Calendar, and Projects

Planned

WRT 426: Studies in Writing, Rhetoric, and Information Technology: Rhetorics of Play

My Description: As the overview highlights, the class is meant to look at the intersection of game studies and writing studies, opening up the interrogation of games from the level of literacy to their communities and histories. As such, it is a bit of a survey course and could likely be edited to focus on particular aspects. Unit one focuses more on the rhetorical aspects of game and play as largely understood in composition and rhetoric. Unit two expands from beyond game interfaces and literacies to discuss the histories and communities created by videogames. Unit 3, the longest, looks at game design, focusing it down with a hands on iterative project, but also adding readings of different design mechanics and philosophies. The course wraps up going back to the foundational texts of game studies to revisit the original question: What can rhetoric teach us about play, and what can play teach us about rhetoric? While fitting under a primarily digital scope, it also involves the analysis of analogue games and play more generally.

Overview, Syllabus, Calendar, and Projects

WRT 413: Rhetoric and Ethics: From Aristotle to Google

My Description: WRT 413 tends to be more of a general ethical class, and I think I would focus around three areas. First, I would want to look at the basic fundamentals of the rhetorical tensions in rhetoric, looking at core Western Cannon texts like Plato, Cicero, and Quintilian, but also trying to complicate these traditional texts with those from the Confucian tradition and Indigenous rhetorics. The primary focus is what our civic and moral responsibility would be as rhetors to our society and the environment.

My second unit would focus more on authorship, particularly who is considered an author and who is not. This would involve some core texts, like Foucault and Barthes, but would also draw from readings in Authorship Contested, fandom work, copyright law, and minority voices to expand and complicate these notions of “author.”

The third and final unit would look primarily at digital rhetoric, especially focused on the civic and authorial challenges that this work brings. Here, I would want to consider the privatization of public platforms, shifting understandings of copyright, and the role of nonhuman algorithms as we understand how digital technology and the internet reconfigure the understandings reached in the previous units.

Again, this is more a survey course and could be configured for certain focuses and levels, from undergraduate to graduate. In terms of the points outlined above, I could focus more in any one of these three directions: the civic and more responsibility of rhetoricians, the ethics of authorship, and the ethics of digital rhetoric.

Composition History, Theory, and Pedagogy

My description: When considering a composition history, theory, and pedagogy class, I would likely focus on one of these terms, though I think a certain portion of overlap remains. With history, I would tend to draw from central texts in our history, like Berlin and Harris, but also include Gold’s micro-histories and work by scholars like Carmen Kynard that expands the history of composition beyond its traditional scope. I think an engagement with some of the administrative aspects of this history may also be helpful, including recent work by Ryan Skinnell on assessment and Strickland’s Managerial Unconscious. Excerpts from Jason Palmeri’s Remixing Composition, Byron Hawk’s A Counter-History to Composition, and Lisa Ede’s Situating Composition also offer helpful supplements to Berlin’s traditional taxonomies.

I see theory and pedagogy more thoroughly linked. Here, I would want to focus on more praxis-oriented issues, especially genre, feedback, assessment, and disability rhetoric. For genre, I think Anis Bawarshi, Mary Jo Reif, Mary Soliday, Suresh Canagarajah, Russel’s activity theory, and Carolyn Miller’s foundational work may provide a nice backdrop, as they highlight the uptake of genre in a range of forms and situations from a variety of users. Here, my main goal is to highlight the rhetorical foundation to genre understanding, while highlighting potential applications. With feedback, I think core texts like Nancy Sommers and Joseph Williams may be helpful, but work by Chris Anson and Asao Inoue provides more recent additions, which would also bleed into issues of assessment with the additions of Arnetha Ball, Jane Mathison Fife and Peggy O’Neill, and others. Again, I want to give a firm foundational understanding, complicate that understanding with other work, and give students a space to reflect on their own pedagogy. In a similar mode, I think spending time on disability issues, time allowing, may also be important. Here, I think Jay Dolmage, Margaret Price, Allison Hitt, Melanie Yergeau, and Brenda Bruggeman present a range of approaches and perspectives that offer both practical, hands-on advice and the theoretical and research-driven background that informs those practices.

As with the last class, I think the nature of these bread-and-butter classes is to be flexible to the needs of individual departments and contexts, but I hope this gives an overview of may major considerations.

Rhetorical Theory and History

My Description: Rather than focus on particular texts on a linear or subject-oriented history, I would want to focus on three core topics, engaging with an inclusive range of materials: canonical Western texts, ancient non-Western texts, feminist rhetorics, indigenous rhetorics, disability rhetorics, African American rhetorics, new materialism, etc. The organizing frames would be around embodiment, identity/identification, and persuasion.

For embodiment, I think a strong selection of texts focus on the use of the body in ancient antiquity, like Quintilian and Anthony Corbeill’s work on Roman gesture, but more modern mainstream movements, like the elocutionary movement, also emphasized embodiment. Similarly, disability studies, feminist rhetorics, and other cultural rhetorics have long placed issues of embodiment at the center of their inquiry, from the role of phenomenological embodied experience to the way audiences read and exclude certain bodies. Work in new materialism, like Rickert’s Ambient Rhetoric, has complicated the situatedness of rhetoric and the body’s role in it, entangling it within broader environs, offering a markedly different understanding.

For identity/identification, Burke provides and obvious touchstone, but Aristotle’s ethos has strong ties with identification, and work by Rickert and Diane Davis have complicated the rational nature of identification by pointing to less rational grounds. In a different way, scholars like Amy Wan, Kevin Browne, Adam Banks, and Ralph Cintron have explored  how different rhetorical tactics construct various identities from within and without from quite different angles within and across different communities.

With persuasion, I would want to focus more on the tactics and variety of rhetoric as it engages with different understandings of persuasion. On the one level, this would include the more traditional approaches of Aristotle and Cicero, but I would also want to bring in the role of affect and visual rhetoric through Laurie Gries and others, which may not rely on alphabetic approaches. Ian Bogost’s procedural rhetoric, expanded by Brock and Shepherd and others, also showcases the persuasive power of nonhuman digital technology. Likewise, in ancient practices, the role of space and the orientation of humans and nonhumans in space has been important across cultures for what one may term persuasion.

As with my general approach to teaching, I do not want to focus on a “more correct” or more fruitful understanding of these terms, but instead focus on their diverse and often contradictory uptake across different contexts and modes of understanding.

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