The Rhetoric of Space & Place in Washington, DC
In her recent book, Now You See It, Cathy N. Davidson reminds us that twenty-first century skills in a complex global network include learning how to “make connections, synthesize, collaborate, network, manage projects, solve problems, and respond to constantly changing technologies.” In other words, Davidson suggests that to thrive in our networked world, we all must learn to adapt to ever-evolving technologies, make connections between the seemingly unconnected, and collaborate with others who can help us achieve our goals. I’ve designed this course, therefore, to give you opportunities to develop the skills to navigate the complex network we inhabit by creating occasions for you to think rhetorically.
This course aims for three main goals: 1) To give you practice in the technical skills described below in the “Course Objectives,” 2) to further your rhetorical information literacy skills, and 3) to develop in you the importance of the relationship between Rhetoric and Citizenship, which we call “public discourse.” And since that public discourse occurs in what is call the “built environment,” I have designed this course for you to examine the rhetoric of DC’s built environment in order to enter its public discourse. Lastly, this course strives to develop in you a passion for inquiry itself.
To develop these skills, you will use our Writer-as-Witness text, Ruben Castaneda’s S Street Rising, to launch a rhetorical inquiry into DC’s “built environment.” In various multi-modal writing projects, you will begin this inquiry by rhetorically analyzing a single point in your built environment with the goal of ultimately situating that point into DC’s broader network. Through this process, you will explore the complex relationship between DC’s built environment and the life that inhabits it to help us better understand how they influence each other. We will begin by collaborating on creating an annotated map of DC, arising from our own respective inquiry. As you inquiry into your built environment develops and your project emerges, you will add that information to our collaborative map and write a series of essays you will publish to the web which will add to the public discourse.
The various writing assignments you will do in this course aim to inculcate this passion for inquiry, for the unplanned turn, the found object, the mistake, the emergent questions we discover along the way, the complex. This process of inquiry will help you develop the multi-modal research and writing skills that Davidson explains we need. By course’s end, you will not only have been introduced to and extensively practiced the reading, writing, research, and editing skills necessary for academic success, but you will also have worked extensively in multi-modal technologies to write yourself into the global network.
You should see your project as ontological. What you end up writing about will depend upon your inquiry as it emerges.
Ultimately, this class seeks to help you develop the critical thinking skills necessary for you to think through any rhetorical situation. Furthermore, you will leave the class with your own webspace and portfolio to show off to family, friends, and, yes, even future employers.
I can not wait to see what you discover and what I can learn from each of you. And while I expect you to develop your own autonomy and self-reliance during the term, I will be there with you every step along the way. I look forward to it.
N.B. I am heavily indebted to Prof. Robin Wharton and Prof. Matthew Pavesich, from whom I have borrowed heavily, both conceptually and materially, in terms of Web design (Wharton) and assignments (Wharton, Pavesich). I thank them both for being so generous with their time and with their materials.
You will, from start to finish (including all revisions), compose every assignment in a google doc, which you will share with me. To be considered complete, the assignment will use the following naming convention: [LastnameGivenNameInitial_AssignmentName]. For example, I would title my first Reading Analysis thusly: HoskinsH_RA1
You will also copy & paste the text to your WordPress Site, tagging and categorizing it according to the assignment directions.
You will also submit a link to your Web post in the appropriate place in Gradecraft.
In the interest of fairness to all students and to me (I can’t spend hours looking for your files), I will not assess any assignment not submitted according to the assignment’s specifications.
Graff and Birkenstein, They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing
Various essays we can get from the library in .pdf form.
American University, EasyWriter
A Computer (you can borrow one from the library at anytime).
You American University GDrive.
Ruben Castaneda, S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C.
College Writing courses offer a core set of skills and experiences, emphasizing both continual practice and increasing complexity of reading and writing assignments. All College Writing students should achieve the following objectives, which arise out of programmatic goals and evaluative criteria:
American University takes academic dishonesty very seriously; as such, all College Writing Program faculty members are required to report cases to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Please read the AU’s Academic Integrity Code closely, and be sure to ask your professor if you have any questions. The code is available online here.
In writing papers, you must properly cite all sources (1) directly quoted, (2) paraphrased, or (3) consulted in any fashion. Sources include all printed material, any ideas or words you gather from interview or survey subjects, and any ideas or words you acquire from the Internet. Proper citation for this class means using MLA style.
Please note that it is considered plagiarism to submit informal assignments such as drafts and response papers without properly citing sources and acknowledging intellectual debts. And you may not submit one paper for assignments in two different classes without formal permission from both instructors.
The Dean’s standard policy for responding to academic dishonesty is failure of the course.
The information provided in this syllabus section is meant only to provide an overview; much more information about each major course assignment will be provided and also discussed in class.
The College Writing Program has a policy by which more than three unexcused absences may lead to failure of this course. Excused absences include but are not limited to major religious holidays, a medical reason, athletic participation on an AU team, off-campus activities that are required and related to another class, or a family emergency.
Often time we do not feel well. We then have to make decisions based on myriad factors. All decisions necessarily have consequences. We all must weigh those factors if we have a choice in missing class (or work), including thinking about those who may be relying on us (peers or family). We recommend saving those three absences for when you really need them. You needn’t explain non-excused absences. They’re yours to decide what to do with. However, remember more than three unexcused absences may lead to failure of this course.
For most absences, being a good colleague requires us to lesson the burden on others as much as possible. Therefore, you should check the class notes or have a someone take notes for you. Make a deal with someone in class (or work). Help each other out. Of course, you may always stop by office hours.
Your professors will appreciate it if you let them know in advance if at all possible when you will miss a class.