A Quick Sampling of Digital Rhetoric Courses


This image comes from a wiki created by an Advanced Expository Writing (W350) class at Indiana University. Click the image to see the wiki.

This page offers a list of the some of the courses on digital rhetorics that are teaching me how to think about and design my own classes.  I hope to be influenced by teachers and thinkers that extend beyond my own campus.  You will notice here that I include graduate courses, elite/private universities, and state research institutions.  It’s an access issue: my students deserve access to these same opportunities… in fact, they deserve MORE.

I have also chosen these examples for the ways that these faculty deliver their course materials.  Each class and each faculty member here go beyond emails to students or the university’s course blackboard system.

Digital Rhetorics: A Syllabus Approach

A longtime leader in digital rhetorics for first year writing (FYW) courses, Purdue University offers the public wonderful resources and examples for making FYW a digital space.  Their “syllabus approach” invites students to investigate technology, game theory, virtual worlds, and online spaces in their daily lives.  Students analyze and critique digital culture in terms of access, censorship, fair-use, remixing, literacies, and composing online.

This model is significant for me for two reasons.  First, the digital artifacts themselves show a communal conversation, not just an individual teacher’s approach.  It gives me the chance to see and hear some of the conversations at Purdue that are shaping what FYW students do in their classrooms.  Second, I also appreciate the digital  tools themselves that this faculty use to communicate with one another.  The two links here are different websites and different kinds of websites.  The faculty seem to walk what they talk.

Digital Rhetoric (WRA 415)

WRA 415

WRA 415

This is a syllabus housed on a university’s website taught by Dànielle Nicole DeVoss at Michigan State University.  The course works as a survey course where students investigate two central questions: What is digital rhetoric? How do reading and writing practices change in digital environments?   The intersections of technology, literacy, identity, and representation animate this course.  Digital writings get treated as both sociocultural and rhetorical spaces.  There is also a wide, critical range of oral, multimedia, print, and digital projects that students engage in the course.

This particular syllabus also gives me a sense of the different kinds of website spaces that universities are offering to faculty.  The syllabus has links to a course management system that I cannot access but the openness of the syllabus still shows me what different universities are doing and how faculty, in turn, use the university’s public webspaces to creatively build their courses for students.

Digital Rhetoric and Design (ENG 508)


ENG 508

In this course at George Mason University, Professor Douglas Eyman invites students to define digital rhetoric and put it into practice at the same time.  Like most digital rhetoric courses, the course uses discussion, online work, theory, design, and digital projects.   However, this course seems to extend these practices even deeper by focusing on network theory, designing with XHTML and CSS, and working with open-source writing tools.

This is another syllabus hosted on the website spaces that universities offer to faculty.  This platform, however, seems to offer faculty multiple pages. In particular, Professor Eyman has organized an intensive set of resources for students to help them with their design work for the semester, thus, offering a great lens into the kinds of things students do in this course.

Digital Rhetoric (ENG 8123)


ENG 8123

This course taught by Professor Jennifer Bowie at Georgia State University focuses on digital rhetoric as both a practice and an art of achieving rhetorically effective web design. I like looking at this course because it lays out what courses like this could and should provide in terms of practical, hands-on web design: usability & usability testing, interface design, navigation design, graphic design, web writing strategies, website genre, project management & collaboration, copyright issues, and audio design.

It seems that students are not expected to have web design knowledge, only a willingness to experiment and work online. I like that the class does not focus on any one particular web design software package. Each class examines and critiques websites while also applying their learning to their own web design in a workshop setting.

 Seminar in Digital Rhetoric (ENG 671)

ENG 671

ENG 671

This is a google doc that is open to the public for a graduate course taught by Dr. Sarah J. Arroya at California State University Long Beach.  This syllabus shows you yet another example of the way that faculty communicate their course overview to students. The google doc links you to the course website housed at ning.com. Though this course is a seminar and not an FYW course, it represents the kind of work that FYW students can expect to see later down the line from their English departments.

This course is interesting because it integrates critical theory and cultural studies with discussions of 21st century digital products and projects.  Theories of community and identity in digital culture are particularly important for this course as well as close readings of the ways meaning is produced in digital culture.  True to courses in digital rhetorics, however, students are not merely passive onlookers; they also actively participate in digital, participatory culture both in and out of the university.

 Writing 614: Digital Rhetorics (Reading/Writing/Culture Across Networks)

Writing 614

Writing 614

This is an ePortfolio that houses Cynthia Davidson’s course at Stony Brook University/SUNY.  This is a graduate course that treats literacy as a multimodal (defined as multiple modalities including the visual, aural, and interactive) phenomenon in and for the 21st century. Students examine a broad range of issues related to rhetoric and new media and also produce their own theories and works.

I like the way this course is organized using an ePortfolio.  Of all the digital syllabi I have seen, this one is the most visually captivating!  There are multiple pages and an obvious web design to deliver those pages.  The syllabus works and thinks digitally, if you will. This is obviously quite deliberate since Professor Davidson had to customize the CSS to make the site look this way.  Student samples at the site are also interesting, especially the sample digital story pages.