Thank you for taking the time to review my teaching portfolio. I encourage interested parties to examine my blog, which contains detailed assignments and lecture notes. This semester, I would highlight my lecture on Quintilian and Richard Lanham’s strong defense of rhetoric from my graduate Historical Rhetorics seminar and my lecture on discussing issues of race, gender, and sexuality from Rhetoric and Gaming.
The links below provide a quick (one page) glance at the courses I have developed and taught while at USF. Of course, full syllabi are available from the Teaching menu above.
- Teaching Philosophy
- A Note on Postpedagogy and Teaching in Public
- Graduate Courses Taught
- New Media Production
- Historical Rhetorics
- Contemporary Rhetorics
- Select Undergraduate Courses Taught
- Rhetoric and Gaming
- New Media for Technical Communication
- Visual Rhetoric for Technical Communication
- Rhetorical Theory
- Expository Writing
- Advanced Composition (forthcoming Spring 2016)
- Graduate Mentoring
- PhD Students
- MA Students
- Teaching Evaluations
- Some Numbers
- Representative Comments
- PDF’s of Teaching Evaluations
Teaching Philosophy | Marc C. Santos
“The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.” Cicero
When it comes to teaching, I admit to being a bit skeptical. I’m not quite sure if people can be taught complex, dynamic arts such as writing or rhetoric. I am confident, however, that people can learn, and that they learn primarily through experience and reflection. As a teacher, it is my obligation to design environments that maximize the potential for students to have meaningful and transformative learning experiences. It is my duty to develop and enact methods of assessment that require reflection regarding the composition process (whether students are composing print documents or inventing new media genres) in order to transform experience into method.
I have named the intersection of this skepticism, confidence, and obligation “postpedagogy.” Rather than working from models of transmission (which often place too much agency on the teaching and/or learning subject(s)), I seek to develop and promote a more robust material and networked understanding of learning that treats teacher and student as two nodes in a more extensive network that includes a range of other agentive forces (including space, kairos, institution, discipline, technology, genre, exigency, desire, and affect).
In short, this translates into crafting experiences that call for students to help formulate their own questions and goals and to research and analyze audiences, contexts, and histories as part of a dynamic and unpredictable inventive process. And it often calls for stretching the realm of learning beyond the classroom and into the world around us. For instance, my Expository Writing classes begin by requiring students to make rhetorical decisions not only about their topic/project (what will I write about?), but also their audience (who will I write with?) and their methods (what kind of writing does this group employ? how should I write when writing to them?). These are not questions that I can (or will) answer for them, rather my aim is to make them cognizant of the critical role such questions play in any composing situation and to help them develop methods for addressing these concerns.
Asking students to take this level of ownership over their learning can be disequilibrating. And, to be honest, I often amplify this anxiety by designing assignments that ask students to invent something they (or I) have never seen before (such as my assignment to “Make me a map that is not a map” or “Tell Me About an Affective Object”). In “Toward a Technical Communication Made Whole,” a forthcoming article I co-authored with Megan M. McIntyre, I address the role such disequilibrium plays in my postpedagogical orientation and how I negotiate it. Through personal interaction with students, both in class and in office hours, I ensure that they are productively confused, that the expectations and assignments I develop are catalysts for creativity and achievement rather than resignation or despair.
Whether I am presenting web design, video production, document layout, or academic research, my primary goal involves increasing my students’ awareness of the rhetorical choices they make during the composition process. To document student decisions, writing projects are often accompanied by reflective pieces focusing on how the student researched the expectations and values of their intended audience. These briefs explore what went right, what was the most frustrating part of the composition, what research the project required, and with which particular design decisions the student is most satisfied. Such reflection helps distill the assignments I give into direct insight and recurable process.
A Note on Postpedagogy and Teaching in Public
These are two central commitments that animate my approach to pedagogy and curriculum. First, let me share a note I provide students that introduces them to how I conceptualize learning:
A general statement: my approach to teaching is “postpedagogical.” In short, this means that I do not view teaching as a transmission of knowledge or expertise from teacher to student. I actually thinking the idea of “teaching” in this manner is impossible (even if, as the rise of standardization and assessment indicates, it is seductive). I do, however, believe strongly in the possibility of “learning.” In a postpedagogical model of learning, it is my job to create problems and your job to invent solutions. I assess you on the ingenuity and sophistication of those solutions. In short, a project might not necessarily have a “right” answer, but the lack of a right answer does not mean there aren’t wrong approaches. If this is already making your head hurt a little, good.
This passage opens a conversation about my expectations for them and my commitment to helping them invent their own ideas rather than merely discover what I already know or want (and we shouldn’t forget that the classical debate between Platonic/Christian Idealism and sophistic rhetoric is centered on invention, and whether invention discovers a pre-existing trans-human Truth or invents a transient, temporal, material one). While on the surface this pedagogy might speak to frustration, it is ultimately grounded in a rhetorical theory of learning that identifies disequilibrium (or frustration) as a key component of creativity, growth, and change. My article “Towards a Technical Communication Made Whole,” co-authored with Megan M. McIntyre and appearing in Composition Forum in spring 2016, speaks directly to this rhetorical theory of learning.
I also would point out the extent to which I am committed to teaching in public, leveraging digital tools to broadcast what happens in the classroom. One of the original promises of Web 2.0 was to extend the accessibility of knowledge and information. Sadly, however, academia has seen the development of corporate, third-party content management systems and networks that lock our curricular and pedagogical work into proprietary (read: inaccessible) structures. This mirrors what has happened to our scholarship–the way it has been locked behind increasingly expensive institutional paywalls. So, just as the open access movement encourages scholars to publish their scholarship in open access journals (and I have attempted to do this as much as possible in places such as Kairos, Enculturation, and Composition Forum), so too should academics work to make their teaching accessible to each other and to wider audiences.
New Media Production | Marc C. Santos
Last taught: Fall 2014
New Media Production has two primary goals. First, the course is meant as a laboratory space for graduate students to gain exposure to and confidence using a wide range of digital tools. These typically include HTML, CSS, HTML5, Java, video editing (first Moviemaker and iMovie, then Adobe Premiere), audio editing (Audacity), and image editing (Adobe Photoshop). We also discuss central elements to digital production, including visual rhetoric (design, typography, spacing, UX), accessibility, standards, etc.
However, the course is more than just an introduction to digital tools, genres, and techne. It also explores what I, borrowing from Gregory Ulmer, identify as “electracy.” Building from Walter Ong, Marshall McLuhan, and Elizabeth Eisenstein’s work on the transformative impacts of previous communicative technologies (i.e., literacy and print), we begin to explore the ontological, epistemological, political, social, ethical, and even pedagogical changes afforded by digital tools and spaces.
Course Texts and Materials
Texts: Ulmer, Electronic Monuments; Kalman, And the Pursuit of Happiness; Bogost, Persuasive Games; McGonigal, Reality is Broken; Shipka, Towards a Composition Made Whole; Duckett, HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites; Reynolds, Presentation Zen Design; Stockman, How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck; Telltale Games, The Walking Dead Season 1 (this is available on a number of platforms, generally 14.99 – 24.99)
Materials: Students require a digital device that can capture images and video. Quality will not be a concern (since we will be talking about shots and angles). They will also need a tripod for this device (tripods for smart phones start at about $20).
Select Course Requirements
This course contains 5 distinct projects that speak to a range of digital concerns, including inventing new genres (our work with Ulmer, Kalman, and Shipka), exploring the power of games and procedural rhetoric (Bogost and McGonigal), and leveraging digital tools to build a professional presence and enhance traditional scholarship.
Historical Rhetorics | Marc C. Santos
Last taught: Fall 2015
This course provides an overview of ancient Greek, Roman, and Christian/Scholastic perceptions of rhetoric in order to stress how “rhetoric”–more than a mere attention to audience and style–is also the site of a 2500 year ontological, epistemological, political, and ethical debate. Furthermore, the course demonstrates how ancient perceptions of rhetoric still inform contemporary theory and practice. For instance, I highlight how various contemporary theoretical movements (deconstruction/poststructuralism, feminism, social construction) have found parallels with ancient sophists (particularly Gorgias and Protagoras). Likewise, we explore how Cicero’s pragmatic philosophy, often dismissed by scholars as mere parroting of ancient Greek Idealism, resonates with Latour’s Actor Network Theory and his move from critique to construction (both foreground an epistemology that measures truth not in abstraction, but rather in terms of what some actor can do or get others to do). Additionally, I use the seminar as a way of exploring historiographic methodologies, highlighting how a scholar’s ontological, epistemological, and ethical orientations impact the way she approaches the study of the past.
Course Texts and Materials
Texts: Aristotle, On Rhetoric; Ballif, Theorizing the Histories of Rhetoric; Cicero, On Oratory and Orators; Grassi, Rhetoric and Philosophy: The Humanist Tradition; Isocrates, Volume II; Jarrat, Rereading the Sophists; Latour, Pandora’s Hope; McComiskey, Gorgias and the New Sophistic Rhetoric; Ong, Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue; Plato, Complete Works; Quintilian, The Teaching and Speaking of Writing; Sprague, The Older Sophists; St. Augustine, On Christian Teaching; Vitanza, Negation, Subjectivity, and the History of Rhetoric.
Select Course Requirements
In addition to a take home final exam (which prepares students for the Ph.D qualifying exam), students present 3 1500 word papers over the course of the semester. These papers synthesize the reading and connect it to something of interest to the student. Inherited from Thomas Rickert and Byron Hawk and based on the pedagogy of Paul Kameen and Luanne Frank, this activity allows students to chart their own path through some of the seminal debates and key theoretical terminology that inform the basis of our field.
Contemporary Rhetorics | Marc C. Santos
Last taught: Fall 2013
This course is broken into three major units. In the first unit, I present a theoretical framework to understand the transition from the Enlightenment (represented by Emmanuel Kant) to postmodernity, examining Lyotard, Readings, Heidegger, Worsham, and Levinas. In the second unit, we look at the legacy of postmodern theory, paying particular attention to how this theory was brought into Rhetoric and Composition. In the third unit, we look to what comes “next,” what theoretical concerns animate our contemporary moment, and how these concerns distinguish themselves from the problems addressed by postmodernity.
In short, if postmodern theory was concerned with exposing alterity, respecting diversity, undermining totality, and preventing another holocaust, then posthuman and (new) materialist rhetorics attempt to balance the postmodern orientation toward alterity and the other while recognizing the need to create new forms of consensus and action in order to prevent ecological disaster.
Course Texts and Materials
While the texts in Units 1 and 2 remain relatively stable every time I teach the course, the texts in Unit Three change every time I teach the class; I target books recently published. I would also note that students are required to choose their own readings in postmodernity during unit two.
The last time I taught the class, I included these works in Unit Three: Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope; Jenny Rice, Distant Publics, Thomas Rickert, Ambient Rhetoric; Diane Davis Inessential Solidarity; Jeff Rice, Digital Detroit.
Select Course Requirements
As with my historical rhetorics seminar, students present 3 1500 word essays to the the class. The final essay is a multimodal project inspired by whatever digital rhetorician we read in Unit Three.
Rhetoric and Gaming | Marc C. Santos
Last taught: Fall 2015
My Rhetoric and Gaming class has two primary aims, both of which I see as central to (the) Digital Humanities/Rhetoric. First, the course seeks to explicate the unique rhetorical and critical affordances of games, to submit games to the analytical methods that constitute the core of humanist scholarship. It does this through two projects, the first of which looks at games in light of various aesthetic theories, the second of which approaches games as cultural objects reflective of larger ideological struggles. Furthermore, a considerable amount of class time is dedicated to understanding games in terms of procedural rhetorics, or rhetorical systems that first affect what we do in hopes of affecting how we think.
Second, the course emphasizes production, granting Professional and Technical Writing students an opportunity to further exercise skills from other courses and/or learn new ones seminal to their career paths. These include writing and designing technical documentation, usability testing and reports, and filming explanatory videos. All of these activities are combined in our 8 week long “Make a Game Project.”
Bogost, Procedural Rhetorics; Schell, The Art of Game Design; Telltale, The Walking Dead.
Project One asks students to respond to the late Roger Ebert’s diatribe that games should not be considered art by selecting one game and arguing for its artistic methods. Students are exposed, via reading and lecture, to a range of aesthetic theory, including Arsitotle (mimesis and catharsis), Tolstoy, Dali, and Baraka.
Project Two, building from the work of feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian and critical race theorist Tanner Higgins, asks students to assess the representation of race, gender, and sexuality in a particular genre of games (focusing on games developed over the past five years).
Project Three asks students to develop a board or card game, from conception through production through testing through promotion via crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter.
New Media for Technical Communication | Marc C. Santos
Last taught: Spring 2015
This course aims to expose Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology majors to a wide range of digital tools and genres. Generally, my focus in this class is on web languages and tools and digital video production.
Additionally, the course attempts to introduce students to some of the theoretical issues raised by digital technology. While it doesn’t go into the depth of my graduate seminar on New Media Production, it does touch upon some of the same questions and themes, particularly via the work of Gregory Ulmer and a project I developed around the work of Maira Kalman. That later project is at the center of my article on choric invention. The last time I taught the course, I began developing a new project, called the Affective Object project, that positions Kalman’s newest work alongside emerging new materialist and feminist scholarship on affect; this project should lead to a follow-up article.
Typically this course has 4 to 5 different projects. The first few projects are generally creative, and ask students to invent something that they (or I) have never seen before. The latter projects ask them to take the creative and technical skills they developed in the first projects and deploy them in service of more traditional genres and objectives.
In its last iteration, the first two projects were built around Gregory Ulmer’s MEmorial project (from Electronic Monuments) and the Affective Object project described above. Students then worked on viral video projects (advocating for how a small change in our daily routine could have significant ecological impact), created and disseminated podcasts, and developed professional web portfolios that collected and annotated work from all of their courses in our Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology major.
Visual Rhetoric for Technical Communication | Marc C. Santos
Last taught: Spring 2013, I will be teaching the course again in the Spring of 2016
If my New Media for Technical Communication course highlights web and video technology, then my Visual Rhetoric for Technical Communication course focuses on textual production technologies. Specifically, students spend 12 weeks working with Adobe InDesign in conjunction with a range of other technologies, including Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.
And, as with my New Media course, I begin the course with more creative projects that ask students to think outside the box before transitioning into more traditional genres that students are likely to encounter in their careers. In line with the goals for our Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology major, the course is grounded in production rather than analysis, although my first project next semester will work from Laurie Gries’ Still Life With Rhetoric.
Adobe, Indesign CS6 Classroom in a Box; Laurie Gries, Still Life With Rhetoric, Reynolds, Presentation Zen Design.
While I am still in the process of developing the syllabus for next semester, I envision four projects for this class. As mentioned above, we will open with a project developed around Gries’ explication of the Obama Hope campaign, asking student to conduct a visual analysis of a 2016 presidential candidate’s campaign. Then students will compose a poster series for that campaign. Second, working with InDesign, students will design a cover and typeset for a classical work in public domain. Third, students will use various tools to transform data from usa.gov into infographics. Finally, the course will close with a service learning project, students will work in groups in a design competition, creating fundraising material, documentation, and a web presence for a non-profit organization. I am currently in contact with the Children’s Cancer Center of Tampa.
Rhetorical Theory | Marc C. Santos
Last taught: Spring 2015
Affectionately nicknamed “graduate school bootcamp” by a former student (know in a PhD program), this course attempts to provide our Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology students with a broad introduction to advanced scholarship and the rhetoric’s place in the history of Western Thought. The course is divided into three units. In the first unit, we explore ancient Greece and Rome to introduce the debate between philosophical rhetoric (Plato, Aristotle, Idealism) and sophistic rhetoric (Isocrates, Gorgias, Cicero, Quintilian, pragmatism and/or materialism). In the second unit, we jump to the 20th century and focus on the work of Kenneth Burke to understand why rhetoric returns to the fore in the 20th century in the wake of the Nazi’s and the holocaust. Additionally, we examine why philosophical approaches to rhetoric (those based in logical demonstration and dialectic argumentation) fail to persuade. In the third unit, I introduce my own work on Levinas’s ethics and feminist rhetorics, noting their shared interest in negotiating alterity and learning to “listen,” (e.g., inhabiting ideological positions or encountering others who challenge the self and thereby produce strong affective disequilibrium).
The course has only two required texts, Aristotle’s On Rhetoric and Burke’s On Symbols and Society. However, students are required to purchase three-ring binders and I supply them with a CD containing 25 different PDFs.
Students taking this course have an option in regards to the workload. Every student completes Project One at the end of the first unit, which asks them to offer a definition of rhetoric based on our readings. Then students have the option of either completing two shorter assignments (a 5 page rhetorical analysis based on Burke’s work and a more creative project called An Act of Listening) or they can opt to write a 20 page paper to use as a writing sample for graduate applications.
Below are lists of graduate students I have mentored over the past seven years.
McIntyre, Megan. 2012 – 2015. Co-director with Carl G. Herndl.
“Relational Rhetorical Agency, Networked Technology, and the Aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing”
This summer Megan accepted a position in the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric at Darmouth College. She and I have co-authored two articles together.
Herzhauser, Betty. 2012 – 2015.
“The Role of the Interruption in Epistolary Young Adult Novels”
Betty is an Education student who developed an interest in New Media after taking my Historical and Contemporary Rhetorics seminars. She is a high school teacher and administrator.
Breckenridge, Adam. 2011 – 2014.
“Acts of Rebellion: The Rhetoric of Rogue Cinema”
Adam accepted a tenure-track position at New England Institute of Technology.
Richards, Daniel. 2011 – 2013.
“Dead Man’s Switch: Disaster Rhetorics in a Posthuman Age”
Daniel accepted a tenure-track position at Old Dominion University.
Veach, Grace. 2010 – 2012.
“Tracing Boundaries, Effacing Boundaries: Information Literacy as anAcademic Discipline”
Grace is a Dean of Library Science at Southeastern University in Florida.
Steadman, Kyle. 2010 – 2011.
“Sound Composing: Composers’ Strategies and Influences when Making Music”
Kyle is now an Assistant Prof. of English at the University of Rockford in Illinois.
Vieregge, Quentin. 2009 – 2010.
“Narratives of Architectural Revolution in Online Christian Rhetoric”
Quentin is now an Assistant Prof. of English at the University of Wisconsin, Barron County.
Currently in Process:
Ewing, Laura. 2012 – present.
Laura defends her dissertation this fall.
Dixon, Zach. 2015 – present.
Zach recently defended his prospectus and should complete his dissertation in the 2016 – 2017 year.
Branham, Cassandra. 2015 – present.
Cassandra is a PhD student in UCF’s Texts and Technology program.
Blank, Ryan. 2013 – 2014. Director. “Overcoming the 5th-Century BCE Epistemological Tragedy: A Productive Reading of Protagoras of Abdera”
Ryan is currently a PhD student at USF.
Walsh, Eric. 2013 – 2014. Director. “Hermes, Technical Communicator of the Gods: The Theory, Design, and Creation of a Persuasive Game for Technical Communication”
Eric is currently a PhD student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Grau, Brenda. 2010 – 2014. Director. “Beyond Performance: Rhetoric, Collective Memory, and the Motive of Imprinting Identity”
Brenda works as a tutor for Into USF.
Gay, Kristen. 2012 – 2013. “Unbearable Weight, Unbearable Witness: The (Im)possibility of Witnessing Eating Disorders in Cyberspace”
Kristen is a PhD student at Clemson.
Hardesty, Kathleen. 2012 – 2013. Director. “An(other) Rhetoric: Rhetoric, Ethics, and the Rhetorical Tradition”
Kathleen is currently working as a technical writer and is applying for PhD study.
Honnold, Jeffrey. 2011 – 2012. “Toward a Working Theory of Neurorhetorics.”
Zephyrhawke, Kate. 2011. “Addressing the Decline of Academic Performance Among First-Year Composition Students: A Usability Analysis of Two Important Online Resources.”
Michael Taber, 2008 – 2009. “Methodological Rigor in Composition Studies.”
Currently In Progress
Hillen, Andrew. 2014 – present. Director.
Sroka, Phil. 2014 – present. Director.
Teaching Evaluations | Marc C. Santos
As I indicate in my letter, my teaching evaluations have been strong over the past 7 years while at USF; over that time I have received a 4.7 for overall effectiveness of the instructor.
A PDF with complete course evaluation numbers and transcribed comments can be found here. PDF’s for specific recent courses are linked below.
Rhetorical Theory, Spring 2015, 4.9 Overall rating of instructor
New Media for Tech Comm, Spring 2015, 4.9 Overall rating of instructor
Rhetoric and Gaming, Fall 2014, 4.7 Overall rating of instructor
New Media Production (Graduate), Fall 2014, 5.0 Overall rating of instructor
New Media for Tech Comm, Spring 2014, 4.3 Overall rating of instructor
Contemporary Rhetorics (Graduate), Spring 2014, 4.5 Overall rating of instructor
Rhetoric and Gaming, Spring 2013, 4.7 Overall rating of instructor
Furthermore, I have selected specific statements from students to highlight below. I want to stress, however, that these comments are representative and not cherry-picked. A scan of the PDF’s above should provide evidence for this claim.
Rhetorical Theory, Spring 2015
New Media for Tech Comm, Spring 2015
New Media Production (Graduate), Spring 2014
This page contains an outline of my teaching philosophy, a list of courses I have developed, and evidence of teaching effectiveness (in the form of student evaluation comments).
My teaching and my research are inextricably linked not only because a number of my publications focus on developing pedagogy attuned to new media affordances, but also because of my investment in Levinas’ ethical prioritization of the other. This student-centered approach does not frame the classroom solely as a place where I transmit knowledge to them; the classroom is a site on engagement in which they can articulate their own goals, formulate their own questions, and pursue their own paths. Building from the work of Thomas Rickert, Gregory Ulmer, Sarah Arroyo and others, I have termed this approach to pedagogy, one that begins by meeting students face-to-face, “postpedagogy.” I believe this emphasis on co-curricular development contributes to my consistently high teaching evaluations. By granting students agency over what they learn, I increase the relevance it has to their personal, professional, and/or scholarly development.
I believe my teaching evaluations testify to the effort and energy I invest in my students. During my time at USF, I have averaged a 4.7 rating in response to “Overall evaluation of instructor.” And the feedback provided by students, which I have highlighted in the .pdf available below, consistently identifies my courses as among the more challenging and valuable a student has taken in her career. I maintain that the ethical investment I make in my students fuels these student responses.
I am particularly proud of my record professionalizing and mentoring graduate students. During my time at USF, I have chaired 7 MA theses, co-chaired one dissertation, and served on 21 total Master’s theses and dissertation committees. My doctoral student, Megan M. McIntyre, accepted a job this year with Dartmouth College’s Institute for Writing and Rhetoric. Many of my MA students have continued on to PhD study at some of the best programs in the country, including Ryan Blank (Pittsburgh), Eric Walsh (RPI), and Kristen Gay (Clemson).
I also professionalize my students by publishing with them. This affords the opportunity to take graduate through the publication process, helping them parse and address reviewer feedback. As I discuss in the research narrative, my “Our Electrate Stories” article was co-authored with 7 graduate students. I have also published articles with Megan M. McIntyre and with Ella Browning. This fall, I will be presenting at the Feminist Rhetorics conference with Kristen Gay, and we aim to develop our talk into an article.
During my time at USF, I have developed 7 new courses for either our graduate program in Rhetoric and Composition or our undergraduate program in Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology:
- ENC 6336 Historical Rhetorics
- ENC 6333 Contemporary Rhetorics
- ENC 6422 New Media Production
- ENC 3416 New Media for Technical Communication
- ENC 4218 Visual Rhetoric for Technical Communication
- ENC 3371 Rhetorical Theory for Technical Communication
- ENC 3435 Rhetoric and Gaming
- ENC 3310 Expository Writing
My Rhetoric and Gaming course was the focus of the August 24, 2014 Tampa Tribune article “USF Curriculum Stays Ahead of the Game.” My approach to teaching Expository Writing focuses on leveraging the interactive and participatory audiences enabled by digital technology and his highlighted in my article “Postpedagogy and Web Writing.” In the spring of 2016, I will be constructing an undergraduate course in Advanced Composition that examines contemporary debates regarding the purpose and scope of higher education from rhetorical, historical, and materialist lenses.
My teaching also emphasizes forging connections between the classroom and the outside world. This emphasis stems from my investment in Latour and his pragmatic, civic project. Virtually all of my classes, both graduate and undergraduate, involve projects that help students contribute to their communities. My spring 2011 ENC 4218 Visual Rhetoric class partnered with the Resilient Tampa Bay project and USF’s Patel Center for Global Solutions. Similarly, my fall 2012 ENC 6422 New Media Production graduate seminar asked students to design and execute their own service learning projects taking advantage of new and social media to benefit a local charity. One group set up a webpage and wepay.com page (http://kristengay.com/spring.html) to assemble care packages for the Spring of Tampa Bay shelter, which supports victims of domestic violence. Another group worked closely with the Birdhouse Food Co-Op project, an organization that promotes sustainable agriculture; their contributions included a redesigning of their website (http://tampabay.locallygrown.net/), providing promotional videos, documenting one of their fundraiser events, and improving their social media presence through the use of Twitter, blogging, and Youtube.
My undergraduate courses in New Media for Technical Communication and Visual Rhetoric for Technical Communication also include projects working with a client; past projects include the production of our Rhetoric and Composition graduate program website (http://www.usfrhetcomp.org/), the Poetry Garden site (a collaborative project between the English Department and the USF Botanical Garden), and web design and videography work for the Patel Center for Global Solutions. I have also developed a project called “Just One Thing,” in which my New Media students produce and disseminate viral videos that explicate how making small changes in one’s daily routine can have a massive impact on our ecology.
Another element of my teaching philosophy includes taking advantage of new media affordances to have students contribute to ongoing projects that last beyond the end of a semester. For instance, my Historical Rhetorics seminar includes contributions to a wikibook on Historical Rhetoric (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Historical_Rhetorics). This publicly-accessible wikibook not only contains my lecture notes, but also complies annotations from graduate students on secondary sources in the study of classical rhetoric. After just two semester teaching the course, the wikibook already contains over 50 cross-referenced annotations. I am teaching the course again in the fall of 2015 and will continue to expand and revise this resource. Because students revise the work of previous students, these wiki projects foreground the complex and unpredictable interpretive and ethical dynamics at play in information exchange. Students realize that the contributions they make will carry their name long after they are there. There is an ethical dimension to this realization: students learn to read texts compassionately rather than strictly critically, since their work will one day be read and revised by a yet unknown other.
I aim to have people work on self-articulated goals and projects; the point is never to learn a technology or technique, rather it is to create something relevant and necessary to the student’s life (be that personal, professional, or scholarly) and, if possible, to his or her community.