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[Rhetorics, Places, Publics]

ENG 444-003 :: Fall 2009 T/TH 5:00-6:15 :: AT 208

Instructor: Dr. Brian J. McNely

Office: RB 2111
Telephone: 285-8682
e-mail: bjmcnely@bsu.edu
Office Hours: T/TH 12:30-2:00 and 4:00-5:00

[Course Description]

The purpose of a senior seminar is twofold: it allows students to explore at length and in depth topics
not covered in their earlier English courses and to use and apply skills developed over the course of
their studies. This course is intended to be a capstone to your experiences as an English major—a
concluding achievement. As such, each senior seminar asks students to initiate and complete a
sustained research project befitting the theme or topic of the course, congruent with the student's
research interests.

In this course, we will examine the role that language plays in our lives, organizations, and public
spaces—from our ways of acquiring and expressing knowledge to the ways that we perceive the world,
ourselves, and others. More specifically, we will examine the role of rhetoric in the construction of
place and space, seeing the built environment, virtual spaces, and fictional places as complex,
distributed, and polycontextual constructs initiated and sustained in discourse. In the process of
studying rhetorics and places, we will work together to explore the notion of publics—where rhetorics
and places intersect, develop, and change. The first half of the course takes a broad theoretical
approach, introducing influential readings from researchers in Rhetoric, Writing Studies, Geography,
and Urban Planning. The second half of the course continues to explore and apply these theories to
public writing projects.

The culmination of the course will be reflected in two separate deliverables: first, a coordinated, public,
multi-contributor digital space which reflects aggregated perspectives on rhetorics, places, and publics.
Second, a student-initiated and student-directed research project which combines student interests with
the ideas, perspectives, and/or methods of the course.

[Course Objectives]

Students will…

~Investigate and implement theories of language, rhetoric, analysis, and design

~Investigate and implement theories of place, space, and urban design
~Explore and practice methods of rhetorical thinking and metacognition
~Explore and practice methods of public communication and information delivery
~Explore and practice writing as a way of thinking, knowing, and being, using their
writing to negotiate their world
~Synthesize and extend their grasp of knowledge, abilities, and skills developed over the course
of their studies

[Key Terms and Phrases]

Rhetoric—Discourse/Discursive—Metacognitive—Distributed Work—Epistemology—Ontology—
Agency—Invention—Interstitial—Rhetorical Dispositions—Polycontextual—Liminal—Aggregation

[Course Policies]


Selected academic journal articles, blog posts, images, and videos

Google Reader
The Image of the City. Kevin Lynch. MIT Press, 1960.
Architecture of the Everyday. Steven Harris and Deborah Berke, Eds. Princeton Architectural Press,
The Geography of Nowhere. James Howard Kunstler. Touchstone, 1993.
Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. Steven Johnson. Scribner,
The Look of Architecture. Witold Rybczynski. Oxford University Press, 2001.

Storage, Tagging, and Backup

This course depends heavily on computer-mediated writing and analysis, and much of the work you
will do this semester will involve interface with technology. Therefore, it is important that you take
responsibility for your writing and production, including the storage and backup of digital work. This
course will require the consistent use of one or more of the following storage devices:

~USB Drive
~BSU iLocker
~Dropbox, drop.io, Google Docs, or other 3rd party online storage

Grading Policy

Assignments are graded according to criteria distributed through Blackboard. A tentative course
grading schedule follows, but is subject to adjustment.

Course Assessment and Calculation of Final Grade

~In Class and Online
~Reading Responses (5)
~Exploring Places and Publics (5) 150
Mid-Term Examination 200
Spatial Literacy Narrative 150
Oral/Visual Presentation of Research Project 100
Research Project:
~Proposal 50
~Project Deliverables 200
~Project Assessment Memo 150 (400 total)

Course Total: 1,000

Grading Scale

~950 – 1,000 A
~900 – 949 A-
~860 – 899 B+
~830 – 859 B
~800 – 829 B-
~760 – 799 C+
~730 – 759 C
~700 – 729 C-

Attendance, Withdrawals, and Incompletes

~Regular attendance is essential to success in the course, as we may begin or complete several
assignments in class
~Missing more than 3 classes—for any reason—will lower your final course grade by one step
for each missed class beyond the limit (i.e., 4 absences will result in a reduction of a B+
to a B)
~If you miss more than 6 classes—for any reason—you will not pass the course
~Please arrive on time for class, be prepared to work, and respect others
~Please notify me ahead of time about absences for official University business or for
religious holidays
~Please see the University Catalog for more information on Withdrawals and Incompletes
~Late work: If you miss a deadline for any reason, you may still choose to submit your work,
but you will be docked one letter grade for each day (not class period) that passes
beyond the deadline. I reserve the right to revoke this policy if it is abused (i.e.,
widespread or regular submission of late work)

Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

Proper citation is a hallmark of good scholarship. Plagiarism is using information or original wording
in a paper without giving credit to the source of that information or wording: it is not acceptable. Do
not submit work under your name that you did not do yourself. You may not submit work for this class
that you did for another class. If you are found to be academically dishonest, you will be subject to
disciplinary action, per BSU policy.

Please refer to http://www.bsu.edu/library/article/0,1894,95111-6558-14705,00.html for further

information on plagiarism.
The Writing Center

You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the Writing Center The Writing Center offers free
one-to-one assistance on all of your writing projects for all of your classes. The Writing Center is
located in RB 291, and is open Monday-Wednesday 10-7 and Thursday and Friday 10-5.

Students with Disabilities

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency
medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be
evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible. My office location and hours are
listed at the top of this document.

For additional information, please contact Larry Markle, Director of the Office of Disabled Student
Development, at lmarkle@bsu.edu or 285-5293; TTY 285-2206. Because of construction at the Student
Center this semester, the DSD office is currently located at AC 410.

[Schedule of Readings and Major Assignments]

Complete the reading assignments before the class for which they are assigned, and be prepared to
participate in discussion and group exercises.

Major Assignment Due Dates (subject to adjustment)

10/6 Mid-Term Examination

10/22 Spatial Literacy Narrative
11/3 Proposal for Research Project
12/8-12/10 Oral/Visual Presentations
12/16 Research Project and Project Assessment Memo

Fall 2009 Calendar (subject to adjustment)

8/25 Course Preliminaries—syllabus and introductions

The High Line Elevated Urban Park [Inhabitat]
The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces [Kottke] ~video~

8/27 Spinuzzi, C. (2006). What do we need to teach about knowledge work? Computer Writing and
Research Lab, White Paper Series.
An Interview with Gay Talese [The Paris Review]
You are the City [UrbanTick]
2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom [Open Architecture] (just scan this site)
Parkour [Wikipedia] (just scan this article)
Samparkour [Coilhouse] ~video~

9/1 Brummett, B. (1979). Three meanings of epistemic rhetoric. SCA Convention. [BB]
Emig, J. (1982). Inquiry paradigms and writing. College Composition and Communication 33
(1), 64-75. [BB]
Reading Response Due
9/3 Boroditsky, L. (2009). How does our language shape the way we think? [Edge]
Freedman, D. (1992). The Aggressive Egg. [BB]

9/8 Porter, et al. (2000). Institutional critique: A rhetorical methodology for change. College Composition
and Communication 51(4), 610-642. [BB]
Reading Response Due

9/10 Diehl, et al. (2008). Grassroots: Supporting the knowledge work of everyday life. Technical
Communication Quarterly 17(4), 413-434. [BB]
Foucault, M. (1984). Space, Knowledge, and Power. The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon. [BB]

9/15 Sack, R. (1993). The power of place and space. Geographical Review 83(3), 326-329. [BB]
Soja, E. (1987). The postmodernization of geography: A review. Annals of the Association of American
Geographers 77(2), 289-294. [BB]
Soja, E. (1996). Afterword. Stanford Law Review 48(5), 1421-1429. [BB]
Boswell, G. (1997). Non-places and the enfeeblement of rhetoric in supermodernity. Enculturation 1(1).
Reading Response Due

9/17 Low, S. (1996). Spatializing culture: The social production and social construction of public space in
Costa Rica. American Ethnologist 23(4), 861-879. [BB]

9/22 Lynch Ch. 1 and 2

Reading Response Due

9/24 Lynch Ch. 3

Harris and Berke: “Everyday Architecture”

9/29 Lynch Ch. 4 and Ch. 5

Harris and Berke: “Henri Lefebvre's Critique of Everyday Life: An Introduction”
Harris and Berke: “The Everyday and Everydayness”
Reading Response Due

10/1 Warner, M. (2002). Publics and counterpublics. Quarterly Journal of Speech 88(4), 413-425. [BB]
Harris and Berke: “Intimate (Tele)Visions”

10/6 Mid-Term Examination

10/8 Harris and Berke: “Omoide No Shotokyo”

Harris and Berke: “Ugly and Ordinary: The Representation of the Everyday”

10/13 Harris and Berke: “Gecekondu”

Harris and Berke: “A Visit to Womenhouse”
Harris and Berke: “The Levittown Look”

10/15 Harris and Berke: “The Everyday Today: Experience and Ideology”
Harris and Berke: “Family Values (Honey, I'm Home)”
Harris and Berke: “Thoughts on the Everyday”

10/20 Kunstler Ch. 1 through Ch. 5

Exploring Places and Publics Post
10/22 Kunstler Ch. 6
Spatial Literacy Narrative

10/27 Kunstler Ch. 7 through Ch. 10

Exploring Places and Publics Post

10/29 Kunstler Ch. 11 through Ch. 13

11/3 Johnson Introduction, Ch. 1 and Ch. 2

Exploring Places and Publics Post
Proposals for Research Projects

11/5 Johnson Ch. 3

11/10 Johnson Ch. 4 and Ch. 5

Exploring Places and Publics Post

11/12 Johnson Ch. 6 and Ch. 7

11/17 Rybczynski Introduction and Ch. 1

Exploring Places and Publics Post

11/19 Rybczynski Ch. 2

11/24 Fruesday! No Class!

11/26 Happy Thanksgiving!!! No Class!

12/1 Rybczynski Ch. 3

12/3 Project Consultations

12/8 Oral/Visual Presentations

12/10 Oral/Visual Presentations

12/16 Final Research Projects and Assessment Memos Due by 6:30 p.m.