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CCR 633

Textual Machinery & Rhetorical Agency,


Ancient to Digital
Contact
Prof. Krista Kennedy
Email: krista01@syr.edu (Preferred. With rare exceptions, I respond to all emails within 48 hours.)
GChat: drkristakennedy
Twitter: kakennedy
Office Hours: HBC 228, 2 - 3 pm T/Th
Course Description
Technologies of writing and reading are ubiquitous to the point of invisibility in our daily lives. As we go about mundane communicative tasks, we seldom pause to consider our
essential tools: styluses, the alphabet, handwriting, paper, printing, screens, and pixels.
These technologies have immense rhetorical consequences that influence the formation
of knowledge, power, and community identities. In this course, we will explore intersections of rhetorical agency and the material aspects of textual production. Well begin at
the beginning and work our way toward the digital age, using the following questions to
focus our inquiry:

How have humans created and refined technologies to meet communicative needs?
How do technological affordances shape the form, content, and distribution of human writing?
Can technologies (particularly communicative technologies) demonstrate rhetorical
agency?
How have we rhetorically constructed narratives of our complex interactions with
communicative technologies?

Meeting Spaces, Physical and Digital


HBC 020, which needs no introduction, is our default meeting space.
We will also meet in the Antje Bultmann Lemke Room, located on the 6th floor of Byrd
Library in the Special Collections Research Center, and the Belfer Archive, which is next
door to Byrd. See the schedule for dates.
Our course website is located at http://www.kristakennedy.net/CCR633S15/.

Texts
Many readings will be available in PDF on Blackboard. The following books are also required: (Prices listed are for new books via Amazon.)
Brooke, C.G. (2009). Lingua fracta: Toward a rhetoric of new media. Cresskill,
N.J.: Hampton Press. $23.70.
Gitelman, L. (2000). Scripts, grooves, and writing machines. Stanford: Stanford
University Press. $26.41.
Grabill, J.T. (2007). Writing Community Change: Designing Technologies for Citizen Action. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. $17.05
Potts, Liza. (2014). Social Media in Disaster Response. New York: Routledge.
$40.27.
Rettberg, Jill Walker. (2014). Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use
Selfies, Blogs, and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves. New York: Palgrave. $27.93 ***Open access edition here: http://www.palgraveconnect.com/pc/
doifinder/10.1057/9781137476661)
Schmandt-Besserat, D. (1996). How writing came about. Austin, University of
Texas Press. $20.94 ***Note that this is the first abridged edition: ISBN
0292777043.***
Recommended:
Anderson, B. (2006). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread
of nationalism. Verso.
Baron, D. (2009). A better pencil: Readers, writers, and the digital revolution. New
York: Oxford University Press.
Duncombe, S. (2008). Notes from the underground: Zines and the politics of alternative culture. Microcosm Publishing.
Eisenstein, E. (1979). The printing press as an agent of change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lanham, Richard. (1995). The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the
Arts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
McMillian, J. (2011). Smoking typewriters: The sixties underground press and the
rise of alternative media in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Smith, M.R. & Marx, L. (Ed.), (1994). Does technology drive history? Cambridge:
MIT Press.
Rickert, Thomas. (2013). Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being.
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Major Assignments
Blogging (15%): You will consider and discuss the weekly topics on our course blog.
This is an open-ended assignment: you may focus on any aspect of the weeks readings
that interests you, bores you, disturbs you, or sends you looking for more stuff. It
should conclude with at least three potential questions for discussion. There are many
ways to succeed in this assignment, but your response should comprise more than just
notes. In the best of all worlds, these responses will result in both digital and classroom
CCR 633: Rhetoric, Writing, & Technologies

conversations. Blog posts are due each week by midnight on Monday or Wednesday, depending on which day you are assigned to.
Class Facilitation (15%): You will facilitate our opening discussion twice during the
semester by providing an overview of 1-2 of the texts assigned for that week. If you
choose a debate between scholars, youll be responsible for facilitating the entire exchange. If you choose a book-length work, then youll be expected to handle the book as
a whole. Your facilitation, which should be 10-15 minutes, should provide us with:

information about the author

a quick summary of the text(s)

identification of the central argument/concerns of the text

2-3 discussion questions

You should prepare some form of visual aid for your discussion; this might be a handout, a blog post, or some form of text that we can view in projection.
Dead Technology Project (30%): You will develop and provide connective commentary for a curated collection on a dead technology of your choice. Your focus should be
historical and/or critical in nature. The collection may include written text, audio, or
visual materials, and should be the equivalent of a 2,000 word paper. (We can confer
over exactly what that means, depending on your individual project designs.)
Alternative Technological Narrative (40%): Over the course of the term, you will
develop an extended research project focused on less-commonly-discussed technological narratives. For example, you might choose to focus on cultural issues, overlooked
technologies, or a particular technological moment. You will develop a multimodal exploration of your topic in just about any way that you choose - a database; an interactive
timeline and meta-commentary; a media-rich syllabus and course site; or some other
web-based scholarly resource. I am open to the use of a wide range of technologies to
create this end product and am happy to discuss possibilities with you.
Expectations
As with all graduate-level courses, youre expected to show up, be collegial, and contribute consistently in an engaged and original fashion. Youre also expected to meet
deadlines unless an emergency arises. These simple tenets will take you a long way in
the field.
Im happy to meet with you, whether before or after class, during office hours, by appointment, or online. If I dont hear from you, then I will assume that youre doing just
fine.
If you need accommodation because of any sort of documented disability, make an appointment to discuss it with me right away. As someone who needs accommodation myself, Im happy to work with you. The information you share with me will remain confi-

CCR 633: Rhetoric, Writing, & Technologies

dential. You should also contact the Office of Disability Services for information and/or
assistance: http://disabilityservices.syr.edu/.

Schedule of Events
Module 1: Recent Conversations on Agency and Technology
Jan. 13: Technology and Writing
Introductions
Syllabus Review
Weekly Responsibilities Sign-Up

Baron, D. (2009). Writing it down. In A better pencil: Readers, writers, and the
digital revolution. New York: Oxford UP. 3-18.
Kline, S.J. (1985). What is technology? In Philosophy of technology: The technological condition. Eds. Scharff, R.C. & Dusek, V. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 210-212.

Jan. 15: Aspects of Rhetorical Agency


Campbell, K.K. (2005). Agency: promiscuous and protean. Communication and
Critical/Cultural Studies, 2.1, 1-19.
Geisler, C. (2004). How ought we to understand the concept of rhetorical agency?
Report from the ARS. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 34.3, 9-17.
Rickert, Thomas. (2013). Circumnavigation: World/Listening/Dwelling. In Ambient rhetoric: The attunements of rhetorical being. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 1-37.
Jan. 20: The Potential of Nonhuman Agency
Johnson, J. (1988). Mixing humans and nonhumans together: the sociology of a
door-closer. Social Problems, 35.3, 298-310.
Miller, C.R. (2007). What can automation tell us about agency? Rhetoric Society
Quarterly, 37.2, 137-157.
Jan. 22: Theorizing Nonhuman Agency
Latour, Bruno. The Historicity of Things (145-173) and A Collective of Humans
and Nonhumans (174-215). In Pandoras Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science
Studies. Cambridge, MA: 1999.
Jan 27: Technological Determinism
Smith, M.R. & Marx, L. (Ed.), (1994). Does technology drive history? Cambridge: MIT
Press. 1-100.

CCR 633: Rhetoric, Writing, & Technologies

Module 2: Historical Development of Writing Technologies


Jan 29: How Writing Came About
Schmandt-Besserat, D. (1996). How writing came about. Austin, University of Texas
Press. (All of it.)
Feb. 3: Writing, Memory, and Thought
Aristotle. (2004). On the Soul ; And, On Memory and Recollection. 449b2 - 450a27.
Plato. (2006). Phaedrus. 274b-276a.
Plato. (2008). Protagoras. 338e-348a.
Ong, W. (1986). Writing is a technology that restructures thought. In Bauman, G.
(Ed.), The written word: Literacy in transition. Wolfson College Lectures 1985. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Feb. 5: In Praise of Scribes
Meet in Lemke Room
Introduction to Special Collections
Trimethius (1492). De laude scriptorum.
Gold, D. (2008). The accidental archivist: Embracing chance and confusion in historical scholarship. In Kirsch, G.E. & Rohan, L. (Eds.), Beyond the archives: Research as a lived process. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press. 13-27.
Mastrangelo, L. & LEplattenier, B. (2008). Stumbling in the archives: A tale of two
novices. In Kirsch, G.E. & Rohan, L. (Eds.), Beyond the archives: Research as a lived
process. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press. 161-169.
The SU Special Collections Research Center website: http://library.syr.edu/find/
scrc/. Click around and familiarize yourselves with who they are and what they do.
Feb. 10: The Printing Press as Agent
Eisenstein, E. (1979). The printing press as an agent of change. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. 3-113.
Feb. 12: The Printing Press as Agent, Cont.
Meet in Lemke Room
Eisenstein, E. (1979). The printing press as an agent of change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 114-162
Feb. 17: Handwriting
Thornton, T.P. (1998). Handwriting in America. New Haven: Yale UP. (ix-xiv, 3-41,
143-175.)
Douglass, F. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (excerpts)
Feb. 19: Writing Machines: Phonographs and Typewriters
Meet in Belfer Archive
Gitelman, L. (2000). Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines. Stanford: Stanford UP. 1147.
CCR 633: Rhetoric, Writing, & Technologies

Feb 24: Writing Machines: Phonographs and Typewriters, II


Gitelman, L. (2000). Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines. Stanford: Stanford UP.
148-229.

Module 3: Alt text, alt communities


Feb 26: Print and the Formation of Community
Anderson, B. (2006). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of
nationalism. Verso. (excerpt)
March 3: Textual Undergrounds I: Early 20c. Zine Culture
Guest: Jason Luther
Duncombe, S. (2008). Notes from the underground: Zines and the politics of alternative culture. Microcosm Publishing. 6-110.
March 5: Textual Undergrounds III: Local Publishing and Politics
Guest: Kate Navickas
McMillian, J. (2011). Smoking typewriters: The sixties underground press and the rise
of alternative media in America. Oxford University Press. Excerpt.
March 8 - 14 SPRING BREAK
March 17: Technological Design and Citizenship
Grabill, J.T. Writing Community Change: Designing Technologies for Citizen Action.
Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
March 21: Technological Design and Citizenship, Cont.
Grabill, J.T. Writing Community Change: Designing Technologies for Citizen Action.
Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Module 4: Digitalities
March 24: Dreams of a New Machine
Chambers, E. (1734). Considerations preparatory to a new edition, available to the
publick.
Wells, H.G. (1938). Contribution to the new Encyclopdie Franaise, August, 1937.
In The World Brain. Garden City: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc. 39-80.
Bush, V. (1945). As we may think. The Atlantic. Retrieved Jan. 7, 2010 from http://
www.theatlantic.com/doc/194507/bush .
Licklider, J.C.R & Taylor, R.W. (1968). The computer as a communication device.
Science and Technology (September), 20-41.
March 26: Early Computing and Gender
ENIAC. In Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC

CCR 633: Rhetoric, Writing, & Technologies

Light, J.S. (1999). When computers were women. Technology and culture (July),
40.3. 455-477.
View Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of World War II. (60 minutes long.)
Available via Amazon Instant Video: http://www.amazon.com/Top-Secret-RosiesFemale-Computers/dp/B00N516G0Y/

March 31: Code and War: Eugenics + Code


Black, E. (2001). IBM and the holocaust: the strategic alliance between Nazi Germany and Americas most powerful corporation. Dialog Press. 7-22, 75-104.
Haynes, C. (2010). <meta> Casuistic code. In From A to <A>: Keywords of markup.
Eds. Dilger, B. & Rice, J. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 228-235.
April 2: A Rhetoric of New Media
Guest: Collin Brooke
Brooke, C.G. (2009). Lingua fracta: Toward a rhetoric of new media. Cresskill, N.J.:
Hampton Press.1-112.
April 7: A Rhetoric of New Media, Cont.
Brooke, C.G. (2009). Lingua fracta: Toward a rhetoric of new media. Cresskill, N.J.:
Hampton Press. 113-201.
April 9: Textual Machinery
Brown, Jim. Algorithms and Narrative Overload. Ethical Programs: Hospitality and
the Rhetorics of Software. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Forthcoming.
Kennedy, Krista. Automated Curation. Textual Curation: Authorship and Agency in
Wikipedia and the Chambers Cyclopaedia. Under contract to University of South Carolina press.
April 14: UX and Social Media
Potts, Liza. Social Media in Disaster Response: How Experience Architects Can Build
for Participation. New York: Routledge. 1-58.
April 16: UX and Social Media, Cont.
Potts, Liza. Social Media in Disaster Response: How Experience Architects Can Build
for Participation. New York: Routledge. 59-119.
April 21: Technology and Rhetorics of the Self
Rettberg, Jill Walker. (2014). Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs, and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves. New York: Palgrave.
1-44.
April 23: Technology and Rhetorics of the Self, Cont.
Rettberg, Jill Walker. (2014). Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs, and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves. New York: Palgrave.
45-88.

CCR 633: Rhetoric, Writing, & Technologies

April 28: Floating Day


April 30: Wrap Up

CCR 633: Rhetoric, Writing, & Technologies