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RWS 100 Fall 2016

Page history last edited by Chris Werry 7 years ago




Sample Syllabi, Assignment Prompts, Schedule & Course Reader


Overviews and Detailed Descriptions of Teaching Activities


First Weeks: Introducing the Course & Applying Concepts to Short texts


Critical Digital Literacies


Unit 1: Thompson's "Public Thinking"


The Text


Background & Links


Collected Teaching Materials for Unit 1


Examples of Public Thinking

Thompson talks about the importance of “public thinking” and “networked” reading and writing of texts. At the end of his chapter he asks, “What tools will create new forms of public thinking in the years to come?” His answer is that “as more forms of media become digital, they'll become sites for public thinking… Marginalia may become a new type of public thinking, with the smartest remarks from other readers becoming part of how we make sense of a book.” Thompson also discusses how reading and writing are becoming “blended,” and quotes literacy theorist Debbie Brandt: “People read in order to generate writing; we read from the posture of the writer.”

We can examine some contemporary examples of tools and publishing experiments that embody Thompson's ideas. These may help us understand what Thompson is on about, but also determine the extent to which his claims are plausible.

  • Hypothesis is an example of a wave of new tools and experiments with social reading and writing. It enables people to publicly comment on and annotate online texts, and also lets you form groups, and follow people whose annotations you like. Example: if you look at Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” you’ll see a scholar has recorded his response in the margins. (You will need to have added the extension to see this). Political speeches are starting to be publicly annotated by academics. For example, the sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom annotated Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic national Convention using Hypothesis.


  • The annotation tools “News Genius” and “Rap Genius” let users comment on, explicate, analyze and annotate news stories and music lyrics. Rap genius is used a lot and may be of interest to students.  Consider the following: T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock has been nicely annotated. The line “Do I dare disturb the universe” is discussed, along with the fact that the line was remixed and used by rapper Chuck D. http://genius.com/Ts-eliot-the-love-song-of-j-alfred-prufrock-annotated If you click on the line the link to Chuck D will appear.   

    The Genius annotation system is used for fan fiction, creative writers, and many genres of "high" and pop culture.  The literature page is here: http://lit.genius.com/ Consider this annotation of Shelley's "Ozymandias". Note also that users vote on which annotations should be listed at the top, and there is a scoreboard of most popular writers and annotators.  Note also that while fans annotate pop songs, some artists annotate their own songs. Consider the recent hit "Broccoli," by D.R.A.M., which is annotated by the songwriters. Other writers and artists who have annotated texts are here  (you can follow them).





  • There are many scholarly tools for annotating texts. Some have been developed by writing faculty. For example there is MIT's Annotation Studio, and CMU's Classroom Salon. There is also CommentPress, an open-source plug-in for WordPress developed by folks at the Future of the Book initiative. This tool "aims to turn a document into a conversation (view examples here). Readers can comment on, say, an academic paper before it has gone to press and add insights and questions in the margins of the text." 



Unit 2: Carr's "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"


Collected Teaching Materials for Unit 2


Responses, Extensions & Challenges to Carr


Unit 3: Boyd's "Literacy: Are Today's Youth Digital Natives?'"


Collected Teaching Materials for Unit 3


Background on Boyd & her book


Videos of Boyd and other Writers discussing Digital Natives




Election Texts and Links that Students Could Use to Explore Critical Digital Literacy


Exercise: In groups, examine one of the links below. Answer the following questions A) What does the story or post say?  B) Does it seem credible? Why or why not? C) How can you tell? What criteria or tools did you use to determine credibility?

  1. Pope Endorsement
  2. Benton Strategy Group Leaked Report, "Salvage" Plan
  3. Private Email Server and Police Raid
  4. Amnesty Plans 
  5. Clinton Adviser Scandal (skim report, but look at the first 10 comments - what are they like? 
  6. Twitter post about Scandal 
  7. Election results 
  8. Now: are protests against Trump staged and full of paid protesters? Trump retweeted that this is true, then later tweeted something more conciliatory. His son earlier tweeted something similar, then deleted it after the site he linked to was revealed to be a hoax.
  9. Many users of Facebook and many political sites shared "news" that BLM and Trump protests are Soros-funded hate groups designed to overthrow the US. These seem to be having an impact on groups like the Oath keepers. Do we (students, citizens, academics) need tools to track the flow, reach and distribution of such stories?


Election Rhetoric & Social Media


Videos and Articles on Election and Social Media News Sites


Do there Need to be Dramatic Changes to the Way Facebook & Social Media Operate?










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