ENGL 320, Topics in Communication and Technology:
Race, Communication, and Technology: Black Culture in the Digital Age
This course explores the intersections between race, ethnicity, discourse, media, and communication systems. This course will introduce students to social theories, cybercultures, graphic design, and other aspects of digital communication. In addition to analyzing digital media, students will explore issues of representation, identity, education, justice, inequality, and power.
Students will grapple with the impact of digital media on social movements, such as Black Lives Matter, as well as its impact on more traditional African-American rhetorical themes (racial uplift, the African-American Jeremiad, etc.) and rhetorical practices (call and response, signifying, African-American Vernacular English, etc.) in conjunction with online networking activity (Black Twitter) and the creation and maintenance of black public spheres. Students will engage and compose a variety of multimodal texts with attention to the critical study, evaluation, and application of rhetorical theory to digital media and communication technologies.
- Use conceptual vocabulary of rhetoric to interrogate and analyze digital media and communication.
- Explore African American rhetorical traditions and practices and their responses to the impact of technology.
- Evaluate past, present, and evolving approaches to research and criticism of communication and technology.
- Compose multimodal texts that engage the central themes of the course and execute rhetorical sophistication.
- Gain proficiency with critical tools for (de)constructing, analyzing, interpreting and evaluating digital texts.
- Deploy rhetorical strategies to communicate with an audience using digital tools.
- Interpret contemporary African-American culture, current events, and various political discourses as they are mediated by technology.
|Student Blogs: All students will create and maintain a blog page for responding to readings, short writing assignments, reflections on group discussions, archiving digital materials, and commenting on current events.||10%|
|Assignment 1: Critical/Interpretive analysis of a digital tool, social media platform, or any other technology that intersects with African-American culture and history in the form of a 4-6 page paper. For example, cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, iPod, blogs, Myspace, records, compatible discs (CDs), cassette tapes, or personal computers could be analyzed.||10%|
|Assignment 2: Rhetorical Analysis
Perform a rigorous, rhetorical analysis on the use of digital tools and other technologies to persuade an audience concerning an issue related to this course. This assignment will be completed as a 6-8 page essay.
|Assignment 3: Protest, Public Controversy, or Popular Trend
Research the role of communication and technology in either a social protest, public controversy, or popular trend (including viral media content) related to the course. This assignment will be completed in two parts. The first part will be an essay of 15-20 pages, and the second part will be a presentation. This assignment will be completed in small groups. The presentation will consist of a “Ken-Burns-style” documentary using iMovie (or a similar platform, such as Camtasia, Prezi, etc.) with voice-over narration, background music, and smooth editing.
|Assignment 4: Advocacy Project
Advance or defend a particular issue related to this course using a combination of digital tools for a specific audience. Students may choose to create a podcast, short film, web page, blog, music video, etc.
Class Readings Selected From:
This course challenges students to think through issues of culture, ideology, race, class, and gender through the lens of sonic studies. Students will be introduced to histories of sound reproduction, emerging sound technologies, music, and the presence of sound in various forms of media. In conjunction with covering a diverse array of current scholarship, this course will explore the intersection between communication, culture, and technology. More specifically, students will have the opportunity to build competencies in sound aesthetics as a historical and political object of inquiry and, most importantly, put those competencies into practice. Students will collect, create, and analyze sound in addition to images and texts.
- Acculturate students to the field of sonic studies and its attendant discourses.
- Provide students with opportunities to engage various editing tools for digital composition.
- Investigate important intellectual and political questions through sound.
|Assignment 1- Composing Memoirs with Sound
Students will use audio recording tools to record a “mini” album of sounds they encounter within their daily lives. After drafting a list of eight to twelve sounds that occur around them, students will record those sounds and edit them into tracks that are one to three minutes long. These tracks should be presented in an order that communicates a theme or idea, such as “sounds I hear on my way to school” or “sounds that remind me of home.” This assignment is an experiment with sound, style, genre and composition. The audio memoir should be creative and intended for a particular audience. Narration is optional but should not distract from the focus on the sounds themselves. Students will also provide a two to five page summary of their reflections on the assignment including a script of any narration.
Assignment 2- Peer Review of Sound Memoirs
Students will provide thoughtful responses to the work of their peers using voice-over narration to record their comments. For example, students will consider issues of meaning, audience, organization, and editing choices in addition to their thoughts on the content of their peers’ work and what they have to learn from each other. Student responses should be rhetorically sound and substantively engaging. These responses will be used for revision.
|Assignment 3- Exploring Cultural Aspects of Sound
Students will choose an issue related to sonic studies and produce an eight to ten page research paper in conjunction with a recording of sound clips. These topics may include DJ performances, advertising, MP3, vinyl records, radio, identity, gender, etc. The recording must be at least three minutes long.
|Assignment 4- Peer Review of Research Essay
Students will review and provide thoughtful responses to essays. Student responses should be rhetorically sound and substantively engaging. All responses will be used to revise the essay.
|Assignment 5- Exploring Spaces and Sounds
Keeping the issue they choose for assignment three in mind, students will choose five locations throughout the city and record the sounds they hear. These locations could be restaurants, campus buildings, city hall, public libraries, or parks. Students will then compose a podcast that weaves in the sounds they recorded with their own comments. Students will be required to engage course readings while providing their own insights and opinions about the sounds they experience. This recording must be at least five minutes long.
|Assignment 6- Digital Storytelling Project
Using a combination of sound clips, images, and text, students will create a web page that either tells a story or advances an argument about sound. Students will use material from the previous assignments to compose their project (although they are free to add new materials.) This assignment will allow students to combine media theory, sonic studies, history, and practice. This assignment must also be persuasive and tailored for a specific audience. This project will be a demonstration of students’ best work and mobilize the ideas and issues discussed in the course. All editing should be smooth and rhetorically aware and supportive of a clear narrative.
|Course readings selected from the following:|
|Unit One: Theory and Definitions
Jasen, Paul C. Low End Theory: Bass, Bodies and the Materiality of Sonic Experience. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2016.
Novak, David, and Matt Sakakeeny. Keywords in Sound. Duke University Press, 2015.
Pinch, Trevor, and Karin Bijsterveld. The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies. Oxford University Press, USA, 2012.
Sterne, Jonathan. The Sound Studies Reader. Routledge, 2012.
|Unit Two: Race and Culture
Rabaka, Reiland. Civil Rights Music: The Soundtracks of the Civil Rights Movement. Lexington Books, 2016.
Redmond, Shana L. Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora. NYU Press, 2013
Stoever, Jennifer Lynn. The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening. NYU Press, 2016.
Weheliye, Alexander G. Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity. Duke University Press, 2005.
|Unit Three: Gender and Queer Theory
Brett, Philip, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas. Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. Taylor & Francis, 2006
Ehrick, Christine. Radio and the Gendered Soundscape: Women and Broadcasting in Argentina and Uruguay, 1930–1950. Cambridge University Press, 2015
Mieszkowski, Sylvia, Joy Smith, and Marijke de Valck. Sonic Interventions. Rodopi, 2007.
|Unit Four: Politics and Economics
Denning, Michael. Noise Uprising: The Audiopolitics of a World Musical Revolution. Verso Books, 2015.
Radano, Ronald, and Tejumola Olaniyan. Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique. Duke University Press, 2016.
Taylor, Timothy D. Music and Capitalism: A History of the Present. University of Chicago Press, 2015.
Unit Five Sound Reproduction and Representations
Arditi, David. iTake-Over: The Recording Industry in the Digital Era. Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.
Bijsterveld, Karin, and José van Dijck. Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices. Amsterdam University Press, 2009.
Suisman, David, and Susan Strasser. Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.
Taylor, Timothy D., Mark Katz, and Tony Grajeda. Music, Sound, and Technology in America: A Documentary History of Early Phonograph, Cinema, and Radio. Duke University Press, 2012.
Unit Six: Sound and Space
Augoyard, Jean François. Sonic Experience: A Guide to Everyday Sounds. McGill-Queen’s Press – MQUP, 2014.
Goodman, Steve. Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. MIT Press, 2012.
LaBelle, Brandon. Background Noise, Second Edition: Perspectives on Sound Art. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2015.
Vanel, Herve. Triple Entendre: Furniture Music, Muzak, Muzak-Plus. University of Illinois Press, 2013.
Unit Seven: New Media and Gaming
Cheng, William. Sound Play: Video Games and the Musical Imagination. Oxford University Press, 2014.
Collins, Karen. Game Sound: An Introduction to the History, Theory, and Practice of Video Game Music and Sound Design. MIT Press, 2008.
Miller, Kiri. Playing Along: Digital Games, YouTube, and Virtual Performance. Oxford University Press, USA, 2012
Summers, Tim. Understanding Video Game Music. Cambridge University Press, 2016
Teaching Experience: Total Courses- 6 Total Sections- 9
The Pennsylvania State University
Upward Bound Math and Science: Introduction to Research Writing
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English 137H/138H Rhetoric and Civic Life
Fall 2014/Spring 2015
Rhetoric and Civic Life (RCL) is a year-long honors course offering comprehensive training in oral, written, visual, and digital communication for the twenty-first century. It unites these various modes under the flexible art of rhetoric and uses rhetoric both to strengthen communication skills and to sharpen awareness of the challenges and advantages presented by oral, written, visual, and digital modes.
English 30 (Honors English)
I designed this course to explore writing and Sonic Studies. Sonic Studies engages the various ways people compose and discuss sound, particularly music. Students read and composed essays that discussed a wide array of genres of music in order to engage how music participates in social movements, aesthetics, popular culture, politics, class, and ethnicity. This course was recommended for students that had experience with music. This course also went beyond the standard English 15 course by requiring students to conduct in-depth musical analysis in addition to advanced skill in composition.
An enhanced version of English 15 that requires students to attend separate film showings in addition to their class activities and other assignments. Students were tasked with working with the films in order to think more critically about rhetorical analysis.
LEAP English 15
Music and Film
A version of English 15 that serves as a companion course to a music and film class taught in the music department of Penn State. Students were given the option of writing about music for all assignments.
Fall 2012/Spring 2013
An intensive, rhetorically based experience in reading and writing that prepares students to understand the communications that surround them and succeed in their own communication efforts. Emphasis placed on analyzing verbal and visual texts as well as on producing such texts in terms of traditional rhetorical principles.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Fall 2011/Spring 2012
A writing and rhetoric course designed to prepare students for various academic writing challenges. Emphasis placed on modes of discourse practiced by professional academic scholars.