Instructor: Katrina Kennett

Class: T / Th, 12:30-1:45, 9 Greg Hall

Office hours: Tuesdays from 1:45 – 2:45, at the Espresso Royale at 6th and Daniel (or by appointment)

Required Texts: Available via U of I Library eReserves

Course Overview

Traditional education—particularly at the university level—tends to privilege written text as the medium of rational, credible discourse. Yet every day, a huge proportion of the arguments we are exposed to come at us from other media—television, radio, magazines, even the songs we hear at the grocery store and the graffiti we pass on the street.

Being able to read—not just see or hear but read—and write these media is a critical skill and is, so I believe, part of being a fully literate member of our society. Now as never before we have the opportunity to be creators as well as consumers, and this class is meant to give you the skills, strategies, and ways of looking to do so effectively.

How does a specific medium change the way you write?

How does our use of technology shape the way we communicate?

What theories inform our relationships with media?

In this class, we will critically examine a number of media (printed text, sound, photography, film, and more!), seeking to understand not just their affordances but also their implicit conventions and how those conventions shape our perception of both the media and the information presented therein.

Throughout the semester we will compose texts in a variety of media, striving for what composition scholar Jody Shipka calls “sound engineering”—perfect rhetorical marriage between medium and message. This practical exploration will be bolstered by extensive reading in multimodal composition theory, and each project will be accompanied by a reflective rationale.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • analyze the unique affordances of a given medium and how they can best be deployed in a given rhetorical situation
  • understand how multimodal texts we encounter on a daily basis are rhetorically designed
  • remediate a single argument/text across at least two media
  • compose effective multimodal arguments targeted to a specific audience
  • engage in informed discussion about new media’s theories, including (but not limited to) topics such as affordances, authorship, remediation, and multimodality

How to Keep your Everyone Happy

Please do

  • Talk!
  • Listen!
  • Disagree with me when applicable
  • Engage directly with each other
  • Come to class prepared
  • Come to office hours
  • Talk to me when you are stuck
  • Clarify when you are confused
  • Communicate with me in times of trouble
  • Ask for an extension if you need it
  • Revise if you don’t like your grade

Please don’t

  • Sleep (in class)
  • Drown out more timid voices
  • Miss class and then email me to ask if you missed anything important
  • Text or chat in class
  • Arrive habitually late
  • Plagiarize
  • Miss appointments with me
  • Use disrespectful language

How can I expect to be treated in this class?

Writing is not objective. Our projects may touch on sensitive topics. I want everyone to feel comfortable expressing their opinions, while also respecting other class members. Deliberately creating a hostile environment will result in your dismissal from class, which will count as an absence and you will lose credit for any work done that day. Neither I or your classmates may at any time discriminate against you due to your gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, values, income level, education, or any other factors applicable under the university’s non-discrimination statement. For the full text of this policy, go to: Neither may I or your classmates harass or belittle any other student or instructor in a sexual or otherwise inappropriate and overly personal manner. For the full text of the university’s statement on sexual harassment, go to: Should you ever feel that another student has made you uncomfortable in any way, please see me as soon as possible.

Course Materials

Good news: no textbook to purchase! You will, however, need to purchase some supplies over the course of the semester since we will be composing in a variety of media (this might include paint, poster board, etc). Required materials for specific assignments will be explained in the assignment prompts, however, we do recommend that you invest in a USB jump drive or some other portable storage device (8 to 16 gigabytes) for your files in the class. In addition, non-traditional supplies such as a library card might be necessary (Urbana Free Library / Champaign Free Library).

Modification of Syllabus

I reserve the right to modify the syllabus at any time. You are responsible for staying current with the syllabus, even if you did not attend the class during which a modification was announced. Modifications will not increase the workload, but may be made in order to better address the unique needs of the class.  All modifications will be announced in class and documented on the course website.

What happens if I miss a deadline/ need an extension?

Late work will not be accepted. You will not receive credit for late assignments.

If you need an extension, whatever the reason and whatever the assignment, please contact me at least 48 hours in advance. For team assignments, you should contact me as a team.

I will grant an extension for any reason—I simply expect you to manage your time and schedule appropriately enough to know when your workload is overwhelming.

I would rather have you take the extra time to produce good work than try to pull something together at the last minute.

All work must be submitted through your blog and/or in hardcopy (for those projects where you produce a material text). You must submit your work before or during class time in order to qualify as on time. Assignments submitted via email/dropped in my campus mailbox without prior approval will not be accepted. All work submitted after class time will be subject to the penalties outlined above. If you miss class, you must provide appropriate documentation (see attendance policy for description) in order to be allowed to make up the work you’ve missed. All media projects must be completed in order to pass the course.

In the event of an emergency, please do your best to notify me ASAP. I will do my best to work with you by offering an extension or alternative assignment. All emergencies must be properly documented.

What is plagiarism and how can I avoid it?

Failure to properly cite all sources will result in a failing grade for the assignment, or the failure of the course. Do not cut or copy information from course materials, websites, journals, or other texts without citing/quoting. For details, see the Code of Policies and Regulations Applying to all Students.

Cheating also results in the same penalties as plagiarism.  Ignorance of either the definition or the penalties of cheating and plagiarism does not excuse the act. If you aren’t certain whether or not you are compromising your academic integrity, please see me before proceeding.

How do I arrange accommodations for my disability?

If you have a documented disability that may impact your work in this or other classes for which you need/have accommodations, you must be registered with and provide documentation of your disability to the Disability Resource and Educational Services. DRES’ contact information is as follows:


(217) 333-1970 (V)

(217) 244-9738 (TTY)


Please notify me of needed accommodations by Sept. 15, 2013 by giving me any paperwork DRES has provided you.

What’s our emergency exit plan?

In the event of an emergency, I will receive a message from the campus emergency alert system on my cell phone. Should an emergency situation arise, please follow the instructions that I relay to you. If we need to evacuate the building, you will be asked either to exit the building (e.g., in the case of a fire) or to go to the basement (e.g., in case of a tornado). In case of other emergencies we will follow whatever instructions emergency services gives us. Please do so quickly and quietly, making sure to find me once you have exited to the proper location. Please remain with your classmates and me, even after I have checked you in. You will not be allowed to leave until officially notified by emergency personnel. If you have a physical disability and would like help in exiting the building, please see me during the first week of class.

Is there anything else I should know?

  1. There is no extra credit.
  2. You must keep copies of all your work.
  3. You are responsible for reading and retaining any emails and blog posts I send to the class.
  4. I will not summarize discussion for you if you miss it.
  5. I will try to return all assignments within two weeks of the due date. Do not ask me about them before two weeks are up.
  6. Generally, I don’t respond to emails between 7:00 PM and 9:00 AM, and I may take as long as 24 hours to respond to an email.
  7. I only respond to emails that you cannot obtain the answer to through other reasonable means (like googling the answer, or doing the math to calculate your grade).
  8. No texting, facebooking, personal tweeting, internet surfing, looking at offensive materials, talking on the phone or other disruptive behavior will be tolerated.
  9. I reserve the right to alter the syllabus (reading schedule) at any point according to the needs of the class.  You are responsible for keeping track of any and all changes made to the syllabus.


This course will operate under a spirit of nondiscrimination and equality.  My goal is to create a safe and welcoming environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions, while also respecting other class members. All participants in the course will abide by University policy and guidelines, including those governing discrimination, harassment, academic honesty, and computer lab usage.  Language or actions that are deemed discriminatory or harassing will not be tolerated in class or online, and will result in either being removed from the classroom for the day or banned from the discussion forum, with a participation grade of 0 for that day.  Repeated offenses will be dealt with as per school policies. In addition, should you ever feel that another student has made you uncomfortable in any way, please see me as soon as possible.  I take harassment and discrimination very seriously. Please turn off all cell phones and MP3 players, and give your full attention and respect to the person who has the floor. Following these guidelines will result in a better learning experience and environment for everyone.