Speech 26: How New Media Shape Our Lives: Rhetoric, Theory, and Praxis

This course will investigate commonplace and emerging new media—social networking sites, online virtual worlds, transmedia, new media art, video games, digital cinema, and others— through critical reflection on the ways these technologies and texts are shaping and reshaping our lives. Understanding how we use and produce such media, why, and with what effects is vital for everyone wishing to be an engaged and responsible citizen of and leader in the digital society. Our exploration will consider such issues as old/new media convergence; interactivity and access; narrative, performance, and spectatorship; the production/consumption divide; authorship and reading; and identity and embodiment in digital texts and environments. We will draw on classical and contemporary rhetorical theory to help us understand these contexts. The course will engage you with new media via projects that invite you to participate in existing contexts, create new ones, and display and create knowledge through speeches and written work.

The experiential learning activities in this course will allow you to observe and participate in unique modes of “speaking publicly” afforded by new media platforms that were nonexistent prior to these platforms’ creation. The course will encourage you to reconceptualize and reflect on how we, as members of the digital society, are changing and are being changed by these new modes of digital public speaking. No prerequisites. Limited enrollment.

Instructor: Grushina.

Distributive: ART

Offered: 17W: 2A

Course Objectives:

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy (1888-1973), German social philosopher who explored the shaping effects of language on our lives, had a well-known motto, “I respond, although I may be changed.” Some translations render “although” as “therefore.” Made long before the emergence of the digital world, this statement reflects our relationship with the physical world and is perhaps even more apropos of the relationship we face with new media in particular. We respond: participate, create, engage; although, and therefore, we are changed. The main objective of the course is to foster a more engaged and critical awareness of how major new media texts and technologies shape and reshape our lives. An important related objective is to help you become a better speaker and writer. A final objective is to help you become a better informed and engaged citizen of the digital world.

To accomplish these objectives, I will help you do the following throughout the term:

1) get acquainted with new media technologies;

2) unpack what’s “new” about new media;

3) understand the communicative constraints and affordances of new media;

4) analyze new media from the perspectives of classical and contemporary rhetorical theory;

5) engage with new media via creative immersive assignments;

6) benefit from new media theory texts;

7) reflect on new media research through the lens of own experience;

8) figure out how to enrich your own and others’ lives through new media engagement personally, academically, and professionally.