Section 2: Monday – Friday 11:00-12:15 PM

Summer II

Professor: Rory Lee
People commonly define literacy as the mere ability to read and write, but such a definition ignores the contexts in which and the reasons why we read and write as well as the changing ways in which we now read and write digitally.  This course will broaden your understanding of literacy by asking you to engage with not only the notion of literacy as a situated act of knowing and doing inextricably linked to technology(ies) but also the idea of literacies—plural.  In so doing, you’ll also explore what literacy means and looks like in the context of the digital.  Or phrased as a question:  what sort of literacy practices do we enact in the digital realm and how, if at all, are they similar to, different from, and filtered through ones we enact in non-digital environments?
To assist you in this exploration of digital ways of knowing and doing, you’ll work with (and against) various frameworks for understanding literate acts; in addition, you’ll be introduced to a brief history and some select theories of media, the genres common to and produced through them, and the connections between media, old and new.  In an effort to expand your own digital literacy, you’ll use various media, technologies, and composing tools to create a diverse set of digital texts for external real-world audiences.  Along the way, you’ll employ various digital practices such as content and interface design, remediation and remix, and researching in a publish-then-filter economy.
Throughout the course, you’ll grapple with the personal, social, educational, political, economic, and ethical consequences of these (often emerging) digital literacy practices.  In particular, you’ll grapple with the following big ideas:
  • rhetoric is multimodal, epistemic, and a tool for solving problems;
  • literacies (plural) are inextricably linked to technology and result in inclusion and exclusion;
  • nothing is new or original;
  • technology isn’t neutral, but it doesn’t determine culture;
  • rhetoric, technology, and literacy shape and are shaped by culture.
In addition, you’ll take up the following questions (and more):
  • what is literacy, and what does it mean to be literate?
  • how does literacy shape—and how is it shaped by—technologies?
  • how is literacy both descriptive and evaluative?
  • how are literacies situated hierarchically?
  • what is the relationship between literacy and cognition?how does access impact and affect literacy acquisition and instruction?
  • how do technologies emerge, evolve, and gain traction historically?
  • how does our culture digitally make sense of and comment on culture writ large?
  • how are knowledge and meaning created in the digital realm, and how is such creation restricted?
  • what habits have you developed as a result of your access to digital technologies, and what are potential implications of those habits?
  • how do digital tools promote and constrain identity formation?
  • how does information circulate digitally, and how can we determine which information is credible?
To ground and frame our work this semester, we’ll move across three units:
Unit 1:  Literacy, Literacies, and the Digital
Unit 2:  The Evolution and Intersection of Technologies and Texts
Unit 3:  The Personal, Social, and Cultural Implications of Emerging Digital Literacy Practices