Project 1

Rhetorical Strategies for Explaining Ourselves (on paper, online)


In this project, you will get situated with some of the key themes and theories you’ll explore throughout the rest of the course. You’ll read about, discuss and define key genres and processes and apply them to various situations where we compose expository texts. You will consider different audiences and the development of content for these audiences. Finally, you’ll analyze affordances and constraints for a range of different modalities—audio, visual, text (alphabetic), as well as online platforms (such as twitter vs. facebook, blogs vs. reddit, etc.).

All this reading and analysis should prepare you to compose your first expository texts of the semester. This project asks you to think through affordances and constraints of various media, in order for you to compose three key pieces:

  1. A Personal Narrative (2-3 pages)
  2. A Website with About Me Page (500ish words)
  3. A Reflective Analysis (4-5 pages)

Guiding Questions:

  • What is “expository writing”?
  • What makes “good” exposition?
  • Affordances/Constraints—what are they?
  • online vs. on “paper”—how do we define “print” and “digital, we come with different expectations, need to be designed with different reading styles in mind; how do we approach reading in a digital environment? How are there differences between how we approach reading in print? Are the difference over-stated? Pre-conceptions?
  • Who is your “true self”?
  • Can you ever be absolutely truthful as a writer?
  • What are the stories we want to tell about ourselves?
  • What makes a good personal story?
  • What kind of personal stories will develop your ethos in the ways you want? (is it good to be able to control this?)
  • What genres do we use to tell personal stories? On “paper”? Online?

Assignment Specifics:

Below you’ll find descriptions for all of the assignments for the next few weeks that will work together to help you build the project.

Compose Online Presence Profile (1-2 pages, submit to Bb)

  • In writing, define “online presence.” What does it mean to you? What does it mean in light of the readings so far?
  • Describe your online presence at this point—does it shift depending on the platform? Have you thought about it much up till now?
  • Describe your writing process at this point—does it shift depending on the genre or rhetorical situation? Have you thought about it much up till now?
  • Describe your purpose and goals for your writing this semester—your interests, your desired ethos, etc.

Social Media Ethos Project (1 blog/week, throughout semester)

For this project, you’ll choose 1-2 social media platforms you either want to get into, want to revise your ethos within, or want to use for a particular purpose.

  • Throughout the semester, you’ll be responsible for activity on these platforms—you’ll need to post, tweet, ‘gram, etc. (1-2 times/week)
  • Throughout the semester, you will keep a reflective blog about your experiences and insights, examining how you are working to shape your ethos on these platforms, assessing the success (or not) of your efforts, etc.

Personal Narrative (2-3 pages, SFD and RR Drafts in-class)

Here we will employ some classic principles for writing non-fiction memoir exerpts, but with a course-specific twist. You will compose a “snapshot” or a scene of personal memoir that aligns with and works toward your overall goals for the class. In other words, if your goal is to develop your ethos as a serious scholar, perhaps you’ll write about a time when you had a breakthrough in your studies, or that time you knew you liked school (or that one class…). Or, if your goal is to develop your ethos as a political authority, perhaps you’ll write about the time you sat in your sister’s dorm room in 2000 during the “hanging chad” controversy. The point here is to use the strategies we’re reading about to compose a short memoir piece that is both resonant with your own voice, and aligns with your rhetorical purposes.

To do this, we will work with multiple drafts. You’ll develop the following:

  1. A “shitty first draft” (for my comments and feedback)
  2. A Reader Review draft (for workshop/classmate feedback)
  3. A polished draft for “submission”

Mini-Analysis 1 & 2 (posted to blog site)

These short writings ask you to compare and contrast the affordances and constraints of various modalities and online platforms. You may use your experiences and the readings we’ve engaged with so far to support your analysis.

About Me Page  (posted to blog site)

You will translate your Personal Narrative content into an About page for your blog site (which you’ll work on throughout the semester). This will require you to examine your goals and purpose for the semester—What is it you want to explore in your writing? What interests you? What kinds of non-fiction explanatory writing do you want to develop this semester? How does your personal narrative fit into this ethos?

Reflective Analysis (4-5 pages, Bb)

Here you will synthesize your knowledge of affordances and constraints of various media and genres, along with your experiences of the reading throughout the project. Overall, you want to present a “firmed up” analysis of the different types of media we’ve discussed, along with your experience and composing process as you wrote your personal narrative and translated it into an About Me page. What are the affordances and constraints of each genre? What did you consider in your writing process? How does this connect to your analysis of expository composition in multiple modalities and media? Does it line up? Why or why not?

Minimum Requirements:

  1. A Personal Narrative (2-3 pages; uploaded to Bb)
  2. A Website with About Me Page (500ish words; link within Narrative Doc)
  3. A Reflective Analysis (4-5 pages; uploaded to Bb)

Due Date:

Uploaded to Blackboard before the start of class = Monday, January 30th  


 15% of course total