homeemu onlinelivetextwriting centerhalle librarygoogle

Course Description

ENGL328 Writing, Style, and Technology (3 credits)
An advanced writing course that explores a range of styles for multiple purposes, audiences, and technologies. Applications of word processing, online discussion, and Internet resources will be integrated with writing assignments.

Course Overview

ENGL328 is a course designed to introduce you to the overlaps among composing practices, stylistic knowledge, and writing technologies, new and old. We will examine the ways in which style, as a canon of rhetoric, applies to a wide variety of genres, from conventional academic prose to new and emerging platforms online. Our examination of these genres will involve a considerable amount of writing insofar as we will not only study about the changing interplay between style and technology, but we will explore it first-hand, practicing stylishly in selected networked writing spaces, such as a course wiki and Twitter. Thus, the course consists of at least two dimensions: it is, on the one hand, a guided intellectual inquiry into what has happened where style and technology collide, and, on the other hand, a hands-on, experiential (even laboratory-like) venue for experimenting with writing, style, and technology.

At the outset, we will establish our own purposes in relationship to Richard Lanham's in the "Origins" section of Style: An Anti-Textbook, where he explains that he discovered a "different way to teach prose composition, a way which emphasized pleasure rather than duty, which allowed words to escape from the penalty box and get back to skating" (4). We will look at several different "ways" to approach style, both for writing and for teaching. Among these, we will encounter stylists (or stylisticians) who seek to loosen the strict grammarian's grip, and we will find others who claim to be rescuing language (or its most coveted units, like the sentence) from the quagmire of unconventional formulations creeping into ever-wider usage, especially online. Our aim is not to resolve these tensions finally as much as it is to understand them more deeply.

The course will open with a series of inquiries into the meanings you associate with each of the terms in the course title: writing, style, and technology. In the coming weeks, we will extend and fine tune this list of opening provocations:

Course Goals for ENGL328

Course goals for ENGL328 include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Students will compose a series of texts as a process (inventing, drafting, revising, editing) that takes place over time, that requires thinking and rethinking ideas, and that addresses diverse audiences and rhetorical contexts.
  2. Students will develop fluency with the rhetorical canon of style, in a variety of contexts (prose to networked media), and across a spectrum of socially motivated practices ranging from clarity/rationalism to delight/pleasure.
  3. Students will learn critical techniques of digital production in selected new media applications.
  4. Students will develop a working knowledge of the evolving relationships among writing practices, stylistic knowledge, and technologies.
  5. Students will reflect on the variety of style and personas in our own writing.
  6. Students will analyze the conventions of genre and style of a chosen discourse community.
  7. Students will distinguish between the conventions of textual and hypertextual style.
  8. Students will substantially revise a text for a different audience, genre, or textual medium (e.g., hypertext).

Work of the Course

You will devote time, thought, and energy to a variety of informal and formal reading and writing activities and practices. During the course you may annotate readings, keep a record of ideas and responses, register observations, take notes on conversations held in or out of class, experiment with different styles, genres, and organizational choices, and engage in a variety of drafting and revision activities. For our first project in the course, we will remake Strunk and White's The Elements of Style by recontextualizing selected rules in relationship to some popular culture "text" (e.g., The Harry Potter Elements of Style or The John and Kate Plus Eight Elements of Style, etc.). Project Two will apply Joseph Williams' Style to Twitter. We will write wiki entries that 1) summarize Williams' chapters on style and 2) generalize those concepts to writing samples found in Twitter. Project Three, 3.33 Ways to Digital Style, invites you to refashion a three-paragraph excerpt of a text you choose, experimenting with stylistic variations available in selected genres (Twitter stream, web comic, syntax analysis, imagetext triptych, and style board). The third project will also include a presentation to the class. At the end of the course, all students will complete a reflective final exam concerned with the relationship between the work of the course and selected goals and objectives.

While developing the major projects for ENGL328, we will also read from the course texts and from selected PDFs available to you for download in EMU Online (see Doc Sharing). Writing well depends upon reading well. Readings you annotate and study during the first half of the semester will provide you with ideas and groundwork, meaningful examples that will support your work later on. Readings will also enlarge the context for our class discussions. And they illustrate choices other writers have made as they composed, particularly writing by integrating and reiterating the ideas previously explored by others. Writing and reading are interdependent, integral practices, and you will move between the two regularly throughout the course.

Course Texts and Materials

Strunk and White

Strunk, William, Jr. and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. 4th Ed. New York: Longman, 2000. ISBN 0-205-30902-x. (required)

Joseph Williams' Style

Williams, Joseph. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1990. ISBN 0-226-89915-2. (required)

These texts are available at the EMU Bookstore in the Student Center.

Supplemental readings will be available to you as PDFs available via EMU Online (see Doc Sharing). You should download the PDFs for reading on the screen or, if you prefer, for printing and reading. Plan to spend as much as $20 on printing and photocopying over the course of the semester.


You will receive many different kinds of feedback to your writing during this course. Some responses will come from fellow students and some will come from me. All forms of feedback, including responses you receive from scheduling individual or group appointments in the University Writing Center or the Academic Projects Center, are important; they tell you in various ways how your readers are responding to your writing. This will also help you learn how to assess your own work.


The breakdown is as follows:

Project 1: Elements of Style Remake, 15%
Project 2: Twitter, Style, Wiki, 20%
Project 3: 3.33333 Ways to Digital Style, 25%
Class participation, presence, and leadership: 15%*
Twitter Activity Stream: 15%
Final Exam: 10%

All work listed here will be assigned a letter grade corresponding to a 4.0 scale. Each of the numbered projects will be described fully in separate prompts that I will circulate at an appropriate time in the semester. All grades will be posted in the EMU Online (eCompanion) gradebook associated with this course.

*Participation, presence, and leadership will include shorter pieces of writing completed in class or as homework. Some shorter pieces will be as simple as note-card-length questions or comments. For many of these shorter pieces you will be asked to write an extended comment in advance of a class session. SPs usually engage assigned readings in matters of summary, response, and inquiry. They will appear on the course schedule (SP#1, SP#2...), and I will announce them in class. At-home SPs should be no longer than one typewritten page in length (150-words or less). They should account for 1.) Generally, what is the assigned reading trying to accomplish? and 2.) What was one point-at-able moment of curiosity, intrigue, or confusion? 3.) How or why does it resonate for you with something you are working on or through currently?

Late Work

All work must be submitted on the date due to be considered for full credit.


ENGL328 offers the following opportunities for extra credit.

Use of the Academic Projects Center. For projects 1-3, provide evidence of a consulting session at the Academic Projects Center to earn extra credit valued at one grading increment (i.e., a 'B' becomes a 'B+', a 'C-' becomes a 'C', and so on; this will boost a grade by approximately 3%). One full consulting session is required. To demonstrate that you have utilized the Academic Projects Center, send an email message before the deadline for the assignment, in which you list the date, time, and name of the consultant, and the general focus of the session (i.e., we worked on X).

Revision of one project from 1-2 . You have the option of revising and resubmitting one project from projects 1-2 for extra credit valued at one grading increment (i.e., a 'B' becomes a 'B+', a 'C-' becomes a 'C', and so on; this will boost a grade by approximately 3%). The revised project must be turned in no later than the revision deadline shown on our course schedule.  Late submissions will not be considered. Include as an addendum to the revised project a single paragraph that carefully details the changes you made to the original copy.

Summary of a Chapter/Article from Style in Rhetoric and Composition: A Critical Sourcebook, Ed. by Paul Butler. You have an opportunity to produce a 300-word summary of a chapter from Style in Rhetoric and Composition. I keep a copy in my office, which you can stop by and leaf through, and I am working on getting a copy placed on reserve in Halle Library. The one-page (single-spaced) summary will be awarded up to 30 points (i.e, 3% of the total available in the course). Your summary may not be turned in for credit after the stated deadline, Monday, October 26.

Course Policies

Attendance and Participation

ENGL328 is a course in language learning, and language is learned in communities; therefore, it is essential that you attend class and participate in a manner respectful of differing learning styles and worldviews. Participation, involvement, and engagement with the activities of the class will be factored into your overall grade under the area of "class participation, presence, and leadership" listed above. Absences and lack of preparation for class will affect your classmates' work as well as your own. The work you do in and in preparation for each class is as important as the polished assignment you turn in for a project. In addition, our syllabus is only a projection and may be subject to occasional changes and revisions as it seems appropriate, necessary, or just interesting. That is another reason why your attendance is vital. If you must miss a class, you are still responsible for all work assigned, including turning work in by stated deadlines. Please realize, however, that class time cannot be reconstructed or made up, and that your performance, your work, and your final course grade will be affected by absences. If you miss more than three class sessions, your final course grade will be reduced by a full letter for absences four and five. If you miss the equivalent of three weeks of classes or more without any official documented cause, you will not be able to pass the course. I do not anticipate any of you will be in that position, however, I would greatly prefer to see everyone become invested in the coursework, come to class, learn a lot, and make ENGL328 a meaningful experience.

We will meet this semester in Pray-Harrold 312, a Mac lab, which means we will be surrounded by technology. You will at times be tempted to use the computers for checking email or browsing the web. As a rule of thumb, I ask that your in-class uses of mobile devices (e.g., cell phones) and desktop computers be focused on class-related activities. Obviously, you should silence your phones before coming to class. As long as everyone is respectfully attentive when someone is speaking, in-class technology use will not be a problem. In-class attentiveness, engagement, and preparedness (i.e., having read and prepared for each class) are what I mean by "presence."

Communication with Peers; Communication with the Instructor

While you can expect a fair amount of leadership and direction to come from me, you should also make arrangements early in the semester to communicate with your peers. In other words, you are strongly encouraged to identify one or two (perhaps more) peers in the class with whom you can discuss readings and assignments, work through questions brought up in the class, and approach when you find something unclear. In short, my hope is that we all will prefer climate in which dialogue and interaction runs between the instructor and students and also between and among students when questions come up. Finally, you should always be proactive about asking questions when you have them, either by raising questions during class or contacting me or one of your peers privately.

Students with Disabilities Office

If you have a documented disability that affects your work in this (or any other) class, the Students with Disabilities Office can provide support for you. Call them, or let me know and I can help you call them, at 734-487-2470 to make all reasonable arrangements to ensure you success in this course.

Academic Projects Center

The Academic Projects Center is located in 104 Halle Library (487-0020, extension 2154). The Center is open M-Th from 11-5 and is staffed by University Writing Center consultants, Halle Librarians, and Information and Communications Technology staff who can help with writing, research, or technology needs. No appointment is necessary. When you visit the Academic Projects Center, be sure to bring a draft of what you're working on and your assignment sheet with you.

University Writing Center

The University Writing Center (209 Pray-Harrold) offers small group workshops on all aspects of the writing process, from Developing Ideas for Your Writing to Strategies for Successful College Reading, from Revising Your Writing to Grammar 101. You can see descriptions of all UWC workshops at www.emich.edu/english/writing-center. Workshops are offered multiple times M-F. To register for a workshop, click the "Register" link from the UWC page. You can also join the UWC Facebook group to keep up with UWC events. The group name is EMU University Writing Center.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately passes off another's words or ideas without acknowledging their source. For example, turning another's work as your own is plagiarism. If you plagiarize in this class, you will likely fail the assignment on which you are working and your case may be passed to the university for additional disciplinary action. Because of the design and nature of this course, it will take as much (or more) work for you to plagiarize in it than it will to actually complete the work of the class. For a more detailed explanation of Eastern Michigan University's stance on academic integrity, refer to Section V.A. of the Student Conduct Code.

Computers, Multimedia, and Technology

We will be interacting with a variety of sites on the internet during the course. Please let me know if you have not had any experience using a browser such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari. When using a computer, save your work frequently, always make backup copies, and plan your projects with extra time allowed for unanticipated challenges.

Some of the work you do for this class will be handed in typewritten, using a word processing application, such as MS Word, Open Office, or Google Docs. When turning in documents like this, please use an easily readable font, such as Times New Roman 12. Assign one inch margins and adhere to MLA page layout and documentation conventions. At times you will also turn in work in other formats (wiki entries or edits, Twitter streams, images, etc.). You will receive comprehensive instructions for turning in new media projects. Nevertheless, I strongly urge you to plan ahead, to familiarize yourself with file formats and with the submission process, and to approach me with questions about submissions well in advance of the due dates.


To communicate by email we will use our emich.edu accounts, accessible via mail.emich.edu. You can send email to me or to classmates via the EMU Online (eCompanion) site associated with this course. You may call and leave a phone message, but you will at times find it more effective to use email to contact me about your work in the course. You can also set up an appointment to meet with me on campus, or to ask a question. With rare exceptions, I will respond to all email inquiries within 48 hours.

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Assistant Professor of Computers and Writing
Department of English Language and Literature
Office: 612M Pray-Harrold
Fall '09 office hours: MW, 9-11:30 a.m., and by appointment
Phone: (315) 708-3940 (cell)


"A few years ago, when I was grading papers for a graduate literature course, I became alarmed at the inability of my students to write a clean English sentence." -Stanley Fish, "What Should Colleges Teach?"

"We concentrate on utility at the expense of joie de vivre. And we then wonder, as de Tocqueville prophesied we would, why life has lost its savor" (19). -Richard Lanham, Style: An Anti-textbook

Creative Commons License
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.