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328.3 3.333 Ways to Digital Style

For this project, you will amplify style by remaking a three-paragraph passage of non-fiction prose three ways. By recasting the passage three ways, you will shed light on stylistic qualities, particularly those qualities we find addressed by Crowley and Hawhee in their chapter on style. That is, you will use Crowley and Hawhee and other texts we have read this semester as frameworks for noticing and amplifying style in the passage you select. Your remakes should render those stylistic impressions more sharply, lending depth, perspective, and insight to a reader's experience of a passage's style.

You will create three remakes, choosing from four available options: 1) a Twitter stream, 2) a syntax analysis, 3) a web comic, and 4) an imagetext triptych. Each remake should resonate with the passage you choose. That is, the remakes should key on the text's arguments (implicit or explicit), images, figures of speech, figures of thought, tropes, and other stylistic qualities. For these reasons, you should choose your passage with care, mindful from the outset of the ways your passage will be recast. Passages rich in tropes, figures, images, and arguments are likely to translate into certain remake options more readily than others. We will look at examples in class and also discuss the selection process early in the unit.

Each remake will accompany a brief comment written to explain the stylistic effect amplified by the remake. In a paragraph, the comment accompanying each remake will also account for decisions you made in the process of creating the piece. Think of the comment as an artist's note for the way it will help readers think about the remaking process, the stylistic impressions you sought to emphasize in the remake, and the context this work emerged from.

The options for remakes are as follows (Note: the examples below extend from this passage):

Project Three culminates with a presentation you will deliver to the class. Your presentation will report on your transformations of the three-paragraph passage. It may include discussion of the passage itself, the stylistic aspects of the passage, the remakes, and the decisions you made as you re-invented the passage three ways. Presentations will accompany a Powerpoint slideshow consisting of twenty slides each set to rotate automatically after 15 seconds. Individual slides may not include more than five words. Slides should include images (i.e., these are visually intensive presentations, not text heavy slide-documents). As you present, you may use up to five index cards; however, you are strongly encouraged to present extemporaneously, working informally from memory rather than reading from a script.

Assignment Details
Your project will consist, ultimately, of the original three-paragraph passage and three remakes, each with notes explaining how style is amplified in the work. The explanatory note for the passage and each remake should be between 100 and 200 words. The passage, Twitter stream, and syntax analysis will be submitted as texts; the web comic and imagetext triptych will be submitted as images (jpeg files). Specific criteria and formatting details for each of the pieces is explained more fully at the links above. I will add to these explanations as we encounter problems and as you share questions.

Choosing a Passage
Selecting a strong passage will establish a foundation for everything that follows. You should begin the process of choosing a passage immediately. Remember that the passage must be non-fiction. Because you will be required to discuss your decision and also write about its genre and author, you should keep these questions in mind as you begin inquiring into options. Students in the past have developed successful projects working with some of the following writers: William Least-Heat Moon, Alice Walker, Ralph Ellison, John McPhee, Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Johnson, and Rick Bass. You can also consult with Halle librarians, or browse various non-fiction publications online at The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's.

Drafts, In-progress Feedback and Deadlines
You must commit to a passage no later than Monday, March 15. You may seek feedback on any remake at any stage of the process simply by emailing it to me or stopping in during office hours. If you email, I will, in most cases, respond with suggestions and questions within two days. A full draft of your project is due on Wednesday, March 31. Include a copy of the original passage. You should be prepared to give your presentation on Monday, April 12. Completed projects are due on Wednesday, April 14.

Develop a catchy title for your project.

Submission Guidelines
The project you produce should be gathered into a single document, either a .doc file, or a simple web page you create using something like Edicy.com or Hihi Wiki. The file will contain the following:

  1. Identifying information (name, date, course, and professor's name)
  2. Project title
  3. The original passage (full text, scanned as an image or typed in full)
  4. An explanatory note about your reasons for choosing the passage, including some discussion of genre and authorship (100-200 words)
  5. Remake #1
  6. Remake #1 Explanatory note (100-200 words)
  7. Remake #2
  8. Remake #2 Explanatory note (100-200 words)
  9. Remake #3
  10. Remake #3 Explanatory note (100-200 words)

Evaluation Criteria

Project Three is valued at 250 points (25% of your overall grade in the course). Two hundred points are assigned to the remakes; 50 points are assigned to the presentation.

The remake portion of Project Three will be evaluated according to the following six criteria:

  1. Rhetorical effectiveness: The passage is well-chosen; it offers sufficient richness for engaging with qualities of style. The remakes convincingly establish linkages with the passage. The passage (as well as the genre it comes from) has been studied carefully, and the remakes were produced accordingly in such a way that is suggestive, insightful.
  2. Technical precision: All three remakes are technically precise. Each remake adheres to the conditions established for it (image dimensions, number of filters applied, typeface adjustments, incorporation of links and hashtags, application of the Paramedic Method and Tufte's types).
  3. Development (the project is complete, fully developed; all aspects, including required length and a catchy title, are available)
  4. Amplification of style: Style is explicitly addressed in the note accompanying each remake. The relationship between style and the remake process is also explained, using terms introduced by Crowley and Hawhee.
  5. Visual effectiveness (look and design of each remake)
  6. Accuracy (concerning mistakes or errors)

The presentation will be evaluated according to the following three criteria:

  1. Delivery: (eye contact, engagement with audience, presence, command of material, timing)
  2. Slideshow: (auto-rotation, image-intensivity, technical precision)
  3. Explanation of process, remakes, and stylistic amplification: (compelling content, appropriate scope for five minutes, insight into style reflected in remakes)

Each criterion listed above will be evaluated on the following scale:


EX: Exceptional. The writer has applied the criterion with distinction.
AC: Acceptable/meets expectations. The writer has applied the criterion to a satisfactory degree.
NI: Needs improvement. The writer has minimally applied the criterion in the project.
NA: Not applied. The writer has not applied the criterion in the project.

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Office: 612M Pray-Harrold
Winter 2010 office hours: MW, 10-11 a.m., Tu., 9-Noon, and by appointment
Phone: (315) 708-3940 (cell)


"Neither The Elements of Style nor any other style book can be the definitive text on writing in every genre or media." —ENGL328 student, Fall 2009

"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

"Let us collectively raise the level of discourse online. What starts as a relentless tide of simple-minded chatter resembles the most perfect wave of literary turbulence under the right conditions" (89). —Dom Sagolla, 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form

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