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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 juncture shared among composing practices, stylistic knowledge, and writing technologies, new and old. We will explore the ways in which style, as a canon of rhetoric, pertains to a wide variety of genres, from conventional academic prose to new and emerging writing platforms online. Our examination of these genres will involve a considerable amount of writing insofar as we will not only study about the adaptive 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.

From the outset we will develop a sense of the style-technology pairing by examining several different ways to frame each term, both for writing and for teaching. 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. In the coming weeks, we will also examine, explore, 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 develop a working knowledge of the evolving, interdependent relationships among composing practices, stylistic knowledge, and writing technologies.
  2. 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.
  3. 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/correctness to pleasure/creativity.
  4. Students will learn critical techniques of digital production in selected new media applications.

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 involves the development of wiki entries on a range of topics brought up in readings and in class conversations. We will write and revise wiki entries that trace keywords, that work through selected ideas from the first half of the course, and that adapt style concepts from Williams' Style to new media composing platforms, such as 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, and imagetext triptych). 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)
Amazon.com | Half.com

Joseph Williams' Style

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

140 Characters

Sagolla, Dom. 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2009. ISBN: 978-0470-55613-9. (recommended)
Amazon.com | Half.com

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 USD 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 of graded items is as follows:

P1: Elements of Style Remake, 15%, 150 points
P2: Style Wiki, 15%, 150 points
P3: 3.33 Ways to Digital Style, 20%, 200 points
P3: Ignite-style Presentation, 5%, 50 points
Twitter Activity Stream and Essay: 20%, 200 points
Class participation, presence, and leadership: 15%*, 150 points
Final Exam: 10%, 100 points

All work listed above 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. You must complete all major projects (i.e., P1, P2, P3, and P3 Presentation) and the final exam to be eligible for a passing grade in ENGL328.

*Participation, presence, and leadership will include shorter pieces of writing completed in class or as homework. Some shorter pieces may include note-card-length questions or comments, or reading quizzes. For many of these shorter pieces you will be asked to write an extended summary/response 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. All SPs must be typed and single-spaced (appr. 300 words) with one-inch margins and a standard, easily readable typeface. They should account for 1.) What is the assigned reading attempting to accomplish? How? and 2.) What is one point-at-able moment of curiosity, intrigue, or confusion? ("Point-at-able" means you can locate it on the page, referring to it with direct quotation and a page or paragraph number.) 3.) How or why does it resonate for you with something you are working on or through currently? In addition to these questions, which shoud be addressed explicitly in each of the SPs, your work can discuss style, explore more deeply openings and provocations in the reading, and articulate the relationship between the reading and any aspects of ENGL328.

Turning in Work

Dropbox in EMUOnline
Unless otherwise specified, your written work in ENGL328 will be turned in to the digital dropbox in EMU Online. In most cases, you will be asked to submit a .doc file by uploading it to the appropriate dropbox. Your work will be returned by this same method.

File Naming
When you prepare to turn in electronic files, please adhere to the following conventions. Save document files as .doc or .rtf (rich text format). Use the "Save as" option to avoid submitting work as .docx. Use the following naming formula: 328-Lastname-Assn.doc. That is, your filenames should always include the course number, your last name, and the abbreviated name of the assignment. For example, my own copy of Project One would be named 328-Mueller-P1.doc.

Late Work
All work must be submitted before the start of class on the due date to be considered on time and therefore eligible for full credit. This policy applies whether or not you are in class on a given day. In other words, if you miss class, you are still responsible for meeting all related deadlines. Late work will be reduced by 10% (i.e., one full letter grade) for each day it is overdue. Late work will not be eligible for a passing grade except where an official, documented cause is available.


ENGL328 offers the following opportunities for extra credit.

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 from Style in Rhetoric and Composition: A Critical Sourcebook, Ed. by Paul Butler. Write a 300-word summary of one of three chapters from Style in Rhetoric and Composition. 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 deadline, Monday, February 22.

Course Policies

Attendance and Participation

ENGL328 is a course in language learning, and language is learned in communities, usually by social interactions; 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 and schedule are 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 without any official documented cause, 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, and 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 116 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 unexpected challenges.

Much of the work you do for this class will be 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 typeface, 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
Department of English Language and Literature
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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