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505.2 Rhetorics of Science and Technology (30%, 30 points)

Project Two consists of two "position essays" that draw upon selected perspectives from readings this semester to analyze, extend, and apply some rhetorical framework to an issue or case of your choosing. Each piece will amount to at least 1,500 words that forwards a claim or advances an insightful proposition or otherwise illuminates (in your own manner of "working with" these ideas) selected rhetorical concepts or frameworks in relation to a contemporary scientific or technological controversy. The rhetorical concepts you select may come from readings for the class or from outside research and reading you do independently (e.g., ancillaries to assigned readings, such as Myers' article on metanoia). You may choose freely from a range of conteporary scientific and/or technological controversies. You should not expect to account fully for the controversy, and, in fact, narrowing the scope and selecting which materials to work with will be one of the challenges in composing a response to this call.

Your essay should adhere strictly to APA or MLA style. The rhetorical concept(s) and controversy you work with here may also extend into Project Three, the timeline, and the presentation at the end of the semester, so it might be helpful to keep this in mind as you gather resources and decide how best to approach the project.

Among our purposes: to more deeply understand selected (perhaps favorite or inspirational) rhetorical concepts in relation to some contemporary controversy in science and/or technology. The following questions serve as another way of introducing this perspective on learning: 1) What can we understand about rhetorical qualities manifest in this situation? And 2) What can we understand about the controversy by viewing it in light of rhetorical concepts? Note that you could approach the essay as an opportunity to examine a controversy that has not yet been recognized publicly or that could be illuminated through rhetorical thinking (especially the stases, the rhetorical situation, rhetorical ecologies, or rhetoric as epistemic). You should imagine as your readers an audience of peers.

The first essay is due to EMU Online's Dropbox on Wednesday, October 31, and the second essay is due to EMU Online's Dropbox on Wednesday, November 14.

Added: For the second essay, you have an alternative. Produce a 2-3 page needs assessment for Hihiwiki. What would improve the site? How should the site be arranged differently? What features are missing? Which entries need work (or, perhaps, how might we implement a flag message for "This entry needs attention for x, y, or z reason"?). Then, in addition to the needs assessment, apply changes to the wiki that begin to improve it. Add notes to discussion pages. Incorporate hyperlinks or navigational menus. In effect, act as a reviewer, editor, and writer in that space. This alternative is open to everyone, but it will appeal foremost to you who want to advance your fluency with wikitext, think more about how wikis work, and so on.

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing
Director of Composition
Department of English
Virginia Tech
Office: 315 Shanks Hall
Spring 2020 Office Hours: T, 12-3
Phone: +1-734-985-0485

"Rhetoric of science is simply, then, the study of how scientists persuade and dissuade each other and the rest of us about nature, —the study of how scientists argue in the making of knowledge" (xii). Randy Harris, "Introduction," Landmark Essays on Rhetoric of Science: Case Studies

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