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Portfolio (60%, 60 points)

Rhetoric's Optics

The portfolio is a collection of small pieces and activities distributed evenly throughout the semester. Let's call the elements of the portfolio fovea, because the fovea is an minor dent or divot in the eye where visual processing is heightened, where cones, and consequently whatever seeing we do with them, are concentrated. Your seeing—as well, your grasp on visual rhetoric, ought to be intensified with each of these.

All portfolio fovea are time sensitive, but some of their deadlines are set by me and others of them—especially those that would be considered activities—are scheduled by you. Each week you will see "Portfolio fovea" listed on the schedule. This means that you should be thinking about and planning for that piece leading up to class, but the piece is not due until the next week (turned in before the start of class). There are ten total:

*F1. Vizrhet is...
Write an account in which you define visual rhetoric using a combination of statements about what it is and what it is not. (500 words single-spaced).

F2. Annotated image in Google Docs Drawing
Select a photograph, insert it into a Google Docs Drawing, and write a series of annotations that account for rhetorical aspects of the image. Include a 200-word caption that contextualizes the image and elaborates on any annotations you choose.

F3. Image sandwich, or Double-exposure (Photoshop)
Choose two photographs and arrange them in layers so that they blend into one another. As you chose images and consider their coordination, think about juxtaposition, studium/punctum, and other rhetorical effects initiated by the pairing. Write a 200-word caption in which you discuss where the images came from as well as the rhetorical significance of the new composite image.

F4. Mapping a field I (CMap Tools or GDocs Drawing)
Develop a map of the field you belong to or identify with. You might represent key thinkers, ideas, or historical events.

F5. Mapping a field II (CMap Tools or GDocs Drawing)
Now, modify the first map (or create a second map) of an ideal field for you without heeding historical, institutional, or ideological constraints.

F6. Controversy map (CMap Tools or GDocs Drawing)
Develop a visual representation of a contemporary controversy. Include a statement providing context about the controversy, and attempt to include in your controversy map at least two of the nine layers noted by Venturini.

F7. Typography carnival (MS Word)
Building on what you have learned from Chs. 8 and 9 in Golombisky and Hagen, develop a one-page layout with typographic variation that recasts a blog entry (or excerpt from a blog entry). The entry can come from any blog and any date. Your re-presentation of it should showcase type and spacing. Use only one color and not more than one image, if you decide to adopt any of the layout patterns covered in Ch. 8. Remember to save your document as a PDF or as a screenshot to ensure the consistent display of elements.

F8. Doc design analysis
You have a few possibilities for Fovea 8. 1.) Drawing on what you have learned about typefaces in recent weeks, develop a type-based logo (see #3 on p. 106 of Golombisky and Hagen). Account for what the logo communicates. 2) Follow the instructions for "Try This" #2 or #5 on p. 50. Or, 3) locate a simple document whose design you think could be improved. Sketch a plan for its improvement, and explain how you understand the sketched version to work, drawing on rhetorical vocabulary from earlier in the semester.

F9. Visual articulation
Beginning with a short quotation from a source that has influenced you, create a visual translation of the quotation using any of the techniques we have studied this semester related to photos and photomanipulation, document design, or data visualization and information graphics.

*F10. Four icon challenge
The Four Icon Challenge comes from designer and illustrator Kyle Tezak. Essentially, it involves distilling a story into four icons. Blogger Alan Levine explains his own four icon process in some detail at http://cogdogblog.com/2011/02/05/four-icon-challenge/. His instructions might also be helpful to you: "Reduce a movie, story, or event into it’s basic elements, then take those visuals and reduce them further to simple icons." Your task, then, is to create your own four icon rendering of a movie. You may draw your own icons or use icons available from The Noun Project. Include with your four icons a brief explanation of the process you followed. But don't disclose the movie you've tried to capture. We will try to guess them in class.

Notice the * on F1 and F10. * means they are required. Both must be completed by everyone in the class. Think of the others as items on a menu. You can pick and choose among them; you don't have to complete all of them, but the number you complete will have bearing on how your portfolio is evaluated. Before saying much about evaluation, though, there are three additional bundles to tell you about.

Blog Notes Bundle (+3-5)
For the blog notes bundle, you will post reading notes entries on one selection from the night's reading before the start of class (and also submit a copy to the EMU Online Dropbox). The format for reading notes entries is based loosely on the model described in this entry by Collin Brooke on "workflow":

You will have the chance to sign up for the blog notes bundle on the first night of class. Agreeing to pursue this bundle obligates you to set up a public blog (which is easy and free if you don't have one already), and it means you must create notes entries for three or four readings this semester. You must also commit to the specific readings you will annotate early in the semester.

Discussion Questions Bundle (+1-3)
For the DQ bundle, you must prepare and submit one question about the reading no later than Sunday night at midnight (i.e., if it is late, it doesn't count!). The question should demonstrate a grasp of the reading; it should provide some context. That is, the question should stand as a paragraph that can then be distributed at the start of class on Monday evening. The DQ bundle also requires you to sign up for specific dates and readings. We cannot have more than four DQs on any given night (i.e., DQ opportunities are capped).

Freeform Bundle (+1-3)
Elements of the freeform bundle are malleable. With this you can complete up to three fovea on your terms. These can be variations on the ten items listed above, they can be used to extend the number of blogged notes entries you prepare, or they can include just about anything else, as long as they bear discernible relation to the course. The freeform bundle essentially provides you with wildcards—pieces you can include in your portfolio even though they do not fit the requirements established elsewhere.

Setting Up and Building It As You Go
Your portfolio must be set up in an accessible place online. I recommend you create and use a Google Site, a Wordpress blog, or a combination of the two. Those who want to develop, refine, or continue developing their technical skills may instead build a simple HTML/CSS site (or adapt one from a template) on people.emich.edu. I ask that you establish your portfolio and provide its link in the appropriate place on the contract no later than the end of the first week of classes. Please build the portfolio as you go. That is, each time you finish something for the portfolio, you should 1) update the contract, 2) submit it to EMU Online, and 3) add it to your growing online portfolio.

Portfolio Evaluation (50 points)
Most of the portfolio (i.e., 50 points) will be evaluated according to a grading contract. Decide the level of activity you want to pursue, record your entries in the contract, and the units/credits in the following ranges will correspond to the grade earn.
16 or more A
14-15 A-
12-13 B+
10-11 B
9 or fewer B-

Revisions and Introduction/Overview (10 points)
A relatively minor, remaining portion of the portfolio—10 points—is set aside for revisions and an introduction or overview that you will write near the end of the semester. Use feedback you receive from your peers, your professor, and the University Writing Center (if applicable) to revise at least five of the pieces in the portfolio. Include an introduction or overview of approximately 1200 words in the final portfolio, due Monday, April 22, before the start of class.

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 2019 Office Hours: T, 12-3
Phone: +1-734-985-0485

"We need to become irritated at our favorite theories and theorists and tired of our usual list of visual objects. Visual studies should be ferrociously difficult, as obdurate and entangled in power as the images themselves. Complacency on that score leads back toward the fun house of aimless impressionistic writing about the joys of contemporary consumerism. There is so much more out there waiting to be understood" (201). James Elkins, "Envoi," Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction

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