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Sténopé Set (30%, 30 points)

Throughout the semester you will create a sténopé set: several small-scope, pinhole-sized projects, activities, and assignments that will accumulate into a collection. Sténopé types vary. They are due no later than Sunday night at 11 p.m. Sténopés must be posted to the course blog to be considered for full credit. Specific types of sténopés must also be posted elsewhere. You are welcome to post them to your own blogs, note spaces, and Google docs, as well. When you post a sténopé to the course blog, title it so that it reflects the type of sténopé it is. Please also include tags for every entry you post to the blog.

Reading Questions (~30 minutes)
Reading questions are entries that engage the assigned reading following a double-entry format and posing a question for us to consider together in our next class meeting. The format of the entry promotes specific interactions with the reading and with others in the course. No later than Sunday night at midnight EDT, select a short selection from the week's assigned reading, then write through (i.e., interpret) the selection as a way of expressing some sort of response, which culminates in a question. If the selection from the reading is textual, it should be no more than three sentences, quoted, and with a citation referring to the source. If the selection from the reading is visual, it should be captured as an image (I recommend using your phone to take a photo rather than scanning, when possible), cropped, and positioned at the beginning of the entry, with a citation referring to the source. The entry preceding the question may offer some background, context, and framing discussion in the range of 100-300 words. Be sure to end your entry with a question that will generate discussion or engage an issue that connects with the reading and that interests you.

Brooke Notes (~45 minutes)
Brooke Notes are a note-keeping system designed to be routine, generative, usable, and accumulative throughout and beyond your graduate program of study. This approach to note-keepin, which I credit to Collin Brooke, takes as its first principle that if it warrants reading, it warrants annotation. Even more, scholarly and curricular reading warrants annotation that is right-sized (i.e., neither excessively thorough nor too thin to be useful later on) and built-up in a database that you can search later on. Whether or not that database is kept publicly is up to you; there are strong arguments on both sides of the decision to post such notes publicly or, instead, to keep them privately, and we will discuss some of these considerations in class.

Here are a few general provisions for Brooke Notes:

Learn more about the rationale for this approach and the basic guidelines for developing a Brooke Notes entry over here: Each entry should—at a minimum—include the following:

A complete Brooke Notes entry will include all seven of these elements. Coordinate with others assigned to Brooke Notes for any given week how you will divide the readings to ensure coverage of all assigned readings, as much as possible. When posting Brooke Notes to the course blog, use the keywords as tags on the blog entry, as well.

Big Ideas in Visual Rhetoric (~45 minutes)
Guidelines for big ideas in visual rhetoric are provided in a shared Google Doc where the ideas will be developed and collected as a set. When it is your turn to contribute to big ideas, one entry is required for the week. It must be posted in the course blog and in the shared Google Doc.

Visual Rhetoric Glossary (~45 minutes)
Guidelines for the visual rhetoric glossary are provided in a shared Google Doc where the ideas will be developed and collected as a set. When it is your turn to contribute to big ideas, two entries are required for the week. They must be posted in the course blog and in the shared Google Doc.

Scribe Notes (~75 minutes plus note-keeping in class)
In keeping with the National Writing Project tradition of scribe notes, WRTG540 scribe notes are one-page encapsulations of the previous class meeting. They are a blended genre in that they function somewhat like minutes, but they also call upon you to consider layout, typeface, and visual elements (at lease one must be included). They can be hand-drawn and hand-lettered, serious or playful, simple or elaborate, but they must account for the previous class meeting on one 8.5x11 page. Save your scribe notes as a PDF and post them to the blog as an entry.

Visual Rhetoric Bibliography (~45 minutes)
Guidelines for the visual rhetoric bibliography are provided in a shared Google Doc where the references will be developed and collected as a set. When it is your turn to contribute to the bibliography, five entries are required for the week. They must be posted in the course blog and in the shared Google Doc.

Stop-Draw and Stop-Write (~20 minutes)
If you are assigned to a stop-draw or stop-write role, you are responsible for coming up with a prompt for brief drawing and writing prompts that will interrupt our next class session. Drawing prompts are informed by the practices outlined in Lynda Barry's Syllabus, where she asks students to draw for one minute, sketching quickly and according to Ivan Brunetti's (p. 17) simple-shapes approach, any variety of figures: robbers, cars, batmen. Next, she has everyone pass their sketch to the right (or left!) for the addition of color. Stop-draw moments will give us first-hand experience with this. Your role is to prompt it (i.e., to decide what we will draw) and to call for it (i.e., to interrupt class and tell us to do it). Stop-writes are similar in that they are five-minute writing episodes--or breaks--during class. Once called for ("Stop and write!"), that's what we do, and your prompting will frame it, your call for our activity to shift will bring it about and make it happen. Stop-Draws and Stop-Writes may be posted to the blog, but they must be kept by you in a single file in Google Docs--a file you will share with your instructor. Some may be prompted with instructions that foreward that they will be collected and posted (anonymously) as a set to the class blog. If you are in a Stop-Draw or Stop-Write role for the week, you need only to prepare for the following class meeting the prompt you will lead us with, and you need to write that prompt into your own Stop-Draw Stop-Write Google doc (i.e., the same place where you keep all of your own SDSW entries for the semester).

Addenda (time varies)
You are welcome to post other entries to the course blog at any time, provided they bear relation to the study of visual rhetoric and information design. If you choose to do so, you can post stop-draw and stop-write entries from each class, and you can also post other entries than the ones you are assigned.

Reflection (30 minutes at midterm and one hour at the end of the semester)
Twice during the semester you will write reflectively about your sténopé set, discussing it in terms of discoveries, inspirational ideas, emerging interests and curiosities, and also in terms of wishes for do-overs, realizations about what would have been helpful had you perhaps approached it another way, and also what has proven difficult or challenging in this work.

Sténopé Grading
Each sténopé entry is valued at approximately one-tenth of the set, or about three points. An entry that is one day late will receive a modest reduction. An entry that is late but turned in within the week will be reduced by one point. Beyond a week, the entry may be submitted, but it will earn just one point. Reductions in credit may also be made for reasons of development and correctness, though these should be the rare case. Grades for sténopés will be posted in Canvas.

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

"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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