Topics for the Semester
We will treat the following
three general topics:
Dimensions of Design.
This unit is not concerned with the technical dimensions, but
with the rhetorical dimensions of web page and website design.
Rhetorical dimensions are concepts such as audience, organizational
structure, rhetorical occasion, stylistic appeal. We will be especially
sensitive to how the rhetorical principles of web design differ
from those in other media such as oral and written. We will examine
web pages and websites to use our understanding in efforts to
as Rhetorical Space. We will consider the ways in
which the technology that is the internet shapes rhetorical activity.
We will consider such issues as public versus mass communication;
push versus pull technology; information versus framing; virtual
geography; virtual community; identity and anonymity; the digital
divide (by gender and class). Our interest is how the internet
changes the structure of rhetorical space when compared with oral
or print media.
and Socio-Political Change. We will consider how
those engaging in social and political strategies to change society
have employed the internet. Our study will concentrate on sites
from across the spectrum of support and opposition to change.
We will explore the implications of the internet environment on
how they seek to achieve their goals.
Methods of Instruction
The instruction in the
course will be mainly inductive. That is, we will be spending much
time working from the web and analyzing the things we find there.
Concepts that we use to understand what we are finding will come
from reading, web material, and discussion. In such an environment,
the student's task is not so much memorization of concepts but use
of concepts in analysis of communication. Some group work will be
employed to prepare for classroom discussions.
Required Prior Knowledge
- Students need a facility
with preparation of webpages and websites. They may use Netscape
Composer, FrontPage, Dreamweaver, Hot Dog, or similar software
that does not require knowledge of html or xml.
- Students will need
full access to the internet. They will be expected to have access
daily and to spend some time each day surfing.
- COMM 401 will be of
assistance to students in knowing how to analyze rhetorical strategies.
This will not, however, be a prerequisite.
- Ilise Benun, Designing
Websites for Every Audience. Cincinnati: How Design Books,
- Leonard J. Shedletsky
and Joan E. Aitken, Human Communication on the Internet.
Boston: Pearson, Allyn and Bacon, 2004.
- David M. Anderson
and Michael Cornfield, eds. The Civic Web: Online Politics
and Democratic Values. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield,