Courtesy: Boston Museum of Science


Rhetoric of the Internet

Spring 2004

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James F. Klumpp

Department of Communication

College of Arts and Humanities

University of Maryland


Because this is a special topics course, highly inductive in approach, and not driven by necessity for coverage, I would like to keep this daily schedule unusually fluid. Please check back at least weekly for changes.

The current version is dated April 13, 2004.


Tuesday, January 27

Introduction to the Course

Unit 1: Rhetorical Dimensions of Design

Thursday, January 29


  • Find three web sites and web pages that work particularly well for you. Another way to put this would be that if you were designing web sites and pages you would emulate.
  • Develop a list of reasons you find these sites and pages attractive.
  • Bring the URLs for these sites and pages to class with you prepared to talk about your selections and what you admire about them

Issues in a rhetorical theory of web design

Tuesday, February 3

Developing your rhetorical sensitivities

Thursday, February 5

A vocabulary for developing a rhetorical theory of web design

Tuesday, February 10


  • Read Benum, c. 1
  • Using your readings analyze the website for this course. What characteristics of the users should we attend to in revising it? What revisions are suggested? Be prepared to give support for your claims about the users and reasons for your proposed alterations based in your analysis of the users. This is preparation for some group work in class.

The importance of audience in rhetorical design. Group Assignment #1

Thursday, February 12


  • Preparation and review of redesigns for Group Assignment #1

Rhetorical dimensions of layout decisions.

Tuesday, February 17

Training in Netscape Composer. Class will meet in 3330 Computer & Space Sciences Building

Thursday, February 19

Lost day due to illness

Tuesday, February 24

  • Reports from groups on class website

Thursday, February 26


  • You will have been assigned to a group and to a chapter of Benum.
  • Read that chapter.
  • Using your knowledge of rhetorical theory so far prepare a group presentation of 20 minutes answering the following questions for websites with the rhetorical purpose specified in your chapter:
    • What special kinds of rhetorical decisions are required for this type website?
    • What rhetorical characteristic prominent in this type of website is also a good lesson for all websites?
    • How does purpose influence rhetorical choice?

Group reports on chapter 2-4 of Benum

Tuesday, March 2

Group reports on chapter 5-7 of Benum

Thursday, March 4

  • Producing Evaluative Work
  • Wrap up of Unit 1

Unit 2: Internet as Rhetorical Space

Tuesday, March 9


Setting the framework for our study of the internet as rhetorical space

Thursday, March 11


The internet and the reconfiguration of communicative space

Tuesday, March 16


Speed of communication and the reconfiguation of knowledge

Thursday, March 18


Commitment, play, and the tentativeness of internet communication

Tuesday, March 30

No class

Thursday, April 1


The internet and the formation of publics

Tuesday, April 6


The internet: medium or interactant

Thursday, April 8


Virtual relationships and communication

Tuesday, April 13


Return first projects

Groups and internet use

Thursday, April 15


The altered rhetorical space

Unit 3: The Internet and Socio-Political Change

Tuesday, April 20


  • Read Anderson and Cornfield, cc. 1-3

Internet and Political Process

Thursday, April 22

Groups will have opportunity to put final touches on their presentations

Tuesday, April 27


  • Read Anderson and Cornfield, cc. 4-6

Report of Group: Political Campaigning and the internet

Thursday, April 29


  • Read Anderson and Cornfield, cc. 7-9

Report of Group: Citizenship and the Internet

Tuesday, May 4

Report of Group: Social Movements and the Internet

Thursday, May 6

Report of Group: Responding to hate groups and the Internet

Tuesday, May 11


  • Read Anderson and Cornfield, cc. 10-12
  • Internet and the renewal of democracy
  • Evaluation and Review for Final
  • Website assignment due




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