This project shifts the rhetorical situation from writing an academic essay that analyzes the concept of genre and rhetoric more broadly (in our case, as they apply to online legends) to one in which you yourself are a creator of a piece of rhetoric that belongs to, and/or comments upon an online legend, with an intentional and well defined purpose, message, audience, context, and rhetor. Specifically, this online legend text will be, in some form, an ostensive contribution to an existing online legend of your choice, OR an origins text for a completely new online legend, started by you.
This project imitates what you’ll be asked to do often in both your college career and afterwards—discern what you want to say, who you want to say it to, and how best to do so given a set of genre constraints, ones that you may not necessarily be familiar with (and therefore need to research carefully). The Rhetoric-in-Practice assignment is intended to give you a deeper appreciation of what it means to make specific rhetorical choices to serve your purpose and an opportunity to reflect on how those choices affect the message you are sending and the audience that you reach with it.
In this way, the RIP is a culmination of the work you’ve done in this class with respect to your understanding of both genre and rhetoric.
- Develops clear cogent analyses and convincing arguments about rhetorical choices
- Identifies and articulates genre expectations, situating the text at hand within a larger conversation in a particular rhetorical situation, with a particular audience
- Selects credible and pertinent material from readings and outside texts to support a point or argument
- Situates, integrates, and contextualizes different types of evidence effectively (multimodality is encouraged)
- Demonstrates effective organization and style – for a particular purpose, within a particular genre, to a particular audience
- Connects rhetorical choices from class readings to their own projects, applying these principles to their own purposes effectively and appropriately
- Rewrites and edits language, style, tone, and sentence structure according to genre and audience expectations
- Practices applying citation conventions systematically in their own work
- Plans and executes a revision process that does not rely onlyon direction from the instructor, developing ownership of both process and product to revise purposefully
The RIP assignment has two parts: project and essay.
PROJECT: You will create an ostensive text in some way based on an existing online legend of your choice, OR you will create a new legend via an origins text or a collection of interrelated origins texts. Your creative project should be created with conventions of online legends and the specific chosen creepypasta in mind. It may take the form of any multitude of the ostensive texts we’ve seen, all one which have contained visual media (video, photography/images, art, flyers, etc.), textual media (forum posts and conversations, “found” journal entries posted online, websites, comment sections, social media accounts, etc.), or most commonly, some combination of both.
Through the creation of this text you will demonstrate your rhetorical know-how by making a variety of inter-connected choices that build off of one another to achieve your desired rhetorical effects. In other words, your created text will operate within a clear rhetorical framework—with a clear context, belonging to an identifiable genre*, and with a clear purpose and audience—that addresses the class theme. The only limitation on genre is that it CANNOT BE SIMPLY A SHORT STORY OR NARRATIVE TURNED IN AS A SIMPLE GOOGLE DOC. It must be comprised of a more interactive or multimodal elements that make it unique to the conventions of online legends. These conventions will often be VISUAL as well as TEXTUAL (ie: if you do write a narrative-based ostensive text, then you must format it in such a way that mimics how model ostensive texts look, feel, and read online). This does NOT include the necessity of publishing your work in an online forum but MIGHT require some creative formatting on your part. You have broad freedomto choose whatever kind of text you want, and are encouraged to think “outside the box.” You may do this project with a partner, but this will increase the workload expectations of the creative project, and it would have to be approved by me. BOTH partners will have to write and submit their OWN essay component to the RIP, independent of the other.
- Rhetor: The rhetor of this text is you, of course, but also not you. What does this mean? Well, it’s a fictional text, and so for this project you are being asked to inhabit a fictional context of some kind—most creepypasta texts are created by real people, like us, who take on altered or fake identities to make their texts appear more “authentic.” This is just what you will do. What kind of rhetor will you be? Perhaps a fictional college student who has encountered something creepy, a blogger, web designer, a social-media manager, filmmaker, an FBI agent investigating a case, a historian, or even one of the named characters from an existing online legend. That is, while you MAY be a college student (in the tradition of many creepypastas we’ve seen, like BEN Drowned and Marble Hornets), you are not merely you—a college student being asked to write a final paper for your WR 39B class. You are something, perhaps someone (real or imagined) else.
- Message and Purpose:First, what are you trying to accomplish with this text via your audience, and what arguments (messages) will you be conveying in order to achieve that purpose? Think about this specifically and complexly—don’t settle for obvious or overly simplistic purposes like “I’m trying to prove my argument, or simply “creep people out,” etc.” You need to think more deeply about why online legends exist, how they function, and all the different things they mean and communicate.
- Audience: Once you decide your message, whom do you want to target? Why? And what are going to be the expectations of this audience? What might be difficult in addressing them? Think specifically about who they are and what their expectations will be. How will that affect your appeals to them? You might also consider if there are secondary audiences and what there responses might be to these texts (both for and against your purpose)—ie: if you’re focusing on college students, parents of college students, who often participate unwittingly in moral panics, may also apply.
- Context: What’s the historical and cultural context of this project? Yes, you are using the context of the current or modern digital age as a starting place, but there must be some cultural, social, or even perhaps political factor at work, which will impact the messages in your text and how your audience receives them. It’s also important to think not just about when you are, but where you are, and how those factors influence everything else.
- Genre:Yes, you are creating an online legend text, which contains many conventions for the kind of CONTEXT you’ll explore, but you must also think about genre in terms of FORM. A forum topic with many comments and conversations beneath it, for example, will look very different from a found-footage short film, which looks very different from a doctored photograph, which looks very different from a series of social media posts or journal entries, etc. What kind of online legend text is this? WHERE will it appear? And what is the relationship between form and audience, rhetor, context, message, and purpose?
ESSAY:You will also write a rhetorical analysis of your creative text (minimum 500 words) that analyzes the rhetorical choices you made. The essay should build on your work in the RA essay and indicate how you’re applying your rhetorical know-how. You’ll include secondary sources (ie: models and/or online sources that helped you define the genre) that demonstrate, among other things, your understanding of genre and your understanding of the texts/ideas you’ve studied throughout the quarter. As we move through the creative text, instructions for this essay will be made clearer.
Along with a completed final draft of your creative and analytical text, multiple rough drafts, peer reviews and research work will influence your grade.