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Anthologics and Inventing Electracy

This semester, I'm teaching a course called "Anthologics."  It's a word I (well, at least I think..) made up.  Students will be spending the semester compiling an anthology about a topic of their choice.  They'll compile content for their book, write a preface, design a book cover/jacket design (using Adobe InDesign), and write a book proposal for a particular publisher.  I designed this course so that students could get a sense for how to join an existing conversation.  I've taught this way--anthologically--in other courses, but this is the first time that I've made it the centerpiece of the course.  Things have started off nicely, and I'm hoping it works out.  To this point, we've only met a few times, but we've had great discussions about what counts as an anthology (examples that have come up: Disney's Fantasia, Tarantino's Kill Bill, and some of the PostSecret books. The students are really sharp, and I think the projects will turn out nicely.


In the spring, I'll be shifting gears a bit and teaching a course I taught last year called "Inventing Electracy." Students read Greg Ulmer's extremely challenging book Internet Invention, and they create what Ulmer calls "wide sites."  These are websites that students create in hopes of understanding how they think and what various forces and ideologies have shaped them.  I have students use pbwiki which allows them (and me) to track their revision processes.  I ask them to do as much writing in pbwiki as possibles so that I can see how their writing morphs over the course of the assignments.  The sites don't necessarily end up looking very pretty (pbwiki templates are a bit limited), but I'm less concerned about web design than I am about students learning to write in new and interesting ways.  They are encouraged to use new media, and one of my favorite examples of a student incorporating video is actually linked on Ulmer's companion website for Internet Invention.  It's a page designed by John Mace.


Teaching these courses in the University of Texas' Computer Writing and Research Lab has been a great experience.  I only hope that I get half the technological support at future institutions.


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