1. Reading responses (25%)
  2. Mashup (25%)
  3. Biographical presentation and selection of course readings (25%)
  4. Research paper (25%)

Reading responses

[This assignment is adapted from an assignment by D. Diane Davis.]

For each course meeting where there are assigned readings, you will compose a short, insightful response to those readings and perform it for the class.

These responses will serve multiple purposes. They will allow you to flesh out your ideas about the readings in a way that informs our course discussions. They will allow us to explore how the performance of epideictic discourse can be the basis for persuasion. Finally, your accumulated responses—and those of your classmates—will serve as a resource as you prepare for your other major projects, such as the mashup and the final research paper. To this end, this assignment will not only be one of critical and rhetorical analysis, but also one of active and sympathetic listening.

To sum up, the requirements for your responses are as follows:

  • Each response should be single-spaced and fit on one side of a sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper.
  • The response should summarize the assigned texts before responding to them.
  • The response should be a polished piece of professional writing.
  • You will perform the response for the course and submit it to me as a hard copy on the day it is due.


You will create a multimodal project that mashes up one or more of the poetical and rhetorical texts that are covered in the first half of the semester in order to explore, in both form and content, the way(s) that poetry can be rhetoric and rhetoric can be poetry.

As Lessig argues in Remix (2008), a remix is a creative work that is founded on “the right to quote” (p. 56) and that uses this right to take a previous work and make something new from it; a mashup is a form of remix that combines multiple sources into a new creative work. Lessig argues that remix is one of the primary forms of creativity in our culture. As such, remix is an epideictic practice that functions to persuade its audience.

For this assignment, I would like you to take one or more of the source materials we will read in the first five meetings of the course and create a mashup that generates something new from them. You are free to use sources outside of our readings in this project: however, your mashup must include more than one source and one of those sources must be a reading assigned in our first five class meetings. To guide your work, think about how you can craft your remix as suasive, epideictic discourse for a particular audience.

I do not want to prescribe the product that you will create (for examples of the creative potential of remix, you may consult Lessig, 2008, pp. 57-76 or come talk to me). Instead, I will provide the following guidelines:

  • Your mashup should remix at least two sources, one of which should be a reading from the first five class meetings.
  • If the mashup is primarily textual, it should be the equivalent of 1,000-1,500 words; if it is primarily audio/visual, it should be 4-5 minutes in length. If your project does not clearly fit into either of these broad categories, please consult with me about the appropriate scope of the final product.
  • During our class meeting on July 14, you will show/perform your mashup for the class and be prepared to answer questions about it.

Biographical presentation and selection of course readings

While we will cover a number of primary texts, the purpose of this course is not to survey primary texts but rather to explore an understanding of rhetoric that flows from epideictic, poetic practice. To achieve this goal, we will begin the course by reading foundational texts that establish the long history of this connection and then continue applying this method to a range of epideictic compositions chosen by you and your classmates.

Each student will be responsible for choosing the epideictic text(s) that will serve as the focus of discussion for one of our class meetings (we will establish a schedule before the end of our third meeting). Your responsibilities will include:

  • Choosing a text or texts from a single author (or small group of related authors) for the class to read and respond to. You should consult with me before the due date of this assignment regarding the length and appropriateness of your selection(s).
  • Supplying me with digital copies of these readings no later than one week before they are due so that I can distribute them to the class.
  • During the class meeting prior to the assigned reading, presenting an 8-10 minute in-class biographical presentation on the author or authors that provides the class with an adequate context in which to understand their work.
  • On the day that we read the texts you have chosen, helping to lead the class discussion of these texts.

In addition to the readings chosen by you and your classmates, I may assign additional readings throughout the semester.

Research paper

Your final project for the course will be a 15-20 page research paper. The paper should engage with the themes of the course to create a thoughtful, professional-quality written argument that follows the conventions of academic scholarship.

On July 17-18 you will schedule an individual meeting with me to discuss your plans for the project. At this meeting you will bring a 2-3 paragraph proposal that outlines the thesis of the paper and the evidence,  source material, and lines of argument that you will assemble support this thesis.

The final paper will be due on Wednesday, August 6.

West Virginia University | Summer 2014 | ENGL 693