This course focuses on examining, researching, and writing about “Minority Rhetorics,” the rhetorical systems developed and used by groups who have less power than those in the dominant paradigm of a culture/situation. Each student in the course will choose an event that occurred from 1950s-present in the U.S. that they are interested in and that they feel is/will be significant to U.S. history.
Students will engage in an inquiry-based research process, crafting questions that focus specifically on their event to guide their research. Their goal will be to carefully examine the language used in their sources to determine which sources were written in dominant/mainstream rhetoric and which sources uses a minority rhetoric framework. They will then need to craft an argument that asserts how they feel minority rhetoric(s) were used by individuals and groups documenting the event they chose to focus on to frame the event in ways that differ from the way the event was presented in mainstream/dominant rhetoric. This argumentative piece will be written toward the end of the term, with a variety of shorter assignments along the way to scaffold the writing and research process for this larger assignment.
Students will also build an ePortfolio in this class. This ePortfolio will house their work for this course and be set up in such a way as to encourage them to keep building their ePortfolios beyond this course.
I made some revisions to this course for this term in an attempt to streamline some of the work and address some of the concerns students expressed when I taught the course last Spring. The CLO reflection assignment has been eliminated, with a modified section merged into the Meeting Course Goals page and I also reduced the number of sources students need to annotate in their Annotated Bibliographies so they can give more depth to the annotations for each source.
This class worked very well for a small handful of students who enrolled. But for the vast majority of students in the class, it was not successful. It is always hard to accept failure in the classroom, especially as someone who was a first generation college student and is very aware from my own experiences how a setback or failure in a single course has the potential for some of my students to derail their access to education, at least temporarily. I still remain unsure what, exactly, about this course didn’t work the way I’d planned. I have sought feedback from my students and a variety of colleagues, all of whom are familiar with the course and my teaching style. While none of us really were able to unlock the puzzle of what went wrong, I received much valuable feedback that will help me build a new and hopefully much more effective version of WR122 for next year.
I don’t wish to diminish the transformative effects this course had for the academic trajectory of a handful of students who were able to engage with the course in the way I’d intended and grew tremendously as writers, researchers, and thinkers. It was an honor to watch them change and grow and learn and, of course, to learn from them.
But, I do also need to acknowledge and own the struggles this course created for the majority of students who were originally enrolled. It is my hope that what I learned from their experiences and feedback, as well as what I gleaned from the students who were able to successfully engage with this course, will help create more successful learning experiences for my future WR122 students.