CAT 125: Winter 2013

Public Rhetoric and Practical Communication Online

Elizabeth Losh

lizlosh (at) ucsd (dot) edu

Course Description:

This course in public rhetoric and practical communication in digital environments covers a wide range of potential genres, media, and audiences. We will study everything from Facebook profiles to video sharing-sites as rhetorical spaces for public persuasion, commemoration, and comment. Students will do most of their graded writing to create an online portfolio that may include a personal statement, undergraduate research blog, and video essay demonstrating expertise. Further information about this course is available on the syllabus at

NOTE: Class Attendance is mandatory. Although numerically class participation seems only to account for 20% of your grade, class attendance is a required element for course credit. More than two absences can be grounds for failure in the course.


Grade Breakdown:

Expertise Speech: 25% (Expertise Speech Rubric) 5 minute speech with 20 automatically timed slides delivered Ignite-style.

Personal Statement: 25% (Personal Statement Rubric) 5300 characters in length

Portfolio Website: 30% - likely this will take the form of an online portfolio, research website, online reference work, or blog or video blog showcasing your expertise. Plan on writing regularly to stay on track, although scripts for online videos or e-mails explaining your design decisions can count toward your word count if you choose to avoid a text-heavy online presence (Online Portfolio Rubric)

Class Participation: 20% (Participation Rubric)

Please aim to write at least 5,000 words in this class and significantly revise your writing by composing pre-writing reflections and submitting multiple drafts.

Office Location: Pepper Canyon Hall 249

Office Hours: Tuesdays/Thursdays 4-5PM


Tuesday, Week One: Your Rhetorical Position (Slides for Lecture 1)

Alexsay Vayner, "Impossible is Nothing"

Michael Cera, "Impossible is the Opposite of Possible"

James Kotecki


Tuesday, Week Two: Getting Feedback (Slides for Lecture 2)

List of Courses Taken Due in Lecture

Reading for Lecture:

Summer Smith, "The Genre of the End Comment"

"What I Learned in College" Due in Last Section Meeting of the Week - 500-1000 words, can be reused in the online portfolio


Tuesday, Week Three: Your Public Reputation (Slides for Lecture 3)

Reading for Lecture:

dana boyd, "Social Network Sites: Public, Private, or What?"

"What I Learned Outside of College" Due in Lecture - 500-1000 words, can be reused in the online portfolio


Tuesday, Week Four: Appealing to Audiences (Slides for Lecture 4)

Video Gallery I: Disability Videos

Video Gallery IV: Sexuality videos

First Draft of Personal Statement Due in Lecture


Tuesday, Week Five: Composing with a Purpose (Slides for Lecture 5)

Reading for Lecture:

Ian Bogost, "The Cocktail Party Test"

Viewing for Lecture:

Video Gallery II: Sample YouTube Student Video Essays (privacy, publicity, network neutrality, online identity, social media, electronic text, ubiquitous computing, etc.)

Final Draft of Personal Statement Due in Lecture



Tuesday, Week Six: Public Speaking

How Do We Understand Information?: Doing Compelling Public Talks

Reading for Lecture:

Ian Parker, "Absolute Powerpoint: Can a Software Package Edit Our Thoughts?"

Nathan Heller, "Have Ted Talks Turned into an Industry?" (recommended)

Viewing for Lecture:

Daniel Pink, "Pecha Kucha: Get to the Point in 20 Slides"

TED Talks from Jill Bolte Taylor, Ron Eglash, VS Ramachandran, John Bohannon, Lawrence Lessig, Seth Priebatsch (close to CAT 125 students in age), Nancy Duarte (about the secret of giving good talks)

Ignite Talks from Matt Harding, Lee Stewart, and Mehal Shah

More TED Talks (recommended not required): Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, Susan Blackmore, Paul Stamets, Paul Rothemund, Nathan Wolfe,

Domain Name Thought Experiment Due in Lecture


Special Photoshop Workshop in the Digital Playroom 5:00-6:00 PM (Limited Seating, RSVP in Advance)

Files for Workshop


Tuesday, Week Seven: Graphic Design

Viewing for Lecture: Helvetica

First Draft of Portfolio Website Design Due in Lecture

Smart Classroom Exercise in Section to Compare Different Online Presences


Special Web Design Workshop in the Digital Playroom 5:00-6:00 PM (Limited Seating, RSVP in Advance. These students are great!)


Tuesday, Week Eight: Claiming Expertise

Viewing for Lecture:

Video Gallery III: Copyright videos

Another Lawrence Lessig TED Talk

Recommended Viewing but not required: Copyright Criminals

First Draft of Expertise Speech Script Due in Lecture!


Special Digital Storytelling Workshop in the Digital Playroom 5:00-6:00 PM (Limited Seating, RSVP in Advance)


Tuesday, Week Nine: Working Collaboratively and Using Evidence

No Class

Final Script of Expertise Speech Due in Section


Tuesday, Week Ten: Showcase!

Showcase of Oral Presentations!

Optional Revision of Personal Statement Due in Lecture!


Examination Week:

Monday, 12 Noon Portfolio Website Due! URL E-mailed to your section leader!