I have a fellowship (i.e., a course release) this semester to develop New Media Science Writing, which will be taught in SLU's Learning Studio: a fantastic room with video walls, re-arrangable furniture, portable whiteboards, iPads, screen sharing, and video links. We are also working to put together media bags that students will take with them as they do field work. I am working with a fantastic instructional designer at the The Reinert Center for Teaching Excellence.
The Learning Studio. Saint Louis University
The setting for this class and the work of the instructional designer will allow me to really put an emphasis on production and production values, which is something I have been wanting to really do ever since I started teaching new media in earnest. That is, I can finally provide students with a level of instruction that makes it ethically and helpful to critically evaluate their work in terms of delivery, which, as we know, can't really be divorced from other elements (arrangement, invention, etc.). I'm generally convinced that if you can't really ratchet up expectations and provide adequate instructional support with respect to production quality, then you shouldn't be doing new media. This is to say, I want to avoid treating media as simply means to ends, but as ends in themselves.
Taking advantage of the course release to develop 401, I am likewise developing another new course for the Fall. This course has emerged from recent work in new materialism and object-oriented rhetorics. Essentially, the course will have students investigating and participating in non-symbolic and non-human forms of rhetorical interaction. The more I work on this course the weirder it seems to get. What I am working on now is the course's approach to objects. How will I have students approach them, interact with them, and, finally, "write" about them? An I how do I do so without having them make the objects or processes about them, without having them write about what the object means to them or what it represents for them? In terms of methodology, I am highlighting, borrowing from the work Laurie Gries is currently doing, consequentiality: what effects does an object produce on both human and nonhuman objects? I am likewise muddling through methods. I was talking to a colleague the other day, and she mentioned that even the way grammar traditionally works might work against this approach: we are the subject in sentences, and we tend to make objects the object. I have thus been exploring the new media methods that have emerged from the Florida School as described by Jeff Rice and Marcel O'Gorman in New Media/New Methods. I have also been toying around with translating Graham Harman's deployment of metaphor and humor in Guerrilla Metaphysics as I think it resonates with the Florida School. If the approach to objects must be weird then so too must be our engagement.
As always, and as I still constructing these courses, any feedback would be greatly appreciated!