Rhetoric of Digital Publishing is a Spring 2017 course at UT Austin, hosted in the Digital Writing and Research Lab. Led by Sarah Welsh, a doctoral student in Rhetoric and Writing, the class is exploring some of the following questions:
What makes a piece of born-digital writing successful? Whether it is a blog, a piece of investigative journalism, or a listicle, what are writers, editors, and publishers doing to get noticed in the age of big data? Because the web has such a large audience, and there are so many publishing options, how do writers choose where to pitch a specific piece of writing? What kind of language do writers use to speak to different digital audiences and how do they keep that audience engaged? How do writers and editors in digital venues consider their audiences when crafting their work, especially when choosing images and titles (which is sometimes the only thing a reader will see)?
Starting with the New Journalism, in addition to a quick look at writing in the 70s and 80s, the class will move to an overview of the state of writing in the digital age, speculating as to how and why writing practices have changed for digital audiences.Seeing the evolution of (American) digital publishing through a rhetorical lens allows us to pay special attention to style, arrangement, audience, and delivery.
Over the course of the semester, our readings and explorations will be buttressed by the following major topics: New Journalism/Gonzo journalism and other pre-Internet writings, Economics, Comments and Commentary, Fake News (National Enquirer Reboot),Visual Rhetoric, Virality, and Mobile.