About this course
Traditionally, the humanities and social sciences have turned a blind eye to the pivotal role of media in our daily lives. This course brings media front and centre. Beginning with U of T rhetorician Marshall McLuhan’s far-reaching ideas about media environments, we undertake a journey through different ideas about the integral role that media plays in culture. While scholars of rhetoric, philosophy, and literary studies have traditionally been allergic to new developments in popular culture, we go to great lengths to think through the implications of social media, online activism, and dating apps for what it means to be a person in the digital twenty-first century.
What you’ll learn
Study the history of media studies and its relationship to rhetoric.
Bring your expertise, as a media navigator, to bear on theoretical and practical conversations about contemporary media phenomena.
Write critically about media phenomena.
Good to know
This is an introductory course open to all students. No specific background in Writing & Rhetoric is required. The midterm assignment is a short essay and the final assignment is a research essay.
A personal note from your instructor
I developed WRR303 to provide Writing & Rhetoric students with a survey of critical rhetorical ideas about media. As a student, I studied rhetoric and media studies as relatively independent disciplines. But when I discovered that Marshall McLuhan (who, along with Harold Innis, pretty much invented modern-day media studies at the U of T) was a classically trained rhetorician, I began to realize that rhetorical concepts — like persuasion, identification, affect, and influence — have a great deal to contribute to media studies. In my recent scholarship, as in WRR303, I’ve been doing my best to bring rhetorical tools into resonance with new developments in our media environment.