instructor kevin eric depew
office bal 313
phone 757.683.4019
office hours m 4-5; w 4-5; & by appointment

quick links

blackboard (email, collaboration, and readings)


This course responds to the work that students might do in English 439/539 (Writing in Electronic Environments) and English 666 (Rhetoric of Cyberspace). Where those two courses provide students hands-on experiences composingwith various digital technologies, this course examines the culture that informs composition practices. To better understand this culture one wants to examine how the metaphors and myths about technology inform the ways that individuals both produce and read digitally produced texts. Likewise, they want to examine how these metaphors and myths influence how writers learn to produce these texts. As we study and question the metaphors and myths about technology, it is also important to understand how to learn what digital writers are actually doing with these composition technologies. The goals for the course include...

  • examining the metaphors about technology
  • considering how these metaphors influence composition practices
  • analyzing how technology affects rhetorical strategies associated with race, class, and gender
  • understanding how to design research to learn the actual practices of digital writers, especially in local contexts


Race, Rhetoric, and Technology: Searching for Higher Ground
Author(s): Adam J. Banks
National Council of Teachers of English
ISBN 0-8058-5313-8

The PowerBook
Author(s): Jeannette Winterson
ISBN 0-375-72505-9

Other readings will be retrieved from...


Coursework Proposal (50 points): Early in this short semester, you will spell out what you plan to do for the the three course projects (see below). By articulating what you will be doing, why you will be doing it, whether there is enough research to do these projects, and what assistance you anticipate, the instructor will be able to provide guided feedback.

Article Review & Presentation (50 points): Find a peer-reviewed academic journal article related to the course topic. In addition to writing a 500 word review of the article, you will deliver an oral presentation to the class summarizing the article and explaining how you would apply the text to a specific situation.

Demonstration of Application (200 points): This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you understand the course topic and material by creating a project that applies what we have learned to a specific situation and is relevant to your academic agenda.

Research Proposal (150 points): After examining the metaphors and theory about technology, you will propose a research proposal to learn how writers actually compose with these technologies.

Three Means of Failing the Course related to Major Assignments

  • Not completing a major assignment
  • Major assignments will be given no credit if the assignment is not turned in prior to the instructor returning the respective assignment to the class. This becomes the equivalent of not completing a major assignment
  • An act of plagiarism (or other forms of academic dishonesty)

Minor Assignments

Daily Readings & Questions

I want you to focus on completing the assigned readings and reading these works carefully. Each class day you will submit one question per reading to the instructor by 4pm. These questions should be about issues you want to further engage with or issues that want to understand more. A good strategy is to use this opportunity to identify a sentence or passage that you do not understand–which will probably happen since these readings come from discourse communities that are new to you. Posing comprehension questions does little to take advanatage of this opportunity and is discouraged.

If it becomes clear that the readings are not being done, the instructor reserves the right at any time in the semester to create writing assignments, quizes, or tests. The instructor may also assign other minor assignments if they seem necessary to help the students comprehend the material.

Other exercises

In order to facilitate discussion during class, the instructor will occasionally ask you to do small exersices that prepare you to contribute to the discussion.


Major Assignments

I will be looking for evidence of each student's progress towards professional level work. More specifically I will be looking for evidence of...

  • well supported and "original" work that address a relevant problem
  • an understanding of cyberculure theory, digital writing theory, research methodology theory and current discussions of its application
  • an ability to demonstrate that you can apply the course material in relevant ways
  • research and a williness to engage in the discussion in informed ways
  • addressing your audiences appropriately, including fulfilling generic expectations
  • prewriting and planning
  • professional quality work, in terms of mechanics, design, and protocol

Process Grade (50 points)

You will receive a process grade that will be based upon your submission of daily questions and completion of exercises. The grade will simply be determined by the proportion of work that gets submitted. If the quality of this work in below average, the instructor, after talking to the student, may deduct points from the process grade

Grade Scale

Your final grade (500 points) and assignments will be graded on the following point scale* :
  A =92-100 % A -= 90-91.9 % B+ = 87-89.9 %
  B = 82-86.9 % B- = 80-81.9 % C+ = 77-79.9 %
  C = 72-76.9 % C- = 70-71.9 % D+ = 67-69.9 %
  D = 62-66.9 % D -= 60-61.9 %  
  F = 0-59.9 %    

* = The instructor reserves the right to adjust this scale based on the students' performance throughout the semester. Any adjustments will 1) apply to the entire class and 2) never deny a student the grade that she/he earns based upon this posted scale.


Students are required to attend every class. If you miss a class, for whatever reason, you are responsible for making up any missed work.

You are not only required to to attend every class, but you are required to come to class prepared. If you do not come to class prepared, you will be receive an absence–whether you stay or not. Therefore, it is recommended that you pay attention to the calendar.

In this class, you will do a lot of work and discussion of ideas in the classroom. Therefore the attendance policies are:

  • you are allowed two absences, excused or unexcused. More than two absences will result in failing the course
    • on the first day that you return from an absence you are responsible for submitting any major assignments that you missed due to absence, yet you are encouraged to submit your work through email at the earliest possible convenience. To learn what work you have missed consult the instructor or the calendar.
  • being late to class will be marked as a tardy and noted as part of your process grade.
    • students who miss between 15 and 120 minutes will receive a half-absence
    • students who miss more than 120 minutes will receive a full absence

As a general rule, a student missing a class assignment because of observance of a religious holiday shall have the opportunity to make up missed work. Students must notify the instructor of anticipated absences before the absence occurs. Likewise, students who represent ODU at any official extracurricular activity shall have the opportunity to make up missed assignments, but the student must provide official written and/or email notification to the instructor no less than one week prior to the missed class(es).


Electronica refers to technology-related issues.

E.mail Accounts
Having an email account is required; a lot of information for this class will be exchanged via email including some assignment submissions and class updates. You will want to establish a consistent email account that you will use throughout the entire semester.

Because Blackbaord's "Send Email" function "talks to" your ODU account, it is recommended that you work with this account. At the very least, you will want to forward your ODU mail to the account you use most. To get an ODU account go to OCCS.

You are responsible for making sure that files and messages are successfully received by the instructor and your peers; other email providers cannot provide this security. Also you will want to be aware that some evaluated course work will be returned via email; if you are concerned about other parties reading these messages (as per FERPA regulations), please make alternate arrangements with the instructor.

E.mailing the Instructor
When emailing the instructor, you are asked to remember the following...

  • If you are submitting homework, please use the Blackboard "Message" function. This helps the instructor to keep all of the work for this class electronically organized in one place. However, this account will mostly be checked only when work is due.
  • If you need to "talk" to the instructor (e.g., ask for clarification, make a request), use the instructor's ODU email account ( The instructor checks this account several times a day. In most cases, if you submit work to this account, you will be asked to resubmit it to the Blackbard account.

If you cannot access one account, you are encouraged to use the other account to contact the instructor.

E.mailing Protocol
When emailing the instructor or the class list make sure that you include a subject line that includes the nature of the email. A subject line, such as "assignment" is vague. Instead be specific and state whether it is a "assignment submission," "need assignment clarification," or "assignment problem."

Also use the priority setting rhetorically; in other words, make your email message stand out when you really need to draw the recipient's attention to your message. Do not use the priority setting on your standard assignment submissions.

LAN Accounts
LAN accounts will be necessary to use the computers in the computer labs throughout the semester. If you do not already have a LAN account, please register for one with OCCS.

Protecting Your Work
Backup your document files frequently. Also save all email transmissions for this course. Keep your files on your home machine, floppy disks, cds, and/ or flash drives. You can also email documents to yourself as a means of backing up your work. The excuse "that was my only copy" is not a valid one. Some tips for protecting your work–and yourself–are:

  • Save all English 695 work until the course is over
  • Maintain copies of drafts and work-in-progress
  • Create folders on your hard drive and in your INBOX (email) for this class.
  • Keep copies of your email messages related to the course as a record of your work. For all messages that you send to the instructor, you should either have the message sent to your "Sent" folder in your email account or cc: yourself the message so that you have a copy for verification

Electronic Ethics and Respect
Electronic media allows us some freedoms that print media does not allow. Consequently, it is also subject to abuse. Please be respectful of your peers throughout the semester by not displaying, viewing, or posting web pages, files, or emails that may make others uncomfortable. Violations of this respect can be considered harassment according to university policy and will be handled as such.


As per the University's Honor Code, you must do your own original work in English 695–and appropriately identify that portion of your work which is collaborative with others, or which is borrowed from others, or which is your own work from other contexts. Whenever you borrow graphics, quote passages, or use ideas from others, you are legally and/or ethically obliged to acknowledge that use, following appropriate conventions for documenting sources. In English 695, the most serious form of academic dishonesty is to recycle another individual's major project under your own name.

If you have doubts about whether or not you are using your own or others' writing ethically and legally, ask the instructor. Follow this primary principle: If in doubt, ask. Be up front and honest about what you are doing and about what you have contributed to an assignment.


If you have a documented disability, make sure you register with Disability Services (757. 683.4655). Once you do so, feel free to talk to me about any special accommodations that you are allowed to have to fulfill the course requirements.


At the end of the semester, you will have an opportunity to evaluate the instructor and the course. This is very important for helping the instructor and the department access the course. Please take the time at the end of the semester to do these online evaluations.

last.updated 5.14.06