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Visualizing Environments

This Writing throuh Media course at the Univeristy of Florida draws upon methodologies from visual and digital rhetoric, paired with topics from sustainability and ecocomposition, to teach students how social issues are visualized online and how to use digital mapping, augmented reality, and image tracking for public writing and advocacy. As such, we focus on digital representations of the environment. Readings include work in technology, science, popular culture, and the humanities.

Course Materials

    Required Texts
  • White Noise. Don Delillo. Penguin Classics, 2009.
  • Sustainability: A Reader for Writers. Carl Herndl (Ed) Oxford UP, 2013 (Couse readings are all available as open-access texts online).
  • Daily access to your university email.
    Open-Access eTexts
  • Visualizing Information for Advocacy. Tactical Technology Collective, 2014 (Online at Visualisingadvocacy.org).
  • Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing. Charles Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky (Eds.) Parlor Press, 2010 (Online at Writingspaces.org).
  • Web Writing Style Guide.. Matt Barton, James Kalmbach, and Charles Lowe (Eds.) Parlor Press, 2010 (Online at Writingspaces.org).

Course Outcomes

Content: Students demonstrate competence in the terminology, concepts, theories and methodologies used within the environmental and digital humanities.

Communication: Students communicate knowledge, ideas and reasoning clearly and effectively across modalities. Students will participate in classdiscussions throughout the semester to reflect on assigned readings.

Critical Thinking: Students analyze information carefully andlogically from multiple perspectives, using discipline-specificmethods, and develop reasoned solutions to problems.

Design: Students work individually and in groups to build, workshop, and usability test rhetorically compelling digital projects.

Research & Write: Students select a research topic which they will focus on throughout the semester. The ideal topic will connect projects to individual professional, civic, personal, or academic interests.

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Class Blogs

Throughout the semester, students write analytical responses to readings, class discussions, or other relevant topics. We will read and follow environmental blogs and discuss the genre in relation to environmental advocacy. Students are required to read and respond to their classmates' posts.

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Unit 1: Mapping

In this unit, we will discuss the role of mapping technologies in the representation of enviornmental disasters. We will discuss topics such as deep mapping, bioregionalism, and ground-truthing, as well as look at examples like Sean Morey's digital map "The Roadkill Tollbooth".

For this assignment, students will work with Google Maps to create a visualization of an environmental crisis, event, or problem.

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Unit 2: Image Tracking

In this unit, we will discuss visual representations of environments, disasters, and issues. We will discuss visual rhetoric and design in relation to environmental advocacy.

For this project, students will use Zotero to track the circulation of an iconic representation of ecology or an environmental image (what Sean Morey calls an “econ”) using Laurie Gries’ iconographic tracking method. Students submit a paper describing their research, methodology, and analysis.

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Unit 3: Augmented Reality

This unit will examine augmented reality technologies as a tool for advocacy. Like the mapping project, students will discuss a range of issues and applications invovling augmented reality, building from our previous conversations about visual rhetoric.

For this assignment, students will work with HP Reveal to create an augmented visualization of an environmental crisis, event, or problem.

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Unit 4: Web Design

The final project will connect the previous work in the class into a WIX website documenting their class topic through careful research. Students may choose to build an informational, argumentative website (akin to a tradtional research paper), or they may develop a MEmorial as described by Gregory Ulmer in Electronic Monuments. Websites are written in a descriptive, analytical, reflective, and persuasive manner. We will workshop and usability test websites as a class.