Syllabi envy (sorta)

This is the first beginning of the school year in 19 years in which I have not had to worry about preparing a syllabus or two or three. It’s kind of strange, though not a completely unwelcome break from the routine of my life. While I’m adjusting to that and pretending to get work done, I thought I’d link to Alex Halavais’ “Two new courses” post, where he posts a couple syllabi for his upcoming term. A couple of thoughts based on my very quick read:

  • I like some of the language that he has in his “Introduction to Interactive Communication” syllabus about what it’s “like” to be a graduate student, and it might be worthwhile for me to lift/rework some of that language for my own graduate teaching.
  • This “Intro to Interactive Communication” syllabus reminds me of the ven diagram experience of rhetoric in an English department versus rhetoric in a communications department/school/program. I took a grad course years ago in modern (e.g., 20th century) rhetorical theory that included a few PhD students from my program, a few from other programs associated with culture studies at Bowling Green State, and, of course, with grad students in communications. Most of the theorist we read overlapped– Richard Weaver, Perlman, Toulmin, Foucault, Burke, etc. But every once in a while, the communications PhD students would mention someone and us English comp/rhet PhD students would say “who is that?” and the communications PhD students (and the communications professor, generally speaking) would say “you don’t know who ‘so-and-so’ is?” Or we’d mention someone like Sharon Crowley or James Berlin, and they’d all say “who is that?”
  • The second course, “Virtual Worlds,” seem to largely be about Second Life. I’m sure that Alex will make it a fine experience, but so far, I haven’t had the patience to deal with the Second Life experience. Maybe if I spent a bit more time, or maybe, now that I have a much better computer than the last time I tried it, it might be worthwhile. And I can easily imagine a scenario in which something like this is useful for online teaching. But that’s a different topic than what I’m supposed to be working on this year.

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