Theories of Networks

Although some might argue otherwise, it’s difficult to theorize without immersion in the topic of study. So we started the class this evening by creating our own class network using Popplet, a mind mapping tool. Check out the results of this evening’s work.

Networks are a little messy, especially at the beginning. This class, itself a network, is no exception. We immersed ourselves in a technology new to many of us. We all struggled to varying degrees as we worked together in teams to analyze the rhetorical situation of our class through the lens of three articles we read:

  • Bitzer, “The Rhetorical Situation”
  • Vatz, “The Myth of the Rhetorical Situation”
  • Biesecker, “Rethinking the Rhetorical Situation from Within the Thematic of Différance”

What was one of the evening’s outcomes? We realized that we needed to create a framework for assignment “nodes” in this class network, so we’re collaborating on a Google Calendar to visualize when and where specific assignments are due. It’s a pretty complicated rubric that requires some kind of framework for organizing it. The calendar itself is a collaboration among its contributors; its contributors are the students in the class. Bitzker might consider the Google Calendar the result of a rhetorical situation (the existing syllabus and course website do not adequately clarify the assignment due dates); Vatz might consider the Google Calendar the situation that resulted from the actions of rhetors taking agency into their own hands; and Biesecker might consider the Google Calendar the result of the confusion that emerged from the conflicting relationship between students seeking clear assignment due dates and instructors presenting those dates in a different structure. Or maybe the three of them would find the Google Calendar just a bit more work than is necessary. We’ll likely theorize the Google Calendar’s existence at several points during the semester.

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