Dear Class,

Unfortunately, I woke up this morning quite a bit under the weather and thus will not be able to hold class. With apologies, I am going to have to change our schedule again.

Please use our regularly scheduled class time today to meet with your teams and work on your propaganda project. You should feel free to meet in our usual classroom if you like, or to meet in a location that works for you (the multimedia lab, the library, etc.) Feel free to email me if you have any questions or concerns you would like to run past me.

It is unlikely that I will be able to hold this evening’s screening of the 3%. The show is a Netflix original series and so is only available through that online streaming platform. If you have Netflix, you should be all set to watch it. If you do not have a Netflix account, I encourage you to reach out to classmates via Twitter, email, or during your group meetings this morning to see if anyone can invite you to screen it with them. Also, Netflix offers a free 30 day trial, so you should be able to sign up, watch the show over the weekend, then cancel your subscription without any cost. You should plan to watch episodes 1, 2, and 4.


For class on Monday, we will spend half of the class discussing the last half of Ship Breaker and then we will move on to talk about 3%. Please also read CCUL Chapter 10. Your final blog post will be due Monday at 11:55pm.

I wanted to give some generalized feedback to go along with the progress reports you all will receive this week. As we approach the middle of the term, here are a couple of reminders and things to keep in mind as we move forward.


Dystopia rarely evolves from a utopia. For example, Panem emerged out of our current North America which was beset by natural disasters, then a war. It would be difficult to argue that even a few years in the future, North America is a utopia. It is fair to say that many dystopias emerge when someone tries to CREATE a utopia through invention or changes in social norms, but those new rules, new technology or new social structure actually creates a dystopia instead of a more perfect world. Many of you made assertions in your blog posts or infographics that “dystopias evolve out of utopia” but this is not often the case.

Ads are not the same as propaganda. Advertisements for a product, idea, or group are often informative (this is what the product does) and persuasive (this is why you need it). Ads cross over into propaganda when the information is unfairly skewed or misleading or when the persuasive elements are intentionally manipulative, distorted or disguise a disingenuous purpose (for example: you need this medicine to make you happy but secretly it advances a government plot to make everyone docile). As we saw in the Mockingjay propaganda, there is a way to turn contemporary advertising campaigns into propaganda, like we saw with the Capitol Salutes the Districts posters. However, we will also see clear examples of propaganda in The 100 that are not based on advertising at all. Be sure you are clear on this distinction.

Bias is not the same as having an opinion. Bias is when a person or organization is unfairly prejudiced against an idea, a group, or a way of thinking; bias causes individuals to deny facts and evidence that do not align with their previously decided worldview. An individual who studies data, analyzes information and concludes that a specific product is dangerous, then uses that information to argue for its recall, is not biased against that product but is using sound scientific and rhetorical processes to create an argument. A person who hates a specific company and so cherry-picks misleading data or only reports on negative analysis in order to argue for a recall that won’t actually benefit anyone is biased and is using biased research and rhetorical techniques to make a point. It is fair to say that everyone has unconscious biases and those biases may shape their decision making process; however, it is not fair to dismiss any and all arguments by saying “that person has an opinion so that means they are biased.” Your job as a reader, researcher, scholar, and consumer is to examine the rhetorical structure the author uses, analyze their evidence and determine if they are presenting an argument in good faith and with solid evidence.



Now that you all are getting the hang of posting in an electronic format, be sure you are creating cohesive blog posts that fit the genre norms of the medium.

Create your own argument. Every single blog post you write should contain your own unique perspective and ideas. A successful blog post will not be a summary of information we covered in class or a quick run-down of material that someone else has said. Each blog post should be your thoughts and your ideas comprised into an argument.

Beware “all” “always” or “never” arguments. Whenever you make sweeping arguments like this, it is extremely easy to undermine or counter, becuase all your opponent needs to do is find ONE example that doesn’t fit your definition or claim and your argument is “incorrect.” It is much better to qualify your arguments to an appropriate scope and claim “the majority of YA dystopias published after 2000” or “most science-fiction dystopias” in order to frame your argument.

Connect your images/multimedia content to your text. When creating blog posts, adding images, gifs, embedded videos, and other multimedia content can be fun and can help you get your point across. However, don’t just drop images in if they are not directly connected to what you are writing. The image of a book cover when you are discussing the plot of the book is automatically connected to your text; however, an image from a film that is not under discussion is unclear. Make sure you connect your multimedia content with appropriate captions or references in the text (As you can see in this image, Mockingjay uses the color white to highlight important figures)

Always italicize book and movie titles.



I have recorded my observations of your participation on TSquare (see comments under Twitter/Participation assignment in the Gradebook), which will also be reflected in your progress reports. This is a great opportunity to assess your level of participation, which constitutes a significant percentage of your grade and a valuable part of the learning process.

I have also recorded the number of tweets you have sent as of this weekend on TSquare. While you are not being graded solely on the number of tweets you send, a quick look at some of the metrics can help you gauge where you are in terms of your Twitter participation grade.

The syllabus and Twitter assignment sheet note that the minimum participation for Twitter is 5 tweets a week. Add to that the  three film/TV screenings (min 5 tweets each), the two fishbowl exercises in class and the two #FollowFriday tweets you have been asked to do in class.

Therefore, students who are meeting the minimum (C level) Twitter requirements should have between 40-50 tweets and should be following between 3-6 accounts outside of class.

Above-average Twitter participation (B level) may be in the range of 55-75 tweets and following 6-10 accounts.

Excellent participation (A level) would be 80 tweets or above and following more than 10 accounts outside of the class participants.

Final evaluation of your Twitter performance will also include an evaluation of the quality and variety of tweets (for example; re-tweeting the same article 10 times would not boost your score nor would tweeting 200 times without ever engaging your peers be enough to earn an A) but hopefully this will give you a good sense of where you stand as we start week 7.

If you are worried that you are not meeting the minimum requirements, or if you would like to work on improving your Twitter standing, remember you should be completing the following types of Tweets on a regular (weekly) basis.

  1. Reply to the question of the week (usually pinned at the top of my feed @DrFitzPhd)
  2. Livetweet your readings and post 1 discussion question before the start of each class (begin each discussion question with Q:)
  3. Livetweet film and TV screenings
  4. Engage with peers by responding to their tweets, posting articles, sharing information about research or retweeting relevant information from accounts outside the course.

At this stage in your research, you might also be finding scholars, journals, institutes, organizations or other resources who do work in the areas you are investigating. Following those accounts, retweeting information relevant to your research or even engaging directly with those accounts will help to boost your Twitter participation as well as help you improve your research.

For more details about Twitter participation, remember there is a detailed assignment sheet available on TSquare that spells out these expectations in far greater detail.

For class today, you read Foucault’s Panopticism, which is a chapter out of his theoretical text Discipline and Punish. We worked through the very complicated theory piece by piece, first in small teams then as a class. We talked about the regimented nature of the plague town versus the conditions of the exiled leper colony. We discussed the key elements of Bentham’s prison, the Panopticon and the way Foucault uses that architectural structure as the basis for his theory on Panopticism.

We talked about the ways in which the structure of the Panopticon creates a power differential between the guards and the guarded and how that power dynamic based on fear can cause individuals within the system to police themselves, making the guards redundant (like in District 12, where individuals wouldn’t go outside the fence even though they were starving to death). We talked about how power needs to be visible but unverifiable to make this work and located examples in the YA dystopias we have read so far. Finally, we talked about the ways Panopticism presents itself in our digital age, the flaws in the system, and ways to undermine the power.

We will continue to return to this concept of the Panopticon throughout our dystopia readings and some of you may find it useful for your own research projects.


  1. Watch The 100 episodes 1, 2 & 5
  2. Read the Knickerbocker essay (available on TSquare in the resources folder)
  3. Look ahead to Monday night – Blog Post 3 will be due by 11:55pm

In class today we used the fishbowl discussion structure to work our way through a discussion of Little Brother. You all had a great set of discussion questions on Twitter and we used that as a jumping off point:

If you were absent today, there were also some great converstaions happening via Twitter on this topic, so take a look through the #1102dystopia feed for more.
For class on Friday, we will be reading Foucault’s “Panopticism,” so we will be coming back to some of the big questions about surveillance, security, and privacy. Be sure you are giving yourself sufficient time to read through this text, as it is dense and heavily theoretical.
  1. Read Foucault’s “Panopticism” (link also available on TSquare)
    • This is a dense theoretical text so start early and use the techniques for reading difficult material that we discussed earlier in the semester
  2. Friday at 4pm in Hall 102 – OPTIONAL SCREENING of The 100 (episodes 1, 2 & 5). If you don’t want to attend the screening, you will need to watch these episodes before class on Monday

Today we discussed annotated bibliographies. We started the class by working through a PowerPoint (available on TSquare) that laid out the basic elements in a standard evaluative annotated bibliography. Annotated bibliographies are a standard genre within research oriented fields, so it is important to know the basic shape and requirements (though it is likely that each professor, lab PI, or boss you work for will have slightly different preferences for how to set one up). For our purposes, consult the class PPT and the Purdue OWL for questions on format and analytical content.

We also spent a little more time talking through the particulars of MLA 8, especially the new structure of the citations and the use of “containers” to describe different types of work. We will be using MLA 8 throughout the semester, so keep your handbook handy!

Then, in small groups, you completed an activity designed to get you started on your annotated bibliography. This activity asked you to write and peer review citations for the two sources you brought today, as well as describe the sources to your partner. The notes from this activity can help you to form the base of your first two annotations (and should also be tucked away in your folder for possible final portfolio fodder at the end of the semester.)

We largely ran out of time to discuss the middle section of Little Brother, so we will look at that along with the last section on Wednesday. Plan to discuss the role of a free and uncensored education in preventing dystopia, the role of protest in voicing dissent, and the depiction of media in the story from this section, along with your discussion questions.


  1. Finish reading Little Brother through the Afterword
  2. Read Ames, Melissa. “Engaging “Apolitical” Adolescents: Analyzing the Popularity and Educational Potential of Dystopian Literature Post-9/11.”  The High School Journal, Volume 97, Number 1, Fall 2013, pp. 3-20 (Article). Published by The University of North Carolina Press. DOI:
  3. Continue to research for independent project – aim to have 4 sources + independent reading book by Friday

After speaking with a few of you in class, it has come to my attention that both Piktochart and Venngage do not allow you to export a PDF version of your infographic without paying for the program. Please DO NOT buy the program just to export your assignment.

If you have made your infographic in Piktochart, please export the image file it will allow for free (I think this is a .PNG or .JPEG), save that with the last names of both team members and upload the file to TSquare. Both programs also allow you to publish/share the infographic; please use this feature to publish the infographic then add the link to the infographic to the textbox on TSquare.

EDIT: A fellow student has pointed out to me that there are websites that will convert your .PNG file to a .PDF file for free and suggests if you want to go through this extra step.

Please be sure to test your links to make sure that they will work for someone not signed in to the program (try from an incognito window or ask a friend to check it for you). I will need to be able to access the infographic in order to grade it!

If you created your inforgraphic in any other program, please save the file as a .PDF with both team member’s names in the file name, then upload it to TSquare.

I apologize for any confusion!

To start class today, we went through a brief review/refresher on some visual rhetorical choices; for a more in-depth coverage of this material, look back to WOVENText Chapter 5 and 14. The PowerPoint from today’s class is available to you in TSquare, under the Week 5 folder in the Resources tab.

We then spent the majority of the class working through your Peer Review of your Infographics. Each team was asked to find different partners in order to review a different infographic. The Infographic Peer Review worksheet to help guide your response to your peer’s work is also available on TSquare.

You will complete your peer review digitally and email a copy of that sheet to your peer review partner. Once you have your own comments back, you and your teammate should review the comments carefully and decide what advice you want to follow and what additional changes you need to make based on your own review of other infographics. This peer review process should help you to see your own work with fresh eyes and help you to revise the document before Friday’s deadline. Finally, be sure you save those peer reviews of your Infographic in your folder for the final portfolio!

With the time that remained in class, we closed out our discussion of The Hunger Games book and films, allowing you all to bring up your final thoughts and ideas that you continue to be interested in pursuing, perhaps into your research project. We will start discussing Little Brother by Cory Doctrow next class, which will be a switch in focus and sub-genre.


  1. Infographic will be due at 11:55pm to TSquare on Friday – 1 copy per group. Please put both last names in the Infographic file name
  2. Read Little Brother chapters 1-8 (LIVETWEET + Discussion Question)
  3. Continue to research for Project 2. Compose a #FollowFriday tweet related to your research findings with 3-5 @usernames (user names of scholars, journals you’ve found useful, user who has tweeted sources you might use)

Just a couple of schedule adjustments for everyone to note.

Friday, February 10: NO OFFICE HOURS. I have a doctor’s appointment and so will be unable to hold my regular 12-1pm office hours. If you want to speak with me this week, please plan to come to Monday or Wednesday office hours.

Wednesday, March 1: I am moving the Peer Review of Conference Paper Presentations to Wednesday instead of Friday. You will want to be sure you are ready to give a version of your presentation, including your visuals. Plan to bring your laptops to class on this day as well.

Friday, March 3: Class will be meeting in CULC 447: The Communication Center. In response to overwhelming sentiment in the Common First Week videos, in which many of you expressed concerns about improving your oral/non-verbal communication skills, I have set up a workshop with the professional tutors in the Communication Center to help you all work on these skills in preparation for the Conference Paper Presentation the following week.

I have updated the digital version of the syllabus, but please mark these schedule adjustments down on your own calendars.


I hope you all are having a restful and happy 3 day weekend.

Just a couple of reminders for you before Wednesday:

  1. Don’t forget to complete your CFW Video, which will be due by 11:55pm on Wednesday, January 18
    • To submit, you will need to upload the video to YouTube, then submit link via TSquare. Be sure you allow yourself adequate time to complete this process.
    • Come to class with any final/last minute questions you have about your complete (or nearly complete) videos
  2. In class on Wednesday, we will choose your Independent Reading books. Come to class with your top 3 choices
  3. Read CCUL chapters 3 & 4
    • We will discuss the evolution of utopia as a genre in class on Wednesday
  4. Read article on Tsquare: Cart’s “From Insider to Outsider”
  5. Bring your laptop/tablet to class on Wednesday: we’ll discuss Twitter and Blogs in class and get you set up to start using our class’s social media components
    • You will be asked to participate in a study on the use of Twitter in composition classrooms -if you are out, please take a look at the consent form on TSquare and turn it in on Friday if you consent to participate.

Also, as you are working on your CFW videos, don’t forget about the following resources available to you:

  • The Presentation Rehearsal Studios in the Clough Undergraduate Learning Center (CULC), in which you can work with a presentation coach and also record yourself and then send a link of the video to yourself (or anybody else).
  • The Library’s gadget-lending service, which allows you to check out a range of equipment, including laptops, tablets, and cameras.
  • YouTube features an easy how-to tutorial if you have never used it before.
  • YouTube also allows you to annotate your video by adding text, links, or other graphics, with this helpful how-to guide
  • If you get stuck, there are also a lot of helpful tips on YouTube, especially the YouTube Help Center.

If you have any questions before class on Wednesday, please feel free to email me. Enjoy the long weekend!