the rhetoric of play


spring 2007

ryan moeller, ph.d.

w 4:30-7:00

rwst 308


rwst 312b


value: 40 pts.

Your participation grade will largely consist of attendance and a demonstration of critical engagement with the content, ideas, and people in the seminar. Full points will be awarded to students who show up on time; who are prepared to engage with the content of the course by completing the readings and engaging the class with thoughtful, appropriate ideas and questions; and whose position papers (and annotated bibliographies and handouts, when appropriate) are engaging and appropriately addressed to the class for discussion.

For each class where a reading is assigned, you will submit a one-page position paper on an issue you found to be particularly insightful, enlightening, or otherwise important in the week's reading. The purpose of the position paper is to initiate discussion among the class on an issue of your choice, so your position papers should demonstrate validity, should generate interest in the issue(s) presented, and provide reliable support for your claims.

One week, you will turn in an annotated bibliography of five scholarly sources related to the reading for that week. On the week you work on an annotated bibliography, no position paper is necessary.

research proposal

value: 20 pts.

due: 7 March

Your research proposal is a proposal for your seminar paper. It should be no more than 5 pages. You should include sections that discuss your problem statement and research question; proposed methodology; a brief review of appropriate scholarship with a proposed bibliography (no more than 10 sources); and an audience analysis, including a 3-5 year review of the journal (or conference, where appropriate) you envision as your target for publication.

seminar paper

value: 40 pts.

due: 2 May

A seminar paper is a researched argument that demonstrates some aspect of the course applied to a larger audience (usually academic in nature). While I will give you a great deal of freedom to decide your venue, theoretical influences, and content, you must:

  • demonstrate a working knowledge of rhetoric and play theory by contributing to the larger conversation in one of these (or related) fields,
  • identify a specific audience or venue and shape your argument and formatting accordingly, and
  • choose an appropriate and engaging theoretical influence to ground and substantiate your contribution.

Your finished seminar paper should be a polished draft of a researched argument appropriate to this workshop and your related area(s) of specialty. It should follow whatever conventions for document type, style, and formatting are required by the venue you have chosen. Students taking this course for masters credit should aim for seminar papers in the 8-10 page range. Students taking this course for PhD credit should aim for longer, article-length arguments in the 15-25 page range. All students should provide a one-page overview of the audience(s), rationale(s), and purpose(s) of your researched paper. This information can be taken directly from your research proposal.

Evaluation criteria:
Your paper will be evaluated based upon its contribution to the field you have identified as well as its attentiveness to issues and trends in rhetoric and play theory; its assessment of audience(s), purpose(s), and rationale(s) as you have constructed them; and its thoroughness, complexity, and perceptiveness. The quality of your writing, style, tone, and formatting will also carry significant weight in the evaluation process.