Seminar in Rhetorical Criticism: Digital Commons

CRN 28972 / We 12:00PM - 2:55PM / 1128 Cathedral of Learning
In the networks of digital culture, participants collectively generate an understanding of what it means to make cultural artifacts (text, music, imagery, code) and to have expertise. In this course, we explore the rhetoric of interpretation and self-governance that sustains the digital commons. This course begins with a survey of scholarship on the digital commons—the aggregate of persons, resources, and norms that constitute 21st century network culture. Students examine the political and ideological foundations and ambitions of the concept of the commons, especially as a complement to the concept of the public, a key term for both audience and sociality in rhetorical studies. Reflecting the course grounding in rhetorical criticism, our focus will be on critical attention to the symbols of making and knowing, and indeed, being, a member of the digital commons. 
Required readings will include:
  • Bollier, David. Think Like a Commoner. Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2014.
  • Hyde, Lewis. Common as Air: Revolution, Art and Ownership. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010.
  • Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture: The nature and future of creativity. New York: Penguin Books, 2004. 
  • Boyle, James. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. 
  • Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri. Commonwealth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009. 
  • Ostrom, Elinor. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • Smith Pfister, Damien. Networked Media, Networked Rhetorics: Attention and Deliberation in the Early Blogosphere. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2014.

Number of Credits


Johanna Elin Hartelius

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Course Category

Category B: Disciplines and Intellectual Movements

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