ENGL 4399: Senior Seminar

Rhetoric of the Future

Charles F. Kettering, in perhaps the greatest display of deliberative rhetoric ever, famously argued, “We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.”

Rhetoric of the Future considers some of the ways we talk about the future, how we argue for and describe it, in order to better understand what sorts of arguments are successful and what “successful” means. Taking seriously William Gibson’s claim that “the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed,” we are most interested in how the future is figured and what we can learn of the motivations and assumptions behind those descriptions.

Readings will be various and may include work from rhetorical theory, design and human/computer interface theory, literature, design fiction, and new futurism. All coursework will be born-digital — it’s the future — but no prior knowledge or ability in specific computer applications is required. Class will be divided between seminar discussions and studio work and will consist of both solitary and collaborative projects, including several presentations.

Required Accounts:

a Scalar account

a Tumblr page devoted to this course

Recommended Accounts:

Evernote, Pocket, Dropbox, anything else you could use to save, share, and annotate the web; share your methods

Reading List:

Paper Books:

  • Shaping Things — by Bruce Sterling
  • Doktor Sleepless Volume 1: Engines of Desire — by Warren Ellis
  • Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming — by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby
  • Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing — by Ian Bogost

Other Readings & Course Schedule

Projects:

Critical Tumblr-ing

Speculative Archaeology – Kickstarter

Scalar Book