WRTG 3020 Topics in Writing: Social Media and the Mind

Instructor Contact

Michelle Albert, Teaching Associate Professor

Email: michelle.albert@colorado.edu

About the Course:

Through sustained inquiry into a selected topic or issue, students will practice advanced forms of academic writing. Emphasizes analysis, criticism and argument. Taught as a writing workshop, places a premium on substantive, thoughtful revision. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours. Department enforced prerequisite: WRTG 1150 or equivalent (completion of lower-division writing requirement)

In this section of WRTG 3020, we will explore the relationship between smartphones/social media and well-being, especially among the generation that has been using these technologies since childhood. The ubiquitous presence of smartphones affects a lot about the way we live, including how we relate to others and to ourselves; how we communicate; how we spend our time; how we think; and how we receive, share, and understand information. In this class, you’ll gain awareness about your own relationship with your phone and social media as well as learn about some of the forces behind the screen. That little “slot machine in your pocket” (Tristan Harris) holds enormous power, affecting us personally, socially, and politically more than we might care to acknowledge. You’ll explore your own experiences, interests, and questions through various writing projects, activities, and class discussions throughout the semester.

Course Prerequisites: WRTG 1150 or equivalent (completion of lower-division writing requirement)


By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Develop specialized rhetorical knowledge and effective communication strategies, drawing on popular and scholarly texts from disciplines relevant to our course topic, critically analyzing disciplinary or specialized discourse, composing messages for specific audiences and purposes, and adapting content and form to the needs of a range of stakeholders.
  • Compose in a variety of genres, selecting and adapting genre conventions as appropriate, and meeting audience expectations in features such as style, format, documentation, and specialized vocabulary.
  • Hone your writing process, using multiple strategies to generate ideas, to draft and revise your writing, to control features of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, to critique your own and others’ work, and to reflect constructively on your practice.
  • Develop specialized information literacy, critically identifying the issues and stakeholders involved in a given conversation; how authority, influence, and expertise are constructed among participants in the conversation; and the range of genres driving the conversation.
  • Foster critical thinking skills, evaluating the sources of and support for claims; applying a reasoned skepticism to all claims and beliefs, including your own; posing questions that lead to sustained inquiry and innovative thinking; and framing an issue and developing a stance based on evidence and sound reasoning.
  • Develop digital literacy, analyzing how visual and aural persuasion contribute to effective communications in the discipline, and using a variety of technologies to compose and circulate communications in these modalities for a range of audiences.

Required Text:

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport, 2019

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