Stemming from readings about the viral nature and effectiveness of internet movements, three major assignments give students a chance to critically engage with everyday online content.

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While the following assignments ask for work that is conventionally thesis-driven and based in analysis, I use them as a catalyst for students to explore how digital media can be used to perform an argument. Two of the three assignments require students to present their argument using a multimedia platform like video, podcast, website or visual presentation. 

 

1. A Study in Viral Video

In the first major assignment, student are asked to study the rhetorical situation and appeal of an individual viral video or a viral video sensation. This assignment has two parts: 

  1. An 800 to 1,200-word rhetorical analysis paper
  2. A video that replicates or remixes the viral video(s) using the rhetorical concepts outlined in the paper

In the examples below, students used the opportunity to be creative (and hilarious) by shooting their own videos with original footage or editing found footage together.  

This student parodied "Dat $tick," a viral music video by Rapper Rich Chigga. In his rhetorical analysis paper, the student argued that the rapper's unconventional appearance contributed to the video's success and subsequent parodies.

In a remix of "Kazoo Kid," this student superimposed the title character in a different setting after observing in his rhetorical analysis paper that Kazoo Kid's oddly upbeat attitude contributes to the awkward tone of the video. 

 

2. Entering a Viral Conversation

In the second major assignment, student study an important social hashtag movement of their choosing and argue whether or not the movement has resulted in positive or negative change. They must present their argument in either a paper or a multimedia project (a Prezi, website, video, podcast, or otherwise). 

Students have analyzed the results of hashtags like #MyNYPD and #PrayforParis, as well as movements like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Click on the images below to view the projects. 

 

3. Create Your Own Hashtag/Online Challenge

In the third major assignment, students create their own hashtag movement or challenge in order to enact positive, concrete change. They must provide context on why their movement is important and rationalize how their movement will succeed. Arguments will be presented in a multimedia project (a video, podcast, Prezi or website).