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Current Course Offerings

Fall 2020

English 5311.001: Foundations of Technical Communication


M 6:30-9:20 pm; Online


Instructor: Dr. Chris Dayley

Description: This course is an introduction to technical communication history, theory, research, and practice.

Goals: In this course students will:

  • Understand the history of technical communication;
  • Discuss the theoretical perspectives that shape our field;
  • Discuss the relationship between theory and practice in technical communication;
  • Negotiate various definitions of technical communication and evaluate the legitimacy of these definitions;
  • Identify common genres of technical communication and sites where this discourse is disseminated;
  • Learn to use new technologies for collaborative writing, online presentations, web conferencing, and online training; and
  • Discuss the cultural contexts in which technical communication is invented.

Books: TBD

Format: TBD

Evaluation: TBD

Office Hours: TBD

See information regarding Zoom here:


English 5310.001

 Digital Writing and Culture

T 6:30-9:20 pm; FH G04


Instructor: Deborah Balzhiser

Description/Goals: This new course topic is currently under development. It is aimed at students (from any graduate program) interested in studies of rhetoric, writing, and technology. I’ll refine this broad statement over the summer. As I do, it will still be the case that students can focus their assignments according to their own interests so long as they sit at the intersection of core course concepts, digital communication technology, and culture. Donna Haraway tells us that “Technology is not neutral. We're inside of what we make, and it's inside of us. We're living in a world of connections—and it matters which ones get made and unmade.” In this class, we’re concerned about those connections, what gets made and unmade, and how and with what consequences. What happens when individuals, groups, organizations, culture, are mediated? What does it mean for our habits and behaviors that a digital platform has a share button? What happens when you add an upvote feature? We’ll use a computer and writing lens, particularly McLuanesque meets posthumanism, to explore and better understand relationships between features of digital technologies and culture. We’ll focus on a few key disciplinary conversations, but there are so many possibilities we could fill years of classes. As such, students will each be able to apply our theories, thinking, and research to their own areas of interest so long as it is at the intersection of our core conversations, writing, digital technologies, and culture. While we won’t cover all of these topics directly, students might consider such guiding questions in their assignment responses: How is [a given communication technology] situated within a historical trajectory (e.g., the pen, the phone, virtual reality)? How does the design of a [specific technology or feature thereof] effect bodies (e.g. gender, abilities, size, etc.)? How does the presence of this [specific feature] change our habits or behaviors? How does access or use of technology divide people politically or economically? How our interpersonal relationships or communities impacted by [a specific instance of a specific digital technology]? In what ways are the [specific instance of a digital media] racialized or gendered? How does [a specific instance of digital media] serve to complicate, diversify, deconstruct or recreate cultural and social boundaries in the understanding class? How might [a specific application or use of a digital technology (existing or new)] offer alternatives for a particular identity or community?

Books: Expect 100 (± 20) of reading each week. I am currently considering texts. Some main contenders are anything from the Polity Press series Digital Media and Society (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, Search Engine Society); Valls & Vie’s Social Writing/Social Media: Publics, Presentations, and Pedagogies; Leaver’s Instagram: Visual Social Media Cultures (Digital Media and Society); McKee’s Digital Writing Research: Technologies, Methodologies and Ethical Issues (New Dimensions in Computers and Composition); John R Gallagher’s; Douglas Eyman’s Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice (Digital Humanities); Vincent Miller’s Understanding Digital Culture. There will also be assigned articles. Texts that might be good for you but may be too specific for everyone include Wachter-Boettcher’s Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech; Eubanks’s Automating Inequality; Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism; Jackson’s #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice. Maybe consider Kernighan’s Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security. Popular press readings of interest might include Johnson’s Everything Bad Is Good for You, Carr’s The Big Switch or The Shallows, Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other; Standage’s Writing on the Wall: Social Media—the First 2,000 Years. People tend to like Clay Shirky—and he has TED talks.

Evaluation: Probably 3 short scholarly texts [1 must be mediated] (30%), 1 medium-long scholarly text [MATC must mediate] (20%), 2 technology demos (10%), presence (5%), weeklyish homework (10%), in-class activities (5%), weekly online reading & technology discussions (20%)

Office: ASBN 101A (inside the University Writing Center) The best way to reach me

Phone: (512) 245-7660 (second best way to reach me)

Email: (not at all the best way to reach me)


English 5313.001

Technical Editing

T 6:30-9:20 pm; Online


Instructor: Dr. Scott Mogull

Description/Goals: In this editing course, we will cover professional copyediting skills and the publishing industry. The first half of the course is similar to an advanced undergraduate course in editing. In the first part of the course, you will learn the foundations of sentence-level editing and you will have weekly editing practice assignments that we discuss in class (becoming an effective copyeditor requires a lot of hands-on practice as well as and openness to alternative solutions). The second half of this course explores editing management and publishing. In this part of the course, students will learn comprehensive editing, electronic editing, and the fundamentals of digital publishing. In this graduate course, students will research and prepare training (or teaching) presentations that cover advanced editing skills, software, and management issues in editing. Students will the conduct an online training session (presentation) to the other students in the class (the training presentations will be the type of presentations that a manager would provide to a team of editors or technical writers). Upon successful completion of the course, students will be prepared to work as editors or lead editors in professional settings.

Books: Technical Editing (5th ed.) by Rude and Eaton. Pearson.


Anticipated course assignments and weight are as follows:

• Weekly Reading Quizzes 25%

• Foundations of Editing Exam (Midterm) 25%

• Homework (“Homework” only, not workshop activities) 25%

• Training (Teaching) Presentation 25%

Office: FH 137

Phone: (512) 245-3718



English 5313.002

Visual Rhetoric

W 6:30-9:20 pm; Online


Instructor: Pinfan Zhu

Description: The world today is full of visual images. Mass media such as television, cinemas, films, magazines, advertisements, internet, billboards, advertisement, books, videocassettes, etc., are all inalienable from visuals. In technical communication, use of visuals is even more important. Few technical documents or presentations could be considered as effective without the help of visual elements. Naturally, it is important that we learn to use visuals effectively. The goals of English 5313, Visual Rhetoric, are to develop students' visual intelligence and train their visual literacy so that they are able to properly interpret, critically analyze, and effectively use visuals both in technical communication and other fields. Specifically, students will learn principles of visual perceptions such as Gestalt theories, the use of rhetorical theories, design theory, semiotic theory to interpret, analyze, and create visuals. They will also understand the rhetoric of images and design, and the use of five cannons in document design. Topics cover the study of document design, typographic applications, and the interpretation and analysis of images. On the whole, the course will be interesting and practical. I hope you will enjoy yourself immensely by taking this course. The course is a hybrid one. We will meet online on Wednesday evening from 6:30 pm to 9:20 pm. The other three face-to-face online will be in Round Rock in room 456. The dates for these meetings are 8/27, 10/17, and 12/05.

Books: Charles Kostelnick Designing Visual Language: Strategies for Professional Communicators and Carolyn Handa Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World. A Critical Source Book.

Online readings.


• 20% Reading responses (5 responses)

• 20% Class exercises

• 20% Three short papers

• 15% Analytical paper

• 5 % Photoshop project

• 20% Document Design Project

Office: FH M18

Phone: (512) 245-3013



English 5314.002

Topic: Proposal Writing

TH 6:30-9:20 pm; Online


Instructor: Dr. Aimee Roundtree

Description/Goals: The course will engage students in searching for public and private funding sources and writing grant proposals for real-world funding needs. They will use print and electronic tools for identifying funding sources, preparing proposals, and making professional presentations. They will learn about the grant cycle and budgeting basics, as well as databases and other resources for identifying funding opportunities.

Possible Books:

1. Winning Grants Step by Step: The Complete Workbook for Planning, Developing and Writing Successful Proposals, 4th Edition

2. Creating winning grant proposals: a step-by-step guide

3. Grant Writing: Practical Strategies for Scholars and Professionals

4. The Field Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits: Fusing Creativity and New Best Practices

Evaluation: Book Review, Letter of Intent, Proposal, Presentations, Reading Responses

Office: FH 313

Phone: (512) 245-2317