PWR1 Section 1 MWF 9-10:15am Building 160, room 123
PWR1H Section 3 MWF 11:00am-12:15am Building 160, room 123


In today’s multimedia world, effective arguments rely increasingly on the power of images to persuade their audience. Think about the many different visually based arguments that you encounter everyday: a television commercial showing Michael Jordan sweating fluorescent Gatorade green; an editorial cartoon of Harry Potter, his lightning bolt scar replaced with a large dollar sign; war protest footage – in System of the Down’s music video for “Boom”; the cover of Sports Illustrated, featuring tennis star Anna Kournikova posed alluringly in an off-the-shoulder blouse and a seductive smile. Each of these images presents an argument; each of these texts uses visual rhetoric as a means of persuasion. In this course, you will work toward creating your own powerful arguments, both about and through visual rhetoric. You’ll begin by becoming proficient readers of visual arguments. We’ll analyze comic strips and cartoons on a variety of subjects –for instance, George Bush, education, cloning, the War in Iraq, student life – and then move to advertisements – from Got Milk spots to movie trailers for The Matrix Reloaded. As we examine the ways in which images are used to persuade, you’ll select your own example of visual rhetoric to analyze, first informally in class, then more formally in an essay.

Description of PWR1 (from the PWR homepage)
PWR courses aim to develop students’ skills in incisive analysis and substantive research-based argument; drawing on well-defined and time-tested rhetorical principles, students learn to present ideas with the intellectual and stylistic force expected of members of the university academic community.
Toward these ends, PWR 1, the required first-year course, focuses on elements of academic analysis and argument—understanding a writer’s stance, developing a supportable argumentative thesis, discovering, developing, and deploying cogent proofs, making appropriate organizational and stylistic choices, and writing for a range of audiences. A major component of PWR 1 is research-based writing, including the effective use of print and non-print sources, primary and secondary sources, and data based on fieldwork. By the end of PWR 1, students will have carried out significant research and used it as the basis for a polished and persuasive research-based essay.

In the second part of the quarter, our attention will shift to different media (photography, propaganda, architecture, and film) and to the complicated process of constructing a research-based argument. You’ll generate your own research topic on a subject that interests you. You might decide, for example, to look at the media’s influence on public opinion about the war on Iraq; the interrelationship between video games and high school violence; the protest art of the Guerrilla Girls; Native-American team mascots and cultural stereotyping; weblogs and modern self-expression – your topic can focus on science, film, sports, advertising or even Stanford campus life as long as long as it engages visual rhetoric as a form of argumentation. The research process itself will involve many stages: from writing a proposal, to selecting and contextualizing your sources, to outlining, drafting and revising your paper. Our last day of the course will be devoted to a showcase of student work and to reflecting about the principles and uses of visual rhetoric at Stanford and in the world beyond.

About PWR1H - Section 3: The Program in Writing and Rhetoric is offering a limited number of PWR1 honors sections this quarter. According to the PWR course description,

Honors sections are offered for students considering majors in which writing figures prominently and other students with strong backgrounds and interests in writing. The accelerated pace allows for greater scope and depth in research projects.

If you opt to enroll in PWR1H, section 3, you can anticipate a class with a more intensive focus on writing issues; this focus will be reflected in classroom discussions, the writing assignments, and the required reading.

There are two required course texts for Section 1; there are three for Section 3. The Gibaldi and Williams should be available through the Stanford Bookstore by the third week of classes -- or, you can order them through if you prefer. The text of Envision is available on-line through the link in the left frame of the course webpages. All supplementary readings will be distributed to students or made available in .pdf form on-line.

Required: Sections 1 & 3 Required: Sections 1 & 3

Required: Section 3
Recommended: Section 1

Christine Alfano & Alyssa O'Brien. Manuscript. Longman 2004. Joseph Gibaldi, Phyllis Franklin. The MLA Handbook for the Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. MLA 2003. Joseph Williams, Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace. 7th edition. Longman, 2002.
PWR & University Policies and Resources
All PWR classes abide by specific University and Program policies. For a list of these policies and resources for first year PWR students, go to the Policies page.
Class attendance & participation
Our class attendance and participation policies are fairly straightforward: I expect you to be on time and attend all our course meetings, conferences, and peer reviews. If you do miss a class, you must make it up and you also must still turn in any work due that day on time. Please keep the lines of communication open: if you know in advance that you'll miss class, let me know; conversely, if you unexpectedly need to be absent (because of illness, family emergency, etc.) let me know as soon as possible so we can determine a make-up plan for the work that you miss.
Since we have a small class, class discussion is an important facet of the learning experience, and I have no doubts that you all will contribute actively to our conversations. Remember, however, to be respectful of your classmates; negative or demeaning remarks - even if you mean them in a "good-spirited" way - don't have a place in our classroom.

For further clarification of attendance policies, please consult the PWR Policies link.

Wallenberg & Computing Requirements
We are fortunate to have been assigned to a state of the art computer classroom. During the quarter, we will have the opportunity to work with laptops, plasma screens, a smart panel, and two large interactive Webster computers, controlled by a stylus. However, with great technology comes great responsibility. Please take and boot up a laptop at the beginning of each class, unless otherwise directed; at the end of the class session, you should shut down the computer - not just close it up - and stow it again in the laptop cart, hooking it up to the appropriate power cable for the shelf you chose. Remember: you should be gentle with these computers, and under no circumstances are you to take them from the room.
In terms of computer room etiquette, you must not surf the web (unless directed to do so) or check your e-mail during class; anyone who does so may be demoted to pen and paper for the rest of the class session. In addition, when we start working with the collaborative software on the computers, you should be respectful in sharing the computer screens and should not "seize control" of a screen, unless you have been directed by me to do so.
Finally, this is a WRITING class, not a COMPUTER class. Accordingly, I will not be teaching "how-to" lessons on using technology, beyond the most necessary skills. You should make friends with your RCCs and familiarize yourself with the Meyer Help Desk and the Acomp website for help on technology related issues. I also will make myself available outside of class on an individual or group basis for some tech-help. Look at the Tech Resources list on the Policies & Resources page for additional tech support options.
Note on ethics & image use: As part of an academic community, you need to use source material ethically and appropriately. Just as you would not plagiarize another writer's words, so you should not use someone else's image without giving him or her credit. Accordingly, for every image that you use in class - whether it be for a class exercise, a paper, or a visual project - you should keep records of where you got it from and when you accessed it (if it's an on-line image). Keeping clear records from the start will prevent hassles later.
One of my goals for this class is to move toward having a paperless classroom. You will receive very few handouts in class; all of the course materials will be available through this website. To facilitate your own "paperlessness", I have set up a PanFora forum for our section. PanFora is a Stanford-designed and hosted on-line bulletin board environment that allows students to store documents and post/reply to messages through a designated class web-space. We will be using our Panfora space as a forum for conversation and peer review, and as an archive for student work. The PanFora button, located along the left margin of webpages for this class, will connect you to our forum. You are responsible for posting all of your assignments on PanFora as you complete them.
Please note:
  • Apple users should access PanFora through Netscape
  • PC users should use Explorer
  • Apple users should be sure to include the .doc extension on all documents posted to the class; alternately, they could save attachments as .rtf documents (rich text format) or .pdfs to allow viewing across different computer platforms.
  • All students should routinely back-up their work, using CDs and/or their personal Leland space in addition to their PanFora archive.
Writing & Rhetoric Assignments
For this class, you will complete a series of both informal and formal assignments that will work together to help you experiment with, develop, and refine skills and strategies that you will need to do powerful and purposeful research and to construct forceful arguments. You will move from a rhetorical analysis of a piece of visual rhetoric to a complex and sophisticated research project on the topic of your choice. Since these assignments work cumulatively, it is important that you stay on schedule and turn them in on time. For my part, I will return your papers to you within 7 to 14 days after I receive them so that you can incorporate my feedback in your future writing projects.
Assignments (& % of grade):
Participation - 5%
(in-class & on Panfora)
Informal assignments - 15%
Rhetorical Analysis - 10%
Contextual Analysis- 20%
Research revision - 45%
Visual Argument- 5%

I will be using the PWR Assessment Criteria for grading your assignments; in addition, you will receive individual assignment sheets for the papers clarifying the goals and expectations for the specific assignments.

Below are brief descriptions of the writing assignments. More detailed assignment sheets will be distributed at appropriate times during the quarter through our website. It is important that you follow all directions on the assignment sheets; papers will be marked down if they do not complete the assignment correctly - or if they are late.

  • Informal Writing Assignments: These may include in-class exercises, free-writes, paragraphs, paper evaluations, a "How I Write" report, and peer review forms. Many of the assignments culminating in the research paper fall under this category and are intended to facilitate the student's progress through the research process. PWR1H Section 3 will keep a writer's log that each student will turn in at the end of the quarter. Note: these are informal, not optional assignments: you will receive credit (though not a letter grade) for completing these assignments.
  • Rhetorical Analysis: You will write a 3-5 page paper analyzing the visual rhetoric of the text(s) of your choice.
  • Contextual Analysis Assignment: Each student will create 3 popular articles that articulate multiple sides on his/her research topic. Each "side" will be 1-2 academic pages in length. The project will be accompanied by a 1-2 page assessment of the context, arguments, and kairos of this particular debate.
  • The Research Project: Over the course of the quarter, you will work on a research project that both engages and utilizes visual rhetoric effectively. We will go through the process of writing a research paper step by step, from writing a proposal, to using the library, performing fieldwork, collecting data, outlining, drafting, and revising. At the end of the quarter, you will produce a piece of original visual rhetoric focused on the topic of your research project.
Submission & Revision Policies
All paper submissions should be machine-generated and stapled: all written assignments, whether posted or on paper, should contain text that is 1 ½ or double-spaced, in 12 point font, with one inch margins. Papers longer than 2 pages should have a title page and page numbers. You should follow MLA documentation style for the papers you write for this class. Posted submissions should contain a relevant subject title and should also be completed on time. You will need to scan images and save them as .jpgs for many of these assignments; you will need to integrate these images into your paper in a rhetorically effective manner.

You are responsible for making additional copies of your papers at various times during the quarter for peer reviewers and for ensuring that the reviewers receive those copies.

The PWR policy approach to revision is simple: writing is a process, not a product. For this reason, all of the major assignments in this class are incremental, involving drafting, peer reviewing, and revision stages.
You also may revise any graded paper for resubmission at the end of the quarter (the deadline for resubmitted papers is Friday, December 5th). If you decide to revise and resubmit a graded paper, keep in mind that turning in a revised paper does not necessarily mean that you will automatically receive a higher grade for the assignment. Revision, as we will discuss this quarter, involves more than editing or cosmetic corrections; it often involves significantly reshaping your argument, structure, and style.

All revised papers must be resubmitted in a folder containing the following items:

    1. The revision with a new title page including the word "revision" and the new date
    2. The previous, graded version of the paper with my comments written on it and the grade sheet you received
    3. A 1-2 page letter in which you detail what you revised, why you made those revisions, and your final reflections on this new version of the paper and on the assignment as a whole.


All resubmissions must be received by Friday, December 5th.


Visual rhetoric is an exciting field of study and a great means through which to develop your skills as a writer, researcher, and rhetorician. What you'll find in this course is that once we start talking about visual arguments, you'll become even more aware of how such rhetoric operates in our everyday lives. Bring in your own examples and experiences to share with class -- xerox articles, clip political cartoons, show us the front page of the Daily, jot down notes on a commercial or poster you pass on the way to class. Our class schedule may be set, but our topics of conversation are flexible: let's work to make our discussions as relevant to real life as possible.

Finally, to let me know that you have read the whole syllabus, please e-mail me with the subject header "Got to the end!". See you in class.