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Special COVID-19 Themed Course Offered This Summer

May 5, 2020

Writing Studies is offering a new COVID-19 themed special topics course this summer! All majors welcome! TWC majors interested in taking this course can contact Barb Horvath about substituting it as an elective for the BS.

The Rhetoric of Misinformation: Conspiracy, Paranoia, Pseudoscience
As the COVID-19 crisis worsens, so does a secondary pandemic: the spread of global misinformation. This course explores the rhetorical composition and circulation of conspiracy theories and pseudoscience in contemporary times. Together, we will investigate how “alternative research” and “fake news” gain traction in the public sphere and influence our perception of evidence and expertise – who we can trust, if anyone at all. We will examine conspiracy across medical, paranormal, historical, governmental, and scientific domains: from coronavirus’s alleged biological manufacturing in a Chinese lab and its mutating spread by 5G radiation, to the Illuminati’s New World Order agenda and Area 51’s underground alien laboratory. Students will debate what social and cultural practices shape our collective knowledge-making processes; what rhetorical devices may be used to identify and debunk irrational appeals; and how this understanding can inform future debate when it appears that conversations are at a dead end.

Writ 3270: The Rhetoric of Misinformation: Conspiracy, Paranoia, Pseudoscience