Group Project Assignment

Note: a sign-up sheet for group topics (top two choices) and for changing the membership of the groups is currently posted on my office door. I will bring it to class on Tuesday.

For your first project, you will work in groups. All members of the group are expected to get together on at least a few occasions to divide up the work, share insights, and come to conclusions. You may also wish to rehearse your presentation ahead of time.

Choose a “personal” web site. The web site should have a significant amount of personal content and have a minimal amount of commercial content: that is, it should not be focussed on trying to sell you something. Here are some suggestions for web sites for your study:
www.annielennox.comAnnie Lennox
www.cockybastard.comJohn Halcyon Styn
www.daveloveselizabeth.comDave Garr
www.davidstill.orgDavid Still
www.dead.netThe Grateful Dead
www.jenville.comJennifer Robbins (blog-based)
www.jkrowling.comJ. K. Rowling
www.jonathanyuen.comJonathan Yuen
www.leonardodicaprio.comLeonardo DiCaprio
oliviachow.caOlivia Chow
www.rickygervais.comRicky Gervais
www.wherethehellismatt.comMatt Harding

Your goal is to analyse the rhetorical strategies of the web site, focussing on strategies of self-presentation. Remember that your goal is not to create a psychological profile of the individual: it is instead to understand and analyse the choices made in presenting him/herself on the world wide web. When analysing a poem, you ask yourself what the result is of having this particular word (with all its meanings, connotations, sounds, and imagery) in this particular part of the poem; similarly, when analysing a web site, you ask yourself what is the result of having this particular font or image or colour or text in this particular part of the web site.

You must divide up the analysis in some way such that each member of the group has a particular task or aspect on which she will focus. Each individual is expected to write her own portion of the group’s presentation, which she will then hand in for grading. Here are two possible ways to divide up the analysis:

Method Amember 1textual content
member 2position and size of elements
member 3colours, graphics, images
member 4navigation: options and strategies
member 5introduction, background, and conclusions
Method Bmember 1dominant instrumental strategies of self-presentation
member 2less dominant instrumental strategies of self-presentation
member 3expressive strategies of self-presentation
member 4attempts at interaction with the user/reader
member 5introduction, background, and conclusions

A grade (worth 10% of your final grade) will be shared between all members of the group, reflecting the collective work, especially as seen in the in-class presentation. Higher grades will be given to groups whose collaborative work is evident: where it is reasonably obvious that members communicated with each other and were able to draw upon each other’s work. Higher grades will also be given for the professionalism of the presentation and for presentation which are not merely a collection of five distinct presentations, but where all five presentations contribute to the whole presentation. You are performing one study in five parts.

Another grade (worth 10% of your final grade) will be an individual grade, which will be based solely on your own individual report. Your report will not necessarily be a complete essay, but the five reports of your group should together form something like a complete essay. Your individual report will be the basis for your portion of the presentation, and should be mostly your own work, based on the division of tasks for the group presentation. Your individual report should contain your own findings and your conclusions that are based on these findings.

It would be better if you did not read out your presentation in class, but instead talked to the class about your work and results. If you are not comfortable doing this, then you can choose the option of reading out what you have written. (A group’s presentation can consist of some people reading their presentation and some speaking their presentation.)

Your group’s presentation should last between 20 and 25 minutes: it cannot exceed 25 minutes. This means that each individual should present for approximately four minutes, without exceeding five minutes. You will be cut short and not allowed to finish if you exceed your time limits. Please be aware of your own time limit so as not to take time away from other members of your group (and others in the class).

Three presentations will take place on October 20th, and three will take place on October 22nd. All presentations will be delivered from the front of the classroom. Feel free to use the computer and digital projector, to display the web site you are talking about and/or other material (such as PowerPoint slides). The computer is equipped with easily-accessible USB slots.

Your own written report is due in class on the day of your presentation. You may hand it in up to two days late (by 5 p.m.) without penalty. It should be between two full pages and three full pages in length: it should not exceed four pages. Any images and tables you may wish to include with your report do not contribute to the page count limit.