Special Topics in Technical Communication

Spring 2013: ENG 674 Organizational Communication

ENG 674 is a special topics course for technical communication graduate students at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In Organizational Communication, we will study how rhetoric is used by for-profit, non-profit, and governmental organizations to communicate with their stakeholders: employees, shareholders, consumers, and the general public. Get started by reading some definitions of rhetoric.

Required Readings

Organizational Rhetoric: Situations and Strategies (Sage Publications)

Mary F. Hoffman and Debra S. Ford

Available via Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com and the Barnes & Noble Campus Bookstore

Electronic Journal Articles Available via the MSU Mankato Memorial Library

Recommended Readings

Thank You For Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs

Available via Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com and other online booksellers

Class Meetings

Required online chat, Mondays 7:00-8:30 PM CST

You do not need to create an account or download software to access the chats. The URL will be posted in the D2L class management system.

Student Outcomes

Based upon reading, writing, and class activities, you should be able to

  • Understand the role that rhetoric plays in successful organizational communication.
  • Identify the rhetorical situation in which organizations communicate.
  • Analyze samples of organizational communication and evaluate their success or failure.
  • Create or revise examples of organization communication.


  • Actively participate in the required weekly chat sessions in Adobe Connect.
  • Complete scheduled readings assignments before they are discussed in the chat sessions.
  • Complete assigned research tasks for discussion forums and chats.
  • Participate in weekly asynchronous discussion threads in the D2L course management system.
  • Prepare four rhetorical analyses of organizational messages.

Spring 2012 Schedule (Subject to Change With Notice from Instructor)

January 14: Introduction to the course. Meet your instructor and your classmates.

January 21: MLK Holiday. No chat. Kallendorf and Kallendorf (1985). Forest of Rhetoric (rhetoric.byu.edu).

January 28: Chapter 1 Organizations and Rhetoric in Contemporary Culture

February 4: Chapter 2 Identifying Rhetorical Strategies in Organizational Rhetoric

February 11: Chapter 3 Rhetorical Situations in Organizations

February 18: Chapter 4 Critical Approaches to Organizational Rhetoric

February 25: Chapter 5 Evaluating and Critiquing Organizational Rhetoric

March 4: Chapter 6 Identity Creation and Maintenance Rhetoric

March 11: Spring Break. No chat.

March 18: Chapter 7 Rhetoric about Issues

March 25: Chapter 8 Rhetoric About Organizational Risk

April 1: Chapter 9 Crisis Rhetoric

April 8: Chapter 10 Organizational Rhetoric for Internal Audiences

April 15: Visual Rhetoric Readings: Kostelnick (1988); Kumpf (2000); Phillips and McQuarrie (2004)

April 22: Visual Rhetoric Readings: van den Bosch, de Jong, and Elving (2005); Henderson, Giese, and Cote (2004); Baker and Balmer (2006)

April 29: Epilogue: The Ancient Art of Rhetoric in a Complex Organizational World

May 6: Final Project Due.

Spring 2012: ENG 472/572 Marketing Communication

ENG 472/572 is a special topics course for technical communication majors, minors, and graduate students at Minnesota State University, Mankato. We will explore the foundations of marketing and then focus on the textual and visual elements of effective, persuasive marketing messages. You will create a variety of typical marketing communication documents, including a product sheet, a brochure, a white paper, and a sales presentation.

Required Reading

  • Copywriting that Sells High Tech (2006) by Janice M. King. WriteSparks Press.
  • The New Rules of Marketing and PR 3rd edition (2011) by David Meerman Scott. Wiley.
  • Selected entries from WritingWhitePapers.com blog by Michael A. Stelzner
  • "What can you do with a liberal arts degree?" (2007) by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2007/winter/art01.pdf).
  • Morrison, M., Ozkan, K., & Wilson, R. 2011. Skills wanted: What's required of the next generation of marketers. Advertising Age. 82 (40), 5.
  • 572 students: Additional readings via the Memorial Library electronic journal access (as assigned).

Spring 2011: ENG 472/572 Instructional Design

Do you know how to develop effective training? Do you know how to develop learning outcomes and design experiences that will help your students achieve learning—permanent changes in knowledge or behavior? Do you know how to plan activities to keep your students engaged in the material? Do you know how to assess your courses to help you determine whether you were teaching the right thing, in the right way, for your learners? That’s what we’ll be doing in ENG 472/572.

This course is particularly useful for graduate assistants who provide instruction.

Readings will include:

  • Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
  • What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee
  • slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte
  • Training Design & Delivery 2nd edition by Geri McArdle
  • 101 Ways to Make Training Active 2nd edition by Mel Silberman