Course Activity: “Artifact Adventures – Inventions in Culture”


Assignment Title: “Artifact Adventures – Inventions in Culture”

Author: Paul AJ Beehler, University of California, Riverside (

Date published: August, 2022

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Class Info/Tags: Anti-Racist Pedagogies, Composition Studies, Digital Rhetoric, Multimodal Rhetorics, Face-to-Face, Hybrid

Course Motivation: English 1A is a course that, in part, engages in the concept of narration, so this course naturally has a personal aspect of story-telling embedded in the pedagogy. English 1C is a course designed around close readings and interpretations of literature and ideas. Like English 1A, English 1C often engages in questions about culture and society. Both classes share a common goal for students: generating about five thousand words of cogent prose.

Context of Use: I use this activity as an invention exercise to heighten awareness of the rhetorical concept of definition and, specifically, their understanding of definition as it pertains to the concept of culture. The exercise is positioned as an invention exercise that can result in multimodality (through the construction of a wiki) and/or a formal paper.

Instructor Reflection: This activity inherently has a great deal of flexibility. Positioned at the front end of the composition process, “Artifact Adventures” relies on an initial classroom discussion and the generation of a collective, crowd-sourced definition of “culture.” As Edward Said notes, any consideration of culture will be both complex and problematic. Instructors should be prepared for an animated and even provocative discussion about global and local definitions of culture. At the conclusion of the invention exercise, students can engage in multi-modal projects (wikis/PowerPoints/Prezis/podcasts) or formal writing assignments. The exercise naturally lends itself to metacognitive activities and engagement. See the “Class Activity Plan” for a full explanation of the assignment, the surrounding pedagogy, and the theory that informs the approach.

About Author

Jennifer Burke Reifman

Jennifer Burke Reifman is a 5th year Education Ph.D. Candidate at U.C. Davis with an emphasis in Writing, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies. Her research focuses on technology in the writing classroom, writing program administration, and student identity and agency. When she isn't being a graduate student and writing teacher, she spends most of her time playing with her 3-year old son, tending her backyard garden, or diving into a video game.

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is a PhD candidate in the Joint Program in English & Education at the University of Michigan, where she also teaches in the English Department Writing Program. Her research interests include digital rhetoric, gender and discourse, and gaming studies. Her dissertation project explores how women use multimodal discourse—grammatically, narratively, and visually—to navigate online gaming ecologies.