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Rhetoric | Code | Other Cool Stuff !!!

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Michael Russo is an incoming Ph.D. student at Clemson University, working toward a professional degree in rhetoric, composition, and information design. He is a graduate of Rutgers University, and holds degrees in both English and philosophy. His interests include object-oriented ontology, dark and lonely web technologies, nonlinear narratology, platform studies, and Vietnamese food.

image024Michael has taught courses in object research, literature and videogames, internet privacy, nonlinear composition, and dissenting nonfiction. He organizes and runs workshops on classroom and coding technologies such as Twine, WordPress, and Drupal. He helped to build the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University-Camden. He’s also an assistant editor and designer for Enculturation (an open-source, peer-reviewed journal of rhetoric, writing, and culture).

Animated_ClipboardMichael likes drinking cheap coffee. He likes sitting under the stars with with Stella. He doesn’t have a Facebook, but he can be contacted using this form. Otherwise, click the clipboard to download his curriculum vitae.

clemsonorangeflaganimatedcr0CLEMSON UNIVERSITY

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design is an academic-professional degree, preparing students to conduct research and to disseminate their findings through teaching in the university and through publishing in professional and popular journals. RCID prepares students, through research, to be consultants for and to work within industry, government, and nonprofit organizations. RCID prepares students to be professionals in traditional and emerging economies.

4cae2066-28fd-4937-9dda-93393270e2e3-1430104596617DIGITAL STUDIES:
The Digital Studies Center is an interdisciplinary, collaborative research, development, and education center. The DSC helps kick-start, facilitate, support, and promote projects that are made possible by the convergence of digital technologies with the humanities as well as the arts, natural, and social sciences. The nature of digital studies and the DSC is one of collaboration, so it is our goal to bring faculty and students together across disciplines to work side-by-side. DSC Projects result in theoretical, critical, and practical forms. Furthermore, we offer programming in the form of workshops and project presentations. The DSC also offers a Certificate in Digital Humanities to undergraduates of Rutgers-Camden.


I am fortunate to be working alongside accomplished professors in both traditional and new forms of pedagogy. I’ve studied both English (with a focus on digital rhetoric) and philosophy (with a focus on language and theory). This skillset I’ve acquired helps me to make sense of traditional media and also allows me to explore my interests in emerging technologies. I use code to exploit the possibilities of the classroom — exploring the utility of data-sets to improve the experience of learning.


“Students listened intensely to each other, in a kind of open-ended spirit of exploration, simultaneously amused, uncertain, and utterly compelled. Presiding over this was Russo’s calm, quiet voice, his manner utterly relaxed and often provocatively witty: always unpretentious, and wholly with them in spirit …  Russo stayed with and within the exploratory contradictions and unsureties, pleasantly gentle, always sincere, and encouraging as primus inter pares. The result was that every student in the class participated, and often several spoke at once … In summary, Russo’s class mingled the utile and the dulce, the stimulating confrontation of fiercely challenging ideas, with sheer social joy. Both amiable and masterful, Mr. Russo is deeply at home in the exposition of ideas, maintains a climate of quiet control, and is a born teacher. We are fortunate indeed to have him teaching our students.”

Dr. Christoper Fitter | Rutgers University
Read his complete review.


A selection of current and past courses that I’ve taught or helped to teach. I make classes accessible through the commingling of literary artworks, new media, and non-traditional texts, putting each into the conversation of learning. I construct an environment of participation by employing a diversity of cultural artifacts into every lesson. For a complete list of all courses, syllabuses and lesson plans, visit the wiki.

Object Research | Rutgers University | S16
English research and writing course, taught by Michael Russo, and introducing students to systematic processes related to academic and humanistic inquiry. The course highlights the historical, philosophical, political and social significance of everyday objects in the world. The purpose of the theme is to motivate students to think critically about their surrounding environments. Students will explore the political ramifications of material culture by way advanced research. Morever, the theme is meant to show that even the most mundane things can be made incredibly interesting when discussed in the context of rhetorical inquiry.
Start Playing Around, Fall 2015, Rutgers University, is an English composition course, taught by Michael Russo with the purpose of inspiring students to become better thinkers, better writers, and better citizens of the public sphere. The class is modeled on the pedagogies of Kenneth Burke (A Rhetoric of Motives), Dr. James Crosswhite, (The Rhetoric of Reason), and Dr. Ian Bogost (Persuasive Games). The goal of this course is to teach students to become better thinkers and better writers. Students play games, think critically about games, and write critically about games. They also create their own persuasive games.
Privacy Reboot, Spring 2015, Rutgers University, is an English research and writing course taught by Michael Russo. The purpose of the theme is to motivate students to think critically about the issue of privacy, whether or not it matters to the human condition, and how perceptions have changed from the time of Wordsworth to the age of Google. Alongside the poetry of reflection, students discuss recent events concerning whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency, and whose actions have had a profound effect on the politics of technological culture. Within the scope of this theme, students research their own areas of interest, so long as their explorations meet the standards and expectations of Rutgers University.
Literature & Videogames, Fall 2014, Rutgers University, is an undergraduate English course taught by Dr. James J. Brown Jr., with teaching and technical assistance from Michael Russo. This class examines the relationship between literature and videogames by looking at a range of artifacts: novels about videogames, works of interactive fiction, electronic literature, and modern digital games that take on certain literary qualities. The goal of this class is not necessarily to equate videogames with novels or poems but to instead consider how videogames intersect with and complicate the category of “literature.” Students in this class will read novels, play games, and make games. No technical expertise is required.

In-class activities and conversations are turned into usable data, visualized, and tracked using a customization of Martin Hawksey’s open-source TAGS script (d3.js, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Visualization API). The data collected provides an invaluable resource for the scaffolding and structuring of lesson plans, and for gauging student involvement. To view a limited example of the code in action, click this link (works best in Firefox or Chrome).

hotMaking Things

A few projects completed or still being constructed. Bots, videogames, websites, and philosophical carpentry. Essays and other stuff sometimes updated.


Bonk!: A Game of Loneliness | Pong clone for one single, sad player. Created in GMS using the GM scripting language adapted from some borked C++ . The game is complete but you may need to update DirectX on your computer in order to run it (the installer will handle that). Download for Windows only. (Released under the GPL. Feel free to use Bonk! as a template for creating your own game. No credit necessary. Download the GMX source code.)


Silhouette | In which you play as a silhouette in search of an identity. Created in Twine using HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Still in development.

animated-update-image-0009Other Things

There are a lot more super awesome things on this website. But most of them are on the updated pages. If you want to see more classes, more games, and more experiments, then click here.

Thanks for Visiting



I study bitcoin, darknet and disruptive technologies, and other political software. My master’s thesis — Satoshi’s Broken Promise —  is an examination of the oft-made claim that bitcoin will *change the world* by ushering in an era of secure, autonomous banking in agreement with cyber-libertarian ideology. Drawing on the work of Nathaniel Popper, Alexander Galloway, Robert Kutiŝ, Steve Holmes, James J. Brown Jr., and others, bitcoin is analyzed as yet another digital artifact promising revolution while at the same time instituting its own brand of control. In the case of bitcoin, such control is not merely ideological, but procedural. Because the procedural rhetorics that govern persuasive technologies are not always in agreement with the discursive rhetorics surrounding these same technologies, users who choose bitcoin as a means to enact the cyber-libertarian argument are persuaded by the software to contradictory ends.

Pretty Good Privacy

Encrypted messages can be sent to any of the email addresses attached to my PGP Key ID. Please don’t send anything to my personal address. You can use the form on the contact page to message me anonymously. No name or email required.