In any course in the humanities, your active participation in class will be important. You should come to class having read assigned material and noticed those aspects of the material that excite, interest, irritate, or confuse you.
Four Short Blog Posts and Brief Blog Comments (20%)
Each of these posts will ask you to use a new digital tool in some way, then to report on your experience with that tool in approximately 300 words. You should understand the course blog as part of the course reading, too, and substantively comment on classmates’ posts (or blog essays) 5 times in the course of the semester.
Two Longer Blog Essays (20%)
In these longer blog posts of 750-1000 words, you’ll respond to a work of print literature and introduce the class to a work of electronic or conceptual literature. You may complete these essays in either order, and you may schedule your own due dates–the only constraint is that you must complete one essay by March 30 and the other by May 1.
PROMPT FOR LONGER ESSAY 1: The works of traditional print literature we’re reading this semester consider a number of big questions about the role of technology in society. Do new technologies make our lives better, or do they make them worse? Do they make us smarter or dumber? Does the rise of artificial intelligence demand a reconceptualization of what it means to be human? How do we deal with the vast amounts of information now available to us? How do new technologies reshape our experiences of the world? For essay 1, choose one of the print works from our syllabus and design a question that will help you offer a reading of it, perhaps with reference to one of these big questions. Once you’ve asked your question, answer it, and include substantial close reading of passages from the text you’re writing on.
PROMPT FOR LONGER ESSAY 2: In the course of the semester, we’ll encounter a number of works of electronic literature and a number of works of conceptual literature. These are both relatively new genres of writing, though, and there is a lot out there to be explored. For this essay, find a work of electronic literature or conceptual literature, read/explore it, and introduce the work to the class. Explain how the digital aspects of the text or its conceptual basis work, and offer an interpretation of the work that describes how its content works together with its experiential or conceptual dimensions. You’ll find lots of works of experimental literature in the ELMCIP Knowledge Base, the Electronic Literature Directory, and the Electronic Literature Collection Volumes I and II. A good place to start with conceptual literature is Kenneth Goldsmith and Craig Dworkin’s Against Expression, an anthology that is available as a pdf download here.
Collaborative Digital Project (50%, half assessed as a group, half assessed individually)
In the second week of the semester, you’ll be divided into groups of 4-6 students. Each group will select a text or texts, and you’ll work together to produce an online resource about that text(s). It will be up to each group to decide on the particulars of what this resource will be, but it should extensively contextualize the text in question, point users to a variety of texts/objects related to that text, and serve as a genuine resource for students, scholars, and Internet users interested in that text. Projects might include:
- A WordPress site
- Omeka archives
- Omeka exhibits contextualizing and analyzing the focus of the project.
- Timelines and maps that contextualize the book
- Considerations of various versions of the book
- Other components/features of the group’s design
- And significant writing about the object of focus.
The project as a whole will receive a grade at the end of the semester, but you’ll also check in along the way with:
- A short in-class presentation and collective brainstorming session on February 19.
- A collaborative plan/contract/schedule, due March 2, 10 p.m.
- A 10-minute group presentation of your plan on Wednesday, March 5
- 2 group meetings with Eric, 1 to be held before spring break, 1 after.
- A group presentation of a near-complete project during the week of April 21
- Individual reflections on the project due over email on May 4
Most of us are used to a model of work in English classes that valorizes individual thought and individual achievement. By working in groups, however, you will be able to learn digital research skills that would be much harder to learn individually, and I am convinced you will be able to produce literary projects of genuine value to the public at large.
Details on plan/contract schedule
The plan should be a collaborative document your group works on together. During the initial writing process, you might used a shared Google Document, but eventually, this plan will be posted to your group’s WordPress site. The document should have five basic components:
- A mission statement. Articulate your group’s purpose in pursuing this digital project (beyond fulfilling the course requirement). What do you imagine as a user group/readership for your project? How would it add to a beginning reader/researcher’s knowledge on the topic? What do you as a group hope to learn as you pursue the project?
- Existing resources/”competition”, both digital and traditional. What resources do readers have to better understand the text in question now? What do they offer already, and how can what you offer be different? Which versions of the text are available to readers online? What has your group discovered about print resources for exploring the text in question?
- Group organization plan. How will your group make decisions? How will you manage tasks? If you are dividing responsibilities, how are you dividing them? What does the group expect of each of its members?
- Tools. Discussion of the digital tools your group will use as you pursue the project. What tools would you use in an ideal world? How much will you need to learn? Why are the tools you’ve chosen the right ones for your project?
- Detailed plan and timeline. What components will the site include? What do you expect each component to look like? What will be the process for completing each component? What are the milestones toward completion your group is setting for itself? If the group is unable to complete the initial plan fully, which aspects of the site will be enough to represent a finished project of which the group can be proud?