syllabus

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To call new media "new" is something of a misnomer; the Internet as we know it (meaning primarily the world wide web) has been around for over a dozen years, and that's only one of the more recent network protocols invented for computer-based communication. This course will serve as an introduction to the study of digital media, new and otherwise, with attention to the pre-history of the Internet systems we're now familiar with, the theoretical modes of reading that such technologies have helped give birth to, and the social and political effects that these technologies have had. Some of what we'll read will seem a bit dated, as the Internet has developed quickly over the last decade-plus, but all of it remains important for a well-grounded understanding of the development both of network technologies and of scholarly thought about those technologies.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

Reading Responses (10%): Before class each Monday, you will post a reading response to the class blog. Each of these responses should be the equivalent of a one-page, single-spaced paper exploring some critical question in the readings we discussed during the previous week, and should use a close reading -- with appropriate quotation, citation, and explication -- of the text to support its points. You can explore issues that were raised in class discussion, but you must significantly expand on that discussion and not simply rehash what's already been said. You can skip two of these reading responses with impunity.

Blogging (10%): In addition to the weekly reading responses, you'll use the blog for more general discussion about issues that arise in or around our class. You will each be required to post at least once a week, aside from the reading responses; these posts can be either top-level discussion openers or substantive comments on other posts, including comments on your peers' reading responses. The point of the blog is to feed our discussions, and to help you generate ideas for the papers you'll be writing this semester; use your posts to test ideas out, to get feedback, and to practice your close readings.

Class Wiki (10%): Over the course of the semester, you will all work together to build a wiki covering any aspects of new media of interest to you. Early in the semester, we'll take a look at some wiki projects and think about what purposes you'd like your wiki to serve; after that, getting it built will be up to you. Each of you will be expected to create a minimum of ten new entries, and to be an active editor on the entries created by your colleagues, in order to PASS this part of the course. Better grades require more work. Your grade on this project will be determined partially individually, based on the effort you put forward on the site, and partially communally, based on the overall quality of the wiki's content. More information on this project to come.

Midterm Project (15%): For the midterm web project, each of you will write a 4 to 6 page critical analysis of a website, technology, or other Internet-based phenomenon of your choosing, using the critical texts that we have read to that point in the semester in order to facilitate and deepen your analysis. Each of you will post, in the weeks leading up to the paper, a brief proposal for this project on the blog, and you will comment on the proposals of your peers (thus getting feedback on your own proposal as well). Your paper must be delivered electronically, in any form you see fit. More information about this project will follow.

Term Project (25%): Each of you will undertake a semester-long writing project, in which you contribute to the field of new media studies; there are two options from which you can choose:

1. Critical project: This is the standard term paper project, with a twist. For this project, you'll produce a 10 to 12-page research-based term paper making an analytical argument about some aspect of new media, publishing this paper on the web in a form that you will develop, using the technologies that the internet makes available to supplement your argument.

2. Creative project: In this option, you will develop a significant new media project of your own. This project can take whatever shape you like, but it should be delivered to me via the web, and it should in some fashion reflect in its content the choices you have made about its form. You will include within this project, perhaps as an appendix, a 5-page critical paper exploring the relationship between your project and the readings we do this semester.
Both options have a number of required steps, in which you'll post a proposal for the project and various pieces of preliminary work to your blog. More information, as you might guess, will be forthcoming during the semester.

Class Facilitation (10%): In pairs, you'll be asked to serve as experts for a day, facilitating our discussion of that day's reading by presenting a brief introduction to the material and leading our exploration through questions and examples; more information about this assignment will follow.

Final Presentation (10%): At the end of the semester, each of you will present the results of your term project to the class. This presentation will be brief but formal and extremely polished. Details to come.

Attendance and Participation (10%): See policies below for more information. Bear in mind that participation doesn't mean simply doing the work, or simply speaking up in class, but actively working to make the class a positive learning experience for you and your fellow students.

GRADING AND OTHER POLICIES

My grading policy is pretty straight-forward, and comes in two parts:

The grade of B+ is yours to lose. Here are ways that you can lose it:

1. Miss more than three days of class. I know you all have a lot going on, but this class is your job this semester, and I want you to take it that seriously. You each have one day of vacation and two days of sick leave -- that is, one day that you can miss for whatever reason, and two days that you can miss with an official medical excuse. Use them wisely.

2. Show up late to class more than twice. It drives me absolutely bonkers when people walk into class after it's already begun. It's both rude and distracting. Get to class on time; every three late arrivals will add up to one unexcused absence.

3. Turn your assignments in late. You each have three grace days to use as needed. For instance, if the term paper proposal is due on a Monday, but you have a big exam on Monday, you can use a grace day and turn that proposal in on Tuesday. Please note, however: a "day" is twenty-four hours long, and ends at 5.00 pm. If you don't turn the proposal in until Wednesday morning, that's two grace days. Any lateness beyond these three grace days will count against your grade. Please note that because these grace days are freebies, I will give no extensions. Don't even ask.

4. Don't take the blog or the wiki seriously. The blog is a key element of the course; it is taking the place of formal, print-on-paper reading responses, and it's also a space in which you can feel free to explore your ideas about the class material in whatever way most appeals to you. Not posting regularly or ceasing to post halfway through the semester constitutes a failure to take the blog seriously, as do posts that have obviously been slapped together in two minutes or less. Similarly, leaving all of your work on the wiki until the end of the semester is seriously frowned upon.

5. Fail to do the reading. Much of our in-class work is built around discussion, and you cannot participate fruitfully in a discussion if you aren't prepared. Read carefully, take notes on the reading, post your responses on your blog, and participate in class discussions. With respect to which:

6. Fail to participate collegially in class discussions. You don't need to speak every day. And you absolutely must not monopolize the discussion. But both never speaking and appearing to overly enjoy the sound of your own voice constitute a failure of collegiality. Our discussions are a group endeavor, meant to help each member of the class reach the greatest possible understanding of the material.

7. Turn in a weak, ill-thought-through, unpolished, dull, pointless, or generally mediocre project. Need I say more?

8. Give a scattered, unpolished, unengaged, or OVERLY LONG presentation. Again, 'nuff said, except about the length question: I'm dead serious about this. I will stop you when time is up, and if I have to stop you, your grade will suffer. Practice your presentation, and time yourself carefully.

9. Plagiarize. Academic dishonesty in any form will result in automatic failure of this class. Period. If you have any concerns about what constitutes academic dishonesty, refer to your student handbook, or ask me.

The grades of A- and A must be earned. Here are ways to earn them:

1. Produce excellent projects. What constitutes excellence? Doing more than simply completing the terms of the assignment. An excellent project is sophisticated, nuanced, engaging, and insightful. It is technically polished and free of any kind of errors. It shows evidence of a substantive, thoughtful engagement with the course materials. It is, above all, interesting, designed to draw the reader into full engagement with its content and its form.

2. Maintain an excellent blog. Make me look forward to visiting your blog often, and stimulate thoughtful conversation in your comments.

3. Contribute to an excellent wiki. Make sure that your own entries are substantive, and keep an eye on the project as a whole, taking the responsibility for making the entire wiki as complete and polished as you can.

4. Participate excellently in class. Excellence in class participation means not simply speaking frequently, but contributing in an active and generous way to the work of the class as a whole, by asking questions, offering interpretations, politely challenging your colleagues, and graciously accepting challenges in return.

5. Deliver an excellent presentation. An excellent presentation is one that is focused, organized, engaging, and to the point. It has what my predecessor, Brian Stonehill, used to refer to as "heart, smarts, and sparkle."

TEXTS

The following required books are available at Huntley:

Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, eds., The New Media Reader
David Trend, ed., Reading Digital Culture
Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture

Other required readings will be made available on this website, as indicated in the schedule.

SCHEDULE

Week 1: Introduction
W Jan 23 General course introduction
F Jan 25 Lab: Introduction to the course website
Note: for this session only, we will meet in the ITS classroom.
Week 2: Web 2.0 -- It's All About You
M Jan 28 Chris Anderson, "The Long Tail"
(See also Anderson's blog, The Long Tail)
W Jan 30 danah boyd, "Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites" [pdf]
danah boyd, "Facebook's 'Privacy Trainwreck'"
Patricia Lange, "Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Networking on YouTube"
F Feb 1 Lab: Introduction to HTML
Week 3: What Is New Media?
M Feb 4 Janet Murray, "Inventing the Medium" (NMR)
Lev Manovich, "New Media from Borges to HTML" (NMR)
W Feb 6 Lev Manovich, "What Is New Media?" [pdf]
F Feb 8 Lab: Introduction to CSS
Week 4: Historical Contexts
M Feb 11 Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think" (NMR)
Alan Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (NMR)
Norbert Wiener, "Men, Machines, and the World About" (NMR)
W Feb 13 J. C. R. Licklider, "Man-Computer Symbiosis" (NMR)
Theodor H. Nelson, "A File Structure for The Complex, The Changing, and the Indeterminate" (NMR)
F Feb 15 Lab: FTP
Week 5: Literary Contexts
M Feb 18 Jorge Luis Borges, "The Garden of Forking Paths" (NMR)
Raymond Queneau, et al, "Six Selections by the Oulipo" (NMR)
W Feb 20 Michael Joyce, afternoon [Windows; Mac]
George Landow, "Hypertext and Critical Theory" (RDC)
Espen Aarseth, "Nonlinearity and Literary Theory" (NMR)
F Feb 22 Lab: Midterm project workshop
Weeks 6-7: Media Change
M Feb 25 Marshall McLuhan, Two Selections (NMR)
Hans Magnus Enzensberger, "Constituents of a Theory of the Media" (NMR)
W Feb 27 Jean Baudrillard, "Requiem for the Media" (NMR)
Raymond Williams, "The Technology and the Society" (NMR)
Theodor H. Nelson, from Computer Lib / Dream Machines (NMR)
F Feb 29 Lab: Introduction to wiki
S Mar 1 Symposium: "Page, Screen, Pixel: Media in Transition"
You are required to attend at least one session; more information to come.
M Mar 3 J. David Bolter & Richard Grusin, from Remediation: Introduction and Chapter 1 [pdf]
W Mar. 7 No class: Prof. Fitzpatrick at conference
Midterm project due
F Mar 7 Lab: More HTML
Week 8: New Bodies
M Mar 10 Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto" (NMR)
W Mar 12 Allucquere Rosanne (Sandy) Stone, "Will the Real Body Please Stand Up? Boundary Stories about Virtual Encounters" (RDC)
F Mar 14 Lab: More CSS
M/W/F Mar 17-21 No class: Spring break
Weeks 9-10: New Identities
M Mar 24 Julian Dibbell, "A Rape in Cyberspace; or, How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database into a Society" (RDC)
Sherry Turkle, "Who Am We?" (RDC)
W Mar 26 No class: Prof. Fitzpatrick at conference
Term project proposal due
F Mar 28 Lab: TBD
M Mar 31 Laura Miller, "Women & Children First: Gender and the Settling of the Electronic Frontier" (RDC)
Steve Silberman, "We're Teen, We're Queer, and We've Got E-mail" (RDC)
W Apr 2 Lisa Nakamura, "Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet" (RDC)
Cameron Bailey, "Virtual Skin: Articulating Race in Cyberspace" (RDC)
F Apr 4 Lab: TBD
Week 11: New Communities
M Apr 7 Howard Rheingold, "The Virtual Community" (RDC)
Guillermo Gomez-Pena, "The Virtual Barrio @ the Other Frontier" (RDC)
Term project stage 2 due
W Apr 9 Avital Ronell, "A Disappearance of Community" (RDC)
Pew Internet & American Life Project, "The Strength of Internet Ties" and "Social Networking Sites and Teens"
F Apr 11 Lab: TBD
Week 12: Game Studies
M Apr 14 Selections from Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan, eds., First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game [pdfs: Cyberdrama and Ludology]
W Apr 16 Wardrip-Fruin and Harrigan, eds., First Person (cont.) [pdf: Game Theories]
F Apr 18 Lab: TBD
Week 13: Convergence Culture
M Apr 21 Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture
Term project draft due to peer reviewer
W Apr 23 Jenkins, Convergence Culture (cont.)
F Apr 25 Lab: TBD
Week 14: Web 3.0?
M Apr 28 Your suggested readings
Comments due back from peer reviewer
W Apr 30 Your suggested readings (cont.)
F May 2 Lab: TBD
Week 15: Final Presentations
M May 5 Final presentations
W May 7 Final presentations
Term project due