Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Syllabus for my Language, Technology, and Culture class

This term I am teaching ENG 495/595 Language, Technology, and Culture for the third time. This is an incredibly exciting class to teach--both because of its content (which we can only begin to scratch the surface us) and because I learn so much from the students. By way of context, I'll note that as in the past this class is about 1/2 advanced undergraduates and 1/2 graduate students. Having said that, I'll just paste in the syllabus. I'd be interested in any responses, suggestions for readings the next time around. I'm sorry that this text lost its formatting when I imported it. I just don't have time to go back and reformat.

ENG 495/595 Winter 2009
Language, Technology, and Culture Dr. Lisa Ede
MWF 2-2:50PM
125 Callahan Hall

English department office: Moreland 236 (737-1636)
English department office hours: MWF 3-4PM
Center for Writing and Learning (CWL) office Waldo 125B (737-3710)
Email address: lisa.ede@oregonstate.edu

Please note: As Director of the CWL, I’m on campus a good deal during the week, typically at my Waldo Hall office. So if you have problems making my regularly scheduled office hours, feel free to stop by my Waldo Hall office or to schedule an appointment there at another time. Students are my first priority, so I’m always happy to talk with you.

· Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967; reprinted 2001)
· Lisa Gitelman, Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture (2008)
· James Paul Gee, Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning, and Literacy (2007)
· Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: When Old and New Media Collide (2008
· Selected readings available on closed reserve at the library, including several chapters from Knobel and Lankshear’s 2007 edited collection A New Literacies Sampler, Lankshear’s and Knobel’s coauthored 2003 New Literacies: Changing Knowledge and Classroom Learning, and Lindquist and Seitz’s 2009 The Elements of Literacy.

Course Description
What are the effects of developments in communications technologies on the ways we think and learn? How can we best understand what media historian Lisa Gitelman refers to as the “data of culture”? And why would Gitelman, whose book Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture we will be reading have felt compelled to co-edit another collection of essays titled New Media 1740-1915? (Yes, you’ve got those years right.)

In considering questions of language, technology, and culture, we’re reading and working at the intersection of a number of related fields: rhetoric and writing, literacy studies, education, anthropology, internet studies, new media history, etc. We can only hope to scratch the surface here. But what an interesting surface it is to scratch!

Major Assignments
Informal writing and learning activities (20% of final grade)
Literacy and technology autobiography (20% of final course grade). Your essay should be no longer than one single-spaced, double-sided page. Students’ essays will be compiled into a class publication, which will serve as an additional text for our course.
Entering-the conversation essay. To be frank, this assignment represents an intervention into your writing/researching process, for you cannot successfully complete this assignment if you have not done a considerable amount of work on your seminar project. Whereas the first assignment encouraged creativity and flexibility, this assignment really is a report on the progress you have made toward completing your seminar paper. Students sometimes resist this assignment—but at the end of the term they always tell me that they’re grateful they did it. (20% of final course grade). The minimum page length for undergraduates is 5-7 double-spaced pages; for graduate students, 7-9 double-spaced pages.
Final project, topic and approach open. The minimum page length for undergraduates is 10 double-spaced pages; for graduates, 15 double-spaced pages. Students who wish to do so may pursue non-traditional projects in a variety of media—but please consult with me ASAP if you’d like to try this option.

Please note: You have the option of collaborating with one or more students in our class on your final project. If you’ve not written collaboratively, I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to do so. If you have questions about this option, please don’t hesitate to raise them in class or in conference. (Students who collaborate on final projects will also work together on a single entering-the-conversation essay.)

There will not be a final examination for this course.

On Distinctions between Undergraduate and Graduate Student Work
The major distinction in this class between undergraduate and graduate student work involves differing page-length requirements for the final two major writing projects. In addition, I expect particularly strong engagement on the part of graduate students in the informal writing and learning activities that comprise 20% of the final grade for this course. I also expect graduate students to be regular and lively contributors to our class blog.

On Our Class Blog
Advances in social media software are a key feature in contemporary communications. The development of blogs has provided new opportunities for ordinary people to “publish” their ideas on the Web. What are the consequences of this and related developments for communication? In our class, we’ll take a stab at answering this question via a class blog.

Course Attendance, Due Dates, and Plagiarism Policies
Because our class will function as a seminar, attendance is important. If you have three or more unexcused absences, this constitutes grounds for lowering your final grade one letter.

Assignments are due on the day indicated. Unless you request (and receive) an extension in advance of the due date, I cannot accept late work unless your situation represents an emergency, as would be the case with a serious health problem, accident, etc.

University policies involving plagiarism apply in this course, as do university and federal policies pertaining to students with documented disabilities. Students with documented disabilities who may need accommodations should make an appointment with me as early as possible, and no later than the first week of the term. Class materials will be made available in an accessible format upon request. I will also work with the office of Services for Students with Disabilities to make other relevant accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Revision policy
You can revise any formal writing assignment for this class. If your revision merits a higher grade than your earlier draft, the new grade will entirely replace the former grade. Please note, however, that if you plan to revise an essay, you must resubmit it to me no later than two weeks after I return your graded draft to you. Only in special circumstances will I accept revisions after two weeks has passed.

Student Learning Outcomes
The academic discipline that has come to be referred to as literacy studies is profoundly interdisciplinary and includes research in such areas as history, classics, sociology, psychology, education, anthropology, English studies, rhetoric and writing, and internet studies. For this reason, it is unrealistic for students to expect to “master” research in this field. Rather, students can expect to gain an understanding of basic issues and questions at stake in the interactions among language, culture, and technology. More specifically, students will be able to demonstrate an understanding that:
Literacy is not a decontextualized, materially and ideologically neutral skill but rather is embedded in specific political, cultural, economic, and ideological contexts;
The consequences for literacy of developments in information and communication technologies are complicated and can not easily be predicted.
Developments in communications technologies raise important ethical, political, social, cultural, and economic questions that educators, politicians, and citizens need to consider.

Students will demonstrate this understanding in the following ways:
By participating thoughtfully in class discussions (and on the class blog) of course materials.
By writing several essays that reflect on important questions about language, culture, and technology.

Changes to Our Syllabus
A syllabus is always a work in progress, so changes to our syllabus can—and probably will—occur as the term progresses. I will always announce changes to our syllabus in class, and also via email. If you miss class, be sure to check with me or a classmate to see if there are any changes in assignments. I will also announce changes over email, using Blackboard’s email function. If you have multiple email accounts, be sure to check your ONID account regularly.

Week # 1
Monday, January 5
Class introduction
Discussion of class blog
Literacy and technology narrative assigned

Wednesday, January 7
Julia Lindquist and David Seitz, “Introduction” (from The Elements of Literacy)

Friday, January 9
Lindquist and Seitz, “Literacy and Technology” (from The Elements of Literacy)

Week # 2
Monday, January 12
McLuhan and Fiore, The Medium is the Massage
Entering-the-conversation essay and seminar projects assigned
Portfolio self-evaluation assigned

Wednesday, January 14
Continued discussion of The Medium is the Massage
Baron, “From Pencils to Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technologies” (from Hawisher and Selfe’s 1998 Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century Literacies)

Friday, January 16
Porter, “Why Technology Matters to Writing: A Cyberwriter’s Tale” (from Computers and Composition 2003)

Week # 3
Monday January 19
Gitelman and Pingree, New Media, 1740-1915 TOC and introduction (xi-xxii)
Martin, “The Culture of the Telephone” (from Hopkins’ 1998 edited collection Sex/Machine)

Wednesday, January 21
Gitelman, Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture 1-22

Friday, January 23
Gitelman, Always Already New 26-86

Week # 4
Monday, January 26
Gitelman, Always Already New 89-155

Wednesday, January 28
Stubbs “Telegraphy’s Corporeal Fiction” (from Gitelman and Pingree’s New Media 1740-1915)

Friday, January 30
No assigned readings. Today we’ll reflect on what we’ve read so far, and look ahead to future readings. We will also talk about the topics that you are researching for your entering-the-conversation and seminar papers.
Literacy and Technology Narrative due. Please bring enough copies for me and for your classmates. We’ll assemble them into a class book, Literacy and Technology: Reflections, Questions, and Speculations, today.
“Valentines” assigned today. Between now and Monday, February 8th please read all the essays in our class book. In addition, please write 2-3 sentences of response to each essay included in our book. There are two stipulations: 1) Your response should be specific, concrete, and genuine; 2) Your response should be positive. We will distribute your “valentines” in class on February 8th and discuss the process of reading your peers’ work and responding via “valentines.” As you work on this project, please think about the specific technologies (of all sorts) included in this assignment. You have almost certainly been asked to respond to the writing of peers before, but how often have you been asked to respond only with praise? Also please consider the material form that you want your response to take. In the past this has varied from hand-written comments on small index cards to word-processed comments that have been composed and printed in one file and then cut up and distributed to various efforts to approximate something like traditional valentines. Please note: do not feel that this is a competition to determine who can be the “best” responder/creator of valentines. (Why is it that so much in education involves competition?) Just engage yourself with the process of reading and responding in a brief, authentic, and positive way to your peers’ work. Here’s one thing that past experience tells me I can promise you: the day that we distribute—and you read—your valentines it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Week # 5
Monday, February 2
Avrich, Johnson, Koster, and Zongotita, “Grand Theft Education—Literacy in the Age of Video Games” (from the September 2006 Harper’s)
Gee, Good Video Games and Good Learning 1-17
Midterm portfolio self-evaluation due

Wednesday, February 4
Gee, Good Video Games 18-45

Friday, February 6
Gee, Good Video Games 46-82

Week # 6
Monday, February 9
Gee, Good Video Games 83-128
Discussion of our class book, Literacy and Technology: Reflections, Questions, and Speculations, and distribution of our “valentines”

Wednesday, February 11
Gee, Good Video Games 129-173

Friday, February 13
Possible guest speakers and/or day for reflection
Entering-the-conversation essay due

Week # 7
Monday, February 16
Lankshear and Knobel, “Sampling `The New’ in New Literacies” (from their 2007 collection A New Literacies Sampler)

Wednesday, February 18
Leander, “`You Won’t Be Needing Your Laptops Today’: Wired Bodies in the Wireless Classroom” (A New Literacies Sampler)

Friday, February 20
Stone, “Popular Websites in Adolescents’ Out-of-School Lives: Critical Lessons on Literacy” (A New Literacies Sampler)

Week # 8
Monday, February 23
Thomas, “Blurring and Breaking through the Boundaries of Narrative, Literacy, and Identity in Adolescent Fan Fiction” (A New Literacies Sampler)

Wednesday, February 25
Lankshear and Knobel, “New Ways of Knowing: Learning at the Margins” (A New Literacies Sampler)

Friday, February 27
Class is cancelled. I will be at Appalachian State University giving a talk. Please use this day to work on your seminar paper.

Week # 9
Monday, March 2
Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide 1-58

Wednesday, March 4
Jenkins, Convergence Culture 93-130

Friday, March 6
Jenkins, Convergence Culture 169-205

Week # 10
Monday, March 9
Jenkins, Convergence Culture 240-260 plus afterword
Lunsford, “Writing, Technologies, and the Fifth Canon” (Computers and Composition 2006)

Wednesday, March 11
There will be no new readings for today. Instead, we’ll spend the class engaged in a closing conversation.

Friday, March 12
Class is cancelled. I will be in San Francisco attending the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

Your seminar paper is due no later than noon of Wednesday of finals week. I would really appreciate it if you would bring your seminar paper to my Waldo Hall office, rather than Moreland Hall. If you are willing to allow me to share your seminar paper with future students, please also email me an electronic file of your essay as an attachment.


At 7:24 AM, Blogger David said...

well I'm intrigued by the use of a class blog. Will everyone be expected to post or just comment on posts that you place? Have you had experience of class blogs before? And why a blog rather than another web 2.0 publishing format such as a wiki.

...my only other thought is 'why don't I have a year off to catch up on all those books I need to read'

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Lisa Ede said...

Hi David,
I have had a blog for my Language, Technology, and Culture class since I first began teaching it four years ago. It's partly an accident. I had just heard someone speak about the University of Minnesota's UWrite project. This is a university-wide blog project sponsored by the University of Minnesota Library.

I direct a unit called the Center for Writing and Unit, and we collaborated with our Technology Across the Curriculum and Writing-Intensive Curriculum and got a grant to run a pilot project for a university blog.

It seemed natural to try what was then a pretty recent popular web 2 technology in my class, so I did.

In terms of how it works, I teach in a computer classroom with laptops, so every now and then--not all that often actually--I require students to post during class. In the past, the blog has really taken off--often generating in the range of 300-400 posts--with the majority being self-sponsored. In other words, they were posted outside of class and not required.

It's been very important that students have the same authoring rights that I do, so students can post directly to the blog, and not just comment.


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