Digital Writing

ENGL 350 (W1)—Writing for the Digital Humanities (7177)*

Course Description and Policies, Spring Semester 2015


Professor: Trevor L. Hoag, Ph.D. 

Class Time: TR 13:30 – 14:45 (1:30 PM – 2:45 PM) 

Meeting Place: McMurran Hall (MCM), #207


Course Website:



Office: McMurran Hall (MCM), #213

Office Hours: MW (12:00-1:00)/(2:00-3:00), TR (3:00-4:00), and by appointment (Please Email Me First!)   


Textbooks and Required Materials: 

All course texts will be provided by the professor and made available online 


Course Description 

Writing (for the) Digital Humanities: This course examines online texts in the humanities, also called digital humanities, which is the study of information in electronic form. Through the semester students will study how media impact the humanities and the people who use the Internet and social software to disseminate information widely and immediately. Students will investigate and produce a range of digital rhetoric wikis, blogs, tweets, flicks, as well as nonfiction and fiction narratives produced exclusively for an online environment to understand how media affects writing and communication and how digital writing and communication affects media.** 

(Re-)Writing (Digital) Activism: Make no mistake about it, what counts as “digital humanities” scholarship is up for grabs. This is especially the case because each discipline in the humanities bears a different relationship with the digital. As this is a course in English, one taught by a rhetoric specialist, you can consider the following course an introduction to digital rhetorics. Moreover, since rhetoric has an intimate relationship with persuasion, in the following course you will use what you are learning about digital rhetorics and digital media technologies to advocate for a cause of your choosing. In other words, you will employ digital means such as social media, blogs and websites, infographics, maps, timelines, memes, and more, to persuade others that your cause is just. You will also have the opportunity to present the media you produce in the service of your cause at an open forum or “Digital Activism Fair.”


Coursework and Grading:

The Learning Record Online (LRO):

Reflections – 10% (A= 3%, B= 3%, C= 4%)

Digital Media “Artifacts”:

(Note: All artifacts are accompanied by a 1-pg theoretical write-up) 


Social Media – 10% (+5% revision)

Blog/Website – 10% (+5% revision)

Image/Infographic/Meme – 10% (+5% revision)

Map/Timeline — 10% (+5% revision)

Collaborative Artifact/MEmorial – 10% (+5% revision)

Deletion — 5%

Digital Activism Fair Presentation – 10%


Major Assignments:

In this course, you will tackle the above assignments. The “container” for these assignments will be The Learning Record Online (LRO), a wiki system that allows students observe and record their learning as it occurs. This system also allows other students as well as the professor to view student work. At three points during the semester, students will be required to write a reflection on how their theoretical positions are changing and why. These reflections will take the place of a writing assignment. The professor does not foresee giving quizzes over the readings unless it is abundantly clear that no one is doing the course reading and/or contributing their observations to in-class discussion.

The primary assignments in this course, rather than traditional papers, are a series of media “artifacts.” Students will begin the course by picking a cause for which to advocate. (Students in previous courses have advocated for: vegetarianism, healthy body image, reproductive rights, autism awareness, multiculturalism, income equality, same-sex marriage, fair trade, and much more.) After choosing a cause, students will begin making media artifacts. For instance, the first artifact involves creating social media pages for their cause on Facebook, Twitter, tumblr., etc. Students will also write up a brief, approximately 1-page, “justification” for their artifact using digital media theories that will be discussed in class. Students will revise both their artifacts and write-ups following peer review. Students will ultimately repeat this process a few times while making a blog or website, image or infographic, map or timeline, and finally, collaborative project. However, at one point in the semester, students will reverse this trend by “deleting” themselves from the Web. The course will conclude with students organizing and putting on a “Digital Activism Fair” to which all of CNU is invited. (Fear not! No prior knowledge of media is necessary for this course, and previous activism fairs have met with great success!)

NOTE: Engaging with an actually-existing organization in one’s community, or an on-campus group or club, can greatly improve the impact of one’s project. Thus, it’s highly encouraged!


Letter Grades:


A:        100 — 93%                  B-:       82 — 80%                    D+: 69 — 67%

A-:       92 — 90%                    C+:      79 — 77%                    D: 66 — 63%

B+:      89 — 87%                    C:        76 — 73%                    D-: 62 — 60%

B:        86 — 83%                    C-:       72 — 70%                    F: 59% and below


Important Course Statements 

Assignments: All assignments are due for LRO posting at the beginning of class. If you cannot meet a due-date, you need to contact me in advance.  Please note that artifacts and write-ups require a completed peer review and will not receive full credit without one.

Participation: Because of the content and small size of this class, participation is invaluable. Please keep up with the readings! Not only is class discussion essential to learning in this course, but we will be bored to tears if no one has read the readings and we have nothing to do but stare at each other (or I am required to pontificate for the entire class)!

Attendance: Attendance is absolutely required for this course. Moreover, if you are not in class, you will likely find the theoretical material incredibly difficult when you attempt to write about it (which, of course, you are required to do almost daily). Also, attendance and participation are considered when figuring grade “bumps” at the end of the course.

Disabilities: In order for a student to receive an accommodation for a disability, that disability must be on record in the Dean of Students’ Office, 3rd Floor, David Student Union (DSU). If you believe that you have a disability, please contact Dr. Kevin Hughes, Dean of Students (594-7160) to discuss your needs. Dean Hughes will provide you with the necessary documentation to give to your professors.

Students with documented disabilities are required to notify the instructor no later than the first day on which they require an accommodation (the first day of class is recommended), in private, if accommodation is needed. The instructor will provide students with disabilities with all reasonable accommodations, but students are not exempted from fulfilling the normal requirements of the course. Work completed before the student notifies the instructor of his/her disability may be counted toward the final grade at the sole discretion of the instructor.

Success: I want you to succeed in this course and at CNU. I encourage you to come see me during office hours or to schedule an appointment to discuss course content or to answer questions you have. If I become concerned about your course performance, attendance, engagement, or well-being, I will speak with you first. I also may submit a referral through our Captains Care Program. The referral will be received by the Center for Academic Success as well as other departments when appropriate (Counseling Services, Office of Student Engagement). If you are an athlete, the Athletic Academic Support Coordinator will be notified. Someone will contact you to help determine what will help you succeed. Please remember that this is a means for me to support you and help foster your success at CNU.

Academic Support: The Center for Academic Success offers free tutoring assistance for CNU students in several academic areas. Staff in the center offer individual assistance and/or workshops on various study strategies to help you perform your best in your courses. The center also houses the Alice F. Randall Writing Center. Writing consultants can help you at any stage of the writing process, from invention, to development of ideas, to polishing a final draft. The Center is not a proofreading service, but consultants can help you to recognize and find grammar and punctuation errors in your work as well as provide assistance with global tasks. Go as early in the writing process as you can, and go often!

You may drop by the Center for Academic Success to request a tutor, meet with a writing consultant, pick up a schedule of workshops, or make an appointment to talk one-on-one with a University Fellow for Student Success. The Center is located in the Trible Library, second floor, room 240.


ENGL 350 Course Schedule*



Syllabus and Introductions

In-class: Set up Learning Record Online (LRO)



Reading/Lecture: Plato—Phaedrus,

Reading/Lecture: Carr—The Shallows



Workshop: Social Media—Facebook, Twitter, Storify, Yik Yak, Pinterest, Google+, tumblr., Instagram, VK, Flickr, Vine, etc…

LRO Part A





Reading/Lecture: Derrida—“Plato’s Pharmacy” and “Freud and the Scene of Writing” (last section only!)


Peer Review: Social Media Artifacts


Reading/Lecture: Lanham–The Electronic Word


Workshop: Blogs and Websites: WordPress, Blogger, tumblr., Medium, Svbtle, // Wix, Weebly, Yola, Google Sites, Jux, Altervista, Webs


T       02/03 Reading/Lecture: Davis—Breaking up [at] Totality and Heidegger—The Question Concerning Technology


Peer Review: Blog/Website Artifacts



Reading/Lecture: Haraway—“A Cyborg Manifesto”




Workshop: Images, Infographics, Memes—,,, piktochart, smore, Many Eyes, Wordle, Meme Generator, Quick-Meme, makeameme, Animoto,, PowToon (Photoshop, if you’re an expert)




Reading/Lecture: Brooke—“Forgetting to be (Post)Human”




Peer Review: Images/Infographics/Meme Artifacts

LRO Part B



Reading/Lecture: Hayles–How we became Posthuman


Workshop: Timelines/Maps—Storify, Dipity, Tiki-Toki, Timeline JS, Simile Maps, Instant Atlas, Polymaps, Open Layers, Kartograph, CartoDB, Mapbox,, Google Maps, Many Eyes, Infogram




Spring Break!


Spring Break!


Reading/Lecture: Reid–The Two Virtuals



Workshop: Timelines/Maps—Storify, Dipity, Tiki-Toki, Timeline JS, Simile Maps, Instant Atlas, Polymaps, Open Layers, Kartograph, CartoDB, Mapbox,, Google Maps, Many Eyes, Infogram, Twine




Reading/Lecture: Ulmer—Electronic Monuments


Paideia Conference:




Peer Review: Timelines/Maps Artifacts


Reading/Lecture: Raley—Tactical Media

Interview with Rita Raley:




Workshop: Collaborative Projects/MEmorials–Any website platform, Any timeline platform, much loved, forever missed, Virtual Memorials,, tributes, imorial, iLasting, Facebook, Valley of Life, Last, Never Gone (Slideshare, Animoto, Zeega,, Twine


For Collaboration: Padlet and Google Docs





Reading/Lecture: Mayer-Schonberger—Delete


Workshop: “How to Disappear Completely”




Peer Review: Collaborative Project/MEmorials Artifacts


IDEAs — In class time



In-class: Planning for Digital Advocacy Fair

Workshop: Presentation Freeware—Prezi, Slideshare, Animoto, Zeega,, Powtoon 



In-class: Planning for Digital Advocacy Fair


Film: Her


Deletion Anti-Artifacts Due





Digital Advocacy Fair


Digital Advocacy Fair

LRO Part C





Digital Advocacy Portfolio Due


All Materials Due by Final Exam Period



*The instructor reserves the right to revise any portion of this syllabus throughout the semester.

Student Signature: ____________________________________________________

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s