Fall 2017 Undergraduate English Courses: Special Topics

351:209 - Multimedia Composition


Fall 2017

In these classes, we will be examining different ways in which digital media has contributed to new modes of thinking about topics of social and cultural importance . Through assigned texts and selected videos, podcasts, and other examples of popular digital media we will be meditating on what creativity and communication means in the 21st century. In addition to working with the assigned course texts, students will have the opportunity to develop projects that utilize digital media in order to generate their own ideas around the question, what does it mean to be connected in the digital age?

This course satisfies two SAS Core Requirements
Area of Inquiry: Arts and Humanities; Critical and Creative Expression [AHr]
Cognitive Skills and Processes: Information Technology and Research [ITR] 


Course Section Subtitle Instructor Day Period Location Index
209 01 At Home: What Does It Mean? Kearney M 7,8 MU038 10596
209 02 Food, Culture and Politics in the Digital Age Hobayan M, Th 3 MU038 10597
209 03 Food, Culture and Politics in the Digital Age Hobayan T, Th 4 MU038 10598
209 04 Blogging McCarter M 4,5 MU038 11056
209 06 The Fluid Page Standridge Th 5, 6 MU038 11888
209 07 Words About Music Warren F 2, 3 MU038 16305
209 08 Documenting YOUR World Wallis-Hughes W 2, 3 MU038 11889
209 09 White People 101 Fitzgerald W 4, 5 MU038 12475
209 10 Public Intellectuals and Mass Protests in the Age of Social Media Fitzgerald W 7, 8 MU038 12513
209 11 Turn on Your Radio and Hide: From War of the Worlds to Welcome to Night Vale Dawson Th 2, 3 MU 305 14776
209 12 Storytelling in the Digital Age Ahmed M 2,3 MU 305 16917
209 13 Documenting YOUR World Bryan Th 4, 5 MU305 20088
209 14 Documenting YOUR World LaBrie Th 6, 7 MU305 20089
209 15 The Fluid Page Standridge T, Th 8 MU038 20090
209 16 Documenting YOUR World McCarter W 3, 4 MU305 20091


*Honors College students and SAS Honors students enroll in Section H1 


209 H1 Curiosity and Expression Bielecki Th 2,3 AB1100 14174 CAC


01 - At Home: What does it mean?

What is home? Is it a place of belonging, of safety, of refuge? Must it be something that we call ours, that we identify with? Or can home be a dwelling in bewilderment? What happens when we don’t feel at home, when we don’t belong? In this class, we will develop work that documents the shapes and contours of our intimate dwellings and the stories of those who inhabit them. Through videos, podcasts, and graphic illustrations, students will develop narratives around questions of home and estrangement, investigating how each specific digital media employed can serve as a unique lens to view both feeling at home and feeling estranged. Students of all backgrounds and disciplines welcome! 

02,03 - Food, Culture and Politics in the Digital Age

Multimedia appeals to various senses, but not all of them at once. How can students use digital platforms to create something that comes close to experiencing the real thing of food? Additionally, how can social media disseminate information about the food world, specifically agriculture and the politics that surround it? How can these media bring awareness to the forefront and encourage social action? In this course, students will consider these questions as they engage with all varieties of food literature (novels, restaurant reviews, political essays, how-to videos, food blogs) and how their own identities are created through food. As a result of our discussions, students will create a podcast, a video essay, and other related assignments.

08, 13, 14, 16 - Documenting YOUR World

Sometimes, it feels like The News has everything covered: politics, entertainment, climate change, business. But there’s something only you can report on: The story of your everyday life. How your immediate world keeps changing. Is there a new graffiti artist in town? Is something fresh happening in the local music scene? Has your circle of friends changed its view on an issue? Is a new fashion trend emerging on campus? Through blog posts, a podcast, and a video project, we’ll keep track of micro-stories like these, analyzing and exploring them in different ways. 


04 - Blogging

Students will learn the personal and professional value of being able to create and update a blog. By the end of the semester, students will be familiar with blogging jargon (posts, tags, archives, etc.), examine highly trafficked, exemplary blogs in the blogosphere, and begin to understand the many purposes and functions of blogs. Students will explore various blogging platforms and learn how to set up a basic blog. Writing exercises will focus on developing a distinct, consistent voice; writing for web rather than print; generating a steady stream of topics; and writing for a specific audience. Students will also be expected to consider how additional media (photos, videos, sound, external links) can support the text. All students will create a concept for a blog that they will update throughout the semester, and the class will also maintain a collaborative group blog.

06, 15 - The Fluid Page 

Digital media has altered not only the way we create and consume information, but it has also profoundly altered how we value that information; furthermore, it has changed the way we think. The realm of digital media is growing and changing so rapidly that even the experts often have trouble making sense of what tools like blogs, social media, and digital publishing mean for the future of human communication. In this class, we will be critically examining the ways that digital media has inspired us to reconsider permanence and fluidity, as they relate to information. Through assigned texts, websites, videos, and podcasts, students will rethink the modes of presenting information and find what it means to contribute to the perpetually updated World Wide Web. Students will also develop projects using digital media in order to explore their own personal questions about what it means to create and consume media in the Digital Age. 

07 - Words About Music

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture” (Martin Mull, Frank Zappa, Elvis Costello, etc.). From the earliest days of concert reviews and album liner notes, journalists have been struggling to find words to describe the sounds that they hear when listening to music. The blogging world has brought many more voices into this cultural conversation, which at times can be both perplexing and fascinating. The current digital music landscape has become a thriving and vibrant community that has its roots in a long tradition of fanzines, concert bootlegs and mix tapes. Now more than ever, both artists and their respective audiences are engaged in a dynamic conversation that is not only changing how we talk about music, but also how artists are creating music. Through careful study of texts, blogs, podcasts, videos and recordings, students will evaluate how music is discussed and written about and become active participants in the larger social media conversation. Over the course of the semester, students will produce several blog posts that critique live musical performances, review albums and explore their deeper thoughts on musical style and culture. In addition, each student will produce a podcast and a video essay that takes traditional musical journalism off the page and into the aural and visual domains.

09 – White People 101

What is whiteness? How is this racial construction used and glorified, mass produced and assimilated, and what are its relationships to politics, art, culture and even social media? In this class, we’ll explore the specific theories, artworks and analysis of white people as the dominator culture and social ruling class of American history. Students will create documentary projects using film, audio, podcasts, blogs, and other resources to look at a category of human beings that is rarely studied, written about or interrogated anywhere as racialized.

10 - Public Intellectuals and Mass Protests in the Age of Social Media

As our national and global politics have rapidly transformed through the platforms of social media (Arab Spring, Iranian revolution, Occupy, Black Lives Matter), public intellectuals have repurposed social media to launch their commentary, analysis, protests and online grassroots movements. In this course, we'll track the social media lives of several contemporary influential intellectuals of all ages and backgrounds who have relied upon social media to engage issues of civic responsibility and political awareness, as well as transformed it.  Students will blog, record, interview, opine, research and analyze contemporary social justice activism.

11 - Turn on your Radio and Hide: From War of the Worlds to Night Vale

The age of the Ipod is over, but a genre of narrative audio that took its name — “podcasting” — is thriving. The course focuses on the rise of the modern fictional podcast from its roots in Golden Age radio drama. Students will listen/respond to several vintage radio dramas and modern podcasts, prepare a handful of sonic adaptations (from visual or textual sources), then write/produce two original podcasts (i.e. a "sound story" and an "ear movie"), as well as one video (in which the visual information doesn't compromise the work's integrity as audio narrative). The course also includes visits with a variety of podcast professionals (and at least one live performance of a classic radio drama). The great strength of audio storytelling, is the mind's innate willingness to try to see whatever someone suggests it see, no matter how bizarre. So come on, folks, let's get crazy!

12 - Storytelling in the Digital Age

Students will hone their creative writing and critical thinking skills, to learn the various styles and formats of storytelling in the digital age. You will create a digital portfolio which is a personal blog of your work throughout the semester. The portfolio will include – personal narrative, podcast, video essay, film critique, blog posts on current events, well-thought-out final essays or short fiction. How do we tell stories in the digital age? Are the possibilities endless? Let’s find out!


* Honors College students and SAS Honors students enroll in Section H1

*H1 (Honors) - Creativity and Expression

How are our perceptions of art, communications, and information changing as a result of wide spread access to digital technologies and various digital media platforms? This course provides students the opportunity to explore the conceptual challenges that have emerged from the ever expanding digital world that we inhabit through blog postings, group exercises, and individual digital media projects that provide hands on experience of what it is like to compose and share works that are both thought provoking and entertaining.