Digital Literature: The Death of Print Culture?
Honors Colloquium

English 190, T/R 10:30-11:45am (Fall 2010)
Clark Hall 111

Dr. Katherine D. Harris
Office: FO 220
Office Hours: W 1-3pm & via online tools
Phone: 408.924.4475
Email: katherine.harris@sjsu.edu

IntroductionsCourse PoliciesScheduleAssignmentsMoodle
Digital ResourcesBook History ResEnglish Dept.SJSU

Course Policies & Information


Printable Version (pdf)

Course Description:
"If it’s on the screen, I can’t take it into the tub!" This is the main cry of bibliophiles everywhere against literature’s digitization. Should we hoard all of our paperbacks, even those that fell into the tub? Will the Internet, Web, hypertexts and born-digital overtake and render obsolete our treasured and well-marked books? Will blogging, emailing, wiki-ing, even Facebooking destroy the English language with its abbreviated syntax and visual culture? And, what of all the world’s literary treasures? Will Google possess them all in their archives and render the material object obsolete? Even as we become more digital, we are not experiencing a new anxiety.

With the evolution of print technology in the early nineteenth century, authors, reviewers and publishers began descrying the ease with which someone could call himself or herself an "author." However, the evolution of language, the dissemination of print materials, the creation of a larger community has always been part of the human condition. Now, we call it social networking, an atmosphere in which readers become users as well as authors and a time when we can respond to each other virtually but in real time. So, what does this mean for Literature and the literary? In this course, we will explore the impact of Web 2.0 on our literary culture by tapping into our own existing digital literacy. We will explore, intellectualize and critically examine the content creation in these social spaces – even the creation of fiction and poetry as digitally-enhanced, multiple authored texts. After all, didn’t Dickens do this when he altered the conclusion of Great Expectations three times to suit his fans?

Pre-requisites: Upper-division standing.

Course Learning Objectives
  • To recognize and appreciate the importance of Digital Humanities and Digital Literature to the study of literature and culture in the 21st Century.
  • To strengthen our abilities to engage literary, visual and aural texts and to analyze both its form and content as well as its historical contexts.
Required Books & Materials
Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves (any edition)

All other readings, videos and most games are available online thanks to the generosity of the authors and publishers. Some readings will be available as password-protected PDFs through the course website.

Email & Moodle Accounts
Unfailing Access to the Internet
Twitter Account
Flickr & YouTube Accounts (recommended)


Grade Distribution
10% Class Discussion & Participation
25% Blog Posts (500 words & 9pts each)
10% Presentation & Post (500 words on Videos, Podcasts, Blogs & Readings
10% Presentation & Post (1000 words) on Game Adaptation Idea
10% Presentation & Post (500 words on Adaptation Images
10% Presentation
& Post (1000 words) on Twitter
25% Final Project & Presentation
Class Discussion & Participation
This course studies the development of a new critical field, Digital Humanities. Since we will build on our definition of the "digital" from the first day of class, your participation in each class meeting is imperative. This is an Honors course, whether you have been admitted to the English Department Honors program or not. As such, it will rely on discussion, innovation and some exploration on your part. We will not have a mid-term or final exam because, well, it’s just more fun to talk to each other. In addition, some of our special guests are nationally-known Digital Humanists who are leading the field. Prior to each of the guest visits (via video conferencing), we’ll discuss readings and ideas to prepare for the spectacular conversation with the guest.

Our meeting space is the technology-rich environment of the Incubator Classroom where we will respond to each other in online forums, evaluate electronic resources and share strategies, successes and failures in our scholarly adventures. The technology, though sometimes daunting, will actually enhance our discussions and has the capability to improve research as well as writing skills. It requires a commitment to participating, though. Media experimentation is welcome, encouraged even. If you find something relevant to our readings, please bring it in or put it on the screen at the beginning of class. This type of engagement will only enhance your participation grade. For further tips on performing well in class, see below.

A student’s participation is assessed by his/her contribution throughout the semester. Use the following as guidelines for this portion of your final grade:

  • To earn a "C," do the minimum: at every meeting, read and prepare assigned readings so you are never at a loss if you are asked a question, but speak only when called upon, do "ordinary," plain-vanilla presentations and responses. This is the "bottom line" for getting a "C" in this part of the course.
  • To earn a "B," at every meeting, prepare assigned readings thoroughly, initiate discussions about them by asking good questions or suggesting ways to interpret readings, do presentations that reveal that you have done good additional work that you can make both interesting and meaningful to our discussions, and participate actively in those discussions.
  • For an "A," take it up another level entirely: at every meeting, prepare readings thoroughly, find and talk about connections among them and among other aspects of culture (then and now), take a real leadership role in class discussions, including working actively to get others involved in the talk, make your presentations and responses "sparkle" by bringing to them something really special in terms of your own contributions, interests, skills, and abilities to think in broad even interdisciplinary terms. Most of all, remember that an "A" indicates the very best grade a person can get; that should tell you what sort of work you need to do to earn the grade of "A."
  • If you miss class, contact a classmate for notes, reading assignments and handouts – or check our Course Website. (Please do not email me to ask "Did I miss anything important?")


    Blog Posts
    Over the semester, you will produce various types of blog posts typically prepared outside of class and according to the proper word count assigned on the schedule. Post your entry to the proper Moodle area by the due date. These will be used to stimulate your thoughts on the "texts" and to serve as ideas for your projects. Blogs are typically very informal, but because many of our posts are reviews or reports, avoid using "I."

    Each Blog Post is worth 9 points (total of 11). Earning 9 points represents the highest achievement and signals that not only are your ideas innovative and intriguing, but your writing is superb and error-free. After each post is submitted, I will email your points to you; on Moodle, I will make suggestions for improving your score as will other students. Students who write nothing or who write frivolously will not receive credit for the exercise. Because these Blog Posts pertain to that week’s readings and are not useful after the discussion has been completed, late posts will not be accepted.

    Various Presentations
    We have four presentations scheduled throughout the semester on various topics. Each presentation is worth 10% of your grade and is usually accompanied by a Blog Post (see the schedule for word counts). Some presentations will be longer than others. A good presentation is one that has been rehearsed and conforms to all of the requirements. Presentations will allow you to offer a wider array of information to our discussions – make it good! Full instructions for each presentation will be distributed at a later date.


    Final Project & Presentation
    We will range far and wide in our discussions about Digital Literature. By end of the semester, you should have an idea where you fall in the large realm of Digital Humanities: producer of literature/art/visual culture or literary/cultural critic. For the final project, each student is free to create a written, visual or aural "text" to display his/her understanding of Digital Literature and Culture. Your Blog Posts might help you discover your interests. Further instructions will be distributed later.
    Course Policies
    Grading Policy
    The Department of English reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the official SJSU Catalog ("The Grading System"). Grades issued must represent a full range of student performance: A = excellent; B = above average; C = average; D = below average; F = failure. Courses graded according to the A,B,C,NoCredit system shall follow the same pattern, except that NC, for NoCredit, shall replace D or F. In A,B,C,NoCredit courses NC shall also substitute for W (for Withdrawl) because neither NC nor W affects students’ grade point averages.

    In English Department courses, instructors will comment on and grade the quality of student writing as well as the quality of the ideas being conveyed. All student writing should be distinguished by correct grammar and punctuation, appropriate diction and syntax, and well-organized paragraphs.

    For your final grades, 100-90 is an A, 89-80 is a B, 79-70 is a C, 69-60 is a D, and below 60 is an F. Pluses and minuses are the middle of each range. In calculating the final grade, a set number will represent each letter grade; for example, B+ is 87.5, B is 85, and B- is 82.5.

    Late Policy
    Any late Blog Posts or Presentations will not be accepted. For all other assignments: If you cannot meet a deadline, you must contact me at least 72 hours prior to our class meeting to discuss the situation. If this is not done, for every day that an essay is late, you will be penalized one grade step: A becomes A-, A- becomes a B+, etc. The weekend will count as one day. If you miss a presentation date, it is simply a zero. Unless you have prior permission, do not email your assignment to me in lieu of attending class.
    Course Moodle & Course Website
    Moodle is the our central location for the blog and discussion forum. The site is accessible by registered users with an enrollment key. We will have a tutorial to help acclimate to all of this technology. If you run into any technical problems while logging into Moodle from home, please contact the IC staff. Our Course Website will contain all handouts, references made during lectures and interesting things that you would like to add.


    SJSU Academic Integrity Policy
    Students should know that the University’s Academic Integrity Policy is availabe at http://www.sa.sjsu.edu/download/judicial_affairs/Academic_Integrity_Policy_S07-2.pdf . Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University and the University’s integrity policy, require you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The website for Student Conduct and Ethical Development is available at http://www.sa.sjsu.edu/judicial_affairs/index.html .

    Instances of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Cheating on exams or plagiarism (presenting the work of another as your own, or the use of another person’s ideas without giving proper credit) will result in a failing grade and sanctions by the University. For this class, all assignments are to be completed by the individual student unless otherwise specified. If you would like to include in your assignment any material you have submitted, or plan to submit for another class, please note that SJSU’s Academic Policy F06-1 requires approval of instructors.


    Avoiding Plagiarism
    Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of somebody else’s words or ideas and is considered an instance of academic dishonesty that instructors must report. You commit plagiarism by buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper;
    • hiring someone to write a paper;
    • building on someone’s ideas without providing a citation;
    • or copying from another source or using a source too closely when paraphrasing.

    In other words, submit only your own work. To learn how to cite sources accurately and forthrightly, consult your handbook. If you have any questions about when or how to document a source, do not hesitate to ask me for clarification. Turning in plagiarized work will result in immediate failure in the assignment and possible failure in the course and dismissal from San José State University. See King Library’s definition, the University policy and a plagiarism tutorial: www.sjlibrary.org/services/literacy/info_comp/plagiarism.htm 

    The instructor reserves the right to revise the requirements and to notify students of such revision in a timely manner.


    Classroom Environment
    Respect your fellow students and I: Arrive on time (excessive tardiness will effect your participation grade) and do not partake in disruptive behavior. We will all be respectful of each other in both our face-to-face and online communications. If possible, try to arrive early to obtain and set up your laptop. If you are late, wait for an appropriate moment to enter so you do not disturb the class. Turn off cell phones or put them on silent mode during the class period.
    Email Protocols
    Email is the best possible way to contact me (9am-5pm) and has the added bonus of recording our conversations.
    When emailing me, please consider it a formal communication: include the appropriate salutation, your name, your question/comment, and be aware of tone. Know that long conversations over email are not fruitful merely because of the limitations of technology. If you have an extended question or dilemma, please visit me during office hours, schedule a phone conference or arrange for an online chat. I will amass a class email list and will occasionally send out information regarding our meetings or the readings. Please provide an email address that you check daily.
    SJSU Writing Center
    Visit me during office hours for help with your writing. For even further help, go to the Writing Center located in Clark Hall, Suite 126. Call for appointments at 924-2308 or go online at www.sjsu.edu/writingcenter  Work with tutors in a one-on-one environment.
    Library Liaison
    For library research questions, contact Toby Matoush, the English Department’s Library Liaison: (408) 808-2096 or toby.matoush@sjsu.edu. King Library has created an extensive and very useful list of the library’s resources specifically for English majors.


    Peer Mentor Center
    The Peer Mentor Center is located on the 1st floor of Clark Hall in the Academic Success Center. The Peer Mentor Center is staffed with Peer Mentors who excel in helping students manage university life, tackling problems that range from academic challenges to interpersonal struggles. On the road to graduation, Peer Mentors are navigators, offering "roadside assistance" to peers who feel a bit lost or simply need help mapping out the locations of campus resources. Peer Mentor services are free and available on a drop –in basis, no reservation required. The Peer Mentor Center website is located at http://www.sjsu.edu/muse/peermentor/ .


    Student Technology Resources
    Computer labs for student use are available in the Academic Success Center located on the 1st floor of Clark Hall and on the 2nd floor of the Student Union. Additional computer labs may be available in your department/college. Computers are also available in the Martin Luther King Library. A wide variety of audio-visual equipment is available for student checkout from Media Services located in IRC 112. These items include digital and VHS camcorders, VHS and Beta video players, 16 mm, slide, overhead, DVD, CD, and audiotape players, sound systems, wireless microphones, projection screens and monitors.


    Dropping and Adding Courses
    Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drops, academic renewal, etc. Because of the budget cuts, please check with your advisor early and often. Much information is available online at the Advising Hub: http://www.sjsu.edu/advising/ 


    Campus Policy on Compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act
    If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities register with DRC to establish a record of their disability. The DRC website is http://www.drc.sjsu.edu.




    Dr. Katherine D. Harris
    Last updated: 12/04/2010 09:40 AM
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