English 602 Fall 2016

Literature and Society

It’s the last day of our regularly-scheduled class meetings.

Don’t forget: your Reader’s Guides are due!  In addition to the structure I’ve outlined here, your Scalar pages should be: well-designed, typo- and error-free, clearly and elegantly-written, and signed by the respective authors.  Enjoy.

December 12th, 2016

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The due date for your final Uber-Transmission pages is Thursday, December 12.  Things are looking pretty good – – but some groups still need to finish designing their pages.  Also, don’t forget: add your names to the bottom of your page (Remember our common format: Authors: name | name | etc. with names in italics.); add the sources you cite to our Works Cited page.  (When you add your sources, add them as per standard alphabetical order.  If your source lacks an author, use the article title to sort it into the Works Cited.  If your source is online, link the url to the title of your source.)

By Thursday, you should be drafting the pages of your Reader’s Guides!

December 7th, 2016

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Let’s finish up the Scalar book on Uber-Transmission.  A couple of folks have emailed me about what a good Scalar page looks like.  Here are a few examples of some interesting pages: VHA on Schindler’s List Survivors and Steve Anderson’s Chaos and Control book.

By now, you should be close to done reading your novels.  Start organizing your Reader’s Guides.  The final version of these will be due on the last day of class: Tuesday, December 13.

December 5th, 2016

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Keep designing your Scalar pages!  The goal here is to draw on multimedia and other design elements to illustrate, develop, and engage readers with your analysis of Uber-Transmission connections.  Despite the humanities’ allegiance to the bland form of the typed page – -there is an aesthetics to knowledge and its representation.

Scalar tip: to wrap text around images and videos and other page elements, use the “Insert Scalar Media Link” in the editing toolbar.  To do this, you should add media to our book’s media library, e.g. click on this icon – – scalarbutton – – in the upper right-hand corner of your page and follow the drop-down menu to move items from the web to our media library.  Once an item is in our library, you can use it on your page using the “Insert Scalar Media Link.”

Book groups: Time is growing short.  Even as you finish reading your novel, you should be adding to the reading log. (Be sure to initial all your entries into the reading log.)

Your final product for each novel will be a Reader’s Guide.  You’ll create this on – – you guessed it – -the Scalar platform.  Think of the Reader’s Guide as commentary on the novel that both increases a reader’s understanding of what happens in the book and also helps readers engage with the central critical questions and issues posed by and within the book.  Here are some basic Reader’s Guides (Underworld, Faithful, Daughters of Mars).  Your Reader’s Guides to Ready Player One and Note to Self will of course be much more comprehensive and sophisticated.

Here’s an outline of what a good Reader’s Guide should look like.  Take a look at it before class.


November 30th, 2016

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scalar_webinarFirst, head over to Scalar and create an account.  (You can do this by simply clicking on the “Sign In” button at the top of the Scalar page.)  Once you’ve created an account, enter your user name in this google doc.  (That way, I can invite you to edit our book.)  After you’ve taken care of these business matters, take a look at the Scalar quick start guide.  Start with the section on “Creating a Page” and try to work your way to the last item, “Creating a tag.”  Again, this is only to prepare for class, we’ll actually be working through this stuff in class on Tuesday.

We won’t have that much time to finish up your mini-lessons on Note to Self and Ready Player One.  Remember, you’ve joined a teaching group for either one of these two novels.  (Not sure which group you’ve signed up for?  Let me know ASAP.)  You’re reading these novels “cold,” e.g. without much help or guidance from me.  So, I think the best way to get a handle on your task is to read each novel with themes or ideas or questions that we’ve discussed in our previous novels.  In other words, how does your novel seem to connect with NeuromancerThe CircleTransmission, etc.?

Here are the steps you should follow to prepare to teach your novel:

  • create a reading schedule.  When will everybody have finished reading the novel?  How will this task be split up (via chapter, pages, etc.)?
  • create a reading log.  This will be a place to record reactions, to work out the themes, ideas, etc. that you find as you read, to keep track of questions you have about the novel and questions you might want to pose to the class about the novel.
  • compose some teaching notes.  As you finish reading, ask yourself: what are some of the most important things I want the rest of the class to think about in this novel?  Discuss these insights and ideas amongst your group.  Be sure to include particular episodes or quotes that might anchor a good discussion.
  • draw up a presentation.  Having decided what you want us to see and think about, figure out how you want to teach the novel.  Divide up this work amongst yourselves.  Then, think about the means you want to employ to teach us – – lecture? in-class activity? presentation?  (We’ll talk more about this as your group gets clearer about the content of your lesson.)

I’ve started things by creating a Google Doc for each novel: Ernest Cline,  Ready Player One; Alina Simone, Note to Self.

November 24th, 2016

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Let’s finish Barbara Browning’s I’m Trying to Reach You.

November 13th, 2016

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Let’s read up to page 145 (the beginning of the chapter titled, “Singular Plural”) for Thursday.

Yesterday, you exchanged quotations from The Circle.  By Thursday, November 17, you will have finished a two-page essay that explains the significance of this quotation to the novel.  E.g. your writing should answer the question: how does this quote connect with the broader themes or arguments of Eggers’ narrative?  Questions?  Let me know!


November 9th, 2016

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First, make sure you vote!

And, for class, let’s read Part I (to page 101) in Barbara Browning’s I’m Trying to Reach You.

Don’t forget: bring in one short quote (no more than two or three sentences) from Eggers’ The Circle.  Make sure it’s written down on a nice, clean sheet of paper.

November 5th, 2016

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For Thursday, download the “Lightbeam” add-on for the Firefox browser.  (You may need to download Firefox.)  After you’ve downloaded and activated the Lightbeam add-on (simple instructions can be found the download page), keep it running for 24 hours.  Visit some popular sites (New York Times, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) and some of your favorites.  Explore the Lightbeam panel and take some notes about surprising things you see in the panel.  Bring these notes to class.

Check out the simple self-doxing tutorial here.  Try to bring a portable computing device to class on Thursday so that we can get started on the self-doxing.  For Tuesday, November 8, you will compile a dossier on your “internet” self.  How much information about you is on the web?  What surprises did you encounter as you doxed yourself? How “transparent” are you?

Let’s get a draft of your Uber-Transmission analysis (750 words) onto a google doc by Thursday.  Be sure to send me the link to your group’s google doc.  FYI: be sure to add your initials to everything you contributed to your group note-taking/commentary page.  I’ll evaluate your individual contributions to the Uber article database and your group note-taking/commentary page.  Nota bene: I’ll evaluate your final draft of the Uber-Transmission group project as a whole, e.g. one evaluation for the group page and everybody will earn the same evaluation.

Questions?  Let me know.

November 2nd, 2016

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For Tuesday, finish reading The Circle.

Also, we need to bring the Uber-Transmission project to a close.  At this point, you should be synthesizing your sources and writing up a commentary on the Uber-Transmission connections that you’ve discovered.  Remember: your Uber research should help you to understand Transmission more deeply; and, Transmission should help you to frame and interpret Uber more deeply.  I suggest that each group create a new google doc – – linked from our shared doc – -and use that new doc as a place to start writing things up.

The ultimate product of your group efforts should be: a 750 word summary of the Transmission-Uber connections that you’ve found.  This summary should, obviously, be organized according to your group’s main ideas about Transmission-Uber connections. (See above for the substance of these ideas.)  It should also cite sources (from articles etc. about Uber and from Kunzru’s novel) to illustrate or develop your main ideas.  This document should be completed by Thursday, November 3 and published as a separate Google doc.

October 26th, 2016

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