Technoscience / Ecomateriality / Literature

Duke University ♦ Fall 2014 ♦ Lit 80 ♦ Amanda Starling Gould

Twitter: @stargould #augrealities, Web: Augmenting Realities 2.0


Course Assignments


You will be responsible for posting a Weekly Blog, due on Fridays by 1pm (exceptions will be noted on the schedule). Your responses should reflect on our course readings, our in-class discussions, your experimentation with new tools and media(ted) artifacts, and your experiences working on your course project. Posts should be roughly 200-300 words (about ½ page single spaced) and should demonstrate your understanding of our course texts and topics while addressing the prompt provided. When you discuss a particular text, scholar, media artifact, or quotation, be sure to properly cite those sources – a scholarly blog should faithfully abide printed citation conventions.* In order to take full advantage of the affordances of the online medium, I welcome the use of links and media, and strongly encourage you to interactively engage with your classmates’ reflections by adding comments to their posts.

Why Blog? My favorite description comes from Professor Ryan Cordell:

“All writing—Even academic writing—is being reshaped by online modes of publication. Many academics maintain personal research blogs in which they try out their ideas and get feedback before developing articles or even books. Outside of academia, public, online writing plays an increasing and essential role in many fields. I believe its essential for modern college students to develop skill crafting an online writing persona and I want to foster that development. In a related point, blogs give you the opportunity to experiment with your writing, composing arguments that integrate links, quotations, images, video, and other online media as evidence. Blogging allows for a broader spectrum of participation in the class. Even shy students can contribute to a course blog. Blog posts give you the chance to learn from each other. You’ll read your colleague’s writing and, hopefully, learn from it or be challenged by it. Public blogging allows us to connect to larger communities outside of our classroom. Who knows? Perhaps the author of an article you blog about will respond directly…”

Take your blog writing seriously. This IS a Writing course, and though we are ‘flipping’ it a bit, we will nonetheless maintain the rigor of that distinction. Not only will you be graded on the content, construction, and critical reflection demonstrated in your blogs but you might also find that your final project concept emerges while you are writing. Use should the blogs to practice your thinking and your writing skills.

*For help citing online sources like Tweets, Youtube videos, Blogs, and Facebook posts, see How to Cite Social Media in Scholarly Writing. You can, of course, always embed the first two, and link to or take screenshots of the second two, for an enhanced citation presentation.

A_R Blog Types:

Novel Responses: These will act as ‘reading quizzes’ demonstrating your knowledge of the assigned text. You might address these types of questions in your post: In the context of our course topics, what are the questions this novel provokes? What are your thoughts about those questions? What are the implications of the answers? How does this novel fit into the course narrative? As an artifact for our deliberation, what work does this novel do for us? How might one of our theorists situate this novel? If you were to perform a digital humanities type project on or with this novel, what would you do? How does this novel ‘augment’ our reality?

Topic Responses: Questions or prompts related to the week’s texts will be provided for your reflection and response.

Media(ted) Response: Throughout the semester, we’ll have at least one video annotation blog and at least one graphic novel annotation blog. You will be required at these times to use the media assigned. Integrating these multimedia writing tools into your other blog posts is highly encouraged, but not required.

More Formal Critiques: Throughout the semester, you will be asked to write three formal critiques and will publish these as your weekly blog post for the week they are assigned. The Critique will replace your regular informal blog post for these weeks. See more details below.



Three 1000+ word critiques will be required to demonstrate your understanding of how to construct and effectively communicate a critical argument. These will be longer & more formal blog posts.

1. a Partnered #dh Critique: This assignment is a mash-up modeled after Brian Croxall and Ryan Cordell’s Collaborative Digital Humanities Evaluation Project and Shannon Mattern’s criteria for evaluating Multimodal Student Work. Specific details can be found here on the Partnered #dh Project Critique Page.

2. a Game(r) Critique: This critique should address the following questions: Are games a medium? How do games act as a medium? How do we situate and think about games in a critical context? Should we study games? Why or why not? Be sure to use examples from our previous readings (Bogost especially) and from your experimentation (or expertise) with the games assigned.

3. an E-lit Critique: For this assignment, you will choose an e-lit piece (or two if you’d like to compare and/or contrast) and present it (or them) to the class. Your written critique should cover the following: Tell us why you like it or dislike it. Point out the ‘literary’ elements. Use our theoretical pieces, the Bibliographic Overview and Hayles’s Electronic Literature as resources for ‘theorizing’ what the piece does or means or attempts, or what it contributes to the e-lit conversation and to the contemporary literary canon. How does e-lit augment the reading experience?

» Interested in publishing something you write for class? The Artifice editors have invited us to contribute. Ask me for details. Please note I am not endorsing this journal in particular just sharing a directly-solicited opportunity.



 These will Include

1. Shared Reading Notes for Collaborative Text Reading

We will collaboratively read Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future?. For this assignment, you will:

a. Create a basic Outline of your chapter
-What are the main questions and issues of the chapter?
-What are Lanier’s proposed solutions and/or approaches to those questions?
-What questions/doubts do you have about these questions/issues? or about our projected technodigital future in general vis-a-vis these issues?
-What surprised you about the chapter?
-How do the questions and issues raised in the chapter relate to our course themes, topics, and/or methods?

b. Define important terms, events, people
-Create a list of important terms, events, and people mentioned in your chapter & define those

c. Present – or teach – your chapter to the class
d. Add your Chapter Notes to the Collaborative Google Doc

2. #dh Tool Experimentation: Each student will be asked to try out several digital humanities tools and to informally present his/her experiments and experiences.

3. Videogame Experimentation: Each student will be asked to try out several videogames and to informally present his/her experiments and experiences.

4. In-Class Collaborative MakerChallenges: Throughout the semester we will have several surprise in-class maker or maker-prototyping challenges. These will require you to use the knowledge and the skills you’ve gained throughout the class and will assume that you’ve read and/or viewed course readings and media scheduled for that day. You will be asked to be innovative, collaborative, open, flexible, and experimental…but (don’t worry!) you will not be asked to produce any technical work that is beyond your current abilities.

5. In-Class Participation: This class is structured as a seminar, with many ‘flipped’ techno-literary elements and experiments. Students are expected to have the assigned transmedia texts (readings, video, media artifacts) finished prior to coming to class and should expect to comment and reflect on those texts in class. Students are expected to participate in peer critique and collaborative reviews.



Project Purpose

One of the primary goals of this course is to interrogate how media technologies and our various layers of ‘reality’ converge to alter (or augment) our conceptions of the body and the brain, of time and space, of art and literature, of data and information, of memory and storage, of cities and networks, of medicine and prostheses, of the digital and (digital) culture. The methods of our interrogation are literary in their theoretical foundations but are practically and experimentally grounded in the framework of a digital-humanities based comparative media study.

Throughout the course we will investigate literary media – cyberpunk fiction, graphic novels, electronic literature, digital videogames – alongside various ‘real-life’ digital art pieces and AR data devices to question how these reflect and simultaneously influence our cybercultural hybridity. We will engage in hands-on practice – trying out videogames, testing textual analysis tools, interacting with physical digital devices – in conjunction with our readings, and we want to reproduce this sort of (e)mergent experimentation with our final project.

With this in mind, we will be using the affordances of the digital while also maintaining the rigor of our Writing-attribute requirements to flip the final project into a transliterary digital humanities collaborative web project. Following Katherine Hayles’s call for a modern sort of scholarship that reflects the media artifacts we study, you will be asked to produce a transmedia ‘essay’ wherein “graphics, animation, design, video, and sound acquire argumentative force and become part of the research’s quest for meaning (Hayles, 2013, p4).

Project Specs

For your A_R final project, you will create a transmedia page on our Augmenting Realities 2.0 Collaborative Web Journal website. Our A_R Web Journal will be an augmented version of the traditional academic journal and your page will be an augmented take on the traditional journal article.

Your page will include the following parts

1. Transmedia Research Essay on a topic related to the class concepts and texts. This will be the most ‘familiar’ element of the project as it will be the equivalent of an 8-12 page (double-spaced) scholarly article. You will ‘augment’ this traditional format by inserting media and links, and by integrating a (Re)Mediated Element. Make sure your project speaks to or seeks to answer, ask, or prove a certain argument relative to our A_R course.

See last year’s (2013) impressive collection: Augmenting Realities: How We View & Shape Our World

2. (Re)Mediated Element*: Your essay will include a media element that should speak to or with one of the course topics and/or texts.

Your goals here are

a. to explore the affordances and features of various media and digital humanities tools in order to choose one – or two – that can help prove, illustrate, or expand the argument or idea you’d like to put forth in your final essay.

b. to create an element that critically engages a course text or topic and has ‘argumentative force’ or exploratory intent

c. to make the media element a seamless addition to your essay by finding a way to integrate it into the argument or arc of the text of your essay.

d. to address the ‘so-what?’ and ‘why this?’ questions: So, you mapped your novel, so what? What does the map mean or manifest? What can we prove or disprove with your results? How can we use the information you’ve uncovered or visualized or remediated? What is at stake with your project?

e. Include a note about your procedures and process.

f. Properly cite and credit all collaborators and tools.

You could map/remap a novel, curate an e-lit exhibit, analyze one or more of our texts using text analysis tools, design an app or an interactive videogame, augment a physical object (using Arduino, for example), create AR artwork or a multimedia mash-up. I’ve created a fuller list of examples for inspiration which you can download here: Project Examples for Media Element.

Note: Two of you may collaborate on a media element but, if so, you must still write separate essays.

Furthermore, you will be asked to collaborate in two distinct ways:

3. Collaborative Project Design: This will come in the form of active participation in the group design of the website.

4. Interactively Commenting: You will be asked to comment on your classmates’ pages in an effort to take advantage of the living, dynamic nature of the online writing medium to facilitate a sort of interactive conversation with yourselves and the ‘outside’ world.

Project Assessment Criteria

As with all ‘traditional’ writing assignments, ALL ESSAYS AND MEDIA ELEMENTS must be free of plagiarism and properly cited. They must demonstrate a sustained argument and a critical engagement with our course texts, topics, and contexts, our in-class and online discussions, and our media experimentation. They must be thoughtfully constructed with a coherent structure, a cohesive content delivery, a scholarly tone and they should strive to be grammatically sound and error-free.

We will collaboratively design precise project assessment criteria based on Shannon Mattern’s Criteria for Evaluating Multimodal Work. The third week of class, we will be performing partnered #dh project critiques using Mattern’s criteria. As you are writing your critiques, I ask you to critique the criteria as well. After completing your digital humanities project critiques, I will post Mattern’s criteria online on Rap Genius. You will have one week to add annotations to this document reflecting your thoughts on those criteria you find most effective and pertinent to our course and these will become the criteria upon which your final project will be evaluated. These will be posted on our website for your reference and review. See the Evaluating Digital Humanities Projects: Collaborative Course Assessment page for more details.

*What is a (Re)Mediated Element?

Remediation: “The phenomenon of reproducing the conventions and/or content of one medium in another medium.  Also the theory, advanced by Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin, that “new media” always reconfigure older media, and in particular that digital forms both borrow from and seek to suppress earlier forms. (Bolter and Grusin 1999).” From Janet Murray’s Inventing the Medium Glossary

Our (Re)Mediation couples this Remediation with Hayles’s preferred term Intermediation, which considers the “complex transactions between bodies and texts as well as between different forms of media” (Hayles, 2005, p7)