Here are descriptions and syllabi/links for courses I regularly teach.
ENG 599: Practicum in Teaching 599-fall2013
This course is designed to support and develop TA pedagogy in the composition program at UB. The course will examine foundational and contemporary scholarship and research in rhetoric and composition that addresses first-year composition pedagogy. The course will serve as a forum for the discussion of classroom practices and issues as they arise during the semester and situate those discussions within the context of composition theory. We will investigate the historical development of first-year composition, the current debates regarding such courses, and the potential futures of writing instruction.
Extensive students will be required to write reading responses (including the review of a textbook or scholarly article), a teaching statement (useful as you build an application dossier), and a syllabus. Students taking the intensive version will also write a research paper.
ENG 653 Critical Theory: Speculative Realism (Spring 2013) Course Blog
This course will investigate the emerging field of speculative realism with attention paid to object-oriented ontology. Speculative realism developed over the last decade, though especially in the last four years. In their introduction to The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, a collection including contributions from most of the major figures in the speculative realist movement, the editors (Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek, and Graham Harman) note that while the contributors represent a variety of views and approaches, they share a common goal of speculating about reality beyond the context of thought or a human-centric focus.
This activity of ‘speculation’ may be cause for concern amongst some readers, for it might suggest a return to pre-critical philosophy, with its dogmatic belief in the powers of pure reason. The speculative turn, however, is not an outright rejection of these critical advances; instead, it comes from a recognition of their inherent limitations. Speculation in this sense aims at something ‘beyond’ the critical and linguistic turns… In the face of the ecological crisis, the forward march of neuroscience, the increasingly splintered interpretations of basic physics, and the ongoing breach of the divide between human and machine, there is a growing sense that previous philosophies are incapable of confronting these events. (3)
Speculative realism in its various forms is now being actively employed as a method across the humanities. Literary scholars such as Eileen Joy and Jeffrey Cohen have begun to examine the idea of an object-oriented literary criticism and the implications it might have for existing methods. What does it mean to treat “fictions” as real and material? To put Batman and vampires on equal ontological footing with zebras, paper clips, and highways? What does an object-oriented approach bring to the investigation of texts as material objects? How might we theorize the minimal, rhetorical-communicative relations among objects? We will read essays from The Speculative Turn, as well as works by Harman, Latour, DeLanda, Ian Bogost, Quentin Meillassoux, and others. The object-oriented ontologists also have an active online community, so we will take the opportunity to interact directly with some of these authors.
Extensive students will write response papers and do an in-class presentation. Intensive students will also complete a final project either taking up a speculative realist methodology to investigate a subject of interest to them or investigating a particular concept or issue from our readings.
ENG 653: Critical Theory: (New) Media Theory COMING SPRING 2014
Media studies is an interdisciplinary field of study within the broader area of science and technology studies that examines the social and discursive contexts for media technologies and practices. This course will offer an introduction to theories and research methods in media studies as they intersect with English studies. The course will address both contemporary and historical media technologies and provide opportunities for students to take up these theories and methods to conduct research in a wide range of contexts as suits their interests. Media study serves a complementary role to digital humanities: where the digital humanities conventionally use digital technologies to study traditional objects of humanistic study, media study employs humanistic (and social scientific) methods to study digital technologies (as well as earlier media technologies). Media study investigates the role that technologies have had in the development of aesthetic and rhetorical practices. In literary studies, these methods have been employed both to investigate the ways in which media technologies have shaped literary practice and the ways writers have investigated the media of their time. Readings will include Marshall McLuhan, Bruno Latour, Katherine Hayles, Fredrich Kittler, Lev Manovich, Ian Bogost, and Lisa Gitelman,
Extensive students will participate in online discussion, complete reading responses, and make a brief in-class presentation. Intensive students will also compose a final project which might take the form of a seminar paper or digital project.
ENG 585: Special Topics: Digital Humanities 586spring-12
The digital humanities have been around nearly as long as computers themselves and are comprised of two interrelated practice, the digital study of humanities subjects and the humanistic study of digital technologies and culture. The former includes practices such as distant reading, text encoding, and data visualization. The latter includes the cultural studies of technology, new media studies, computers and writing and game studies. Given this breadth, the digital humanities intersect virtually every area of the humanities, including every literary period and offer new methods to extend current research practices.This course serves as an introduction to the digital humanities.
Topics in the course will include
- the history of digital humanities,
- theories and methods commonly employed in the study of digital media,
- practice with popular digital humanities tools for research and teaching, and
- a survey of contemporary trends in digital humanities research including conferences, journals, and grants.
Students will have the opportunity to participate in active digital humanities projects on campus, develop assignments or courses incorporating digital technologies, and/or employing digital humanistic tools and methods to study a subject of their own choosing. Course readings will come from The New Media Reader but will be supplemented with material from the web as well as the latest research.
Extensive students will participate in online responses to course readings, make a presentation in class, and undertake brief, exploratory uses of digital tools they choose. Intensive students will produce a final project which may involve research in digital media or use digital humanities tools to produce scholarship in an area of their choosing.
ENG 380: New Media: Games Studies Course Blog
Since the appearance of the Atari 2600 video game console in 1977, video games have become an increasingly common feature of our lives. Today, we play games on our televisions through more advanced consoles, dedicated handheld devices, personal computers, and on our mobile phones. We play games online with millions of co-players, in augmented reality, and with our bodies without controllers. In other words, video games have proliferated and mutated into a vast ecology of media, interactivity, and genre. Over the last 20 years, the interdisciplinary study of video games has developed into a full-blown area of scholarly practice, including many practices with their origins in English and the humanities (as well as other methods from the social sciences, computer science, engineering, and other fields).
This online course will introduce the methods and foundational scholarship in games studies. We will play a number of games ourselves (you will not be required to purchase any specific games or devices, other than what is typically needed to participate in an online class). In addition to developing an ability to analyze and interpret video games, we will also discuss the potential social and cultural uses of video gaming beyond entertainment. Readings will include Ian Bogost’s How To Do Things With Videogames, Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken, and other essays. Course work will include online discussions, reading responses, and a final research project.