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6374 Syllabus Spring 2015

Page history last edited by kknight 5 years, 7 months ago


EMAC 6374: Digital Textuality

Spring 2015

These descriptions and timelines are subject to change at the discretion of the Instructor.


Course Information


Class No. 26096

Meets: W 7:00 pm – 9:45 pm

Location: ATC 2.918

Credit Hours: 3


Contact Information


Instructor: Kim Knight

Email (preferred method of contact): kim.knight@utdallas.edu

Phone: 972-883-4346 (no voicemail, please)

Office: ATC 1.903


Office Hours:

Contact policies:

  • I respond to email M-F within 24 hours.

    • If I do not respond within that time frame, check my email address and re-send it.

  • Use official UTD email only.

  • I will not respond to

    • Email messages that request information found on the syllabus or assignment sheets.

    • Twitter direct messages.


Course wiki: digitaltextuality.pbworks.com

Twitter tag: #digitaltext

Twitter archive: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aq5NIkyRAkFIdElZb3ZmT0pHU3BmTHBENzllUENTSlE&usp=sharing


Course Description


One of the definitions of text is "something, such as a literary work or other cultural product, regarded as an object of critical analysis." (thefreedictionary.com). If we drill down far enough into any form of digital “text,” we arrive at the level of binary code: 1s and 0s. This includes other objects of critical analysis, such as digital images, sound files, animations, videos, etc. This material commonality draws our attention to the fact that any digital object has multiple layers – from the surface representation to the source code, down to those 1s and 0s. In addition to this kind of fundamental multi-mediality, it is very rare to encounter a digital text that is composed on the surface of only one type of media object. In other words, in digital textuality, words almost always co-exist with images, links, sound, and video, all built atop a foundation of code. This course takes these types of multi-mediality as its starting point and asks students to reconceive “digital textuality” as a more broad form of cultural product that can occur in multiple media formats and that explores the unique affordances of different kinds of text objects.


Through this production-intensive course, students will explore the theoretical and material connections between analog and digital textuality, centered on text, image, sound, and moving image. Students will apply their theoretical understanding of digital textuality to the production of a portfolio, composed of four separate digital media objects and a short paper, each of which foregrounds certain modes of making meaning.


Course Goals

In this course, students will:

  • Become familiar with theoretical and material connections between analog and digital forms of text, image, sound, and moving image.
  • Investigate the social and cultural implications of new forms of text, image, sound, and moving image.
  • Investigate a variety of tools of digital production and utilize these tools to communicate ideas.
  • Explore new models of digital production, including short forms and collaboration.
  • Engage in processes of feedback and revision to improve their work.



Required Textbooks and Materials


McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics, ISBN-10: 006097625X


Various chapters and essays, available online or through course reserve. The username for protected downloads on kimknight.com is “emac6374” and the password is “ media ".


You will also need the following: an email account that is checked frequently, a public Twitter account, and a PBWorks account.


Course Policies



Some of the most valuable take-away from this course will come out of our class discussions.  Your participation is necessary for our success. It is important that you come to every class prepared and on time. To be “prepared” means that you have read the reading, developed and considered questions, and are prepared to discuss it in class.  Bring questions, comments, observations, disagreements, examples, etc.

Because your presence in class is important, more than one absence (i.e. missing more than 1 week of class) will negatively affect your participation grade. In most cases, more than four absences (i.e. missing more than 1 month of class) will result in a failing participation grade. Missing more than 8 classes (more than 2 months in class) will result in a failing course grade. There is no distinction between excused and unexcused absences. Use that one freebie wisely. If you need to miss class for religious reasons, please speak to me ahead of time. Absences for religious purposes do not count against the permitted number (as long as prior notification is given).


Lateness is also unacceptable; if you arrive more than thirty minutes late to class you will be marked as absent. If you leave more than 30 minutes early, you will be marked absent. In addition, please try to be as fully present and engaged as possible – silence cell phones, don’t send or receive texts or emails, etc.  Excessive distraction may be counted as an absence.


Coming to class without the necessary prep work (bringing photos, sound clips, etc.) will count as one half an absence.


Accommodation: If you have a disability that requires accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act -2008(ADAAA), please present your letter of accommodations from the Office of Student AccessAbility and meet with me as soon as possible so that I can support your success in an informed manner. If you would like to know more about the University of Texas at Dallas, Office of Student AccessAbility, please contact the office at 972-883-6104 or email: studentaccessability@utdallas.edu.  Their office is located in the Student Service Building (SSB), suite 3.200.


Online Due Dates: All online assignments are due by 11:59pm on the date listed, unless otherwise noted.


Late work: You should make a concerted effort to turn in all work on-time, in the format outlined on the assignment sheets. Work submitted in formats other than that listed on the assignment sheet will not be accepted.


  • Reading Responses: Weekly reading responses will not be accepted late.

  • In class presentations: Work associated with in-class presentations will not be accepted late. This includes wiki pages for tool reviews.

  • Media objects: Each instance of late versions of written/image/video/acoustic work will result in a loss of 1/3 of a grade on the final portfolio. If you are not in class for the workshop, your work will be considered late.

  • Final Portfolio: Final portfolios will be marked down one letter grade for each day (or fraction thereof) that they are late.


It is your responsibility to complete your work early enough to allow time for any technical difficulties. Work that is turned in late due to technical difficulties is subject to late penalties.


Respectful behavior: Our many discussions and online assignments will require vigilance to ensure that we are always preserving an atmosphere of mutual respect in which everyone is welcome to learn. Disagreements may arise and consensus may not be possible.  We can, however, respect each person’s right to express an opinion and right to have the opportunity to learn. Name calling, harassment, or menacing behavior will not be tolerated.


Online identity: This class asks students to participate in publicly accessible blogs and other forms of public writing. Writing in public has several advantages for student learning. It creates a closer analogue to the offline environments, and allows for the creation of writing that is designed to be shared with an actual audience, instead of just an instructor. It also allows students to learn from each other. However, some students may have legitimate privacy concerns about participating in publicly accessible assignments. These students may choose to participate in public assignments under a pseudonym, or assumed name. If you wish to request this accommodation for any reason, please contact me immediately.


Academic Honesty: From the UT-D Handbook of Operating Procedures: “The university expects from its students a high level of responsibility with respect to academic honesty. Because the value of an academic degree depends on the absolute integrity of the work done by the student for that degree, it is imperative that a student maintain a high standard of individual honor in his or her scholastic work. The dean may initiate disciplinary proceedings under subchapter C against a student accused of scholastic dishonesty upon complaint by a faculty member or a student.” (http://www.utdallas.edu/dept/graddean/gsPolDishonesty.htm)


Plagiarism will be reported to the Dean of Students. Possible disciplinary action by the university may include failing the assignment, failing the course, expulsion, etc. If you have any questions regarding the proper use of outside sources or the distinction between sampling and plagiarism, I encourage you to meet with me.


University Policies: Please visit http://go.utdallas.edu/syllabus-policies for the University’s policies regarding all courses.


Course Requirements and Grading Policy


Grading Scale:


A Range: Excellent

A, A-

B Range: Good

B+, B, B-

C Range: Fair

C+, C, C-

D: Needs Improvement

D+, D, D-

F: Failing





Participation – 50%

Participation includes participation in discussion, both in class and online (Twitter discussion and wiki contributions), attendance, and class presentations and office hours meetings.


In order for participation to be meaningful, it has to happen on time. As such, discussion questions and the work surrounding in-class presentations will not be accepted late.


Portfolio – 50%

Each student will produce a multimedia portfolio that tells a story or makes an argument of their choosing. The portfolio will be composed of four pieces – text, image, video, and sound. Each piece will be completed as a first version at various due dates throughout the semester. First versions will receive peer feedback and will be revised for the final portfolio. More info on this after the second week of class.


General Requirements: This class involves a lot of dense reading. My hope is that you will apply the ideas from that reading to your online and offline experiences. You will be most successful in this class if you are able to have an open mind and take a critical approach to our topics. Please note that being “critical” does not necessarily mean being negative, but it does mean that you are willing to question assumptions and explore the implications of the seemingly mundane and minute aspects of contemporary media culture. Openness to experimentation and play and a willingness to try and fail are critical to the study of emerging media. In short, in this class we will be enacting some of the very changes we are studying – collaborative learning, alternative models of scholarship, etc.

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