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English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010

CLASS info/office etc.

Class: M/W 3 - 5 pm Room: LC 230

Professor: Ben McCorkle

It is the framework which changes with each new technology and not just the picture within the frame.

Office: 117 Morrill Hall Office Phone: 752.6152 Office Hours: M/W 1 - 3pm (and by appt.) email:

Marshall McLuhan


[5 credit hours. Fulfills GEC requirement for: Arts and Humanities, Analysis of Texts and Works of Art, Visual/Performing Arts. Meets group elective requirement of professional writing minor.]

Web 2.0. The Cloud. Social Networking. Twitter. Podcasting. Ten years ago, we would have been scratching our heads trying to figure out the meanings of these cryptic terms, but today, they are becoming increasingly commonplace for us. More and more, we have a hand in actively shaping the landscape that creates such terms: the Internet. For this course, we will focus on the issues associated with creating digital media content (in other words, using computers to make meaning by combining words, images, and sound). In addition to examining the formal properties and social implications of digital media texts (the various genres of online discourse and how they circulate through the web), we will also investigate the practical, rhetorical, and ethical dimensions of composing in a digital world. No experience with digital media is required for this course, but during the quarter, you will develop a digital portfolio that includes a variety of larger and smaller projects using different combinations of written text, images, audio, and video.


In lieu of a traditional textbook, this course includes: an Online Course Packet containing various websites, online articles, or scanned copies of texts dealing with various aspects of digital culture and practices of multimodal composing; A USB thumb drive for saving and backing up your work (suggested: USB 2.0, 4 GB capacity). If you have an alternative method of saving your data (i.e., a portable hard drive or online file storage service), you may use it, but please ensure that it is compatible with our classroom assets.

CLASS This course will consist of assignments in 4 areas: REQUIREMENTS

Digital composing in Miniature: To acclimate you to using particular software and composing in particular modalities (graphics, audio, video), you will complete a series of short, one- or two-class assignments. These will help inform your skill set as you go on to work on larger projects. There will be three assignments in this category. Digital Composing, Slightly Larger Version: Having gained some aptitude and familiarity with particular technology and modality, we will have larger follow up assignments that build upon the miniature assignments (correspondingly, there will be three assignments in this category as well). Digital Composing, Super-Sized Edition: As a final coup de grace, you will work on a large-scale, term-long digital media project that you will develop in consultation with the rest of the class (this can be a solo project, or you can work collaboratively in pairs). Early in the quarter, I will present you with the assignment prompt, some potential models, and additional resources to help you begin planning. Reading Responses / Digital Commonplace Scrapbook: For this component, you will be using the Discussion Board area of our Carmen site to offer up preliminary responses to our course readings (250 words minimum). Additionally, you will contribute to a "Digital Commonplace Scrapbook," a thread established to help us share new or interesting examples of digital media compositions, links to useful technology or content resources, related readings, and so on. You are expected to craft a response to all reading assignments (due before we discuss them in class), and an additional 10 posts to the scrapbook.

Your grade will be determined based on two areas of class performance: (1)

EVALUATION 15% for in-class and online participation, and (2) 85% for a cumulative portfolio
consisting of the digital media compositions and reflective papers that you will create and revise over the term. As the term progresses, we will discuss the various criteria for evaluation as a class.

CLASS Plagiarism. Plagiarism is the representation of anothers works or ideas as POLICIES ones own. This definition includes not only the unacknowledged verbatim use

and/or paraphrasing of another persons work, but also the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another persons ideas. This will be treated in all cases as a serious offense, and all work suspected as plagiarized will be forwarded to the Committee on Academic Misconduct. You can avoid this by being extracareful when you cite your sources. For further information on plagiarism, refer to the Council of Writing Program Administrators statement on Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism online at <>. Student Work. In the event that you miss a class, you are responsible for obtaining notes, reviewing material that we may have covered. Be prepared to turn in assignments and actively participate in the next class session. I will provide you will any handout material and answer questions (before or after class, not during) you may have about material you missed. Hard copies of any work left in my office after the end of the quarter will remain there for an additional two quarters (in this case, until the end of AU 2010). If youd like to pick anything up after the quarter, contact me so we can make arrangements to do so. Late Work. Assignments can be up to three days late, but with each passing day, your grade on the assignment will drop 1/3 of a letter grade (from a B+ to a B after one day, from a B to a B- after two days, etc.). Attendance. You are both expected and encouraged to come to each class meeting. Program policy will not allow more than four unexcused absences. This means, simply, that you must fail the course. Additionally, after three unexcused absences, I will lower your final grade by 1/2 (from a B+ to a B-, for example). Tardiness of more than 15 minutes is considered an unexcused absence, and persistent tardiness (i.e., more than three) of less than 15 minutes will count as one unexcused absence. For an absence to be excused, it must be documented, for instance a doctors note. For a list of what the University deems excused absences (as well as more complete explanations of program, departmental, and university policy), refer to the following URL: Class Cancellation Policy. the unlikely event of class cancellation due to emergency, I will contact you via email and request that a note on department letterhead be placed on the classroom door. In addition, I will contact you as soon as possible following the cancellation to let you know what will be expected of you for our next class meeting.

ADDITIONAL Again, I stress that I am available to you as a resource outside of the classroom; RESOURCES after all, it is in both our interests that you meet with some degree of success in
this class. However, there are a number of other resources that may prove useful to you this quarter. Among these are:

The OSU-Marion Academic Enrichment Center. Academic Enrichment has a writing center that offers free individual tutoring, research resources, and other helpful materials. Please stop by MR216 or call 389-6786 x6236 to make an appointment. <>. General Computing Lab, The Media Lab. Located on the Second floor of the Library/Classroom Building, the General Computing Lab is an

after-hours, staffed facility with several PCs and Macs that you should feel free to use when completing assignments outside of class. An additional Media Lab is located on the second floor of Morrill Hall. Office of Disabilities Services (ODS) Statement. Students who have a disability or condition that may impair their ability to complete assignments or otherwise satisfy course criteria are encouraged to meet with the instructor to identify, discuss, and document any feasible instructional modifications or accommodations. Please inform the instructor about circumstances no later than the first week of the quarter or as soon as possible after a disability or condition is diagnosed, whichever occurs earliest. For information and auxiliary assistance, contact ODS, located in the first floor of Maynard Hall, Room 128. If you feel that you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, please contact Marge Hazelett (phone: 740-725-6247; or email: to discuss your specific needs. For additional information, please refer to the ODS website, <>.

It is your responsibility to keep current with this schedule, but remember also that the schedule may change. Readings listed for any particular day are to be completed in advance of that day; you need to be prepared to discuss them in class. MARCH: Week

[29] Class introductions & review of syllabus [31] Exploring our technoliteracies | Final project: preliminary discussion


2 3 4 5

[5] SIGHT: Build-a-Meme mini-assignment

Read/Watch/Listen: The King of Cheez: The Internet's Meme Maestro Turns Junk into Gold (Raftery)

[7] Poster Design Assignment (intro, brainstorming & planning) Week [12] Poster Design Assignment (studio critique & revising)
Read/Watch/Listen: "The Annotated Obama Poster" (McCorkle)

[14] Overflow |Final project meetings Week [19] SOUND: Mock-vertisement mini-assignment
Read/Watch/Listen: Mashme (Neumeyer)

[21] Mock-vertisements: wrap-up Week [26] Audio Essay Assignment (intro, brainstorming & planning)
Read/Watch/Listen: This American Life (episode TBD)

[28] Audio Essays (building session, cont.)

MAY: Week

6 7 8 9 10

[3] Audio Essays (studio critique & revising) [5] Overflow |Final project meetings


[10] MOTION: 5-second(ish) films mini-assignment

Read/Watch/Listen: A Bookling Humament (Wysocki)

[12] 5-second(ish) films: wrap-up Week [17] Movie Trailer Remix Assignment (intro, brainstorming & planning)
Read/Watch/Listen: This is Scholarship (Braun and Gilbert)

[19] Movie Trailer Remix Assignment (building session, cont.) Week [24] Movie Trailer Remix Assignment (studio critique, revising)
Read/Watch/Listen: "Multiliteracies" (Kress)

[26] Overflow |Final project meetings Week [31] Memorial Day: No Class

JUNE: Week



[2] Studio session | Class Evaluations


B.N.: This syllabus is subject to change.
B.N.: This syllabus is subject to change.

Participate in the upcoming Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives event! (details to come...)

English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010 | McCorkle


BUILD-A-MEME: Mini-Assignment #1

For this mini-assignment, you will be creating your own version of a popular Internet meme using Adobe Photoshop. Just think: your very own LOLcat! Or perhaps you prefer to make your own contribution to the ongoing "Fail" dialog! And what's the deal with Selleck/Waterfall/Sandwich? Utilizing found assets on the web (i.e., existing photographs or graphics), you will manipulate them with some combination of tools or functions such as cropping, color adjustment, insertion of text, and similar tweaks.

English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010 | McCorkle



For this assignment, you will be designing a minimalist fan poster based upon a particular movie, television series, or video game. This type of text is a fairly commonplace genre on the web; just to offer you a few examples:

The ultimate goal (or challenge) of this assignment is to distill your source text into an iconic image, something that at a glance suggests the theme, narrative trajectory, character development, or some other noteworthy aspect of it. Thoughtful use of color, typography, and layout are critically important as well, since your "expressive domain" is otherwise so constrained. In addition to the poster itself, you should accompany your design with a 1 -2 page designer's rationale statement. This statement explains to the audience why you made the choices you did when designing your poster. It should demonstrate that you understand the rhetorical effect of your choices in typography, color, layout, and so on. This statement should adhere to the MLA document formatting guidelines.

English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010 | McCorkle



You and a partner will plan, compose, edit, and produce a spoof audio commercial based on wacky scenarios that I will distribute in class. For this assignment, you will use Garage Band as your composing platform (there's a short screencast tutorial below). These commercials are to be limited to 30 seconds or one minute in length, and you should consider the following resources for assets: Ourmedia is full of Creative Commons-licensed audio and video files that you can remix and mash-up to your heart's content freeplay music has a large selection of sound effects, production music, and even songs from independent bands, much of it suitable for free use freesound is another community site featuring Creative Commons-licensed audio files for you to use Absolute Sound Effects Archive (and use Google to find similar sites that feature ambient or incidental sound files) On Day 1 of this mini-assignment, I will give you your scenario, your team will begin brainstorming and drafting a concept. You'll workshop your concept with another team, and after that, you'll begin gathering necessary assets (background music, sound effects, ambient sounds, etc.). On Day 2, you will begin producing these commercial spots in Garage Band.

English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010 | McCorkle


English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010 | McCorkle



Your mission for this assignment is to compose, record, and produce your own 5-10 minute audio essay in the style of the segments featured on This American Life. Your challenge is to create a work that is both entertaining and informative, reflecting some aspect of Central Ohio culture in general or your own life in particular. Possible topics might include: ACT ONE: "On Being a Newlywed" ACT TWO: "My Life Under House Arrest" ACT THREE: "Buckeye Nation, Once Removed" ACT FOUR: "Juggalos: WTF?" ACT FIVE: "Goons United!" ACT SIX: "Life, Love, and Food Poisoning at Cedar Point"

You should strive to create a piece that is thoughtful, engaging, well delivered, and technically clean. Moreover, your audio composition should be more than just you reading a script; it should incorporate *some* combination of background music, sound effects, ambient noise, or additional voices (of course, this shouldn't be done gratuitously, but with a specific rhetorical effect in mind). Finally, although this is an individual project, I encourage you to work together in order to troubleshoot technical problems, share tips, help gather resources, etc.

English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010 | McCorkle


5(ISH) SECOND FILM PROJECT: Mini-Assignment #3

You and a partner will plan, shoot, edit, and produce a short film based on wacky scenarios of your own devising based on the sort of films found at the site 5 Second Films. For this assignment, you will use iMovie as your composing platform. While I won't subject you to the editing brutality of insisting on a 5-second time limit, I would like you to stay under 30 seconds for these. As with the mock-vertisement assignment, consider using the sound assets for any backing music, sound effects, or other ambient noise. Also, I highly recommend thrift stores for locating those hard-tofind props. Finally, for planning purposes, I suggest you use this handy-dandy storyboard template: here. On Day 1 of this mini-assignment, you will break into pairs or groups of three, and your team will begin brainstorming and storyboarding your film. As before, you'll workshop your concept with another team, and after that, you'll begin gathering necessary assets (background music, sound effects, ambient sounds, etc.). On Day 2, you will begin producing these commercial spots in iMovie.

English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010 | McCorkle



For this assignment, you will use iMovie to create a remix of a movie trailer that disrupts, complicates, or otherwise challenges the underlying ideology of the original. Convert a romantic comedy into something that highlights its creepy stalker factor; foreground the slapstick nature of the run-of-the-mill slasher film; update a classic for today. Although you may incorporate some original content in the composition, keep in mind that this is primarily an exercise in rearranging, combining, and transforming pre-existing material. This remixed trailer will be accompanied by a 2-3 page reflective statement that explains the underlying argument in your remix, as well as the technical means you took to achive the finished product. EXAMPLES: "Top Ten Movie Trailer Recuts" TOOL: KeepTube (Firefox extension that lets you save streaming video files). CONTEXT: "Fair Use" (US Copyright Office)

English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010 | McCorkle



For this assignment, you will be developing and implementing a term-long project that incorporates the digital media production tools and skills you've been accruing this quarter. In consultation with me and your classmates, you will begin brainstorming and planning this project as the quarter progresses. This is an open-ended project, one that can go in many different directions, but I do have a couple of general guidelines: SCOPE: The project should be of an appropriate size, skill level, and purpose for a final project--think of the end-ofterm paper as a rough analogue for your project (an 8-page research or analytical paper, for instance).

REFLECTION: Accompanying your project should be some instrument of reflection, a text that addresses how your
project evolved along the way, what skills you developed or technical challenges you faced, what feedback you received from peers and how you addressed it, final impressions of the finished product, and so on. This can take the shape of a conventional paper (no more than 5 pages, double-spaced), or a media-appropriate form (director's commentary, annotated video, an "about this project" web page, etc.). Beyond these guidelines, I think the rest of this prompt might be better served by showing you some examples of directions you might take for this project:

digital media narrative: Tell a story in a new and interesting way using digital media. How would you create a
project using Google Maps, Flash, YouTube, or a combination of such technologies? Examples of such projects can be found at Penguin's "We Tell Stories" site (here), the choose-your-own adventure video series "The Time Machine (here), or even old-school hypertexts such as Michael Joyce's "Twelve Blue" (here).

digital activism and documentary: Create a documentary film about a social cause you feel strongly about, such as
the projects listed on the blog MultimediaShooter (here).

digital media community building: Build and maintain a website, discussion forum, podcast series, etc. that caters to
a particular interest group or community.

games and gaming: While I don't expect you to necessarily create a full, workable game (although if you did, that
would be waaay cool), you might consider developing a videogame proposal instead, a document containing items such as character models, level scenes, description of gameplay, or perhaps even some other proof-of-concept artifacts like a Flash-animated video. Due date, development schedule, and related information are available on the course syllabus.

English 269 | Digital Media Composing | Spring 2010 | McCorkle