Spring 2019 Syllabus

ENGL 340 S19 Information and Schedule

Jump straight to the schedule.


  • Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:30 pm – 2:10 pm Bailey 101
  • Final meeting (attendance mandatory) on Tuesday, May 14, 12 pm – 3:20 pm


Book one with me here.

Individual learning outcomes

What will you know and be able to do as a result of taking this course? First, because this is a 300-level English course, you’ll improve your

  • ability to read texts in relation to history
  • understanding of how texts are related to social and cultural categories (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, ability), enterprises (e.g. philosophy, science, politics), and institutions (e.g., of religion, of education)
  • understanding of how language as a system and linguistic change over time inform literature as aesthetic object, expressive medium, and social document

In addition, as a result of taking ENGL 340, you should

  • understand, at a basic level, the computational dimension of language and literature
  • understand, at a basic level, some common uses of computation and computational tools in the study of literature
  • feel prepared to use computational methods and tools for literary analysis and interpretation in another literature course
  • know more about how your computer works than you did before

Community learning outcomes

What will we accomplish in this course as a community?

  • Produce new knowledge (new for this community) about literature and literary study in the digital age
  • Share knowledge about literature and literary study in the digital age in accordance with scholarly conventions
  • Discuss and debate ideas about individual literary works and about the nature of literature and literary criticism in ways that respect the diversity of the community
  • Help one another when we’re stuck


How will you know if you’ve met the individual outcomes? How will we know if we’ve met the community outcomes?

  • You’ll keep a journal in which you write regularly about what you’re learning in the course
  • You’ll write two blog posts for this website in which you reflect on your learning in this course
  • You’ll contribute to a group project in which you make use of particular computing skills that you acquire in the course


  • James Gleick, The Information
  • Jeffrey Pomerantz, Metadata
  • Henry D. Thoreau, Walden and Selections from the Journal
  • Assorted short readings

Tools and accounts

  • Working laptop computer running a reasonably up-to-date version of Mac OS, Windows, or Linux. (This is required. Please see SUNY Geneseo’s laptop requirement and note especially that you may be eligible to borrow a laptop if you’re unable to buy one. If your computer requires repair during the semester, borrow an equivalent one from the library or elsewhere while the repair is done. A phone or tablet is not an equivalent.)
  • Atom text editor
  • Accounts at

Requirements and evaluation

Your final grade in this course will be based on the number of points you earn out of a maximum of 100 points. You’ll earn points for the activities listed below. You must complete all assigned work to pass the course.

  • Blog: You’ll earn up to 30 points for two blog posts (15 points each) in which you reflect on your learning in this course.
  • Blog some more (optional): You can earn up to 5 points for up to 5 additional blog posts over the course of the semester. Posts must be directly relevant to our work in the course. Each post will be evaluated based on relevance, quality of writing, and content. You can post to the blog as often as you like, but you can’t earn points for more than one extra-credit post in any given week of the semester.
  • Journal: You’ll earn up to 20 points for maintaining a markdown journal in which you write regularly about what you’re learning in the course. You’ll also turn this journal into an e-book.
  • Annotate: You’ll earn up to 10 points for 10 annotations that you leave in Walden.
  • Contribute: You’ll earn up to 40 points for a group project to which you contribute, with 15 of those points coming from your personal contribution to the project

Do you have a disability?

SUNY Geneseo will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented physical, emotional or learning disabilities. Accommodations will be made for medical conditions related to pregnancy or parenting. Requests for accommodations including letters or review of existing accommodations should be directed to the Office of Disability Services in Erwin 22 (Ms. Heather Packer, disabilityservices-at-geneseo.edu or 585-245-5112). If you have an accommodation letter, let me know as soon as possible in the semester so we can discuss specific arrangements.

Take care of yourself

It’s hard work being a student! You can improve your chances of success by eating well, getting enough sleep, and making wise choices. If you need help, ask for it. Student Health and Counseling can help you if you’re sick or need psychological or emotional support. A variety of Campus Learning Centers, including the Writing Learning Center, offer academic support services. And then there’s me. Schedule an appointment to see me in my office for help with assignments, to tell me if you’re facing basic obstacles to success such as food insecurity, to continue the conversation about readings and topics in the course, or just to check out my Apple IIe computer. – If reading or discussing certain kinds of content in this course might prove traumatic for you, let me know and we’ll work together to figure out a reasonable solution. You should be prepared for the fact that some works on the syllabus contain depictions of or allusions to violence and sexuality.

Think about others

  • Express yourself honestly but respectfully
  • Practice forbearance when offended by others, even as you exercise your right to explain your reasons for taking offense
  • Consider how the world looks to someone who is not you
  • Do your best to address others as they prefer to be addressed


Week 1 Preliminaries

W 1/23

Activity: Who’s here? And why?

Week 2 | Setting ourselves up

M 1/28

Activity: Accounts, file navigation basics, plain text editing in Atom

W 1/30

Activity: Markdown editing, journaling, html, the web

Weeks 3-4 | Words and numbers: computation and the humanities

Skills and tools: command line

M 2/4

  • Reading: The Information, Prologue through Chapter 2
  • Activity: Discussion, hands-on with command line and text-editing

W 2/6

  • Reading: The Information, Chapter 3
  • Activity: Discussion, hands-on with command line and text-editing

M 2/11

  • Reading: The Information, Chapter 4
  • Activity: Discussion, sharing, hands-on with VirtualBox

W 2/13

  • Reading: The Information, Chapter 5
  • Activity: Discussion, hands-on with VirtualBox and command line
  • Due: first blog post (due date moved to 2/20)

Weeks 5-6 | Time and space

Skills and tools: timelines, maps

M 2/18

  • Reading: The Information, Chapters 6-7
  • Activity: Discussion, hands-on with timelines

W 2/20

  • Reading: The Information, Chapters 8-9
  • Activity: Discussion, hands-on with timelines
  • Due: first blog post

M 2/25

  • Reading: The Information, Chapters 10-12
  • Activity: Discussion, hand-on with maps

W 2/27

  • Reading: The Information, Chapters 13 through Epilogue
  • Activity: Discussion, hands-on with maps

Week 7 | Culture and the commons

Skills and tools: Creative Commons

M 3/4

  • Reading: excerpts from Free Culture
  • Activity: Discussion, sharing

W 3/6

Activity: Lessig (evening)

Weeks 8-10 “Books” and “reading”

Skills and tools: WordPress, CommentPress, Hypothesis, Zooniverse, XML/TEI

M 3/11

  • Reading: Walden, “Economy”
  • Activity: Discussion, hands on with CommentPress and Hypothesis
  • Due: Your journal to date

W 3/13

  • Reading: Walden, “Where I Lived” through “Sounds”; Grafton, “Codex in Crisis”
  • Activity: Discussion, hands on with Zooniverse

Spring Break: M 3/18-F 3/22

M 3/25

  • Reading: Walden, “Solitude” through “The Village”
  • Activity: Discussion, sharing

W 3/27

  • Reading: Walden, “The Ponds” through “Brute Neighbors”; Selections from The Journal
  • Activity: Discussion, hands on with XML/TEI

M 4/1

  • Reading: Walden, “House-warming” through “Winter Animals;”Sattelmeyer, “The Re-making of Walden
  • Activity: Discussion, hands on with XML/TEI

W 4/3

  • Reading: Walden, “The Pond in Winter” through “Conclusion”
  • Activity: Discussion, hands on with XML/TEI

Weeks 11-12 | Getting “meta”

Skills and tools: Omeka, Pandoc

M 4/8

  • Reading: Metadata, 1-64
  • Activity: Discussion, hands on with Omeka

W 4/10

  • Reading: Metadata, 65-132
  • Activity: Discussion, hands on with Omeka

M 4/15

  • Reading: Metadata, 133-end
  • Activity: Discussion, hands on with Pandoc
  • Due: second blog post

W 4/17

Activity: Let’s make an ebook! GREAT Day (No class: Be GREAT!)

Week 13-15 | Projects and perspectives

M 4/22

  • Reading: from H. G. Wells, World Brain: Chapter 2 (“The Brain Organization of the Modern World,” 1937) and Chapter 3 (“The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopedia,” 1937)
  • Activity: Let’s make an ebook! Preparing your journal files for ebook creation

W 4/24

  • Activity: Let’s make an ebook!
  • Activity: Project time

M 4/29

  • Reading: N. Katherine Hayles, “How We Read”
  • Activity: Project time

W 5/1

  • Reading: N. Katherine Hayles, “How We Read”
  • Activity: Project time

M 5/6

W 5/8

Activity: Project time

Final Meeting

Tuesday, May 14 12 pm – 3:20 pm, Bailey 101