Spring 2020 Syllabus

ENGL 340 S20 Information and Schedule

Jump straight to the schedule.

Meetings

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:30 pm – 2:10 pm Bailey 101
  • Final meeting (attendance mandatory) Wednesday, May 13, 12 pm – 3:20 pm, Bailey 101

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

Assessment

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

Texts

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

Tools and accounts

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. (Due 2/12 and 4/15.)
  • 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 an online markdown journal in which you write regularly about what you’re learning in the course. (Due 2/19 and 4/13.)
  • Annotate: You’ll earn up to 15 points for 15 annotations that you leave in Walden.
  • Contribute: You’ll earn up to 35 points for a group project to which you contribute, with 15 of those points coming from your personal contribution to the project. Your group will write a collective blog post about the project and present the project to the class at our final meeting on May 12.

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

Schedule

Week 1 | Preliminaries

W 1/22

Activity: Who’s here? And why?

Week 2 | Setting ourselves up

[Skills and tools: plain text editing, markdown]

M 1/27

W 1/29

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 2
    • Read through module on HTML and CSS
  • In class: discussion; markdown editing, journaling, html, the web

Weeks 3-5 | The web

[Skills and tools: HTML, CSS, Git, GitHub]

M 2/3

W 2/5

  • Before class: read The Information, Chapter 3
  • In class: discussion; more with HTML and CSS

M 2/10

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 4
    • Read through this module on using your computer’s command line
    • Follow these instructions to install Git; wait to test till in class
  • In-class: discussion; hands-on with command line and text-editing

W 2/12

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 5
    • Read Walden, “Economy” (paragraphs 1-70)
    • Leave a comment on any passage in Walden that’s relevant to our discussions so far about language/information/technology. Explain how the passage is relevant.
    • Read through this module on Git and GitHub
  • In class: discussion; hands-on with command line and text-editing; pushing to Git
  • Due: first blog post

M 2/17

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 6
    • Read Walden “Economy” (paragraph 71 – end)
    • Leave another comment in “Economy” (71 – end). See instructions above.
  • In class: discussion; collaborating with Git and GitHub

W 2/19

  • Before class:
    • Read Walden “Where I Lived and What I Lived For”
    • Read The Information, Chapter 7
    • Leave a comment on a passage in “Where I Lived” that feels connected to anything in Gleick
  • In class: discussion; more with Git and GitHub
  • Due: Your journal to date

Weeks 6-8 | Analyzing text

[Skills and tools: grep, voyant, python, nltk]

M 2/24

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 8
    • Read N. Katherine Hayles, “How We Read” (in Slack > #assignments)
    • Read Walden, “Reading”
    • Leave a comment on a passage or passages in “Reading.” Use the passage(s) to compare Thoreau’s ideas about reading to those in Hayles and to the way(s) you yourself read.
  • In class: discussion; basics of text analysis; Voyant Tools

W 2/26

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 9
    • Read Walden, “Sounds”
    • Leave a comment on a passage in “Sounds” comparing a sound or sounds Thoreau describes to sounds in your own life. Consider how the sounds in Thoreau’s life and your own are affected by technology.
  • In-class: discussion; command-line text search with grep

M 3/2

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 10
    • Read Walden, “Solitude”
    • Leave a comment on a passage in “Solitude” connecting Thoreau’s ideas to your own experience with being alone or with others. Consider the role that technology plays for both Thoreau and you in shaping the experience of being alone or with others.
    • Read this module on text analysis using NLTK
    • Follow these instructions to install Anaconda
  • In-class: discussion, python and nltk

W 3/4

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 11
    • Read Walden,“Visitors”
    • Leave a comment in “Visitors” connecting any passage there with a passage from a previous chapter. How are the ideas or the language in the “Visitors” passage similar to or different from the ideas or language in the previous one?
  • In class: discussion, python and nltk

M 3/9

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 12
    • Read Walden,“The Bean-Field”
    • Leave a comment on anything in “The Bean-Field” that makes you feel joy, wonder, confusion, or anger. Explain your reaction.
  • In class: discussion, python and nltk

W 3/11

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 13
    • Read Walden, “The Village”
    • Leave a comment on any passage in “The Village” that seems to you relevant to contemporary politics. Explain the connection you see.
  • In class: discussion, python and nltk

Spring Break: M 3/16-F 3/20

Week 9 | “Time is but the stream …”

[Skills and tools: TimelineJS]

M 3/23

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 14
    • Read Walden, “The Ponds” through “Brute Neighbors”
    • Leave a comment on any passage in these chapters of Walden that has to do with time. Connect the passage to a passage in a previous chapter that’s also related to time.
    • Read about TimelineJS and follow the instructions there to create a timeline
  • In class: discussion, hands-on with TimelineJS

W 3/25

  • Before class:
    • Read The Information, Chapter 15, Epilogue
    • Read Walden, “House-Warming” through “Winter Animals”
    • Leave a comment on any passage in Walden that enables you to make a connection with any of Gleick’s ideas about time and technology.
  • In class: discussion; more with TimelineJS

Weeks 10-12 | Books and things

[Skills and tools: XML/TEI]

M 3/30

W 4/1

  • Before class:
    • Read Sattelmeyer, “The Re-making of Walden
    • Read Walden, “The Pond in Winter” through “Conclusion”
    • Leave a comment on any passage in these chapters of Walden that enables you to make a connection with Benjamin, RadioLab, or Sattelmeyer.
    • Read “Module 0: Introduction” of TEI by Example
  • In class: discussion; TEI

M 4/6

W 4/8

  • Before class:
    • Read Metadata, pp. 1-64
    • Find a passage in Walden that underwent a revision you find interesting. Leave a comment on the change in the Reader’s Thoreau version of Walden, explaining what’s interesting to you about the revision.
  • In class: discussion, XML/TEI

M 4/13

  • Before class
    • Read Metadata, pp. 65-132
    • Read Selections from the Journal (through 1855)
    • Find another passage in Walden that underwent a revision you find interesting. Leave a comment on the revision in the Reader’s Thoreau version of Walden, explaining what’s interesting to you about the revision.
  • In class: discussion, XML/TEI
  • Due: Your journal to date

W 4/15

  • Before class
    • Read Metadata, 133 – end
    • Read Selections from the Journal (1856 – end)
    • Find a passage in Walden that you can connect with any passage in the Journal. What makes the connection interesting?
  • In class: XML/TEI
  • Due: second blog post

Week 13-15 | Projects

M 4/20

  • In class: Project time

W 4/22

  • In class: Project time

M 4/27

  • In class: Project time

W 4/29

  • In class: Project time

M 5/4

  • In class: Project time

W 5/6

  • In class: Project time

Final Meeting

Wednesday, May 13 12 pm – 3:20 pm, Bailey 101