I’m currently in the process of translating my fandom/geek culture syllabus into a syllabus for one of Oxy’s freshman Core writing seminars this fall. This is a pretty fun prospect, because in addition to now being on a semester system (which allows me to bring back designated weeks on vidding and wizard rock that I had to drop for the quarter system at UCSC), my new position at the CDLR is actively encouraging (nay, insisting!) that I rethink what a “critical writing assignment” looks like.
As pitched to me, these core freshman writing seminars are centrally concerned with helping students learn how to craft a scholarly argument. Now, I get to think about all the different ways, and on all the different platforms, that “crafting” might occur. Added bonus that the class is on fandom and participatory culture, thereby presenting a truly symbiotic pedagogical exercise. How better to teach about the many ways in which fans craft arguments about, and speak back to, media texts than to ask my students to use some of those same forms to analyze and speak back to the issues and literature we will encounter in class?
I have typically included theory/praxis options for students for their final projects, which has led to some truly wonderful student-created vids, comic books, fanfic, and short films, but logistics, class sizes and other factors prohibited me from building these components directly into the syllabus. Now that I will have an abundance of resources and support encouraging me to do just that, and only 16 students, it’s a whole new quidditch match, as the kids say. (Okay, maybe not ALL the kids…)
Early thoughts on these assignments include:
– Autoethnographic video blogs discussing their fan identity/modes of participation
– Weekly, informal writing assignment to post to our course wordpress blog, currently being constructed
– Vid or fanfiction analysis (this would be a more conventional response paper…gotta throw a few in there)
– Some sort of visual essay (via tumblr? flickr? Have them create vids? Still beginning to think about this) coupled with a written analysis, most likely as a group project
And for the final project…
– Peer review of first essay drafts in google docs
– Multimodal presentations of their central argument in class
– Accompanied by a more standard term paper
I’m clearly just beginning to think about this, and so I pose question for both professors and students (or anyone else who wants to weigh in on the topic): What works? What doesn’t? What do we stand to gain or lose by retaining conventional academic writing assignments or moving towards digital or multimodal alternatives? Students, which digital tools do you think would be most useful to you in crafting alternative forms of argument? Would you prefer to submit work and get comments back by google doc or email, or is my lovely penmanship something all future students should experience on hard copies of their work?
All thoughts on this are greatly appreciated, and obviously as soon as the syllabus is locked in I’ll be posting it here.Tags: CLDR, multimodal, participatory culture, pedagogy