Course & Assignment Description

Course Description

English 420: Technology and the Humanities is an upper-level English seminar at the University of Michigan that addresses the topic of technology from three distinct perspectives: media studies, literary studies, and multi-modal composition. In addition to weekly course readings and film screenings, assignments include an audio essay, a video essay, and a final electronic portfolio incorporating earlier writing in digital forms, including blog posts and tweets. The official course description follows:

Technologies like blogs and Twitter have democratized publishing, allowing more people than ever to add their voices to the public sphere. But at what cost? Are new media applications like Facebook and Google empowering us or are they “making us stupid,” as some pundits have claimed? How does our increasing reliance on technology change what it means to be human? This course—part seminar and part new media lab—operates on the premise that only by constructing and inhabiting new media forms can we understand their potential to alter our thinking and behavior. Throughout the course, we will use various media—text, sound, and video—to respond to an eclectic group of readings about technology and the (post)humanities. Students will be challenged to think critically about the evolving histories of media and aesthetics while learning useful technology and web-authoring skills.

Assignment Description

In this assignment, you will compose an argumentative video essay of at least two minutes in length, using found imagery and remix and/or screencasting techniques discussed in class. You have two options for this assignment: 1. You may assemble a variety of audio, video, and pictorial source material to construct an original argument on a topic of your choosing. 2. Or you may choose to take an already existing video work and alter it via editing and juxtaposition, so as to highlight a theme or expose an ideology lurking within the original. Whichever route you choose, your essay must advance an argument that you are able to articulate in your project proposal, if not within the video itself. Any media that you incorporate into your video should either be found in the public domain or, if copyrighted, be governed by “fair use” guidelines.