Course & Assignment Description

Instructor Syllabus Course Description
English 1501: Literature of Public Life

We’ll be reading a variety of literature (story, essay, novel, poem, lyric, graphic novel, and others) to see how literature acts as a response to and description of public life – one person’s engagement of the common world for others to read, engage, and hopefully be in some way moved by.  What does it mean to be a citizen; what are the ethical and aesthetic issues involved; what are the pleasures and dreads; how does literature make sense of those issues; and how do we respond to such literature – appreciate it, analyze it, write about it?  Those are some of the concerns I hope our coursework raises.

Assignment Description
Digital Project on Public Life

What I do for this project is simply tell students to do some kind of digital project on some aspect of Public Life.  Then we spend a day in class where I give them a very quick tour of how to edit digital video and how to do a sound essay and and how to do a blog and even how to do a rudimentary website.  I urge them to play around with video and sound, but I don’t require it (PowerPoint or a a few web pages are fine for those who are intimidated by tech; but they mostly take the chance to play with video). I show them some cool, easy things that I have bookmarked (student projects either from previous students or from stuff colleagues around the country have shared with me).  That helps show them possibilities.  Then I give them a week off, canceling classes, and I keep longer office hours and hang out in my office during class time (we have an IT Fellow who also has longer office hours for my students that week); that seems to be important, having some help available.  Then we spend the last two class sessions looking at what everyone did – it’s a very cool way to end the class.  When Chris’s was shown, the student’s loved it.