Assignment Overview:

  • Includes written reflections, quizzes, and/or group work
  • Students will sometimes work individually and sometimes with colleagues
  • Due during most class periods


This course relies on active, engaged participation in class activities and discussions. There will be few lectures. You should come to every class having read all of the required texts (or watched the required videos, &c.) and prepared to discuss them with your colleagues. I plan to assess your reading and course engagement through writing exercises, reading quizzes, and group work. Assuming you all seem to be reading with engagement, I will usually ask for in-class writing or group exercises, but I reserve the right to quiz if reading seems to be slipping.

  1. In-class writing

    You should be prepared to write in any class session and have appropriate materials (e.g. paper, a table, a laptop) available to you. Not all in-class writing will be collected, but when it is such work will be graded on a five-point scale. I do not expect your responses to in-class writing exercises to reflect the same polish as papers. I do expect your writing exercises to reflect real thought about our course topics and readings. Entries will receive full credit if:

    • They refer to specific aspects of our assigned reading. The more specific you can be, the better. For instance, if you can quote or paraphrase from a course text to illustrate the point you hope to make, you should do so.
    • They draw connections between the day’s assigned reading and the broader themes of the course, recent topics of class discussion, or your personal research.
    • They demonstrate depth of thought about the topics on hand.
    • Writing that demonstrates a firm command of the day’s reading through summarizing its ideas will receive a 4/5 while writing that connects ideas across readings and ventures creative (or even risky) interpretations will receive 5/5. Lower marks are reserved for writing that does not demonstrate familiarity with the day’s readings, fails to address the prompt, and/or lacks clarity.
  2. Individual and Group Work

    In addition to discussion of course texts, our classes will frequently ask you to complete small projects and exercises that will help you apply course concepts, learn new software, and contextualize course materials. For group exercises, I will ask each group member to assume a specific task related to the project; I expect each group member to contribute in significant ways to their team’s effort. The outcome of group work will be various and thus will be assessed in diverse ways.

  3. Reading quizzes

    I prefer not to resort to reading quizzes, which test basic comprehension rather than synthesis and analysis. However, if it becomes clear that significant portions of the class are not completing the readings (which will be obvious by the resultant lulls in conversation) then I reserve the right to begin quizzing. Reading quizzes are intended to reward careful reading, not to test your comprehension of obscure facts from our texts. If you read the assigned texts attentively—if you read the assigned texts attentively—you should do well on the quizzes. Each quiz will have six questions; if you correctly answer five of them you will receive full credit, while all six garners extra credit.