A Few Caveats

This course will be a bit different from most of your graduate classes. I hope you will find these differences exciting and stimulating, but you should be aware of some caveats as we begin.

This class will require hands-on work with digital tools and methods. This means you will be required to acquire some technical skills. While I do not require or assume any particular technical experience as we begin this course, I will expect you to be willing to experiment with new tools and learn new technical skills throughout the semester. “I’m not very technical” will not excuse you from the hands-on portions of the course any more than “I’m not poetic” would excuse you from reading Dickinson in a survey of American literature. Some of the tools we test you may find useful or interesting; some you will not. Some you might find easy to use; some you will not. But I expect you to try them with an open mind and persistence.

Just as the hands-on portions of the course will require you to experiment with new tools and techniques, the course itself is new and will be an experiment. This means that the syllabus may shift, a given tool may not work as expected, or a lab may fail altogether. While I am familiar with all of the tools and methods we will be using, I may not be able to answer all of your questions, and I will be learning along with you in many cases. I hope you will see this course as an opportunity to learn and experiment together. I ask only that you approach the course with a willingness to experiment, with the persistence to work through frustration, and with the flexibility required to try new things.

Required Reading

Note: You can purchase the course texts at the Clemson bookstore, and also by clicking on the link above or by searching for the ISBN-13 numbers in Amazon or other online bookstores. We will refer to and use all course texts extensively in class, and you are required to bring whatever texts we are reading to class every class meeting.

Required Work

The graded work for ENGL 8120 will take several forms: (1) lab reports; (2) methodological analyses; (3) a key project analysis; (4) a final project.

(1) Lab Reports: We will do 6 different labs throughout the semester. These labs will be designed to introduce you to various digital tools, technologies, and methods. We will devote the last hour of class time, as marked on the course calendar, to working on these labs during class. You will be responsible for completing these labs on your own in the form of a lab report, and you will post these lab reports on our course site. The lab reports will always involve a written component, and they will often ask you to engage with the course readings. Your lab reports will be due no more than 1 week following the in-class lab activity, and they will be graded on completion.

(2) Methodological Analyses: Methodological analyses are blog posts that ask you to think in some detail about the methodologies employed in specific articles. Various readings throughout the semester are marked with “Methodological Analysis;” these readings are candidates for these blog posts. You will write 4 methodological analyses throughout the semester.

(3) Key Project Analysis: For your key project analysis, you will research a “key project” in the digital humanities as a way to prepare for producing your own final project. You will investigate your key project’s methodologies, innovations, interpretive power, and design. Your aim will be to help your class colleagues understand the project’s overall contributions.

(4) Final Project: During the last month of the semester, you will turn your attention to your final project. For this project, you will work individually or in teams to devise a digital humanities project prototype or mock-up, employing some of the methods we have learned throughout the semester. You will also write a project abstract, as well as project proposal or a conference-length paper.


The grade breakdown is as follows:

  • Reading and participation in class: 20%
  • Blogging, including both lab reports and methodological analyses: 20%
  • Key Project Analysis: 10%
  • Final Project: 50%

Every assignment except for your lab reports and methodological analyses will be given a letter grade and a percentage. The grading scale is as follows:

A = 90-100%

B = 80-89%

C = 70-79%

D = 60-69%

F = below 60%

This is a graduate course. In graduate classes, an A generally means that you are doing well and performing at expected levels. A B means that improvement needs to be made. And a C or below is a sign of a serious problem.

I will give you feedback on your key project analysis and your final project. My hope is that we will often discuss your methodological analyses in class. I will read every lab report and methodological analysis, and I will also occasionally comment on them via our course site when I feel I have something substantive to contribute. You should not interpret a comment from me on a lab report or methodological analysis as either validation or condemnation of a post; nor should you interpret a lack of commenting from me as validation or condemnation. I am very happy to give you more specific feedback on your lab reports and methodological analyses in office hours.

Late Work

All assignments should be submitted through Blackboard or to our course site by the date and time indicated in the course calendar. I will therefore not accept late work unless you make prior arrangements with me at least 24 hours in advance of an assignment’s due date. If you find that you will need an extension on a particular assignment, please contact me as soon as possible to arrange an alternative due date (again, you must contact me at least 24 hours before the assignment is due, but the sooner the better). Assignment extensions will not be granted retroactively.

Late lab reports or methodological analyses will not be accepted, and you cannot make up missed lab reports or methodological analyses.

Because assignments for this course are submitted via email or to our course site, assignments are due on the date listed in the syllabus even if class is cancelled due to inclement weather, a power outage, etc.

Technological Failures are Not Emergencies

Technological failures and mishaps – file corruption, computer crashes, wifi connection problems, uploading the wrong file to Blackboard – are predictable facts of twenty-first century life. They happen all of the time and are thus NOT emergencies. For this course, for all of your courses, for your career, for the rest of your life on this earth, you need to develop strategies that take such failures into account. Start your work early, save it often, and save backup copies of important documents off-site using services like Dropbox and Google Drive. Technological failure or mishap – including uploading the wrong file to Blackboard – is not an excuse for late work.

Attendance Policy

This is a graduate course, and we are a small group. I therefore expect you to attend every class, and I expect you to come to class having read the material and ready to discuss it. Of course, you should contact me if life intervenes in ways that make it difficult for you to attend class on a particular day (illness, emergency, etc etc).

If I am unexpectedly delayed arriving to class, please wait 15 minutes before leaving the classroom.

Course Digital Infrastructure

This course makes use of three different digital environments:

  • Our course site: You will find an online version of our syllabus here (including the most up-to-date version of our reading calendar and course policies), as well as digital copies of all course assignments (in PDF as well as website form). You will also post your lab reports and methodological analyses to our course site.
  • Our Blackboard site: This is where you will find any course readings that are not print or that are not linked to from our course site.
  • Clemson Box folder: You can log into this shared folder by going to http://clemson.box.com and signing in with your Clemson ID account information. We will use this folder for storing extra resources you will need for labs. You are all “Editors” of this shared folder, which means you can upload files and folders (as well as delete them).


All students are required to check their official Clemson email accounts regularly. I will send course information and announcements through email. I endeavor to respond to all emails within 24 hours – usually less – but please do not send me urgent emails regarding your assignments on the night before they are due and expect an immediate reply.

If you have questions on course material, assignments, or policies, the best thing to do is to come talk to me. In fact, the best thing to do in almost any situation that affects your class work is simply to come and talk to me about it. I am happy to answer simple questions about the course via email, but more involved questions and conversations should be done in person. I am also happy to read and discuss advance drafts of your assignments with you in person, but I will not read and comment on drafts of assignments via email before they are due.

Inclusive Learning

I am committed to the principle of inclusive learning. This means that our classroom, our online spaces, our practices, and our interactions be as inclusive as possible. Mutual respect and the ability to listen, observe, and disagree with others carefully and respectfully – including me – are crucial to inclusive learning.

Clemson works to provide accommodations for you if you need additional resources in the classroom. These may include extra time on exams, note-taking services, and so on. If you need these resources or wish to consult a counselor about the available services, please make an appointment with Dr. Margaret Camp (656-6848), Director of Disability Services, to discuss specific needs within the first month of classes. SDS, in consultation with you, determines what services you may need under an accommodation plan and provides you with a letter that outlines them, which you will then discuss with me. You are responsible for visiting SDS to arrange for a letter before talking to me about these accommodations. Accommodations are not retroactive and new Faculty Accommodation Letters must be presented each semesterYou can find complete information about SDS here: http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/sds/.

Academic Integrity

I hope it goes without saying that I expect you to complete all of your own work in this class and that plagiarism of any kind is unacceptable.

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located at http://www.clemson.edu/campuslife/campus-services/access/title-ix/. Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator. He also is the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorff Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).

Thanks to Alan Liu, Ryan Cordell, and Miriam Posner, whose courses inspired this one.