English Studies in the Digital Age @

Dr. Jennifer Travis

Department of English

Office: St. John’s Hall, B40-1

Email: Please be in touch via email rather than phone. I will return your email within 24 hours. Thanks!

Skype: jtprofessor

Google hangout:

Time: Monday/Thursday: 10:40-12:05

Location: SJH B43 (conference room at end of B-40 hallway)

Student Hours: Mondays and Thursdays 12:10-1:40, and by appt. Please note: I am always happy to meet with you in my office. If the above times do not work for you, I will try to coordinate with your schedule. I am on campus Mondays and Thursdays. I encourage you to stop by during my office hours to discuss the novels, your work, or just to chat about your literary studies. I am also available via Skype or Google Hangout. Just let me know you would like to meet virtually and we will arrange a date and time.

Course Description: This course investigates how digital technologies affect the way we read, study, and understand literary and visual texts. Topics include: fake news, trolls, digital storytelling, and more.

Course Format: This course will be conducted as a seminar. Class time will be spent primarily in dialogue and discussion rather than lecture. Everyone should come to class prepared and ready to participate.

Grades will be based on a digital storytelling project, weekly assignments posted to your blog, a group assignment, and class participation.

*Always come to class on time. If you are routinely more than 5 minutes late I will counts it as an absence (one or two emergency late arrivals will be tolerated).

*Always come to class with your computer/technology and reading materials and assignments in hand.

*Always come with plans to participate.

*Always keep up with the readings even if class discussion has fallen behind.

*Always treat each other with social and intellectual respect.

Required Books (ebook or used are fine):

All books are available online or at most bookstores, including the St. John’s Bookstore:

Gary Sheyngart, Super Sad True Love Story

Melissa Broder, So Sad Today

Other texts will be posted as links on our website.


Projects: 50%: Digital Story: 30%, Map and Reflection, 20%

Weekly Assignments: The Daily Create: 30%

Participation: 20% (includes spark)

How the attendance/participation grade is calculated: I will take attendance at the beginning of every class. At the end of class I will record a + for everyone who participated. At the end of the semester, I will give everybody a participation grade of 85 and will subtract 2 points per absence and add 1 point per day of participation. (Students automatically get two “free” absences.) For example, a student who never speaks in class and is absent 0-2 times will get an 85. A student who never participates and is absent 5 times will get a 79. A student who is absent 2x and participated 15x (more or less every other class) will get 100.

Students will be required to share their daily creates with the class. Students will sign up for a specific spark date listed on the syllabus.

Assignments must be complete at the beginning of class on the date due, unless otherwise specified. Late assignments will be marked down accordingly. If an assignment is over one week late it will not be accepted.

Academic Integrity: Please refer to the university honor code policy: Copying another person’s words or ideas without crediting him or her constitutes plagiarism. It doesn’t matter what the source: an article, a website, class notes, etc. Plagiarism is serious matter and is grounds for failure of the course and even possibly expulsion from the University. It is important to learn how to document online sources accurately, especially when we will be doing multimodal work (including images, videos, audio, etc.).

Please refer to this guide for more information about using materials from the Internet:



WEEK ONE: English Studies in the Digital Age

Jan 19: Introduction

WEEK TWO: Born Digital?

 January 23:

  1. Build your blog. Tumblr, WordPress, Blogspot, Weebly, Wix, or and other blog platforms are welcome. Choose what works best for you. However, you need to make sure that anyone can see your blog posts and that the blog can receive and publish comments. If you are uncertain how to do this on Tumblr, for example, try WordPress.
  2. Read/view/listen to material about copyright (linked above). Since you will be creating your own blog, you need to think about the material you are posting to the site. This is an educational site, but you still are not allowed to post full versions of copyrighted music, for example, or other images and movies that are not in the public domain (through Creative Commons, for example). Be sure to credit the copyright holder/creator as well.
  3. Peruse the website and check out some of the links/videos.
  4. Send me the link to your blog.


What makes a digital native? Marc Prensky Digital Natives

Jeff Degraff, Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants

The Daily Create: Technology and You: Create a video/short written narrative/selfie, Instagram post, or other multimedia creation that encapsulates your relationship to technology. Post to your blog. Be prepared to share!

Jan 26: Digital Rhetoric

Read: Carroll, backpacks-vs-briefcases.pdf

The Daily Create: What is an example of an online rhetorical situation that you have found yourself in, or an example of digital rhetoric you are interested to unpack? Analyze any or all of its elements: purpose, audience, constraints, and so on.  We’ll talk about these in class.



Jan 30:

View: online-hoaxes-fake-news-played-role-election/


Tips for Identifying Fake News

Daily Create: What is “news” and where do you get it?


Feb 2:

Fake and Real News—Find it, analyze it, share it…

Daily Create: Post your news story, analyze it, and bring it in to share.  Sparkers will be leading class discussion.  You can assign the class a reading that we will discuss together.

Spark: Samantha

Spark: Israel

Spark:  Michelle

Spark:  Paul

WEEK FOUR: Social Media Art

Feb 6: No class, Dr. Travis at a conference.

Read Melissa Broder, So Sad Today and check out her Twitter @sosadtoday.

Feb 9: @sosadtoday and Melissa Broder, So Sad Today

The Hidden Vulnerabilities of So Sad Today

WEEK FIVE: Social Media Art, cont’d…and Trolls, Online-Harassment, Doxxing

Feb 13: Confessional Writing and Visual Arts—Follow @…

Daily Create: What artists/media personalities do you follow? Analyze a piece of their work and what makes it interesting to you. Sparkers will be leading class discussion.

Spark:  Carlos

Spark:  Soannie

Spark:  Kayla

Spark:   Faihaa


Feb 16:

Read: Li, “A Man Like Him”

and “Why I got Doxxed so You Don’t Have to”

More on Doxxing, if you are interested.  It’s a promo piece though…

The Daily Create: trolls, online harassment, doxxing…find an article to share and examine it in your blog. Sparkers will be leading class discussion.

 Spark:   De’Jsa

Spark:  Stephanie

Spark:  Katelyn S.

Spark:  Abhi

WEEK SIX: Technological Dystopias

Feb 23: Begin Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story—1-71.

Introduction to Google Maps, Kathryn Shaughnessy, Libraries

Evaluation for blog posts 1-6.

WEEK SEVEN: Spring Break

WEEK EIGHT: Super Sad True Love Story: Technological Dystopias

March 6: Super Sad True Love Story, 72-118

Introduction to tools.

Daily Create: “Reading is difficult. People just aren’t meant to read anymore. We’re in a post-literate age. You know, a visual age.” Write about this quote in relation to the novel and contemporary culture.


March 9: Super Sad, 119-203

Maps assignment distributed

Daily Create: “We are now part of this giant machine where every second we have to take out a device and contribute our thoughts and opinions.” Write about this quote in relation to the novel and contemporary culture.


WEEK NINE: Super Sad, cont’d

March 13: Super Sad, 204-294

Daily Create: “I wish I were stronger and more secure in myself so that I could really spend my life with a guy like Lenny. Because he has a different kind of strength than Joshie. He has the strength of his sweet tuna arms. He has the strength of putting his nose in my hair and calling it home… Who will ever open up to me like that again? No one. Because it’s too dangerous. Lenny is a dangerous man. Joshie is more powerful, but Lenny is much more dangerous.”  Write about this quote in the novel and what it means to you.


March 16: Finish Super Sad.  Sparkers will lead class discussion.

Spark:   Kristian

Spark:   Abiesha

Spark:   Maia

Spark:   Julia



 March 20: 


March 23: Workshop

WEEK ELEVEN: Presentations/Begin Digital Storytelling

March 27: Presentations and Reflection paper due.

 March 30:

View some digital stories and write a short blog post about your favorite. What makes a good digital story? What elements did you enjoy most? What might you change or add?

Resources for digital stories:

Digital Storytelling-Article



Telling Stories–Presented by The Urban School of San Francisco

Georgetown University Digital Stories Project

Digital Salon–University of Wisconsin

The Science Behind Storytelling and Why it Matters

Spark:  Caitlyn

Spark:   Ashley

Spark:   Jason

Spark:   Cindy

Daily Create: What digital story did you view? What did you like, and why?

WEEK TWELVE: Digital Storytelling

April 3: Tools for digital storytelling

What is a Storyboard and why is it Useful?

Story table–courtesy of Jason Ohler

50 Ways–Story Tools

Lessons to Consider

Tips for Scripts

Daily Create: Start a storyboard or story table

April 6: Copyright and Assessment

Property Rights and Copyright

Creative Commons 101

St. John’s Campus Guides on Copyright

More from SJU on Copyright, Privacy, and Plagarism

Daily Create: choose your story tool and create a test experiment.

WEEK THIRTEEN: Digital Storytelling

April 10th:  Workshop on Digital Presence and Career Opportunities

 April 12th: Online Work, Dr. Travis at conference.

Happy Easter Break!



 April 20: Group Work—feedback on digital story



 April 24- 27: Presentations

Reflection paper and digital story due.



May 1: Presentations…Last Class.


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