Requirements + Assignments

Attendance, Engagement, and Collegiality (Including Collegiality Audit): 20%
In-Class Lab Activities: 10% 
Object Analysis / Academic Repair Manual: 20%
Self-Syllabus: 20% 
Final Project and Presentation: 30% 

Via Present & Correct; used with permission


Our class is a mix of seminar and workshop, and its success depends on your regular attendance and reliable engagement as a constructive colleague. I strive to create an inclusive, accommodating classroom – one that’s responsive to students’ competing demands, disparate backgrounds, varying styles of learning, and particular access needs, etc. –  that should enable (and, I hope, incentivize!) all of you to attend and engage. Early in the semester we’ll work together to develop a community agreement regarding the principles and practices that will shape our interactions. I’ll post this agreement on our class site for continual reference. 

What does it mean to “attend” and “engage collegially”?

  • It means showing up on time to scheduled class, group, and individual meetings;  
    • Virtual Participation: if you are unable to join us in the classroom but still able to participate, you’re welcome to join via Zoom. I’ll do my best to ensure that everyone is visible and audible, but I ask that you please recognize the difficulty of attending simultaneously to physical and virtual communities, particularly with the limited tools The New School has provided us. I welcome the entire class’s constructive recommendations and participation in managing these hybrid logistics. 
    • Absences: While I hope you’ll all be able to join us every week, everyone gets two free absences, no questions asked. Again, I simply request that you please notify me of your absence in advance, if you can, so I can plan group activities accordingly. Any absences in excess of two will impact your attendance grade. If you miss five or more classes, I’ll advise you to withdraw in order to avoid a failing grade. Please note that absences include missed individual and small group meetings, as well as those days you might miss at the beginning of the semester because of late registration. 
    • Catching Up: If you do need to miss a class, please do your best to catch up via the course documentation on our class website and through your classmates. When possible, I’ll record our plenary virtual sessions and save the chat transcripts, and I’ll make these resources available through a shared Google Drive folder. If these resources prove insufficient, you’re welcome to chat with me during office hours. 
  • It means making your best effort to complete the readings, screenings, and exercises in advance of each class session; please see “About the Readings, Screenings, and Listening Exercises” 
  • It means doing your best to honor assignment deadlines; please see our Deadline Policy
  • It means communicating with the instructor about any pedagogical obstacles or personal challenges you’re facing, so we can work collaboratively to design accommodations; 
    • Accommodations: While I’m happy to work with you to tailor the class’s content and assignments to your interests, and to help you develop strategies for project planning and time management – and while I aim to be sympathetic to any challenges you might face both inside and outside the classroom – I ask that you please also respect my time and acknowledge my load of responsibilities. The pandemic has made it especially clear that I can’t allow expectations for accommodation to compromise my own health.
  • It means being prepared to engage constructively and respectfully with your colleagues. Your contributions during class can take a number of forms, depending upon your strengths and preferences and the day’s varying demands and stresses [I’m indebted here to Max Liboiron]: 
    • You could contribute to our in-class discussions, while also monitoring the power of your voice and ensuring that others have room to contribute, too;
    • You could contribute to collaborative note-taking or, during any virtual sessions, to live chats;
    • You could contribute to the creation and ongoing development of our class community agreement [an aspirational example: Liborion’s CLEAR Lab Book, including their protocol for running lab meetings]; 
    • You could help with timekeeping by marking our progress through the day’s agenda, or by ensuring that student presentations proceed on pace, leaving no one short-shrifted!;
    • You could write the creators of any of the texts or projects we examine this semester to let them know why you appreciate their work (please bcc me!);
    • You could offer some form of mutual aid to your classmates or propose another means of building intellectual camaraderie

…………..You’ll summarize your contributions in an end-of-semester collegiality audit.

  • It means sharing our commitment to inclusion and respect; 
    • INCLUSION AND RESPECT: The following is modified from The New School’s Safe Zone declaration: We in this class are dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for all members of the university community inclusive of race, ethnicity, national origin, culture, language, gender and gender expression, sexuality, religious and political beliefs, age, and ability. We’ll aim to celebrate our diversity and to respectfully negotiate differences in experience, understanding, and expression. We will stand against all forms of discrimination and oppression, whether directed against individuals or groups. We will also make an effort to respect one another’s individuality in our forms of address, which includes learning one another’s names and pronouns.
          If you experience anything in the classroom that undermines these values – or if there is anything I can do to better cultivate inclusivity and respect – please feel free to let me know.

Attendance and collegiality are worth 20% of your final grade.

Via Zak Jensen; used with permission


Borrowing from anthropologist Joe Dumit’s Donna Haraway-inspired “Implosion Project;” from the Community of Inquiry’s Keywords; For Further Consideration and Particularly Relevant to Academic Life, Especially as It Concerns Disciplines, Interdisciplinary-Endeavor, and Modes of Resistance to the Same (Princeton University Press, 2018); and from the critical manuals assignment from my own Tools class, this exercise invites you to analyze an “academic object,” liberally conceived! We’ll then aggregate your individual analyses into an Academic Repair Manual. Of course the idea of creating a repair manual for a broken institution is absurd; we can’t fix an unjust system with cool gadgets (although the higher-ed consultants and ed-tech boosters would have us believe otherwise!). Our task is partly playful, partly speculative, and partly serious: we want to consider how ideologies and logics scale

And that’s why we’re starting small, with individual objects. As Donna Haraway notes, “Any interesting being in technoscience, like a textbook, molecule, equation, mouse, pipette, bomb, fungus, technician, agitator, or scientist can — and often should — be teased open to show the sticky economic, technical, political, organic, historical, mythic, and textual threads that make up its tissues” — that have imploded into that artifact (Modest_Witness…  (1997): 68). We might add labor, epistemological, protocological and other “threads” to her metaphorical ball of yarn. From that small, delimited, specific object, we can then unravel — or explode — the various spaces and systems in which it’s embedded, and the political economies and epistemologies it embodies.

What’s more, starting small, then telescoping out, is also a great strategy for organizing research projects, for structuring your writing, for creating lesson plans, and for organizing discussions among heterogeneous groups!

So, here’s what we’re asking you to do: 

  1. Sign up for the date on which you’ll both submit your Academic Artifact Analysis to Shannon and share it with the class. 
  2. Choose a specific object: a white board, a blue book (does anyone use these anymore?), a learning management system, those awful chair-desks that are so hostile to southpaws, a tablet of Adderall, a peer review report, an office-hour meeting, a textbook, a windowless classroom, a student workers’ union protest banner, a transcript, a lecture slide deck, a syllabus, a Title IX complaint protocol, a tenure dossier… whatever! We’ll ultimately collect all of our work into an Academic Repair Manual, so we’ll want to make sure our individual contributions are as diverse – in species, materiality, scale, user group, etc. – as possible! Some variety in names would be great, too, so we don’t have a manual full of N’s and S’s 😉 Your chosen object should have some pertinence to both the concepts we’re discussing in class that week and your own research and creative interests — perhaps even (and ideally) the topic you plan to explore in your final project. 
  3. Now, ask yourself some questions about that artifact (and, if possible, incorporate some of our readings):
    1. What is it, and how is it used? What are its material and aesthetic qualities, and why do they matter? How does it work? What functions does it serve, and for whom is its functioning? What are its operative logics? Are we supposed to understand how it works, or is it meant to be obfuscatory? What is its larger institutional or social purpose? 
    2. What’s its history? How did it come into being, and for what purpose? What’s its history within the institution and/or the academy at large? 
    3. What “ways of knowing” does your object, in its contemporary manifestation, embody? What kinds of knowledge are required to operate it? Does it facilitate learning, knowledge production, and/or critical creative practice – and if so, how? Does the object itself “learn”? Is it “self-aware” in any way? Does it generate knowledge for its various user-types? Does it process data? If so, how? 
    4. How is your object situated within various academic sites and systems? What role does it play in each? Are those roles complementary or contradictory? Does it shape the way people interact with each other and their environment? 
    5. What current challenges or controversies surround your object? What threats does it face – or what threats does it present itself? Who are the stakeholders in these debates? How is the object emblematic of broader challenges or injustices within the academy? 
    6. How might we redesign or repair the object, or change the way we interact with it – or do away with it altogether! – to improve its localized application, and to redress failures and inequities in the larger academic system? Or, how can the object itself be deployed differently, or more widely, to function as a tool of institutional and social repair? 
  4. Think about illustration! If we’re making a repair manual, we’ll want to incorporate  some photos, diagrams, videos, or audio recordings. Please search for public domain or appropriately licensed Creative Commons material, or create your own!

You needn’t answer all of these questions. You’re also welcome to address questions that aren’t on this list! Your primary goal is to think about how you can scale up/out your analysis so that your object can help us better understand something about how the academy functions, and how it can function better. How do we find crystallized in your humble object the ideologies, logics, and politics of an entire institution, as well as the promise of something better? 

We’ll need to discuss how rigid and uniform we want these entries to be. Do we want all contributions to adhere to the same format, or should we allow for stylistic interpretation? 

  1. Now, please write up your analysis and share it with Shannon, in easily editable form, via Google Drive. Your text should be no longer than 900 words. Please endnote your sources (in Chicago style), please include media, and please provide captions (including links to their original sources) for all of those media. Submissions are due by 5pm on the day you’ve chosen to present
  2. Please be prepared to share your work in a brief, informal five-minute presentation (think of it as a “lightning talk”) in class! Why so short? Because we’ll likely have several presenters each day — and because we’re using these presentations primarily to “seed” the discussion and activity that will occupy the remainder of our time together. The topics you broach and questions you raise in your five minutes will likely echo throughout the class! And your classmates will be able to refer to our Repair Manual, and review your work more closely, on their own time.  
  3. Shannon will review your work within two days. You’ll have until the following Tuesday — one week after your presentation — to revise and address editorial questions. Henry will then post your work in the Academic Repair Manual we’ll maintain on our class website. You’re not obligated to share your work publicly, but we do hope you’ll consider adding to the collection! 

Your post and presentation are collectively worth 20% of your final grade. If there’s interest, our project could be included in the Worldmaking Media Collaborative exhibition and conference at the end of the semester.

Via Present & Correct; used with permission


By mid-semester you should choose a problem, topic, pedagogical genre, or method that you’d like to explore through your final project. See below, under “Final Project,” for format options. Instead of writing a traditional project proposal, you’ll be invited to design a syllabus to scaffold your own project development! We’ll have discussed syllabi, and the various forms they can take, in Week 2; you’re welcome to experiment with content and form as you strive to create a syllabus that embodies your ideal learning experience. Is your syllabus a recipe, a promissory note, a score, a map, a contract, or something else? What material format should the syllabus take so it can embody the kind of learning experience you want to cultivate for yourself? 

At minimum, though, your 900- to 1500-word self-syllabus should contain the following: 

  • a course/project description in which you describe your final project, its modality or material form (will you be writing a paper, designing a curriculum, making a short documentary, etc?), its significance (to your field, to a broader public, to you), its relevance and timeliness 
  • an inclusion statement, where you explain who you want to engage with your work 
  • two sets of learning goals: one that outlines what you hope to learn about your topic focus, about your field, about the academy at large, about yourself, etc., through the project; and another that explains what you hope your audience / readers / collaborators will learn through engaging with your project 
  • a set of assignments or milestones, where you explain how you’ll incrementally move toward the completion of the project between Week 6 and 15 – e.g., you might ask yourself to complete, say, three interviews, or a rough draft or prototype, by a certain date, or to schedule a check-in with me or a classmate by a certain date, etc. Ideally, these assignments will encompass the various methods you’ll be deploying in creating the work
  • a discussion and explanation of logistical details, if applicable; e.g., if your project will incorporate fieldwork, please identify your field site(s), explain why they’re appropriate for your investigation, how you plan to gain access, and what ethical or safety issues you might encounter 
  • and a contextualized, lightly annotated list of reading materials and other media, organized into thematic sections (just as you’d find on a syllabus!), that you plan to consult. Your submitted syllabus should contain at least 15 sources, including at least five scholarly sources; the balance could be composed of a mix of popular material, various media, artworks, design projects, etc. 
  • What else would be helpful to you to sketch out? 

We’ll be discussing your syllabi in our one-on-one consultations in Week 6, and I’ll ask to submit your final drafts, via Google Drive (in editable, or at least comment-on-able, form), by Friday, March 25 @ 5pm ET, so I have sufficient time to read and respond before our in-class workshop the following Tuesday. Then, in class on Tuesday, March 29, you’ll each take no more than two minutes to (informally) share your plans (no need for slides!). For the remainder of class we’ll discuss how we might use our two improvisatory weeks in April to design activities or host events to support your collective work. Your syllabus and presentation are together worth 20% of your final grade. 


Your final project could be a group or solo endeavor, and it  could take any number of forms: 

  • a 4000- to 6000-word written research paper (word count includes end matter), or a paper of similar length but different genre (e.g., an annotated bibliography, an individualized education plan, etc.) 
  • an ethnographic study of an intentional learning community or an informal learning space
  • a speculative curriculum for a new, experimental area of study
  • an organizational chart, manifesto, and/or pitch deck for a new, experimental para-academic school 
  • a documentary, a podcast, a zine or … whatever! 

We’ll determine length / scope on a case-by-case basis. 

All not-traditionally-text-based projects should be accompanied by a ~600-word support paper that addresses the critical, methodological, and design/aesthetic issues you aimed to explore through your work; explains how your chosen format aided in that exploration; and provides a bibliography listing the critical resources that informed the project. You might also find ways to incorporate this material into the creative form itself! 

Projects are due by 11:59pm on Thursday, May 12, by 5pm on Friday, May 13, and are worth 30% of your final grade. You’ll find submission instructions below. 

We’ll dedicate our classes on May 3 and 10 to sharing your final work – but we’ll collaboratively “design” the format in which that sharing happens: it could be a series of concurrent roundtable discussions; a “pin-up,” like those we’d see at a design critique (but much friendlier!); a “poster session,” as we’d find at a conference; a “happening;” or something entirely different. Sharing your work in our end-of-semester presentation is worth 5% of your final grade. And if there’s interest, your project could be included in the Worldmaking Media Collaborative exhibition and conference at the end of the semester.

SUBMITTING YOUR WORK: Your diverse projects call for a variety of forms! I welcome submission in multiple formats! To facilitate my review, though, I ask that you please try to consolidate all parts of your project into a single file, folder, or link – and, if there are multiple parts, provide clear instructions regarding how I should review the material. Your projects are due by 11:59pm on Thursday, May 12, by 5pm on Friday, May 13, via this Google Form, and are worth 20% of your final grade. The form will also ask if you’re willing to allow me to describe or share your work in a round-up post on our class website, and/or if you’re willing to allow me and the NSSR dean’s office to feature your work on social media. 


Your project submission form will also ask you to reflect on your collegial contributions to the class, to put in a good word for colleagues who contributed constructively, and to note any problematic dynamics [I’ve adapted this assignment from Melora Koepke]. Your Audit factors into your Attendance & Collegiality grade.