More Syllabi and Teaching Resources

I’m still tweaking my three syllabi for fall semester, for my Film and Visual Literacy, Introduction to Literature, and First-Year Composition courses.  I briefly discussed my plans for an “adaptation” theme in my Introduction to Literature course the other day, but after a comment from Rob Rushing, I may tweak the language to suggest something closer to “resonances,” to allow for some other kinds of echoes (I love the idea of discussing Office Space alongside of “Bartleby the Scrivener,” for example).  My film course will likely change little, although I’m considering the idea of working in at least two films made in the last decade or so because the course now feels a little dated.  Finally, I’m hoping to have more to say about my composition class, which will take an “information literacy” approach to the research paper (I’ve started by creating a blog), but for now, I’d like to point out a few of the articles, syllabi, and blog posts that have been helping me to rethink what I’m doing in my classes.  There are some really terrific resources out there:

  • First, Rob pointed me to his Introduction to Literature syllabus, one that focuses primarily on “great books,” while emphasizing historical knowledge.  I really like some of the questions he’s asking in the course overview, as well as the unit on the Enlightenment early in the semester.
  • Jason Sperb has posted his Film and Literature syllabus and offers a careful examination of the implications of adapting texts.  I’m still debating about how I’ll structure my unit on “transmedia storytelling” at the end of the semester, and Jason has some great ideas (speaking of which, here is Henry Jenkins’ “handout” on transmedia storytelling, conveniently posted on his blog).
  • Jill Walker Rettberg has posted about her course on “remix culture” and points us to her syllabus.  I like that she defines “remix” broadly to inlcude everything from the “Vote Different” video that remixed the iconic 1984 Apple ad to literary remixes such as the work of William Burroughs.  She also points to Michael Wesch’s discussion of how he runs his digital ethnography courses and to a student project that “went viral,” getting over 150,000 views).
  • Henry Jenkins offers two syllabi from his courses at his new digs at USC.  The first is a course on New Media Literacies that led me to this New York Times article by Motoko Rich about how new communication technologies have altered family dynamics and reading practices (which might spark an interesting discussion in at least two of my classes).  Also check out his course on Transmedia Storytelling.
  • While thinking about my own composition course, I’ve been learning a lot from George Williams’ “Read, Think, Write (Repeat)” as well as his innovative use of Flickr as a pedagogical tool.
  • In addition to these teaching resources, I’ve also found myself mulling a recent Guardian blog post about the challenges of adaptation, this time in response to the film version of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 novel, and is now already slated to become a TV series, with Friends creator Marta Kauffman taking the reins.
  • Scott Rosenberg also has a thoughtful discussion of a recent debate about whether it makes sense to retire the term, “blogger,” given that Jay Rosen (and others) hav argued that blogging itself has become such a broadly-defined activity.  Like Rosenberg, I’m inclined to argue that blogging is actually overloaded with multiple, often competing meanings that may have very little to do with the rudimentary concept of a frequently updated website with the most recent posts appearing at the top of a page.

Update: Thanks to a recent comment, I was reminded to go back and look at my Teaching Carnival post from last spring.  More good ideas for those of you who are still crafting your syllabi.

Update 2: Annie Petersen has a blog entry soliciting advice for her “History of the Moving Image” syllabus.  She also points to Timothy Burke’s discussion of why some professors post syllabi online (and why others don’t).


  1. Derek Kompare Said,

    August 18, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

    I’m doing a comics course for the first time, and am taking on the issue of adaptationn throughout the course. I’m trying to hit a lot of targets with it (comics as medium, comics as culture, comics as industry, etc.), but the conceptual center will be the several weeks we’ll be reading comics and screening their film adaptations.

    We’re reading and seeing:
    American Splendor (the 2003 film, plus several stories from the comic)
    Superman (the 1978 film, plus the original Siegel & Shuster, plus Morrison’s All-Star Superman)
    Batman (2008 film, plus the original Kane & Finger, plus Miller’s Dark Knight Returns)
    Spider-Man (either the 02 or 04 films, plus the original Lee & Ditko, plus Bendis & Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man)

    I’m still wrapping up the details, which include a few guests, but I’m looking forward to how it mixes several modes of analysis and asks students to understand comics in multiple ways.

  2. Jason Said,

    August 18, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

    Thanks for the link, and a big thanks for the Jenkins’ ‘handout.’ I’d had mixed feelings about using his CC chapter on Transmedia Storytelling and The Matrix because, while a telling case study, it wasn’t quite the general introduction to the concept that would best benefit undergrads who don’t have much media studies point of reference.

  3. Chuck Said,

    August 18, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

    Thanks, Derek and Jason. Derek, I really like the idea of a course on comics and transmedia. I’ve been mulling a “transmedia” text of some kind during the week that I cover the “Distribution, Exhibition, and Promotion” chapter of The Film Experience. One possibility is the new Batman or The Matrix, although I’m tempted to do The Blair Witch Project.

    Jason, that’s a thorny question for me as well. In my courses (taught to English majors primarily), students have a range of backgrounds that may (or may not) prepare them for some of Jenkins’ more discipline-oriented arguments.

  4. Hey, wanna look at my syllabus? « Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style Said,

    August 19, 2009 @ 7:55 am

    […] without technology). I’ve enjoyed reading about Chuck Tryon’s modifications, along with his list of other blogs currently in the process working through syllabi, UT-Dallas Emerging Media Prof David Barry’s […]

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