Viral Media (Graduate)

These materials are for Fall 2015, when the course was cross-listed between EMAC and Literary Studies. This class was previously taught as an EMAC course during Spring 2012.

Syllabus

Viral Media
EMAC 6381: Special Topics in Emergent Communication
HUSL 6392: Topics in Literary Studies
Fall 2015
These descriptions and timelines are subject to change at the discretion of the Instructor.

Course Information

Class No. 85304 (6381) and 87490 (6392)
Meets: T 4pm – 6:45pm
Location: ATC 2.914
Credit Hours: 3

Contact Information

Instructor: Kim Knight
Email (preferred method of contact): kim.knight@utdallas.edu
Phone: 972-883-4346.

Office Hours:
Drop In (no appointment necessary) : Tue 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Schedule appointments via http://purplekimchi.youcanbook.me

Contact policies:

  • I respond to email M-F within 24 hours.
    • If I do not respond within that time frame, check my email address and re-send it.
  • Use official UTD email only.
  • I will not respond to
    • Email messages that request information found on the syllabus or assignment sheets.
    • Twitter direct messages.

Course wiki: viralmedia.pbworks.com
Twitter hashtag: #utdviral
Twitter archive: https://goo.gl/CqwME8

Course Description

In this course, we will explore the concept of “the viral” in relation to emerging media, art, literature, and communication. The course will begin with a look at the history of the term and its definitional and metaphorical operations, particularly in relation to biology and computation. We will then situate the term within the contemporary media landscape that produces “viral structures” that influence our engagement with media, institutions, and one another. Finally, we will examine viral structures in operation in the realms of entertainment and activism. Throughout the semester we will consider “viral media” both as it circulated in operation, and as it is represented through the lenses of film, literature, and digital art.

No prior experience with digital media is necessary.  

Course Goals

In this course, students will:

  • Understand the biological and computational origins of the viral metaphor.
  • Apply theoretical readings to the analysis of viral media objects.
  • Participate in and analyze one or more viral structures.
  • Communicate with the emerging media community through the use of blogs, microblogs, social bookmarking, live presentations, etc.
  • Utilize the existing research on emerging media in their own work.

Required Textbooks and Materials

  • Oldstone, Michael. Viruses, Plagues, and History ISBN-10: 0195327314
  • Johnson, Steven. The Ghost Map. ISBN-10: 9781594482694
  • Parikka, Jussi. Digital Contagions. ISBN-10: 0820488372
  • Fuller, Matthew. Media Ecologies. ISBN-10: 9780262562263
  • Kunzru, Hari. Transmission.  ISBN-10: 0452286514
  • Rettberg, Jill Walker. Seeing Ourselves Through Technology. ISBN-13: 978-1137476647
  • Graedon, Alena. The Word Exchange. ISBN-13: 978-0345806031

 

Various chapters and essays, available online or through course reserve. The username for readings hosted at kimknight.com is “”. The password for kimknight.com and course reserves is ”.

You will also need the following: a UTD email account (that you check frequently), a Twitter account, a wordpress blog, a PBWiki account.

Course Policies

Attendance: Some of the most valuable take-away from this course will come out of our class discussions.  Your participation is necessary for our success. It is important that you come to every class prepared and on time. To be “prepared” means that you have read the reading, developed and considered questions, and are prepared to discuss it in class.  Bring questions, comments, observations, disagreements, examples, etc.

Because your presence in class is important, more than one absence (i.e. missing more than 1 week of class) will negatively affect your participation grade. In most cases, more than four absences (i.e. missing more than 1 month of class) will result in a failing participation grade. Missing more than 8 classes (more than 2 months in class) will result in a failing course grade. There is no distinction between excused and unexcused absences. Use that one freebie wisely. If you need to miss class for religious reasons, please speak to me ahead of time. Absences for religious purposes do not count against the permitted number (as long as prior notification is given).

Lateness is also unacceptable; if you arrive more than thirty minutes late to class you will be marked as absent. If you leave more than 30 minutes early, you will be marked absent. In addition, please try to be as fully present and engaged as possible – silence cell phones, don’t send or receive texts or emails, etc.  Excessive distraction may be counted as an absence.

Accommodation:  If you have a disability that requires accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act -2008(ADAAA), please present your letter of accommodations from the Office of Student AccessAbility and meet with me as soon as possible so that I can support your success in an informed manner. If you would like to know more about the University of Texas at Dallas, Office of Student AccessAbility, please contact the office at 972-883-6104 or email: studentaccessability@utdallas.edu.  Their office is located in the Student Service Building (SSB), suite 3.200.

Online Due Dates: Work listed as “before class” is due before the start of class on the date listed. All other online assignments, including blog responses, are due by 11:59pm on the date listed, unless otherwise noted.

Late work: You should make a concerted effort to turn in all work on-time, in the format outlined on the assignment sheet.  Work submitted in formats other than that listed on the assignment sheet will not be accepted. Work emailed during class session will be considered late.

  • Participation: Work associated with participation will not be accepted late.
  • Blogs: Work associated with the blog assignment will not be accepted late.  
  • Cool Hunting: Work associated with the Cool Hunting assignment will not be accepted late.
  • Media Production Group Project: Late submission of proposals, plans, etc. will result in a loss of 1/3 of a grade on the project for each late item. The media project will be marked down one letter grade for each day (or fraction thereof) that the media object and/or final writeup is late.
  • Research Paper: Late submission of proposals, bibiographies, and drafts will result in a loss of 1/3 of a grade on the project for each late item. Research papers will be marked down one letter grade for each day (or fraction thereof) that they are late.

It is your responsibility to complete your work early enough to allow time for any technical difficulties. Work that is turned in late due to technical difficulties is subject to late penalties.

Respectful behavior: Our many discussions and online assignments will require vigilance to ensure that we are always preserving an atmosphere of mutual respect in which everyone is welcome to learn. Disagreements may arise and consensus may not be possible.  We can, however, respect each person’s right to respectfully express themselves and to have the opportunity to learn. Name calling, harassment, or menacing behavior will not be tolerated.

Online identity: This class asks students to participate in publicly accessible blogs and other forms of public writing. Writing in public has several advantages for student learning. It creates a closer analogue to offline environments, and allows for the creation of writing that is designed to be shared with an actual audience, instead of just an instructor. It also allows students to learn from each other. However, some students may have legitimate privacy concerns about participating in publicly accessible assignments. These students may choose to participate in public assignments under a pseudonym, or assumed name. If you wish to request this accommodation for any reason, please contact me immediately.

Academic Honesty: From the UT-D Handbook of Operating Procedures: “The university expects from its students a high level of responsibility with respect to academic honesty. Because the value of an academic degree depends on the absolute integrity of the work done by the student for that degree, it is imperative that a student maintain a high standard of individual honor in his or her scholastic work. The dean may initiate disciplinary proceedings under subchapter C against a student accused of scholastic dishonesty upon complaint by a faculty member or a student.” (http://www.utdallas.edu/dept/graddean/gsPolDishonesty.htm)

Plagiarism will be reported to the Dean of Students. Possible disciplinary action by the university may include failing the assignment, failing the course, expulsion, etc. If you have any questions regarding the proper use of outside sources or the distinction between sampling and plagiarism, I encourage you to meet with me.

University Policies: Please visit http://go.utdallas.edu/syllabus-policies for the University’s policies regarding all courses.

Course Requirements and Grading Policy

Grading Scale:

 

A Range: Excellent

A, A-

B Range: Good
B+, B, B-
C Range: Fair

C+, C, C-

D: Needs Improvement

D+, D, D-

F: Failing

F

 

Assignments:

Participation – 25%
Participation includes attendance and class discussion, which may be supplemented with online discussion.

Blogs – 20%
Each student is required to develop a blog as the center of his/her own online “presence” in the  course. This will serve as a place for weekly discussion of the class reading. Blog responsibilities will rotate between writing original blog content and responding to the blogs of  peers.

Cool Hunting – 10%
Students will create a wiki entry to document and analyze a viral structure in a case study format. They will present their example and analysis in class.

Group Media Production Project – 25%
Students will be divided into groups to collaboratively plan, execute, document, and analyze a media event for a target community. More on this after week two.

Research Paper – 20%
Each student will be responsible for producing a conference length (8 – 10 pages for MA students; 10-12 for MFA/PhD) research paper that reflects on, builds upon, and engages one of the issues surrounding viral media that we have covered in class. More on this after the midpoint of class.

General Requirements: This class involves a lot of theoretical reading.  My hope is that you will apply the ideas from that reading to our discussions and analysis of art, literature, and media. You will be most successful in this class if you are able to have an open mind and take a critical approach to our topics. Please note that being “critical” does not necessarily mean being negative, but it does mean that you are willing to question assumptions and explore the implications of the seemingly mundane and minute aspects of contemporary media culture.  Openness to experimentation and play and a willingness to try and fail are critical to the study of emerging media.

Schedule

Academic Calendar
(DRAFT: Always check the course website for up-to-date assignments)

Unit One: Origins of the Metaphor  

Week One

Tue, Aug 25: Introduction

Week Two: Biological Viruses

Tue, Sept 1

Saturday, Sept 5

  • Blog responses due – B & C bloggers

Week Three: Epidemiology

Tue, Sept 8

  • Before Class
    • Read Johnson, The Ghost Map
    • Blog post – B Bloggers
  • In Class
    • Cool Hunting: Shannon, Maroba

Sat, Sept 12

  • Blog responses due – A & C bloggers

Week Four: Computer Viruses

Tue, Sept 15

Event of Interest: Thurs, Sept 17 & Fri, Sept 18 – Digital Frontiers Conference at UTD

Sat, Sept 19

  • Blog responses due – A & B bloggers
  • Event of Interest: Digital Frontiers THATCamp

Week Five: Representations

Tue, Sept 22

Sat, Sept 26

  • Blog responses due – B & C bloggers

Unit Two: Toward a Theory of the Viral Structure

Week Six: Media Ecologies

Tue, Sept 29

  • Before Class
    • Read Fuller, Media Ecologies
      • Intro, Ch 1, Ch 3, Inventory
    • Blog post due – B bloggers
  • In Class
    • Cool Hunting: Padma, Eman

Sat, Oct 3

  • Blog responses due – A & C bloggers

Week Seven: Representations

Tue, Oct 6

  • Before Class
    • Read Kunzru, Transmission
    • Blog post due – C bloggers
  • In Class
    • Cool Hunting: Tyler

Sat, Oct 10

  • Blog responses due – A & B bloggers

Week Eight: Web 2.0 and Participatory Culture

Tue, Oct 13

Thursday, Oct 15: Event of Interest: Feminist Makerspace Launch 4pm – 6pm; Room TBD
Sat, Oct 17

Blog responses due – B & C bloggers

Week Nine: Seeing Ourselves Through Media

Tue, Oct 20

  • Before Class
    • Read Rettberg, Seeing Ourselves Through Technology
    • Blog post due – B bloggers
  • In Class
    • Cool Hunting:

Sat, Oct 24

  • Blog responses due – A & C bloggers

Week Ten: Representations

Tue, Oct 27

  • Before Class
    • Read Graedon, The Word Exchange 
    • Blog post due – C bloggers
  • In Class
    • Cool Hunting:

Event of Interest: Wed, Oct 28 7:30pm – A rare sighting: Dr. Knight gives a lecture: “Viral Anxieties in Art and Antiviral Technology,” sponsored by the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology

Sat, Oct 31

  • Blog responses due – A & B bloggers

Week Eleven: Theory of the Viral Structure

Tue, Nov 3

Sat, Nov 7

  • Blog responses due – B & C bloggers

Week Twelve: Representations

Tue, Nov 10

  • Before Class
    • Watch Nakata, dir. Ringu
    • Read Knight, Viral Structures Ch 2
      • link TBD
    • Browse Ring Transmission Timeline http://kimknight.com/ring
    • Blog post due – B bloggers
  • In Class
    • Cool Hunting:

Sat, Nov 14

  • Blog responses due – A & C bloggers

Unit Three: Viral Structures in Action

Week Thirteen: Viral Activism  

Tue, Nov 17

Sat, Nov 21

  • Blog responses due – A & B bloggers

Nov 23 – 27: Fall Break

Week Fourteen: Viral Entertainment

Tue, Dec 1

Week Fifteen: Presentations

Tue, Dec 8

  • Before Class
    • Media project reflection papers due in the wiki
  • In-class
    • Media project presentations

Week Sixteen: Final

Tue, Dec 15

  • Research paper uploaded to the course wiki

Assignments

Participation Expectations

6381 – 6392 Participation Expectations

Purpose:

  • To involve students in active processes of learning.

Overview:

Forget the model of education you see in the movies where a brilliant professor lectures from a podium and students scribble away furiously in their notebooks. Research evidence overwhelmingly suggests that students learn better and retain more information when they are actively involved in the process of learning.

My classroom philosophy is that I am a coach, there to guide you through these active processes. I very seldom lecture and most of our class meetings will involve whole class discussion. And this will lead to some of the most valuable take-away from this course, in class and online. However, this means that your participation is necessary for our success. It is important that you participate in every class meeting and that you share resources between classes.

Your participation grade includes in-class discussion, sharing resources via twitter and the wiki, attendance, and office hours visits.

The Requirements:

  • Do the reading. Take notes. Feel free to tweet about it using the course hashtag (#utdviral). Come to class prepared to discuss key ideas, vocabulary, questions, disagreements, examples, etc.

  • Be in class. More than one absence will affect your grade, and in most cases, four or more absences will result in a failing participation grade.

  • Arrive on time and stay for the duration of the class session. If you arrive more than 30 minutes late, you will be marked as absent. Leaving more than 30 minutes early also counts as an absence.

  • Pay attention. Silence cell phones. Don’t send or receive texts or emails. Stay off of Facebook unless it is part of an in-class activity. Excessive distraction may be counted as an absence.

  • Share information. If you see articles or tweets relevant to the class, tweet them with the hashtag. Add new viral structures to the index page.

  • You can use Twitter to supplement in-class participation but try not to over-rely on it.

Technical Specifications

  • You will need a public Twitter account so that all of your peers can see your tweets and your tweets are included in searches for the class hashtag. You do not have to use your real name in your Twitter account, but you do need to give me your Twitter handle.

  • Make sure that you are signed in to your pbworks account when making changes from shared computers.

Grading

Participation is worth 25% of your final grade.

The criteria for grading your participation are:

Excellent

Good

Fair

Needs Improvement

Failing

Discussion

The student always comes to class having done the reading and contributes meaningful comments and ideas to class discussion*. The student listens and responds to peers and the instructor in a meaningful fashion. The student may additionally contribute to in-class in-class discussion via the Tweet stream.

The student always does the reading and consistently contributes comments and ideas to class discussion. The student is aware of her own participation and allows room for others to participate. Class discussion may be supplemented with in-class Twitter participation.

The student does the reading and often contributes comments and ideas to class discussion or supplements with in-class Twitter participation. The student does not dominate discussion.

The student misses readings or rarely contributes comments and ideas to class discussion. The student may over-rely on Twitter in class. The student exhibits a lack of awareness with regard to the potential contributions of others.

The student never contributes to class discussion or in-class Twitter. The student gives extended monologues.

Sharing resources

(twitter and the wiki)

The student tweets at least 3 times a week outside of class with information and ideas marked with the class hashtag. Or the student consistently adds new viral structures to the index page (the student should keep track of these additions and periodically submit them to Kim)

The student tweets at least twice a week outside of class with information and ideas marked with the class hashtag. The student frequently adds new tools to the index pages.

The student tweets a least one time a week outside of class with information and ideas marked with the class hashtag. The student occasionally adds new info to the index pages.

The student tweets less frequently than once per week outside of class with information and ideas marked with the class hashtag. The student rarely adds new info to the index pages.

The student never tweets information and ideas with the class hashtag . The student never adds new info to the resource index pages.

*Note: you do not always have to fully grasp the material to make meaningful comments. You may ask questions and make a good effort to understand.

Your Participation grade will be negatively impacted if:

  • You have more than one absence.
  • You are consistently late or leave early.
  • You are excessively distracted by other websites, your phone, etc.

Late Work: Work associated with participation may not be completed late.

Blogging Assignment

Blog Assignment Sheet
EMAC 6381 / HUSL 6392: Viral Media
Fall 2015

Purpose:

  • To provide a mode of contact with the wider community of emerging media scholars.
  • To facilitate the formation of community in the classroom.
  • To seed ideas for class discussion, presentations, and the final paper.

Overview:
Each student will keep a public research blog that will provide the means of working through some of the more complex issues in the class. Students may respond directly to the ideas in the course material or they may apply concepts from the class to analyze an event, website, etc. Either way, each student should incorporate at least two ideas or concepts from the week’s material into his or her blog entry. Students are encouraged to additionally incorporate relevant material from previous weeks, other classes, and outside experience.

Keep in mind that this is a scholarly research blog. Though a certain informality in tone is permissible, even desirable, student writing should be well-written, coherently organized, and thought-provoking.

Rather than writing into the void each week, students will be placed into groups of three who will alternate writing and responding. See below for more information.

Requirements:

  • Edit this page to add a link to your blog under the blog groups section.
  • Original Posts
    • Minimum 450 words.
    • Addresses the reading topic of the week, citing at least two concepts or ideas.
  • Responses
    • 150 word minimum.
    • Directly responds to the original blog post and/or engages with the responses left by others.
    • If you are in a blog response week, and the person assigned to write their original post has not done so, please choose a blogger from another group and post a response to them.

Technical Specifications

You must use the WordPress blogging platform. If you do not have the resources to host the blog yourself, free hosting is available on wordpress.com. For low-price domain name registration and hosting, see Reclaim Hosting (reclaimhosting.com) for student pricing.

Grading:

The blog assignment is worth 20% of your course grade. The criteria for grading are:

Excellent Good Fair Needs improvement Failing
Quality of Writing Posts and responses are always well-written, including proper use of grammar, mechanics, and organization. They are written in a tone appropriate for an intellectual audience who is interested in issues in the field of emerging media. Posts are consistently well-written and in a proper tone. Posts are generally well-written and in a proper tone. Posts may falter in the writing quality or the tone. Posts are consistently poorly written or inappropriate in tone.
Quality of ideas and engagement Posts are consistently thought-provoking and engaging. They use specific examples to analyze readings, relate it to outside material, or address the wider implications (the “so what”) of the material. Responses engage with and extend the original posts. The writer is daring! Posts are more often than not thought-provoking and engaging.  Responses engage with  the original posts. Posts do not merely summarize course material. Responses move beyond simplistic agreement or disagreement. Posts may stick too closely to summary or fail to use specific examples. Responses may be superficial in agreement or disagreement. Posts are often muddled or boring. Responses are disconnected from original posts.
Blog format The digital blog format is used to enhance the ideas and writing. The blog fully utilizes the digital blog format with a links section, tags/categories, etc. The writer  uses the digital blog format for most posts. The writer may not take advantage of the digital blog format or uses these features poorly. The student’s use of the blog’s affordances impedes understanding.

Please note that original posts and responses are considered with equal weight in determining the assignment grade. The emphasis here is on interaction and the building of discourse communities. In other words, if you skip a response week, it has as much impact as if you skipped an original post.

The following will detract from your grade:

  • Failure to meet minimum length requirements
  • Going off-topic
  • Using something other than wordpress

Though I will read the blog posts every week, and even periodically respond to them, I will not issue grades for them each week. If you want to know how you are doing, see me during office hours.

Late work:
Work associated with the blog assignment will not be accepted late.

Timeline and Due Dates:

  • Due weekly.
  • In writing weeks, your blog work is due before class on Tuesdays.
  • In responding weeks, your blog work is due by 11:59 pm on Saturdays.

Blog Groups:

Cool Hunting Assignment

Cool Hunting Assignment Sheet
EMAC 6381 / HUSL 6392: Viral Media
Fall 2015

Purpose:

  • To connect theoretical readings with the analysis of viral media
  • To build a collection of viral media examples and analysis to be shared with the emerging media community
  • To seed ideas for class discussion, presentations, and the final paper.

Overview:

As we move through the semester, you will want to be on the lookout for interesting examples of viral media objects. These can be for a variety of purposes: political, entertainment, marketing, activism, etc. They can also take a variety of forms: games, videos, images, leaked information, etc. As you find them, add them to the course wiki. Each week, different students will write and present case studies on these viral structures. The goal of the case studies is to describe the viral media object and the viral structure that surrounds it, to identify the cultural and social factors that intersect to facilitate its circulation, and to analyze the appeal of the media object.
Requirements:

  • The Cool Hunting report is a description and analysis of a viral structure, which you will write for the course wiki.
    • Minimum 300 words. Post to the wiki. Add a link to the index. Put a link to the finished case study on your course participant page.
    • Cite at least one source from the course readings.
    • The cool hunting writeup should be divided into the following sections:
      • Description & History
        • describe the media object at the center of the viral structure, including any relevant links, images, videos
        • describe its genesis, rise to popularity, any relevant viewership or download statistics, etc.
        • describe any parodies, associated products, follow up videos, etc.
      • Appeal
        • Identify the likely audience for the viral structure
        • Analyze why you think the viral media object has appeal.
      • Social and Cultural Factors:
        • analyze any social conditions that might have particularly influenced the viral transmission of this object. What are the social conditions, attitudes, laws, trends, etc. that intersect to enable the circulation of this viral structure
      • Resources / Further Information
        • include links to your sources, related viral structures, etc.
  • Present the Cool Hunting Report to the class on an assigned date.
    • 10 – 15 minutes
    • Clear and concise presentation of the viral media object and your analysis of the viral structure.
    • Be prepared for questions

Technical Specifications:

All case studies must be posted to the course wiki.

Grading Criteria:

The case study assignment is worth 10% of your course grade.

Excellent Good Fair Needs Improvement Failing
Content The student chose an appropriate case study and offers thoughtful analysis that is well-supported by course readings. The student chose an appropriate case study and offers engaging analysis that is connected to course readings. The student chose an appropriate case study and offers engaging analysis that is connected to course readings. The choice of case study or level of analysis may need improvement. The connection to cited readings may be unclear. The case study is not connected to the week’s readings and/or contains no analysis or references.
Writing The case study is written in an engaging tone appropriate for an academic audience. Grammar / mechanical errors are at a minimum. The case study is written in a style appropriate for an academic audience. Grammar / mechanical errors are at a minimum. The case study is clearly written. Grammar / mechanical errors do not interfere with communication. The case study may lack clarity in writing or grammar and mechanical errors impede understanding. The case study lacks clarity on the sentence level, which is amplified by mechanical or grammatical errors.
Wiki Format The wiki format is used to support the student’s analysis, including the inclusion of relevant media. The student uses the wiki format effectively. Relevant media supports the analysis. The wiki format does not distract the reader. Media is relevant to the student’s analysis. Wiki formatting distracts from the writing. Media may seem irrelevant. Wiki formatting impedes understanding. Media is missing or off topic.
Presentation The presentation, including any presentation media, is dynamic and well-organized. The timing is excellent. The presentation, including any presentation media, is clear, engaging, and well-timed. The presentation, including any presentation media, is clear and is well-timed. The presentation may lack clarity or have timing issues. The presentation goes off topic or has severe timing issues.

The following will detract from your grade:

  • Failure to meet minimum length requirements
  • Failure to properly format the case study or upload it to the wiki.
  • Evidence of a lack of preparation for the presentation, including time management.

Late work:

Work associated with the case study assignment will not be accepted late.

Timeline and Due Dates:

  • Ongoing.
  • Wiki articles are due before class on the day that you are scheduled to present.

Schedule of presentations:

Group Media Project

Group Media Project
EMAC 6381 / HUSL 6392: Viral Media
Fall 2015

Purpose:
•    To apply theoretical readings to the production and circulation of a media object or event.
•    To enhance understanding of the viral structure through participation as a producer.
•    To communicate the results to the emerging media community.

Overview:
The viral structure is commonly thought of as content circulating for entertainment purposes. We watch on our screens as parodies, cute animal behaviors, and dangerous stunts unfold before us. However, viral structures can also create offline interventions by drawing attention to a group or issue.

In the media project, groups of students will work together to produce a media object or event that attempts to create such an intervention. The viral structure will be produced with the intention of drawing attention to a cause or issue. The strategy of the viral structure may include creating a disjunction through a flashmob, rickroll, or another type of intervention into public space or time.  It may also be a media object that uses humor, awe, emotion, or aesthetics to appeal to a target audience.
Requirements:

The group media project is broken down into three phases.

Preparation

  • Student groups will be formed based on the cause or issue in which they are interested. We will brainstorm a list of possible causes.
  • Your group should focus on producing media objects that require collaboration and planned production. Try to stay away from viral structures that can be executed by one individual or that tend to be spontaneous or serendipitous. In other words, your choice of media object should account for the complexity of group planning and collaboration.
  • Students will prepare a detailed plan for executing their media object or event.  The plan should include the following:
    • Description of the proposed viral structure, including notable precursors.
    • Project goals that outline what the students hope to accomplish with the viral structure, including the ways that the project will raise awareness or make an intervention.
    • Plan for production.
      • Detailed list of individual responsibilities, including a group coordinator. The group coordinator is responsible for managing deadlines, status reports, coordinating meetings, etc.
      • The necessary steps to produce the viral structure. Complex tasks should be broken down into smaller steps.
      • Resources needed to produce and document the viral structure, including a plan for obtaining resources.
        • This should include whether you plan to secure rights for, or fair use of, any copyrighted music or media. Students are encouraged to use content licensed via creative commons whenever possible.
    • Plan for dissemination.
      • A plan for posting, communicating with the target audience, etc.
    • A timeline of due dates.
      • This should also list the individual responsible for each task.
    • The plans should be posted in your slack channel at least 24 hours in advance of meeting with Kim. Each group will have a #slack channel into which any project-related documents (plans, meeting notes, production log, etc.) should be placed.
  • Each group should meet with Kim to review their plan no later than October 13, 2015.

Production & Documentation

  • Each group should keep a production log in #slack. The production log should include:
    • a master to-do list with due dates and individual members assigned to each item.
    • a list of questions or items for follow up.
    • weekly status updates, due each Saturday beginning October 17, 2015.
  • Produce your viral structure.
    • ephemeral events such as flashmobs, etc. should be captured on video.
  • Production should be concluded no later than November 17, 2015. This means all editing should be done, videos, etc. should be posted, and initial publicity should be put into place.
  • Don’t get arrested and don’t get sued. Each group is responsible for ensuring that they are not breaking any laws, including intellectual property laws.

Reflection & Presentation

  • Each group will collaboratively produce a reflective report (1500 – 2100 words). The report should use the concepts and vocabulary from the class to evaluate the project, including the preparation and production stages. The reflective report is due no later than December 8, 2015 in class.
  • Questions to be considered might include:
    • What worked well? What failed? What did you learn from success and failure?
    • What did your viral structure do? Why is that important?
    • Was there a relationship between offline and online activities in your project?
    • How did particular hardware and software platforms impact your project?
    • Do you consider your project a success? Why or why not?
  • The reflection should cite at least two course readings and should be a well-organized and well-written document. Treat it as a short paper.
  • Each group will present the outcome of their project to the class on December 8, 2015. This is a formal presentation and should show evidence of advanced preparation. The use of presentation software is not required. Time allowed will be determined based on the number of groups.

Technical Specifications:

  • Students are responsible for choosing hosting platforms, etc. for the viral structure. Your viral structure does not have to be digital. But you should capture and document it in some digital form, such as video or images.
  • Allow time for technical difficulties.
  • If students need equipment to capture images, video, or sounds, EMAC has equipment available to borrow. Borrowing can be arranged through the ATEC equipment inventory. The UTD Library will also loan equipment.
    • To borrow equipment in the ATEC building, visit room ATC 2.402 M-F 8am – 10pm. You will need your net-id number and some form of photo id.

A Word About Group Work

Kim recognizes that group work is often problematic. However, the benefits generally outweigh the frustrations. You are to treat this as a professional group and as such, you are to attend all meetings and to complete all work in a timely and professional manner. The work plan will function as a memorandum of understanding, i.e. as your agreement to fulfill the duties assigned therein.

If any member of a group is not fulfilling their obligations, the group may fire them. The remaining members of the group must agree and must present their request for firing in writing to Kim. The deadline to fire a group member is November 7, 2015. Additionally, Kim reserves the right to fire you on behalf of your group if it is clear you are not pulling your weight.
If you are fired, you are responsible for completing the assignment on your own.

Grading Criteria:

 The group media project is worth 25% of your final grade. Each member of the group will receive the same grade.
Projects will be graded on:

Excellent Good Fair Needs Improvement Failing
Concept & Planning The viral structure is designed to enhance the aims of the project. The work plan is detailed and accounts for production and dissemination.  Timely updates are regularly reported. The viral structure is designed to support the aims of the project. The work plan is detailed and accounts for production and dissemination.

Timely updates are regularly reported.

The viral structure is designed to connect to the aims of the project. The work plan is detailed and accounts for production and dissemination.

Timely updates are regularly reported.

The viral structure may be only loosely related to the aims of the project. The work plan may lack detail or neglect aspects of production and dissemination. Updates may be late, out of date, or lacking detail. The viral structure does not connect to the aims of the project or the work plan is confusing or severely lacking in detail. Updates are consistently late, outdated, or not posted.
Execution* The viral structure is produced in such a way that it advances the cause for an outside audience. The media format(s) enhances the aims of the project. Supporting media and communication is frequent and demonstrates an understanding of existing and potential new audiences. The viral structure raises awareness of the cause for an outside audience. The media format(s) supports the aims of the project. Supporting media and communication is frequent and demonstrates an understanding of existing audiences. The viral structure is well-produced and the cause is intelligible to an outside audience. The media format(s) connects to the aims of the project. Supporting media and communication is consistent and demonstrates an understanding of existing audiences. The viral structure may lack polish, but is intelligible to an outside audience. Or the media format(s) do not clearly connect to the aims of the project. Supporting media and communication may be inconsistent or may be disconnected from the audience. The viral structure is unpolished or disorganized to the extent that it is not intelligible to an outside audience. The media format(s) are not selected with the audience in mind. Supporting communication and media may be only occasional or may not show attention to the audience.
Reflection & Presentation The reflective report is well-written and thought-provoking. The report is informed by concepts from the class. The presentation is polished and expertly conveys the content to an audience of peers. The reflective report is interesting and well-written. The report fluidly connects concepts fro the class to the group project. The presentation is polished and conveys the content to an audience of peers. The reflective report is well-written and show some awareness of concepts from the class. The presentation is polished and conveys the content to an audience of peers. The reflective report may be disorganized or the writing may impede understanding or show a disconnect from concepts in the class. The presentation may be disorganized or may not address the proper audience. The reflective report lacks depth or does not attempt to incorporate concepts from the class. Or the presentation is off topic or not given.

*Note that this does not include view counts, shares, or other markers of popularity.

Things that will detract from your group’s grade:
•    Missed meetings and due dates.
•    Going off-topic or failing to tie your viral structure to your cause.
•    Failure to meet assignment requirements, including minimum lengths.

Timeline and Due Dates:

  • October 13 (no later than).
    • Complete project plan posted to #slack at least 24 hours in advance of your meeting with Kim.
    • Group meeting with Kim to discuss the project plan.
  • October 17
    • Status update in slack
  • October 24
    • Status update in slack
  • October 31
    • Status update in slack
  • November 7
    • Status update in slack
  • November 14
    • Status update in slack
  • November 17 (no later than)
    • Finished media object posted online.
    • Initial publicity to circulate the viral structure is in place.
  • December 8
    • Reflection papers due in the wiki before class.
    • In-class presentations

Groups

Research Paper

Research Paper Assignment Sheet
EMAC 6381 / HUSL 6392: Viral Media
Fall 2015

Purpose:

  • To analyze the role of viral media in our media ecology.
  • To synthesize the varied course materials and topics into a deeper understanding of viral media.
  • To utilize the existing research and publications of media studies.

Description:

The final project is the culmination of our fifteen week sequence of readings, discussions, presentations, and blog posts. The goal is to engage in an in-depth analysis of an object or topic. Your project should be centered on a thesis. In other words, you should use rhetorical strategies and carefully present evidence to support an argument. Be sure to address any likely counter arguments. The subject of your project should be sufficiently narrow to allow you to analyze it in-depth. At the same time, you should attempt to address the wider implications of your topic, the “so what?” question.

Instructions:

  • An 8 – 10 page (for MA students; 10-12 for MFA/PhD) critical paper, taking one of the following thesis-centered approaches:
    • A topic-based analysis that addresses one of the larger topics of viral media (the role of viral media in relation to participatory culture, identity, sociability, different social and cultural factors,  etc.)
    • Use one or more case studies, grouped by genre, as the basis to make an argument about the role of viral media in our media ecology. Genres might include entertainment, education, politics, representations of viral media, etc.
    • Use one or more case studies, grouped by topic, as the basis for an argument about the role of viral media in our media ecology. Topics could include race, gender, social issues, etc.
    • Other ideas must be cleared with Kim prior to the project proposal due date.
  • The paper should be uploaded (not copied and pasted) into the course wiki or another publicly accessible site (like google docs). Put a link to the uploaded document on your course participant page.
  • Choose a documentation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) and stick with it.
  • Cite at least four scholarly sources (at least two of which should be from outside the syllabus).
  • Topic Proposal, minimum 300 words
    • The proposal should give an overview of your topic, identify why it is important (the “so what?”), and list three potential questions for exploration.
    • The proposal should also include a working bibliography that lists the relevant course readings as well as the outside sources you will read for your annotated bibliography (see below).
    • The proposal should be copied and pasted into your course participant page.
  • Annotated Bibliography, minimum 500 words of annotated material.
    • This is a research paper. You should utilize scholarly sources as evidence.
    • To find and evaluate your outside source, you are responsible for completing an annotated bibliography. In the bibliography you should examine at least five potential sources not on our syllabus.
    • An annotated bibliography is a works cited or reference list that includes annotations that summarize, assess, and reflect upon each work.
    • Each annotation should be a minimum of 100 words.
    • The annotated bibliography should be copied and pasted into your course participant page on the wiki.

Support:

  • For assistance with topic ideas, look at blog posts, the class tweet stream, or visit Kim during office hours.
  • For assistance with research, see the library’s guide to New and Emerging Media resources: http://libguides.utdallas.edu/media For further assistance, use the “Ask a Librarian” feature or contact Matt Makowka. He is the Media Studies subject librarian and is there to help you.
  • For assistance with writing your paper, consider visiting the UTD Writing Center. They are available to help you with: finding a topic for a paper; organizing ideas and clarifying thoughts; drafting and revising papers; documenting sources; preparing for essay exams.
  • For more information about annotated bibliographies, visit the Purdue OWL website. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/01/
  • Kim will examine and give feedback on drafts of papers received no later than Dec 7, 2015. You must make an appointment (drop in hours or via youcanbook.me) to receive the feedback.

Grading:

The research paper is worth 20% of your final grade.

Excellent Good Fair Needs Improvement Failing
Argument and sources The research paper is centered on a thought-provoking and well-supported thesis. Appropriate sources are well incorporated into the student’s writing and work to support the thesis or demonstrate a counterargument without detracting from the student’s writing voice. The research paper is centered on a thought-provoking thesis that is well supported. Appropriate sources are incorporated into the student’s writing and work to support the thesis or demonstrate a counterargument. The research paper is centered on a clear thesis that is well supported. Appropriate sources are used to support the thesis or demonstrate a counterargument. The research paper may lack clarity in the thesis or the thesis may not be fully supported. Or the writer may have issues with sources, such as poorly selected sources or failure to use the sources to support an argument or counterargument. The research paper may not have a thesis or the evidence presented is not connected to the thesis. Sources may be poorly selected and utilized.
Writing The paper is well organized and contains a minimal number of grammatical or mechanical errors. The paper is well organized and contains a minimal number of grammatical or mechanical errors. The paper may waiver in organization or grammar and mechanics. The paper may have organizational or grammar / mechanical issues that impede understanding Organizational, grammar, and mechanical issues may be so severe as to obscure the argument.
Annotated Bibliography The bibliography demonstrates a well-rounded and scholarly approach to the topic that extends beyond summary to analysis and evaluation. All entries are well-written. The bibliography demonstrates a well-rounded and scholarly approach to the topic that mostly extends beyond summary to analysis and evaluation. All entries are well-written. The bibliography demonstrates a scholarly approach to the topic that more often than not extends beyond summary to analysis or evaluation. All entries are clearly written. The bibliography may exhibit issues with focus or analysis and evaluation. There may be issues with the quality of writing. The bibliography may lack depth or go off topic. The writing may impede understanding.
Proposal The proposal takes an innovative approach and is well conceived, well written, and on time. The proposal takes a unique approach and is detailed, well written, and on time. The proposal does not replicate previous research and is complete and on time. The proposal may be redundant or may be late or lacking detail. The proposal may be off-topic, late, or incomplete.

The following will detract from your grade:

  • Late work (see below for more details) or failure to complete any of the project components.
  • Failure to fulfill the requirements of the assignment, including minimum length, number of sources, etc.

Timeline and Due Dates:

  • Nov 3 – Topic proposal due in the course wiki before class starts.
  • Dec 1 – Annotated bibliography due in the course wiki before class starts.
  • Dec 15 – Research paper should be uploaded to the wiki and linked on your participant page no later than 11:59 pm.

Late Work:

  • Late submission of proposals and bibliographies will result in a loss of 1/3 of a grade on the paper for each late item.
  • Research papers will result in the loss of one full letter grade for each day (or fraction thereof) that they are late.

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