Course Syllabus

English 43: Introduction to New Media

Fall 2014

Dartmouth College 

Professor Aden Evens

Room: Dartmouth Hall 217

(10A) Tuesday and Thursday, 10am–11.50am


Office    12 Sanborn House        Office Hrs.    Mo 2pm–2.50pm or by appointment

603 646 9115    Hinman Box 6032



This course considers the nature of new media, introducing students to the wide range of artifacts and practices associated with that term. We narrow our focus somewhat by concentrating primarily on philosophical issues surrounding new media, and especially on the role of the digital in new media. Class time includes regular short presentations by students, open discussion of readings, and occasional organized group activities. Student interest and expertise drives this class, so alterations and additions to the syllabus are welcome.



Two required texts are available at the bookstore. Other readings will be available on-line, accessible from the Blackboard site for this course.

Hubert Dreyfus, On the Internet

Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays


Assignments and Grades

Mid-Term Paper 18
Term Paper 25
Game Review 15
Social Media Presentation 12
Reading Responses 15
Class discussion 15
Total 100



A mid-term essay on software and a term paper on cyberculture are the two major writing assignments this term. Details will be provided as due dates approach, but the assignments are generally open-ended and not research-intensive. They are both academic essays, and the greatest demand they place on authors is to think creatively and critically. After classes end for the term, there is another written assignment due, a digital game review.

Social Media Presentations

Two-thirds of the way through the term, each student will offer a short formal presentation on an aspect of social or personal media.

Reading Responses

By 11pm before each class meeting, each student must post a brief “reading response” in the Forums section of the Blackboard site. The response need be no more than a few sentences and it should include two things, something particularly interesting in the readings for the upcoming class and something baffling or hard to understand in the upcoming readings. Students are encouraged to respond to other postings, which is also a way of satisfying this requirement. The aim of the reading responses is both to help ensure that students actually do the reading and to give us a “head start” on our class discussion. These short posts will frequently be the triggers for class conversations. Reading responses must be submitted even when a student cannot attend class. Note that the Forum automatically timestamps posts; posts submitted after midnight will receive less credit.


As new media is an expansive category, this class leaves room for non-traditional and unorthodox responses to assignments. Any student who wishes to work on a project related to the course themes may petition the instructor to get credit for that work, possibly in lieu of an existing assignment. Any such plans should be discussed with the instructor in advance, as credit will not be assigned retroactively. While this option is intended to encourage unusual and innovative responses, the chief evaluative criteria will still apply: projects must be creative and critical to receive significant credit.

Other Requirements

Students are required to participate actively in class and to do all the reading.


Course Policies and Student Responsibilities

This course features extensive reading. Texts are often dense, philosophical, technical, or otherwise challenging. Skimming will not generally be an effective strategy for completing the reading. Thus, students should be prepared to devote a significant amount of time to the readings, and reading assignments should be started well in advance of their discussion dates. Some texts will demand re-reading if they are to be understood with any subtlety and sophistication.

Chief responsibility for conducting class discussion rests with students. The professor will serve as a facilitator of discussion, and may offer some lectures, but will mostly act as a participant and facilitator. Students should arrive at class prepared to offer comments, questions, arguments, interpretations, and other thoughtful reactions to the readings. Students are thus responsible for finding worthwhile discussion topics in the readings. The readings are intelligent and interesting, but it is up to each student to discover for herself or himself what makes those readings of particular interest. For the most part, readings do not so much present information as offer critical commentary, and students are expected to respond in kind.

Attendance: Each student may take three no-questions-asked absences from class. These should be used for unavoidable conflicts such as illness or a family emergency. A fourth absence and subsequent absences will have possibly significant consequences for the final course grade, regardless of excuse. That is, a student who, even for good reason, fails to attend most classes will not really have taken the course and her grade will reflect it. At the professor’s discretion, a student with six or more absences may fail the class regardless of paper grades and other factors.

Barring unexpected circumstances, this class will not meet during x-hour.



The course is not organized into formal units, but instead proceeds from topic to topic on a weekly or even daily basis. Assignments punctuate this progress, and classes leading up to a significant due date will usually coalesce around topics related to the assignment coming due.

This schedule is subject to modification and provides a rough idea of when the major assignments are to be submitted. The most accurate and up-to-date schedule of readings and assignments is on the Canvas site for this class.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due