Assignment Prompts

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Anders Sandberg

Instead of producing a “final research project” for this course, you will select some object of study that you will analyze using a variety of different network theories. This will allow you to more deeply engage with at least five of the different theories as well as get to know your object of study in ways you never imagined! You will conclude the class with a synthesized network theory to describe your object of study (PhDs).

The combined grades of these assignments equal 50% of the total course grade.

Proposal: Object of Study

due: Week 1 (part of homework grade)

Propose your object of study for the course. Choose wisely, for you will be working with this object/topic the entire semester. As part of the proposal, answer the following questions:

  • What is your object of study? Define and describe it.
  • How/why is this object of study important/useful to English studies?
  • How/why is it important/useful to think of this object in terms of/as a “network”?

Submission Guidelines: 500-750 words. Include a representative image of your object of study.

One Theory

15% of Case Studies Grade

Analyze your object of study in terms of one of the theories we have read thus far (Rhetorical Theories, Hardware/Software Descriptions, Foucault, or Genre Theories). In your analysis, address the following:

  • How does the theory define your object of study (as a whole, broken into pieces)?
  • What and/or who is a network node?
  • What types of agency are articulated for various types of nodes?
  • How are different types of nodes situated within a network?
  • What are the types and directions of relationships between nodes?
  • What happens to content or meaning as it travels through a network?
  • How do networks emerge, grow, and/or dissolve?

Conclude with a discussion of the what the particular theory allows you to discuss, or not, when analyzing your object of study.

Submission Guidelines: Approximately 1,000 words. Include an image depicting (parts of) the network.

Two Theories

25% of Case Studies Grade

In order to frame your OoS, you need to include review of literature of at least 3 – 5 sources. You want to examine what other conversations are being had regarding the OoS and how people are applying theories to it. Analyze your object of study in terms of two of the theories we have read thus far (above what you have already used in an earlier case study). In your analysis, address the following:

  • How does the theory define your object of study (as a whole, broken into pieces)?
  • What and/or who is a network node?
  • What types of agency are articulated for various types of nodes?
  • How are different types of nodes situated within a network?
  • What are the types and directions of relationships between nodes?
  • NEW QUESTION: What is moving within the network?
  • What happens to content or meaning as it travels through a network?
  • How do networks emerge, grow, and/or dissolve?

Conclude with a discussion of the what the particular theory allows you to discuss, or not, when analyzing your object of study. Depending on your OoS and the theories you work with, you may do a more comparative or a more synthetic analysis.

Submission Guidelines: Approximately 3,000 words. Include at least 2 images (1 image per theory) depicting (parts of) the network.

One More Theory

15% of Case Studies Grade

due: Week 13 (15% of Case Studies Grade)

In order to frame your OoS, you need to include review of literature of at least 1 – 2 more sources. You want to examine what other conversations are being had regarding the OoS and how people are applying theories to it. Analyze your object of study in terms of one of the theories we have read thus far (above what you have already used in an earlier case studies). In your analysis, address the following:

  • How does the theory define your object of study (as a whole, broken into pieces)?
  • What and/or who is a network node?
  • What types of agency are articulated for various types of nodes?
  • How are different types of nodes situated within a network?
  • What are the types and directions of relationships between nodes?
  • What is moving within the network?
  • What happens to content or meaning as it travels through a network?
  • How do networks emerge, grow, and/or dissolve?

Conclude with a discussion of the what the particular theory allows you to discuss, or not, when analyzing your object of study. Depending on your OoS and the theories you work with, you may do a more comparative or a more synthetic analysis.

Submission Guidelines: Approximately 2,500 words. Include at least 1 image depicting (parts of) the network.

Scaffolding Synthesis

(10% of Case Studies Grade)

You’ll want to first read the assignment prompt for Week 16 PhD Synthesis.

In this scaffolding project, you will want to think about the process of choosing your theories. You have to create a rationale for doing so, so you’ll want to think about and answer the following:

  • Which 2 – 4 theories are you choosing and why? How are they similar enough that you can justify getting them to work together? How do they fill each other’s gaps?
  • How do these theories align with how you position yourself as a scholar?
  • How do these theories align with your own biases and background (the reason you came to this project in the first place)?

Submission Guidelines: Answer/address the questions/prompts above within a full-sentence outline/bulleted lists framework.

PhD Synthesis

due: Week 16 (35% of Case Studies Grade)

For this project, you will be answering “Why is studying my OoS useful to English Studies?” To do this, you will synthesize 2-4 theories in order to describe what your OoS is and how it functions in a way that is useful/meaningful to English Scholars.

Synthesis is a discussion of what works from each theory, where each theory has a gap or misses a critical part of the OoS as you see it, and justifies why these theories can be made to work well with each other. In order to accomplish this, set up “problem” with what a single (or any) theories have in analyzing your OoS. From there discuss what value your chosen theories have, what part of their theoretical lens lets you look at something interesting.  Then discuss the rationale for bring your chosen theories together in order to create a new theory of networks that works for your OoS.

Submission Guidelines: Approximately 3,500-5,000 words. Include at least 2-3 images that depicts parts of the network.

due: 11:59 pm, Mondays before assigned class period
20% of course grade (drop lowest 2 grades)

Let’s face it, just reading course material is not enough to actually learn it. You need to engage with the material in meaningful ways. The purpose of this assignment is to get you engaging with the material in a way that helps YOU learn it. We can’t promise we will talk about every single reading in class; however, we can guarantee you will engage all the materials you read by taking these notes.

Submission Guidelines

  • Submit your reading notes in your blog.
  • Categorize them with “ENGL894” and “Reading Notes”.
  • You will be responsible for tagging your entries based on the content covered in the notes. Ideally this tag cloud will be come its own network.
  • You will submit one entry per week (14 weeks): 1/21, 1/28, 2/4, 2/11, 2/18, 2/25, 3/4, 3/18, 3/25, 4/1, 4/8, 4/15, 4/22, and 4/29.

Grading Rubric

  • reading citations–required (-1 point)
  • cursory proofreading–required (-1 point)
  • 7 points = 4 content options, 3 format options
  • 5 points = 3 content options, 2 format options
  • 3 points = 2 content options, 1 format option
  • 1 point = 1 content option, 0 format options

Content Options

  • brief summary
  • key terms/concepts w/definitions and/or descriptions
  • quotes w/discussion
  • questions w/discussion
  • something very new/exciting w/discussion
  • connections to other readings w/discussion
  • connections to examples w/discussion
  • connections to experiences w/discussion
  • connections to course outcomes
  • connections to personal course outcomes

Format Options

  • hyperlink to resources and/or discussions
  • detailed font formatting (style, color, size, etc.) that engages with content/meaning
  • embed resources
  • representative image and citation
  • annotated image/screencapture
  • provide adequately descriptive alt-text for images
  • providing adequately descriptive alt-text for links
  • provide captioning or scripts for multimedia
  • embed poll that teaches and engages readers with the material

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by mikeedesign

due: Sundays, 11:59pm after assigned class period
10% Course Grade
(drop lowest 2 grades)

Individually reading and applying the different network theories will not help you make connections on a larger scale. To help flesh out what you are learning and how materials are connecting to one another, you will be responsible for keeping a mind/cluster map of your reading, thinking, and learning in the class.

Whereas the note taking assignment will be due before class, the mindmap assignment is due after class. By the end of each week (11:59pm on Sunday), you will be responsible for adding to your course mindmap. Each week you need to add at least three nodes and at least one connection. In your blog entry you will link out to (ideally embed) your updated mindmap as well as briefly discuss what you added and why you added it.

Submission Guidelines

  • We have decided that everyone will use Popplet for this assignment. Popplet’s free account allows for five different mindmaps. If you are already an avid Popplet user, you may need to purchase a premium account ($3/month or $30/year).
  • Your blog entry must be categorized with “ENGL894” and “Mindmap”.
  • You will be responsible for tagging your entries based on the content you added to the mindmap. Ideally this tag cloud will be come its own network. There will likely be continuity with the mind map as well.

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