You can download a copy of the syllabus here: RTF319_Syllabus_S15.

RTF 319 Syllabus: Introduction to Digital Media (Spring 2015)


Lecture: Tuesday/Thursday, 3:30-5:00 pm (CMA 3.116)

Labs (CMA 5.176):

Tuesday 5-7pm, #08305 and Wednesday 6-8pm, #08310

Professor: Dr. Suzanne Scott • • @iheartfatapollo

Office hours: Thursdays 10am-12pm and 2-3pm in CMA 5.144 or by appointment

Teaching Assistants:

Kyle Wrather • • @kylewrather


Course blog:

Course twitter hashtag: #rtf319



Digital technologies increasingly structure our interactions with media texts, and mediate our daily lives. RTF 319 offers a critical introduction to the study of digital media and culture, surveying the core theoretical preoccupations of “new media” scholars. Weeks will be themed around surveillance, copyright, identity, posthumanism, intelligence, coding, and gaming, among other topics. In order for students to become more critical “users” of digital platforms and tools, and more active participants in digital culture, course assignments will take a praxis approach to media criticism, emphasizing writing for the web and other forms of multimodal argumentation. In addition to blogging assignments throughout the semester, students will work on individual and group projects to create and critically interrogate memes, build basic web pages, archive and annotate social media feeds, and craft remix videos.


  • To become conversant in the central themes of new media and digital culture studies
  • To consider how our understanding of technology is informed by cultural commentary and media representations
  • To learn to write analytical, multimodal media criticism for the web
  • To develop fluencies in the tools, technologies, and practices that support participatory culture


Details on all your course assignments, including instruction handouts, submission guidelines, and due dates, can be found under the “Assignments” tab of our course blog, and are also linked under the “Assignments” tab of our course’s Canvas site. I would encourage (nay, insist) that you plug all these due dates into your personal calendars now, to help manage your workflow. Your final grade for the course will consist of seven elements/assignments, enumerated below:

First, your attendance and active participation (10%), both in class and in lab (unless marked OPTIONAL), is central to the class’ success and to your success in the class. If you have a legitimate reason for missing class or lab (e.g. religious holiday, illness, family emergency), please email your TA with as much advance warning as possible. Time will be allotted to discuss your response to the readings and screenings, but you’re encouraged to post any additional material you come across that you think might be relevant to the class (blog posts, videos, articles, etc.) to our course blog. This will earn you participation credit, so it’s a good option if you’re not comfortable speaking up in class. You can also send me comments and links via Twitter @iheartfatapollo, using our course hashtag (#rtf319).

You will be tested on the course materials (including readings, lectures, and screenings) twice during the semester. The Midterm Exam (15%) will cover content from weeks 2-6, and the Final Exam (15%) will cover content from weeks 7-13, and both will be comprised of short identifications and essay questions. In addition to these exams, you have four assignments: a series of blog posts (5% each, 15% total), a livetweeing “essay” composed in Storify (15%), a group video essay project (20%), and a basic HTML/CSS coding and website building assignment through Code Academy (10%). More detailed instructions for all of these assignments are available on our course blog.

All assignments must be handed in on time, and turning in assignments late will be detrimental to your grade. For each week an assignment is late, you will be docked one full letter grade. All assignments must be completed to pass the course. Exceptions will be made and extensions will be given only for medical or family emergencies (provided you can offer documentation).

Grading breakdown:

Attendance/Participation = 10%

Blog Posts (3 of 5) = 15%

Livetweeting Assignment  =  15%

Midterm Exam = 15%

Video Essay (Group Project) = 20%

Code/Website  =  10%

Final Exam = 15%


Grading Scale:

A   = 100-94

A- = 90-93

B+ = 87-89

B = 84-86

B- = 80-83

C+ = 77-79

C   = 74-76

C- = 70-73

D = 60-69

F   = 0-59 



Readings are listed below on the course schedule; assigned chapters and articles are to be read before class, and you should be prepared to discuss them and pose relevant questions. The weekly readings are available on the course’s Canvas site, under “Files” OR will be linked directly through the syllabus. You can download and print out each article at your convenience, along with other course documents. PLEASE NOTE: Online/linked readings will NOT appear on Canvas, so make sure you double check the syllabus each week to ensure you’re completing all of the readings.


The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641 TTY.


The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the University is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community.


The University defines academic dishonesty as cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, falsifying academic records, and any act designed to avoid participating honestly in the learning process. Scholastic dishonesty also includes, but is not limited to, providing false or misleading information to receive a postponement or an extension on a test, quiz, or other assignment, and submission of essentially the same written assignment for two courses without the prior permission of the instructor. By accepting this syllabus, you have agreed to these guidelines and must adhere to them. Scholastic dishonest damages both the student’s learning experience and readiness for the future demands of a work-career. Students who violate University rules on scholastic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and/or dismissal from the University. For more information on scholastic dishonesty, please visit the Student Judicial services Web site at



Week 1 Introduction to the Course, Goals, and Assignments

Tuesday, 1/20: Welcome and Course Overview

Thursday, 1/22: Historicizing Technologies: On Newness, Obsolescence, and Mundanity


– Tom Gunning “Re-Newing Old Technologies”

Lab: Introductions, WordPress Demo+ Writing for the Web


– Before Lab: Create a wordpress username (use a pseudonym, DO NOT use “suzannescott,” “sscott,” etc.), email your username to your TA. Once you’re received and accepted your invitation to join the blog, familiarize yourself with the dashboard. A basic wordpress tutorial is available on the course blog under “Tools,” but there are plenty of additional walkthroughs online.


Week 2Old/New Media and Convergence Culture

Tuesday, 1/27: Old/New Media


– Lev Manovich, “From Borges to HTML”

Thursday, 1/29: Convergence Culture and Web 2.0


– Joshua Green, Sam Ford, & Henry Jenkins, “Where Web 2.0 Went Wrong”

Lab: Photoshop I: Basic Image Mashups


– Blog Post (Option 1): Old/New Media [2/1 by 8pm]


Week 3 Communication

Tuesday, 2/3: Web semiotics: Memes, Macros, GIFs


– Limor Shifman, “When Memes Go Digital”

– Leigh Alexander, “Why We Love Animated GIFs”

Thursday, 2/5: Communication in the Digital Age


– Nancy K Baym, “Communication in Digital Spaces”


Photoshop II: GIF Creation


– Blog Post (Option 2): GIF [2/8 by 8pm]


Week 4Social + Media

Tuesday, 2/10: Media Flows and Overflows


– Jonathan Gray, “Television Unboxed: Expansion, Overflow, Synergy”

– Derek Kompare, “More ‘Moments of Television’: Online Cult Television Authorship”

Thursday, 2/12: Livetweeting and Second Screen Initiatives


– Dhiraj Murthy, “What is Twitter?”

Lab: Storify Demo + Livetweeting assignment (pt I: research/select show)


– Livetweeting assignment (pt II: livetweet show before lab next week)


Week 5Networked Narratives

Tuesday, 2/17: From Hypertext to Transmedia Storytelling


– Janet H. Murray “Harbingers of the Holodeck”

– Henry Jenkins, “Transmedia Storytelling 101”

Thursday, 2/19: Transmedia Test Case: The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (2012)


Work on livetweeting assignment (curation and critical commentary)


– Blog Post (Option 3): Transmedia Extension [2/22 by 8pm]


Week 6Play

Tuesday, 2/24: Gaming


– Alexander R. Galloway, “Gamic Action: Four Moments”

– Stencyl’s “Crash Course: Let’s Make A Game” (parts 1-5)

[complete this walkthrough on your own device prior to lab]

Thursday, 2/26: Analyzing Interactivity Through Gameplay Clips

Lab: Creating Games in Stencyl


– Livetweeting Assignment (PDF via email) [3/1 at 8pm]


Week 7Intelligence and Information

Tuesday, 3/3: Intelligent Machines and Collective Intelligence


– A.M. Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”

– Henry Jenkins, “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About New Media Literacies,” Parts One & Two

Thursday, 3/5: Archiving Information


– Siva Vaidhyanathan, “The Gospel of Google”

Lab: Wikipedia Analysis


– Blog Post (Option 4): Wikipedia + Collective Intelligence [3/8 by 8pm]


Week 8Surveillance and Midterm Exam

Tuesday, 3/10: #Panopticism


– David Lyon, “9/11, Synopticon, and Scopophilia: Watching and Being Watched”

– Mark Andrejevic, “Surveillance in the Digital Enclosure”

Thursday, 3/12: Midterm Exam

Lab: Midterm review session



Tuesday, 3/17

Thursday, 3/19


– Blog Post (Option 5): Facebook as Digital Enclosure [3/22 by 8pm]


Week 10Cyborgs

Tuesday, 3/24: Cyborgs and Posthumanity


– Donna Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s”

– N. Katherine Hayles, “Unfinished Work: From Cyborg to Cognisphere”

Thursday, 3/26: Screening: Black Mirror (“Be Right Back,” 2013)

Lab: Demo and hands-on practice: sourcing and editing audio and video


Week 11Identity

Tuesday, 3/31: Gender, Race, and Sexuality


– danah boyd, “Why Youth Heart Social Network Sites”

– Lisa Nakamura, “Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet”

– Daren C. Brabham, “The Potential of Vernacular Video for Queer Youth”

Thursday, 4/2: Screening and discussion: Catfish: The TV Show (“Kya and Alyx,” 2012)

Lab: Remix Video Project I: Sign up for groups and conceptualize topic/argument


Week 12Remix Culture and Audiovisual Argumentation

Tuesday, 4/7: Remix Culture


– Virginia Kuhn, “The Rhetoric of Remix”

Thursday, 4/9: Remix Video Project: Strategies and Tactics + Examples and Expectations

Lab: Remix Video Project II: Artists’ Statement and Outline/Storyboard


– Co-authored video artists’ statement [4/10 by 8pm]


Week 13 • Copyright(s)

Tuesday, 4/14: Copyright and Piracy


– William Patry, “The Mythical Origins of Copyright and Three Favorite Copyright Metaphors”

– Lawrence Lessig, “Pirates” + “Piracy”

Thursday, 4/16: Fair Use, Creative Commons, and Code of Best Practices

Lab: Remix Video Project III: Compiling/Editing Projects


Week 14 • Crowdfunding

Tuesday, 4/21: Outside the System


– Liza Potts, “Amanda Palmer and the #LOFNOTC: How Online Fan Participation is Rewriting Music Labels”

Thursday, 4/23: Inside the System

– Matt Hills, “Veronica Mars, Fandom, and the ‘Affective Economics’ of Crowdfunding Poachers”

Lab: Remix Video Project IV: Compiling/Editing Projects


Week 15 • Literacy and Access

Tuesday, 4/28: On Digital “Natives” and “Immigrants”


– Danah Boyd, “Literacy: Are Today’s Youth Digital Natives?”

Thursday, 4/30: Net Neutrality, The (New) Digital Divide and the Participation Gap


– Jeremy Gillula, “Net Neutrality Takes A Wild Ride: 2014 in Review”

– Tasneema Raja, “We Can Code It!: Why Computer Literacy is Key to Winning the 21st Century”

Lab:  Remix Video Project IV: Finalize remix video projects


– Upload Remix Video Project to YouTube + Email link [5/3 by 8pm]

– Send description of your contributions to the video via email [5/3 by 8pm]


Week 16 • Video Project Screenings

Tuesday, 5/5: Screen and discuss group video projects

Thursday, 5/7: Screen and discuss group video projects

Lab: Final exam review session


– Code Academy badges [5/8 by 8pm]


Week 17 • Final Exam

Saturday, 5/16 from 2pm-5pm


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