Requirements + Assignments

ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION. In a seminar course each participant’s contribution is valued, and absences affect the entire group. You will be permitted two excused absences (“excused” means that you must have contacted me prior to class to inform me of your absence) throughout the semester. Any excused absences in excess of two and any unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade. A pattern of late arrivals is likewise detrimental. More than three excused absences, or more than two unexcused absences, will prevent you from passing the course. You’re expected to come to class prepared (i.e., having read and digested the readings), remain engaged, and participate thoughtfully in class discussions, presentations, group exercises, etc. Attendance and participation are worth 20% of your final grade.

PROCESSING POSTS. Just as archivists “process” a newly-acquired collection, we need to process the new ideas we’re exposed to; we need to arrange those ideas in our minds, consider them in relation to our past knowledge, personal interests, and everyday experiences; and appraise what value they might hold for the future. This intellectual work benefits not only you; it also helps us make the most of our in-class discussions. You’ll need to post to our class blog at least five 150- to 300-word “processing posts” over the course of the semester; you should begin posting within the first three weeks of the semester, and keep posting at least once every three weeks for the duration of the semester. Posts are due by noon on Tuesdays. Your posts should involve some critical, synthetic reflection on the week’s assigned readings, but would also ideally include: ideas that you find particularly captivating or frustrating and that you might like to explore through further research (perhaps your final project); questions you’d like us to address in our group discussion; connections you’ve drawn between the readings and art you’ve recently experienced, places you’ve recently been, current events you’ve heard about, etc. You’re welcome to illustrate your posts with images, audio, video, etc., where appropriate. These posts are worth 20% of your final grade.

APPLICATION. Over the course of the semester each student will deliver one 10-minute in-class presentation and submit one 900- to 1200-word post focusing on a concrete application of the theories we discuss in class. Where do you see the week’s central themes playing out in the world – in a brick-and-mortar library or archive, in an artist’s work, in a particular online database, in one of the many behind-the-scenes spaces supporting our digital infrastructure, etc.? On our website you’ll find a sampling of interesting artists and local sites that you’re welcome to take as your topic, but you’re also welcome to go “off list.” Just please try not to duplicate examples we discuss in class, and please post a little preview (or “teaser” or “trailer”) of your topic on our class blog at least two days before class, so I don’t steal your thunder in my own prepared presentation J (…and so your classmates know what to expect). You’re encouraged to investigate how archival/library/database theory works on the ground – which means that, ideally, for this assignment, you’ll go visit places, talk to people, touch stuff, etc., rather than simply conduct online research from a critical distance, without “getting your hands dirty,” so to speak. In your paper and presentation you’ll want to strike a balance between synopsis of the relevant theoretical frameworks or concepts; description of your chosen concrete subject; and critical analysis of that subject in light of those theories and concepts.

You’ll find a few sample application projects from our Spring 2011 class here, from our Fall 2012 class here, and from our Fall 2013 class here.

Your paper should be posted to our class website before class on the date you’re schedule to present. You’re encouraged to include illustrative media. You’ll have ten minutes for your formal presentation, then we’ll dedicate roughly five minutes to discussion. The presentation and paper are together worth 20% of your final grade.

FINAL PROJECT PROPOSAL. See below for more on the format of the final project. Throughout the semester I hope you’ll come across several ideas, arenas, individuals, etc., about which or whom you would like to know more. This final project will give you the opportunity to delve deeply into a research and/or creative area of personal interest. You should begin thinking about potential topics early in the semester. By the end of the day on Monday, November 17 (you needn’t wait until November 17; you can submit any time before then!) I’ll need you to submit via Google Drive a formal ~900-word (including end-matter) project proposal. This proposal must include (1) a problem statement or research question; (2) a discussion of your proposed research methodology and an outline of your research/production plan*; and (3) a tentative bibliography containing at least ten sources, half of which must be scholarly sources. You’ll be expected to share your proposal in an informal two-minute presentation in the following class, on November 27. I certainly don’t expect your proposals to be perfect (the primary reason I ask you to submit these is so you can receive constructive feedback before delving too deeply into your projects), but I do expect the proposals to evince some serious contemplation, good planning, and an awareness of relevant resources in the field. The proposal is worth 10% of your final grade. You’ll have an opportunity to revise and resubmit the proposal if necessary. You’ll find a list of 2011 projects here, 2012 projects here, and 2013 project here.

*If you’re considering a research-based creative project or media production, your “research methodology” section should explain how your chosen format – video, artist’s book, interactive map, audio documentary, etc. – serves as an appropriate “method” for your project, i.e., how the form suits the content.

FINAL PROJECT. This semester we have the opportunity to dedicate our coursework to the production of material that will be shown in Spring 2015 exhibition, tentatively titled “Cloud Sourcing” in the Aronson Gallery @ 2 W 13th Street. We’ll be able to contribute to the overall conception of the exhibition, and each of you will be able to produce work for potential inclusion in the show. Radhika Subramaniam, Director of the Sheila Johnson Design Center, will be joining us in class on October to help shape our design process.

Your work can take any format, but you must grapple with the critical/historical/aesthetic issues at the heart of our class – and how to translate those concerns into something “exhibition-friendly” or “-worthy.” Your final project must be accompanied by a 900-word support paper in which you address the critical issues you explored through your work, and how your chosen format aided in that exploration. [If you wish to exempt yourself from the exhibition, you’re welcome to discuss with me the possibility of writing a 4,000- to 6,000-word term paper (word count includes endmatter).] This research project is worth 30% of your final grade, and is due before class on December 2. Papers and support papers for creative projects should be submitted via Google Drive.

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