Digital Media and Culture // Media Studies 208// Assignments & Expectations

There are no tests in this class. You will read approximately two book chapters or articles each week, create two major projects with multiple elements, and participate via informal writing, reading diaries, and presentations. The informal writing includes a low-stakes sandbox effort called Your First Website.

boom  Three 5-Minute Presentations

Many of our classes will begin with two or three brief presentations, usually on major concepts discussed in the Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media (JHG). The goal of the presentation is to concisely relate the day’s reading assignment to the concept discussed in the shorter JHG article.  Good presentation strategies include finding relevant examples from beyond the assigned reading, summarizing concepts, highlighting relevant passages,  raising questions, and staying to five minutes. You must develop a slide deck, infographic, explainer video or other visual aid for each presentation, and I encourage you to use different platforms each time. 

boom  Midterm: Research Website

This will involve some form of research or information gathering regarding a group’s production or consumption of digital media. One possibility is participatory action research, in which you observe the media activities of a group of which you are a part. 

What we are aiming for is a truly academic website, similar in form to Lev Manovich’s SelfieCity, which collects, archives, shares and analyzes data. There are many dozens of student academic websites on my “archived classes” page. 

Like Manovich you will share your data, create a multi-page essay of at least 1200 words discussing elements of the project, create at least one infographic, a slide deck, a literature review and a downloadable white paper (which will make use of the other writing you did for the site). If appropriate, you might include a call to action, create memes, quizzes, and other interactive elements. More details

boom  Final: Civic Engagement Project

These projects engage a public with a sophisticated, well-researched media campaign. It should address a current issue on which you can take a stand based in your knowledge of digital media studies. Ideally you should feel personally connected to the topic in some way.  You’ll be introduced to two major options for this project: participatory documentary and tactical media. All topics and production plans will be workshopped & formally proposed and require my advance approval.

The final project will incorporate a 2000-word critical hyperessay (academic writing involving research), spread out over fifteen or more web pages. It must include other design elements encouraging or enabling civic engagement by site visitors. Required elements include a meme, infographic, literature review, interactive teaching (quizzes, games, children’s book, etc) action request, and web-published video in some form (remix, satire or parody, public service announcement, interview, testimony, journalism, guerilla theater, dramatization, etc). You may use other technologies and platforms to support the campaign: Social media, weblog, wiki, graphic display, photography, sound, etc. There will be a revision stage leading to a printable (linear) version of the hyperessay. More details

boom Close Reading and Annotation

Your assigned reading is generally limited to an average of 30 scholarly pages a session. For each class: Annotate the reading and excerpt at least three passages. Publish these excerpts to your personal class blog with thoughts, notes and questions.

You should expect that these posts will be placed on the class screen for discussion.

For each of your two major projects, you should expect to acquaint yourself with the scholarly discourse in depth, typically meaning an additional 200 pages of challenging reading. More details

boom Participation & Informal Writing

In preparation for (and during) some class discussions you will be asked to participate in informal online writing and other activities. Some will stand alone and others will later be incorporated in your research or civic engagement projects. 

These may involve platforms such as Storify, Dipity, Prezi, Piktochart and Powerpoint, to which you’ll generally have a dedicated lab session. This writing is just as important as more formal composition. In your first lab session you’ll build a home or hub site linking to all your digitally published classwork, including each of the informal efforts. 

The first significant informal effort will be a sandbox website, in which you develop basic sitebuilding skills (slide deck). At the end of the term, I’ll ask you to write a reflective hypertext essay. Reflect upon your learning in the class. In particular, analyze the achievements represented by the two major projects–using  several of the course readings as a lens. 

reading calendar // assignments // lab schedule // policies // home

“As part of the first-year orientation, each student would pick a domain name. Over the course of the first year… students would build out their personal cyberinfrastructure, one they would continue to modify and extend throughout their college career — and beyond.”– Gardner Campbell, A Personal CyberInfrastructure 

Domain of One’s Own @ Emory 


Since the late 1990s, Marc Bousquet (Media Studies) and Heather Julien (English) have been asking students to create personal digital portfolios featuring born-digital academic effort. We were brought to Emory to help scale up these practices across departments and disciplines. 

In addition to pdf white papers, these portfolios feature public academic and professional websites with charts, infographics, slide decks, memes, video, and databases, often featuring original research. In short, we recognize that academic and professional writing is effectively media production, and should be taught as such.


In some cases these efforts have been viewed several hundred thousand times, cited by scholars, or helped create social change.

Students with no prior expertise have found these projects helpful to win jobs or internships at major media companies or nonprofits, and admission to top graduate schools such as Yale and Oxford. This class is designed so that no prior technological expertise is required to do well.

How it Works


You have a required lab session each week, Tuesdays 6-8 pm in WH 111. A highly qualified media consultant, Emily Li, leads the sessions. Emily will introduce you to platforms for web publishing and media creation, guiding you through at a comfortable pace, and always tailoring the introduction to the class assignments. There is some general-purpose Domain documentation, but Emily will develop individualized resources and tutorials for this class. She will hold regular office hours and be available by email. I will also react to your work and give suggestions, both in class and in my office hours. You can view some of her walkthrough documentation in progress. 

Beyond Emily and myself, there are three further tiers of support for your digital publication. The first tier is the Writing Center, where every tutor has some ability to support digital publication. The second tier of support is the program’s staff coordinator, who can answer nearly any question that stumps a tutor. Finally all of these efforts are fully backstopped by the technical support of the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. The coordinator will refer you to appropriate support at ECDS if he cannot help.

The main thing to understand is that you will digitally publish much of your coursework. You will generally have the chance to revise what you publish.

Occasionally you will wish to write on a topic in a way that is uncomfortable or inappropriate for you to publish. I will work with you to find a way to write publishably on that topic or, when necessary, accept unpublished work.

Once you have completed the course, the site you built is yours to  continue to develop  into a personal cyberinfrastructure that may include selected student work,  a professional portfolio, resume/CV documents, a personal blog, galleries of creative work or other accomplishments. 

What is Domain of One’s Own? (slideshare)