Kent State College Writing II, Fall 2010, Humans, Technology, and Cyborgs

I just finished my syllabi for two sections of College Writing II at Kent State in Fall 2010 with the theme: Humans, Technology, and Cyborgs, and I have attached them here (section 002) and here (section 007). The classes are identical, but the meeting places and times have been changed in each syllabus.

This semester, I have designed the course around the image of the cyborg in fiction and our everyday lives. We will read C. L. Moore’s “No Woman Born” and James Tiptree, Jr.’s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” to get things started. Then, we will segue into William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Grant Morrison’s We3, and Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, “The Best of Both Worlds” part 1 and 2. This will be a lightly theoretical class for sophomores, but it will have a heavy independent research component for the second half of the semester. I still have to finalize the three major essay assignments, but I have penciled in the topics on the tentative schedule on the syllabus.

One important change about these classes as compared to my previous classes at Kent State is that I have decided against using classroom computers for all assignments. I found in my last two semesters that students weren’t revising as much, and they weren’t generally writing their assignments to meet the minimum word count (a tedious task at times with Blackboard). Writing in long hand in class and revising that on a computer later will encourage revision practices, and having a printout of a student’s work will quickly let me see if word counts are reached. Using paper will also eliminate problems with students’ digital files (corruption, fonts, version incompatibilities, etc.). Perhaps Michael Scott on NBC’s The Office is right and paper is still very important.

I am excited to get things started in a few weeks, and I am glad that I have the latitude at Kent State to devise a class theme on my own. I enjoy working with these texts, and I believe that I will demonstrate that in the classes. Also, it will be useful to think of these texts in relation to my dissertation, which I will be working on concurrently with these classes.

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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Posted in Kent State, Pedagogy, Personal, Science Fiction
2 comments on “Kent State College Writing II, Fall 2010, Humans, Technology, and Cyborgs
  1. Andrew says:

    I had trouble teaching _We3_ to freshmen, so I’d be interested to hear your experiences. Maybe sophomores will handle it better? People couldn’t get past the violence/cute pet juxtaposition.

  2. Jason Ellis says:

    Hey Andrew,

    I’ll let you know how it goes. I was interested in teaching We3, because it demonstrates different kinds of cyborgs and it can open up the discussion on medical and food industry exploitation of animals. I might have them read a little something on animal studies–maybe that article that Sherryl Vint wrote about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Bringing theory into a class like this will be an interesting challenge all unto itself, but one that I’m willing to endeavor.

    Jason

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Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on DynamicSubspace.net. Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

He welcomes questions, comments, and inquiries for collaboration via email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu or Twitter @dynamicsubspace.

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