A note on scheduling:

This class does not quite fit the “cloistered work” model that often characterizes classes at Davidson. Digital studies (and indeed, many tasks in your lives after college) often require something different: collaboration among group members who bring different intellectual and technical skills to interdisciplinary projects. This class will require you to work with your colleagues, devise a plan for distributing responsibilities, and sharing credit.

You will also have an opportunity to select which weeks you’ll be writing forum posts, and will have leeway in selecting time slots for some assignments.

As a result, your workload and pace of work might differ from that of your colleagues and collaborators. Depending upon group work and how you schedule your responses, you might have to work with greater intensity early in the semester, or to provide support for other colleagues later in the semester.

All of this is a long way of saying that you will have a substantial amount of control over when during the semester you will be busiest, and I encourage you to plan accordingly.


Final Grade Ranges:

A 100-94 C+ 79-77
A- 93-90 C 76-74
B+ 89-87 C- 73-70
B 86-84 D+ 69-67
B- 83-80 D 66-60


Final grade composition:

Attendance and participation (you must pass this category to pass the course) 20%
Forum posts (you must pass this category to pass the course) 20%
Ancillary writing – short pieces due in class (you must pass this category to pass the course) 20%
Part II project (you must pass this category to pass the course) 20%
Part II project (you must pass this category to pass the course) 20%



These policies take effect from the first day of class, regardless of when you begin attending the course. For example, if the first time you attend class is during the second week of the semester, you will have already been marked absent from two class meetings.

This is a collaborative and project-driven class. Class participation—inclusive of attendance, careful preparation and collaboration outside of the physical classroom—constitute one of its most important elements. In consequence, your learning depends upon your regular, informed and thoughtful participation in discussion, projects and blog posts. In order to participate fully you must have completed all readings or assignments before class.

You are permitted up to FOUR absences during the semester, and at your own discretion. There is no excused/unexcused absences policy – each of you gets to decide which three classes you wish to miss. More than three absences will likely impact your final grade, and more than NINE absences will cause you to fail the course. Regardless of your reason for missing a class, you will be responsible for the material covered that day.

I understand that speaking in class can be a stressful or daunting experience for some students, so I expect that everyone contribute to making the classroom a comfortable and respectful intellectual environment in which everyone can participate. If you have anxiety about public speaking, please arrange a meeting with me ASAP.

You will be assessed on your participation in each class meeting.  On days when we are doing collaborative work, your participation will consist of talking to your colleagues.  On days with lectures or whole-class discussion, your participation will consist of comments made to the whole class.  Your participation scores will be averaged over the semester.

Attends and actively participates 100
Attends but does not contribute 60
Does not attend 0

Finally, during the semester you must attend ONE public digital studies event not listed on the syllabus.  You may make a case about why a given event counts as a digital studies event.  Failure to attend these will adversely impact your participation grade – it is worth 20% of your participation grade.  You may choose from a range of options, but if the semester ends without you attending, you cannot make it up.



TEN times over the course of the semester, FIVE before October break and FIVE after October break, post a short (~250 words) response/reaction paper to the course blog.  These posts must engage with some aspect of things death/things digital.  They also must substantively engage with something one of your colleagues has written.  They will be assessed as follows:

Exceptional. (100 points) The blog post is focused and coherently integrates examples with explanations or analysis. The post demonstrates awareness of its own limitations or implications, and it considers multiple perspectives when appropriate. The entry reflects in-depth engagement with the topic. The post substantively integrates something a colleague has written.

Satisfactory. (80 points) The blog post is reasonably focused, and explanations or analysis are mostly based on examples or other evidence. Fewer connections are made between ideas, and though new insights are offered, they are not fully developed, either with theoretical grounding or with provided examples. The post reflects moderate engagement with the topic.   The post topically integrates something a colleague has written.

Underdeveloped.  (60 points) The blog post is mostly description or summary, without consideration of alternative perspectives, and few connections are made between ideas. The post reflects passing engagement with the topic. The post does not integrate something a colleague has written.

Limited. (0 points) The blog post is unfocused, missing, consists of one or two disconnected sentences,  or simply rehashes previous comments, and displays no evidence of student engagement with the topic.



Together, the class will work to create a Tumblr that catalogs and contextualizes cultural artifacts which engage with death in the digital age.  Each student will write up and post 3-5 artifacts. In total their write-ups should be ~2,500 words (equivalent to a 7 page paper).  The individual entries will be assessed according to the following parameters:

  • Significance beyond the classroom (i.e. is this artifact culturally significant?)
  • Theoretical grounding (i.e. does your discussion of this artifact engage with the theories we’ve discussed during the course?)
  • Clarity of claim (i.e. does your discussion make some claim about the artifact, in light of the theory?)
  • Evidence to support your claim
  • Appropriate, in-line citations (i.e. hyperlinks to texts/authors/sites that inform your analysis)

N.B. Tumblr is a fairly informal form.  You are not expected to adhere to formal academic writing, but are expected to clearly communicate your ideas.  For an example of an exemplary academic Tumblr, see the Queering the Slavery Working Group site.

Part II project rubric (adapted with your input!) can be found here.


In the project associated with part III of the course, you will “resurrect” one of Davidson’s dead.  You have a fair amount of leeway in how this resurrection will take place.



A 100 C+ 77
A- 93 C 75
B+ 87 C- 73
B 85 D+ 67
B- 83 D 65

F (nothing turned in) = 0 points


A note on final project assessment: Although each project will differ, your final project grade will equally weight how well you present and act on your methodology, how well you convey the (story, argument, narrative) that you set out to convey, the originality of your project, the relationship of your project to a broader field of study, and how well you adapted to challenges and stumbling blocks along the way.