Expectations and Rules
Computers in class are strongly encouraged – if you do not have a computer that you can bring to class, please get in touch with me ASAP. That being said, computers provide many opportunities for distraction, so anyone who engages in electronic communications or entertainment beyond the scope of the class (texting, phone calls, emailing, Facebook, web browsing, games, etc.) will be regarded as absent.
Davidson College is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs. If you have a documented disability (or think you may have a disability) and, as a result, need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this class, complete course requirements, or benefit from the College’s programs or services, contact the Academic Access and Disability Resources office as soon as possible. To receive any academic accommodation, you must be appropriately registered with AADR, whose staff works with students confidentially and does not disclose any disability-related information without their permission. The AADR serves as a clearinghouse on disability issues and works in partnership with faculty and all other student service offices.
Many of us learn in different ways, and this course is designed accommodate each student differently. For example, you may prefer to process information by speaking and listening, so while discussions are quite helpful for you, some of the written material may be difficult to absorb. Please talk to me as soon as you can about your individual learning needs and how this course can best accommodate them.
Even if you do not have a documented disability, remember that other support services, including the Writing Center and the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Speaking Center, are available to all students (http://sites.davidson.edu/ctl/students/).
There has been a lot of discussion recently about “trigger warnings” – indicators that something so disturbing as to make participation difficult for students suffering from PTSD (i.e. death, dismemberment, assault, gore) will be covered in a particular class. To the best of my knowledge, we will not be dealing with these types of themes in this class, but early America has a complicated history, and I can’t guarantee that your projects won’t brush up against something that might be triggering. During the semester, I’ll do my best to be transparent about when we’ll be engaging with particularly troubling issues, and I ask you to come see me if you have any concerns about topics that might actively disrupt your ability to participate in this course. If such issues do arise, I will work with you to find alternate assignments, or to strategically pick which classes to skip. Remember that you may skip up to three classes with no attendance penalty, and that you are free to use those absences for whatever purpose you wish – inclusive of potentially triggering material.
Contact and office hours:
I encourage you to come by office (Jackson Court, #6) hours (Wednesdays, 1:00-6:00 or by appointment) to check in during the term – feel free to discuss concerns or progress towards your final project, or to ask questions about things we have covered in class. Please plan to come see me sometime during the first three weeks of class to touch base, say hello and talk over any expectations or anxieties you have about the class.
I can be reached by e-mail during normal business hours (9-5, m-f), and will generally respond to e-mails received during those hours within 24 hours of receipt. I will strive for, but cannot guarantee speedy responses outside of those times.
Integrity and honor, as exemplified by the honor code are the college’s most fundamental commitment. Plagiarism of any kind will be penalized to the fullest possible extent. There is no mitigating circumstance, ever, for plagiarism.
Whenever you draw upon somebody else’s words or ideas to make a point, give them credit. The most common causes of plagiarism are not deliberate dishonesty. Often it is careless note-taking. Make sure that in your notes you distinguish clearly your thoughts on the reading and the words you have copied from a secondary source. Waiting too long to do the research and the stress and confusion that may result from that rush to finish may produce mistakes that in public represent the most serious violation of academic values. You are, therefore, strongly encouraged to start assignments well in advance of the deadline. If you are uncertain about how to deal with a question of fair credit, ask me. You are also encouraged to consult writing center tutors if you have writing questions.
You will be required to master the historical citation practices outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style, and in formal writing will also be expected to adhere to historical writing conventions.
Good writing is central to clear communication – whether on paper or in the digital realm. That includes the questions of form, and it certainly concerns good grammar. For help with writing, please review the writing and style guide posted on the course website, and visit the Writing Center at Chambers Building, North Basement, Room B039. Website: http://sites.davidson.edu/ctl/students/tutoring/writing/. Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 2-4pm and 8-11pm
Late assignments lose 1/3 of a grade per day. E.g., a B paper submitted the morning after it was due, will receive a B-. Assignments handed in more than 72 hours late will receive an F.
I am happy to look at one draft per preparatory assignment, but in order to get my comments you must come to meet with me in person.. I will look at drafts sent to me by the MONDAY before the assignment is due, and meet with you during my normal office hours on Wednesdays.
You will be required to acquire some technical skills for this class. I have designed the course assuming little technical experience, but I will expect you to experiment with new tools, learn new technical skills, and develop the ability to find answers to technical questions on your own (though I will be available to help out!) Some tools will be useful your project, while others will not – but you should come to class prepared to try them with enthusiasm and an open mind.
Working (and sometimes failing) in public:
Some of your work for this course will be posted to a private class blog, but other work will be publicly available. Working in public, trying out new ideas, and responding to critique allows others to learn about what we do as digital historians, comment on what we do, and offer help when needed. Such writing requires the author to risk putting their ideas out into the public domain, but also makes possible the reward of writing for an audience beyond me and your peers in the class.