Spring 2013


Spring 2013 (3 credits)  M 3:30-5:45*

Professors: Randy Bass, English & Executive Director, Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (bassr@georgetown.edu); and Ann Pendleton-Jullian, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Design at Georgetown, Architect, and Former Director, Knowlton School of Architecture, The Ohio State University

This course will take on the envisioning of a new model for the university as a learning-focused ecosystem. The studio will take Georgetown University as its specific ‘site,’ in which four fundamental forces are profoundly affecting everything we do: digitization, globalization, urbanization, and the increasing role of culture, religion, and diversity. We will be applying a rigorous but speculative design process, as manifest within architectural design studios – one that will entertain both the pragmatic and radical.

So, what exactly are we going to make? Beginning with the leadership’s vision within the tradition of GU, we will design new speculative models for the university as a whole, and then using the dna from the overall model, we will apply that to the design of a micro-sites of the University (institutes, programs?) that will encapsulate the larger design but at a scale that is manageable to explore new structures for learning and research, new mechanisms for connectivity and new learning means. All work will be explored in diagram form, drawings, multi-media and text.

The course will be run interactively and flexibly; structured in four parts: precedent studies to frame the problem more fully; a part on information and idea visualization; and two design phases with a first world-building exercise done as individual projects, which we will curate and collate into a final set of four (or so) projects.  World building is a concept borrowed from new film production methods where whole worlds with coherent qualities are imagined as contexts within which stories happen. No prior drawing experience is necessary. Any skill based software and special skills needed will be incorporated into the studio teaching.

The design studio is offered in connection with Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) and the Doyle Program on Engaging Difference. It will admit fourteen to sixteen undergraduate students ideally representing many disciplines.



Special Topics Seminar

ENGL 452:  Virtual Designs — Culture and the New Ecology of Learning

Professor Randy Bass, English (Mondays, 4-6:30)   3-credits.  Open to 2nd -4th year undergraduates. Enrollment limited to 12 students. By permission of instructor only: bassr@georgetown.edu

This seminar will explore the intersection of three areas: learning and pedagogy, emerging digital media and social networking tools, and cultural memory, especially focused on mass trauma and recovery. The core activity of the seminar will revolve around Project Rebirth (http://projectrebirth.org), a documentary film, film archive, and Web-based educational initiative on survivors and recovery from events of 9/11.  As a group, we will engage in a set of collaborative digital authoring projects driven by the central problem of constructing an interdisciplinary virtual learning environment related to comprehending, interpreting, and recovering from mass trauma.   The larger intellectual problem with which we will be grappling is how emergent forms of interactive media contribute to a new ecology of learning in our culture and how we might design formal and informal educational resources that are responsive to this new ecology.  By semester’s end, as a group, we will have created model resources that will become public and long-term features of the Project Rebirth Learning Collaboratory, and perhaps also contribute to the educational materials for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

No specific prior depth in any of these areas is required for students to take the course. However, participants in the course must be motivated and willing to engage in an active applied research and design seminar atmosphere, where each student assumes a share of the responsibility for carrying our collaborative work forward. We will undertake a foundation of readings together related to new digital media and learning, pedagogy and education, cultural memory, narrative, grief, trauma and witnessing. Much of the course’s reading material and activities will be determined as the design work moves forward. Students will keep an individual electronic portfolio of their participation as they contribute to the collective work of the group.

Many of our sources will be Web-based and we will make use of many of the Web 2.0 technologies with which we will be designing materials, including weblogs, wiki-spaces, social bookmarking, social networking, and video editing and visualization tools.  Sample/possible core readings from print sources include:
Henry Jenkins, et. al., Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture
Van Wiegel, Deep Learning for a Digital Age
Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts
John Dewey, Experience and Education (60th Anniv edition)
Elizabeth Ellsworth, Places of Learning: Media, Architecture, Pedagogy
Alison Landsberg, Prosthetic Memory
Dominic LeCapra, Writing History and Trauma
Dana Luciano, Arranging Grief
Shoshona Felman and Dori Laub, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis and History

The seminar is being offered in collaboration with Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) and in affiliation with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum (NS11MM).


ENGL 723: The Problem of Learning and the Digital Humanities

ENGL 723Syllabus1.3.doc (mid-course, subject to revision)

This course will look at new media representations of culture through the lens of learning. On the one hand, we will explore how certain core ideas in the study of literature and culture—such as those related to reading, textuality, narrative, and encoded meaning—can be understood in the context of digital representations; at the same time we will focus our inquiry into these questions through practical and conceptual frameworks for understanding how people learn, in formal and informal environments. In looking at the intersection of these two fields—digital humanities and research on learning—our focus will be both on imagining the future of pedagogy in the humanities and understanding how a scholarship of teaching and learning could inform ongoing inquiry into the impact of innovation. As such, this course is primarily a design course with a studio emphasis: We will understand the history, theory and practice of new media through our study and creation of new media designs. From the beginning we will engage in the creation of digital materials as expressions of disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge, focusing both on linear narratives (digital storytelling) and non-linear applications (gaming and hypermedia environments).

ENGL 722: Approaches to Teaching Writing


This course will explore the theory and practice of teaching writing (and to a lesser extent literature), with an emphasis on developing the conceptual contexts for creating effective pedagogical designs. Some of these conceptual contexts include knowledge of learning theory and research on expert thinking, theory and practice of cultural and critical literacies (including visual and digital literacies), theory and practice of reading and approaches to bridging reading and writing, and the history and range of approaches to teaching composition and rhetoric. The course is divided into three units or themed cycles, each of which will include a range of critical readings, examinations of sample student writing and assignment sequences, and the creation and peer critique of draft assignments and curricular designs. The three units are built respectively around three key ideas: Difficulty – what are we trying to accomplish when we teach writing; expertise—how does knowledge about expert thinking and learning development shape the ways we imagine the unfolding of the writing process in the classroom; and literacy – what are the larger social, cultural and critical contexts of literacy that shape how we design writing instruction for any given learning context.

Each cycle will include the creation of a fully annotated and justified assignment sequence for use in a course. By the end of the course, these three assignment sequences will form the core of the final project, which is to be a fully conceptualized course syllabus with framing rationale and design notes. Collectively, the class will edit and “bind” the course syllabi into a shared volume with short themed connecting essays and a communally-produced annotated bibliography. In addition to the assignments and syllabi, students will also carry out a mini- case study/ethnography of a classroom (at Georgetown or elsewhere).

Readings for the course include essays and books by contemporary educators, scholars of rhetoric and composition, and learning researchers and education theorists. Authors include Bartholomae, Bereiter and Scardamalia, Blau, Flower & Hayes, Delpit, Graff, McCormick, Salvatori, Shaughnessy, Min Shan Lu, Slevin, Yancey, Linkon,Wineburg, and others. Written class assignments and class discussion will focus on teaching, learning, and curriculum development, with particular attention to the integration of reading and writing in applied classroom contexts. Students will have the opportunity to develop projects in line with their interests, such as teaching in higher education, K-12 education, community-based teaching, and digital and multimedia literacies. The course will be run as a seminar with substantial time spent in working groups for discussion and engaging in critical feedback and peer review of one another’s developed materials. Students in the course will also have responsibility for making many of the decisions about the shape of the final project volume as well as some other related course activities.

ENGL 376: Reading the U.S. Cultural Past


This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to reading primarily 19th century American literary texts, such as Herman Melville, Rebecca Harding Davis, John Rollin Ridge, and Mark Twain. Our emphasis will be on situating literary texts among contemporaneous cultural artifacts and influences, drawing on other literature, documentary narrative (such as journalism), as well as art, film (e.g., Spike Lee, D.W. Griffith) photography, and other non-literary cultural sources. By looking closely at the relationship between literary texts and cultural contexts, we will spend considerable time exploring questions about what it means to read the past through literature and other cultural documents. Note: This is a four-credit elective. As such it has an additional dimension of activity that will include some primary source archival research (digital and in real archives at the Library of Congress), as well as the option for creating multimedia representations based on the literary and cultural issues. Students interested in teaching and education will have the option to focus final projects on methods for teaching literature based on the approaches we will study.

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