Teaching Archive

Here you can see all the courses I have taught since I came to Wayne State as an assistant professor in 2010, along with some commentary. I have posted syllabi for all of these courses, although for courses I have taught multiple times, I have posted only the most recent version. (NB: The underlined title of each course serves as the link to the syllabus.)

Upper Division Courses } { General Education Courses }

Upper Division Courses—Electives and Requirements

Fall 2015: Feeling Networked/Networked Feeling
ENG 5075: Topics in New Media
A course about media theory and affect theory and their intersection. For undergraduate English majors and MA students. The course website has all the elements of syllabus, and is also an attempt to recreate the functions of a Learning Management System like Blackboard (even that phrase makes me wretch) by patching together free technologies on the open web. (I am blogging about this experience.) Some of my blogging energy has been absorbed by my course blog.

Winter 2015: Experimental Media
ENG 5020: Media and Modern Culture
This course was a digital humanities and new media course disguised as a history of radically experimental media practices since WWII. Or maybe it was the other way around. The course “content” was a history of avant-garde aesthetics using media technology: experimental music, film, video, performance, and computing, in roughly that order. In the last unit of the course on “experimental computing,” however, students not only learned about experiments in computing, but also learned how to program using the video game platform Twine. Students then developed and executed final projects in the “critical making” mode, in which they researched the radical aesthetic techniques of the course in part by using them in the context of a web game. You can play (or “play”) two of the more successful final project games from students: WEB BUDDHA MACHINE, a quasi-self-playing game inspired by Nam June Paik’s Television Buddha, by Mike Holloway; and CardboardQuest, which works through questions of gamification in relation to Warhol’s aesthetics of wasted labor, by Jake Nickell.

Fall 2014 (and Fall 2012): Issues in Critical Theory
ENG 7001: Issues in Critical Theory (required)
Issues in Critical Theory is the only course required of incoming PhD students in the department of English. It is one part an “intro to grad studies” and two parts a critical theory bootcamp, taught to students in all three concentrations in the department: rhetoric & composition, literary & cultural studies, and film & media studies. It’s a nutty course. The syllabus is from the most recent session.

Fall 2013: Media Emergence, 1450–present
ENG 5020: Media and Modern Culture
This course sounds implausible, and it’s not just the title. The course was organized such that the first five weeks involved a quick preparation in media theory and media archaeology—we studied linear perspective by attempting to draw from Alberti’s instructions and built a camera obscura in our classroom. After that initial salvo, students each chose a single medium, in the moment or in the process of its emergence, to study for the remainder of the semester. Students chose an astonishing and wonderful variety of media, far broader and more interesting than I could have come up with myself. Just a sampling: haptic feedback in videogame controllers; computer text input methods from punch cards to QWERTY to cell phone keyboards; the ways in which the development of refrigeration and transportation technologies changed the aesthetics of flower arranging in North America; the ways coffee brewing technologies refracted transformations in US domestic and consumer culture; and even the emergence of thought itself as an aesthetic medium in midcentury poetics and conceptual art. Once students chose their media, they taught the entirety of the rest of the course to each other: every student taught an hour of class, developing a lesson plan and assigning the reading. Final projects were made up of a mock grant proposal for Wayne State’s undergraduate research program and mock conference presentations. I loved this course.

Winter 2013 (and Winter 2012): Film Criticism and Theory
ENG 5040: Film Criticism and Theory (required)
The required, upper-division film theory course for undergraduates pursuing the B.A. in Film Studies. It’s a canon course, although I let loose a bit at the end. The syllabus is from the Winter 2013 session.

Fall 2012: Introduction to Film and Media Studies
ENG 7051: Introduction to Film and Media Studies
Although technically not a curricular requirement, this course is a graduate level introduction to the disciplinary theories and methods in cinema and media studies. All of our film & media graduate students at Wayne take this class at some point. In this case, I stressed method over other considerations.

Winter 2011: The Mediated Body
ENG 8006: Seminar in Film and Media Studies (doctoral seminar)
An intensive, PhD level seminar in media theory and embodiment, which largely came out of the work I did in my then-dissertation, now-book. The intellectual problem of the course lay in the gap between Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological theories of embodiment and Foucault’s historicist (archaeological, constructivist, discursive—really, the right word is Foucauldian) theory of embodiment, turning through a variety of different ways of mediating these two tendencies. (I am still waiting for Simondon’s magnum opus to be translated into English.)

Fall 2010: Avant-Garde and Experimental Cinema, 1920–1965
ENG 5050: Historical Topics in Film and Media
A fairly traditional history of avant-garde and experimental film, from Dada to Warhol. The course was organized largely by looking at the European interwar avant-gardes and then the postwar American underground cinema. The best week of the class, by far, was reading Parker Tyler’s avant-garde film criticism and watching Busby Berkeley’s The Gang’s All Here, which is delightfully insane. That was the only screening where multiple students thanked me for showing the film after the lights came up.

General Education Courses

I teach many repeated sections of gen-ed courses.

Intro to Film. I am currently running a section in Fall 2015. See the current syllabus here.

Intro to Visual Culture. My most recent section was in Winter 2015. Here is the syllabus.