English 216, Literature, Technology, and Society: Invented Worlds
Spring 2008, T/TH 3:45-5:00 Ryland 205
Dr. Joe Essid
Writing Center 9c 289-8935 or jessid@richmond.edu
Office Hours: M & TH 10-11 and by appointment



virtusphere1) Basic computer skills beyond Web surfing. You should be comfortable learning new tools and paying attention as you learn.

2) Computer capable of running the client for the virtual world Second Life (see system requirements at their site). If you do not have such a computer, you will be expected to download the client to the public labs and use those computers. Using Second Life is a requirement of this class.

3) Access to a digital camera. You need not be an expert photographer.

Texts: All are required. Be sure you have the same editions on sale at UR Bookstore--I won't slow down our class so you can find the right page in your copy.

  • Ballard, Concrete Island
  • Brooks, World War Z
  • Coover, The Universal Baseball Association
  • Gibson, Short Stories (will be available online)
  • Krakauer, Into the Wild
  • Stephenson, Snowcrash
  • Thoreau, Walden
  • Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Official Guide to Second Life (not required...you may want to order this book online. Online guides to Second Life fall short or are too complex).

Films: Like the texts, films are mandatory for the class and "fair game" for papers, and the midterm. Note times and locations listed on class schedule. I will attend some of them too, and we will stay for a short discussion afterward.

If you cannot attend the film screening at the MRC, be certain to view the film before the next class meeting on your own. All of them will be on reserve at the MRC all semester for in-library use only.

  • Wachowski, dir., The Matrix
  • Johnson & Bird, The World of Tomorrow
  • Gilliam, dir. Brazil
  • Weir, dir. Mosquito Coast
  • Herzog, dir., Grizzly Man

Class Policies:

  • Withdrawing from the class is an honorable thing to do if you do not think you can live up to these expectations.
  • 2 absences and no questions asked (though you cannot skip a test or paper due-date). After four, your FINAL course grade is reduced by a +/- for EACH absence. I do give Fs for excessive absences. No excused absences, period. Save your four skips for emergencies. If you are an athlete with away games, please get your schedule to me ASAP.
  • If you arrive in class after I take roll, I'll mark you late. That hurts your participation grade.
  • Late papers lose a full letter grade for each day late.

Grades: be sure to check out my "Pet Peeves" before writing for me. See my "What is an A Paper?" for explanations about how I assign certain grades to essays.

  • 15%: first Wiki project
  • 15%: second Wiki project
  • 20%: final Wiki project
  • 15%: final exam
  • 15%: midterm exam
  • 20%: participation (class discussion, in-class reading quizzes, and regular updates to your Wiki)

Participation: If you NEVER talk in class, don't expect more than a C for your participation grade.

You are expected to answer when I call on you--and to talk Lindens at Educause 07 in class otherwise. Answering "I don't know" is honest and welcome. The rule for an A in participation is simple: talk in class often, but don't compete, waving your arms and shouting "Ooh, ooh, Dr. Essid!" I will try to call on those who raise their hands, and give a bit of preference to those who don't often get a word in edgewise.

You do not always have to have a statement or give an answer when you participate. Asking me and the class one really good question counts as much as a dozen obvious and pointless remarks. If you really don't understand something in a book or film, make that your contribution. I love it when students point out a specific issue or even term in a book or film that puzzles them.

You can receive extra participation credit for going to the Writing Center for help with papers beyond the help provided by our two Writing Fellows (or seeing them for extra meetings on your own).

Note: Second Life® and Linden Lab® are trademarks or registered trademarks of Linden Research, Inc. All rights reserved. No infringement is intended.

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