Required Texts

Our printed textbooks are available at the Northeastern University bookstore. I’ve also provided links if you prefer to buy them on Amazon. If you purchase them elsewhere, please buy the editions indicated here—we’ll be doing a lot of reading in a short time span, and it’s important that we’re all on the same page, both literally and metaphorically. Please note: Some of these texts are available as ebooks, and we certainly don’t mind you reading them on your Kindle, Nook, or other device. However, you should buy the digital edition of the editions assigned here, which will include matching page numbers.


  1. The best way to get in touch with the professors is to visit us during our office hours. If you’re unsure about our readings, struggling with an assignment, or just want to talk, please visit. During the Fall 2014 semester, Professor Boeckeler will be in her office (Holmes Hall 427) Wednesdays 12-1 and Thursdays  1:30-2:30, and by appointment and Professor Cordell will be in his office (Nightingale Hall 415) Mondays 10am-11am and Thursdays 3:00-4:00pm. We are also happy to make appointments at other times—just email us with at least three possible meeting times.
  2. The next best way to get in touch with us by sending an email to E.Boeckeler@northeastern.edu and/or r.cordell@northeastern.edu. When you write to us: consider your tone and your audience. An email to your professor shouldn’t read the same as your emails to friends. For help, see this guide to emailing your professors. We guarantee that we will respond to any email within 48 hours. Often we will respond more quickly, but you should not send us an urgent email, for example, the night before an assignment is due.


This course relies on active, engaged participation in class activities and discussions. There will be few lectures. Instead, we will work together to build our facilities for thinking critically about textual cultures. You should come to every class having read all of the required reading (or watched the required videos, &c. &c.) and prepared to discuss it with your colleagues. We will not explicitly grade participation in this course (i.e. “participation = 20% of final grade”), but we will assess your reading and course engagement through in-class exercises (some collected for a grade and others not), your written work, your midterm exams (for undergrads), and other assignments.

Maintaining an active class conversation also requires that the class be present, both physically and mentally. To that end: you may miss two classes without penalty. “Attendance” does not simply mean that your body can be found in proximity to those of your classmates. You must also be mentally present, which means you must:

  1. Be awake and attentive to the conversation of the day;
  2. Prepare assigned texts before class begins;
  3. Bring your assigned texts to class. If we’re reading online articles, you should either bring a device on which to read them or print them and bring that hard copy;
  4. Bring your assigned texts to class!
  5. and, finally, bring your assigned texts to class!!!!!! We mean it. Seriously. If you come to class without the day’s reading on hand, we reserve the right to count you absent.

If you fail to meet these requirements, we will consider you mentally absent, though you may be physically present. Please note: we make absolutely no distinction between excused and unexcused absences, so use your allotted absences wisely. You may not miss two classes early in the semester and then petition for additional excused absences afterward. When you must miss class, it is your responsibility to find out what you missed and to make up any pertinent assignments. You may not make up quizzes or in-class work. If you take one of your excused absences, we simply will not grade any in-class work you missed. If you miss an activity due to an excused absence you should attempt to make up the work. Once beyond your allotted absences you will receive a zero for any in-class work missed.

“Information Overload” Day

We do understand that the semester can get hectic. The reading load for this class is significant and often challenging, and you must balance it with the work in your other classes. Most likely you will have days when you simply cannot—for whatever reason—complete the assigned reading. To that end, you may take one “information overload” (IO) day during the semester. On that day you will not be expected to contribute to class discussion and you will receive a pass on any in-class work (the work will be ungraded and not factored into your final “In-Class Work” grade). In order to take an IO day, you must follow these rules:

  1. You must attend class, listen attentively to any lectures or class discussions, and take part in any activities or group work not dependent on the day’s reading. Your IO day cannot be used as an additional excused absence.
  2. You must inform us before the beginning of class by placing a blank white sheet of paper on your desk (the WHITE FLAG OF SURRENDER!) that you are taking your IO day. You may not wait until we call on you or you see day’s the in-class assignment. We will ignore any IO white flags erected after the start of class. To that end: take special care to be on time if you plan to request an IO day, as you won’t be allowed to request one if you arrive late.
  3. You may not extend an IO day into another class session. If, for instance, you take an IO day during our first class on a longer reading assignment, you will not then be excused from discussing the book during our second class on that same text.
  4. You may not take an IO day to avoid completing on an in-class assignment or another major assignment. IO days will excuse you from reading quizzes or reflections, but nothing of more serious import.

IO days are intended to help you manage the inevitable stresses of your unique semester. Use them wisely.

Digital Etiquette


This should go without saying, but let’s say it anyway: you should turn off your cellphone and/or other devices (iPods, etc) before you enter the classroom. If your phone rings once during class this semester, we’ll all laugh and we’ll ask you to turn it off. If your phone rings again during class this semester, we will ask you to leave and will count you as absent. Though it may seem unthinkable, your friends and family may actually survive three hours each week without direct updates as to your whereabouts and doings. They probably won’t call the police to report you missing. They will no doubt pine for your witty banter, but that longing will only make your 4:31pm updates all the sweeter each Monday and Wednesday this semester. Also: you’re not as sneaky texting under the table as you think you are.


You have a laptop on hand during this class, but you should keep a physical notebook for taking notes. The course will make use of web resources frequently. However, in-class laptops also present temptations that many students find irresistible. You may not use a laptop during class to follow a game, text (see the phones policy above), or update Tumblr. Such activities not only distract you—meaning you will be less able to participate meaningfully in the class’ conversation—they also distract anyone around or behind you. If you choose to virtually exit the class, we will ask you to physically leave as well and this will count as an absence. If you often seem distracted by what’s on your screen, we reserve the right to ask you to put your laptop away, perhaps for the duration of the semester.

We will regularly ask you all to put “lids down.” This means we want everyone—ourselves included—to put away screens in order to focus our attention class discussion or activities. These moments will be commons, so you should not expect to be able to take all class notes on your laptop: hence the requirement for you to keep notebooks.

Technical Snafus

This course will often rely on access to computers, specific software, and the internet. At some point during the semester you WILL have a problem with technology: your laptop will crash, a file will become corrupted, a server will go down, a piece of software will not act as you expect it to, or something else will occur. These are facts of twenty-first-century life, not emergencies. To succeed in college and in your career you should develop work habits that take such snafus into account. Start assignments early and save often. Always keep a backup copy of your work saved somewhere secure (preferably off site). None of these unfortunate events should be considered emergencies: inkless printers, computer virus infections, lost flash drives, lost passwords, corrupted files, incompatible file formats. It is entirely your responsibility to take the proper steps to ensure your work will not be lost irretrievably; if one device or service isn’t working, find another that does. We will not grant you an extension based on problems you may be having with technological devices or the internet services you happen to use.


Students are expected to complete a TRACE (Teacher Rating and Course Evaluation) toward the end of the semester. We will set aside some time during a class period for students to complete their TRACEs.

Academic Integrity

In this class you will abide by Northeastern University’s Academic Integrity Policy at all times:

A commitment to the principles of academic integrity is essential to the mission of Northeatern University. The promotion of independent and original scholarship ensures that students derive the most from their educational experience and their pursuit of knowledge. Academic dishonesty violates the most fundamental values of an intellectual community and undermines the achievements of the entire University.

If you have any questions about what constitutes academic integrity in this class—particularly as the concept applies to digital course projects—please talk to me. We will also discuss the ethics of digital scholarship in class.


The first mention of plagiarism in English comes from 1621, and it is a case of fear: “Were you afraid to bee challenged for plagiarisme?” (Montagu, R. Diatribæ Hist. Tithes 23 cited in the online Oxford English Dictionary). Today, Plagiarisme can lead to Expulsione. The University defines plagiarism as “intentionally representing the words, ideas, or data of another as one’s own in any academic exercise without providing proper citation.” While some cases are obvious, many students may not realize they are plagiarizing. Note that the following sources require citation:

  • Word-for-word quotation from a source, including another student’s work.
  • Paraphrasing (using the ideas of others in your own words).
  • Unusual or controversial facts not widely recognized.
  • Audio, video, digital, or live exchanges of ideas, dialogue, or information.

You must cite and fully document your sources both in a Works Cited page and within the text, following MLA style. MLA guidelines for scholarly citation, and more advice on what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it, are available online through Snell Library’s and the Writing Center’s webpages (see below). Any paper suspected of plagiarism or any form of cheating will be handed over to the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution. There are no exceptions to this policy. If you have any questions not answered in the MLA guidelines about how to consult or cite primary or secondary sources, or if feel unsure of what requires citation, please contact me in advance of the due date.
Details about the university’s Policy on Academic Honesty can be found at

Writing Center

The Northeastern University Writing Center is located in 412 Holmes Hall and in Snell Library (for current hours see http://www.northeastern.edu/english/writing-center/ or call 617-373-4549) and offers free and friendly help for any level writer, including help with reading complex texts, conceptualizing a writing project, refining your writing process (i.e., planning, researching, organization, drafting, revising, and editing), and using sources effectively. You can receive feedback face-to-face during regular hours or via email/online response. We strongly recommend that you make appointments to go over drafts of your work—including your digital work—before turning it in. Questions about the Writing Center can be directed to Belinda Walzer, Writing Center Director.