What kind of course is this?

This is course offered under Northeastern’s Hybrid NUFlex model, so we’ll be meeting synchronously on Zoom during class time (10:30-11:20 AM; Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays). I have requested to teach remotely this term so you will always see me virtually, whether you are in a socially-distanced classroom or attending remotely with Zoom on a given class day.

I will start the semester assuming that we will meet for every session unless otherwise specified. That said, none of us knows what the next few months could bring. It may not take a catastrophe either to change things up because of unanticipated challenges; if I find that Zoom isn’t working well for us for certain kinds of activities, for example, I might move to cancel a few meetings and replace them with more asynchronous components.

I will try to maintain consistency for us the best I can, but just as learning in this particular hybrid environment is new to you as students, it’s also new to me as your instructor. So, the exact form that our activities take will likely change, and I ask for your mutual patience and flexibility. This is our space to learn together. I am happy to consider any that your other instructors have tried, on Zoom or otherwise, that have worked for you.

What materials will I need for this course?

There are no books for you to to purchase — I’ll provide you with all of the course’s required readings through Canvas.

To participate in this course, I expect that you have regular access to some kind of device with which you can access Canvas and participate in our Zoom meetings, as well as consistent internet access. In addition to Zoom, some of our assignments will require access to particular platforms like Google Drive, which I acknowledge may not possible for students currently residing in some countries. I will be sending out a mandatory survey early in the term to get a better sense of your needs and limitations, including issues of access to technology, care responsibilities, and potential extenuating circumstances.

What do I need to do, and where do I find it?

I expect that you will be present in the classroom or remotely on class dates unless otherwise indicated. I also expect that you come prepared to discuss any assigned materials like readings, and with any drafts due for that class meeting. This is for you to get the most out of the course, as well as your classmates: class will be discussion-centered, and you will be working on your own and one another’s writing.

Please consult the schedule on this site for what you need to read or do in preparation for each class meeting. Any readings not linked to there will be accessible in the files on Canvas. Canvas will also be where you can access the link to our Zoom session, submit your assignments, and collaborate on any common documents.

I am trying to use Canvas for as little as possible this term because I am trying to minimize the use of platforms that collect and monetize data about our course engagement, frame us students and instructors as adversaries, or that make the course materials that I develop the property of anyone but me. To maintain community, I will be setting up a Discord server for us to use this semester that we can use to both keep in touch with matters pertaining the the course, and that you can use as an informal space for you to interact with your classmates. I will also be encouraging you to take collaborative notes on our course readings and discussions in a shared document.

What behavior is expected of me in our class spaces?

Code of Conduct

The code of conduct for this course is taken from Ryan Cordell’s, which was adapted from the Northeastern Feminist Coding Collective’s.

  • It’s okay not to know: Assume that no one inherently knows what we’re learning. We all come to this class with different backgrounds and abilities; none of us (including the instructor) will know everything and that is okay! Encourage a space where it’s okay to ask questions.
  • Be respectful: Do not use harmful language or stereotypes that target people of all different gender, abilities, races, ages, ethnicities, languages, socioeconomic classes, body types, sexualities, and other aspects of identity.
  • Collaborative and inclusive interactions: Avoid speaking over each other. Instead, we want to practice listening to each other and speaking with each other, not at each other.
  • Use “I” statements: focusing on your own interpretation of a situation, rather than placing blame or critiquing someone else.
  • Harassment clause: The following behaviors are considered harassment and unacceptable in this community (these are borrowed from the Django Code of Conduct):
    • Violent threats or language directed against another person.
    • Discriminatory jokes and language.
    • Posting sexually explicit or violent material.*
    • Posting (or threatening to post) other people’s personally identifying information (“doxing”).
    • Personal insults, especially those using racist or sexist terms.
    • Unwelcome sexual attention.
    • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior.
    • Repeated harassment of others. In general, if someone asks you to stop, then stop.

My personal note: Like any course in a field that engages issues of power, some of what we cover in this course may well be sexual or violent in nature. You are adults, and you will be expected to exercise your judgment. Before you share something, consider the form in which you are representing it, and what that may suggest about its usefulness. Are you offering it for critique and to add to discussion, or are you glorifying it or trying to provoke a response? Is this form of depiction necessary when another form might suffice? Could engaging with it re-traumatize someone? Is it disrespectful to the person it depicts to reproduce it? Should you share something with sensitive content, please use content warnings.

Zoom Guidelines

We will review best practices for our Zoom discussions together, which is another thing that’s subject to change as we figure out what works best for us.

However, we are allowing one another into our spaces. So, a few constants for when you are remote:

  • You are not required to keep your cameras on in my class.
  • Please feel free to eat and drink.
  • Dress code: please wear clothes. I don’t care what kind of clothes.
  • It’s a good idea, if you can, to wear some sort of headphones and use a microphone or headset, which likely provide better sound quality than most computers’ internal microphones.
  • It’s a good idea not to have have anything visible around you that you would not want others to see, but I do not care if you have, e.g., laundry around. You may use a background if you wish, but they are unnecessarily resource-heavy.
  • Feel free to have pets or kids around.
  • I will not be recording our Zoom discussions by default to respect all of our privacy.
    • If you have an accommodation that allows you to record sessions, I will of course support you, but please discuss it with me and we can find a solution.
  • I will, however, be saving chat transcripts.
    • A reminder, in case you don’t know, that the entire Zoom chat transcript is visible to me as the host upon conclusion of the meeting, even if you say something to someone else privately. So don’t write anything there you wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with everyone.

In-Person Classroom Guidelines

Some important things to note for days you are in the classroom:

  • I will have a weekly roster indicating whether each student is scheduled to be present in person or remotely. Please follow your weekly assignment through the Student Hub.
  • In order to preserve appropriate social distancing, I will ask students who appear in-person on days when they are not scheduled to do so to leave the classroom.
  • Unfortunately, you will not be able to eat or drink in classrooms (except water) this semester.
  • If you are in the classroom, you are required to wear a mask or face covering in addition to remaining at least six feet from your classmates, for their safety.
    • The University’s policy is if you come to class without a mask, I am to request that you to go and get one on campus (you can get a mask at the Visitor Center or at the Curry Student Center Help Desk), and that if you refuse to wear one, I cannot continue class. Further, if you refuse to wear a mask while you are attending class in person, you will immediately receive a zero for your entire course participation grade, and I will refer you to The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution for disciplinary action. I don’t enjoy being put in the position of enforcer, so don’t test me on this.
  • Please do not come to class in person if you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if you have not yet been tested or do not yet have results, and even if you are scheduled to be there in person that day. If you are well enough to join us, please join remotely.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, I expect expect that you will follow the guidance from the university telehealth team to isolate and get appropriate healthcare if needed. While I understand that emailing me may not be your first priority when ill, please keep me informed to the best of your ability so we can set a plan.

Will you accept late assignments?

I have done my best to plan this course with a rhythm in mind, and you will be aware of deadlines far in advance. The later I receive materials from you, the harder it is to provide the feedback I would like to provide for your learning. So, please try your best to submit your assignments on time.

That said, life happens. I do not expect, especially during a pandemic, that my class is your first priority. And while I am here to help you learn, my first priority is your well-being — your physical and mental health. I recognize that we are all caring for others and ourselves at this moment. Further, I hope that one positive outcome of our shared, if differently inflected, experience of this pandemic is increased respect and the realization that our broader culture of overwork is unsustainable.

Please note that this sort of mutual respect requires open lines of communication, and is not an invitation to submit assignments whenever you want without discussing it with me. Approach me early, if possible, if you think you’ll need an extension. If something exigent comes up, let me know, and we can work around it. If you are having a hard time because of your health, unforeseen life obstacles, the significant illness or death of someone close to you, etc., please send me an email so we can arrange something. I don’t need doctors’ notes, and I definitely don’t need obituaries for dead relatives. I don’t mind if your major assignment submission is a couple of hours late — I promise that I’m not reading your papers at 2AM the night they’re due, and it’s not really “late” until I start grading, which is when I will no longer accept an assignment without prior arrangement.

A note on tech issues: I encourage you to avoid any tech issues by saving early and often and keeping copies of files both locally and in some kind of cloud storage — be it your University-sponsored Google or OneDrive account, or something else like Dropbox. I will not offer extensions for computer viruses, crashes, lost passwords, or lost or corrupted files. An exception here is if your computer fails entirely and you are unable to access another computer to submit your work because of COVID-19; that would absolutely warrant an extension.

How can I seek help if I need it?

I will be holding virtual student drop-in hours on Wednesdays a bit after class at 11:45AM-1:30PM, or by appointment. Please feel free to eat lunch while we talk, since I probably will be. I encourage you to make use of drop-in hours for any thinking questions you may have related to the course material, and not only when you feel you are doing poorly or don’t get something. If you need to make an appointment instead, please email me to request one, giving three suggestions for possible times you are free.

Note: I also encourage you to bring your work to our wonderful Writing Center on campus. While as honors students, you may not be used to seeking this form of help, but writing centers are not remedial spaces; the tutors in our’s are trained to help students and faculty at all levels with a range of genres and at most any point in your drafting process. (I have worked there.) You can find information about the Writing Center and other resources here.

What Academic Integrity standards are expected of me?

Northeastern University is committed to the principles of intellectual honesty and integrity: the NU Academic Honesty and Integrity Policy is found at http://www.northeastern.edu/osccr/academic-integrity-policy/. Broadly, violations of this policy constitute: cheating, fabricating (data or citation), plagiarizing, unauthorized collaborating, misrepresenting individual contribution, or facilitating any of the above.

A note on plagiarism: while we will talk substantially this semester about how all writing is in some respects rewritten from someone else’s ideas, scholars have a responsibility to be transparent about attributing ideas that are particular to others or that they can’t represent as their own. This responsibility means that one is culpable for a violation of academic integrity regardless of whether or not the violation was deliberate. That said, there is no shame in not knowing these things if you do not already, since they are learned! We will discuss strategies for cited attribution, including quoting and paraphrasing, which vary across genre and medium. If you are unsure, please feel free to approach me if you have any questions about citation practices, especially since citation is one of my research specialities.**