All readings should be completed prior to class.

Some links will take you to a UMD login page if you access them off campus. If you’re a student and run into trouble with these, let me know. If you’re reading this syllabus for personal study and do not have university access, email me (alothian at and I will send you the relevant files.

Each week, in addition to required readings, there is an optional “deep dive” text that gives scholarly background or an additional perspective. Knowing DCC students’ intellectual curiosity, I’m confident that lots of you will be excited to spend time with these texts and deepen your understanding of race, gender, and labor in the digital world.

Unit 1: Cultural Operating Systems

Week 1: Introductions
Thursday January 25

By Monday January 29: complete confidential student questionnaire

Week 2: Systems of Race

Tuesday January 30
• Ijeoma Oluo, “Is It Really About Race?” and “What is Racism?” (2018)
• Ta-Nehisi Coates, excerpts from Between the World and Me (2015)

Thursday February 1
• Tara McPherson, “Why are the Digital Humanities So White? Or Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation” (2012)

• Optional deep dive: Michael Omi and Howard Winant, “Introduction: Racial Formation in the United States” (2014)

Friday February 2: blog post due

ADD-DROP DEADLINE: Tuesday February 6

Week 3: Systems of Gender

Tuesday February 6
• Laurie Penny, “Gender” (2017) Content note: discussion of eating disorder
• Dean Spade, “Impossibility Now” (video with transcript) (2013)
• Sylvia Rivera Law Project, “Trans 101

Thursday February 8
• Alice Marwick, “Gender, Sexuality, and Social Media” (2013)
• Lisa Nakamura, “Queer Woman of Color: The Highest Difficulty Setting There Is? Gaming Rhetoric as Gender Capital” (2012)

• Optional deep dive: Patricia Hill Collins and Silma Bilge, “What is Intersectionality?” (2016)

Friday February 9: blog post due

Exploration 1: Digital Autoethnography. Due Monday February 12.

Unit 2: Social Media and Social Justice

Week 4: Networks and Publics

Tuesday February 13
• danah boyd, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (2014).
Full book PDF available at link; read the Introduction and Chapter 6 “Inequality: Can Social Media Resolve Social Divisions?” (pages 1-28; 153-175).

Thursday February 15
• Read everyone’s autoethnographies in preparation to map our own networked publics.

• Optional deep dive: spend some time exploring Mizuko Ito et al, Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. (2010)

Friday February 16: blog post due

Week 5: Counterpublics

Tuesday February 20
• Catherine Knight Steele, “Signifyin’, Bitching, and Blogging: Black Women and Resistance Discourse Online” (2016)
• Janell Hobson, “Black Beauty and Digital Spaces: The New Visibility Politics” (2016)
Student-led discussion: Lauren, Amina, and Tyla

Thursday February 22
• Elspeth Reeve, “The Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens” (2016)
• Marty Fink and Quinn Miller, “Trans Media Moments: Tumblr, 2011-2013” (2014)
• Juana Peralta and Roy Perez, “Call Out Queen Zine” (2012)

• Optional deep dive: Andi Schwartz, “Critical Blogging: Constructing Femmescapes Online” (2016)

Friday February 23: blog post due

Week 6: (Self)Images

Tuesday February 27
• In-class screening: Black Mirror: “Nosedive” (2016)

Thursday March 1
• Crystal Abedin, “Communicative ❤ Intimacies: Influencers and Perceived Interconnectedness” (2015)
• Minh-Ha T. Pham, “I click and post and breathe, waiting for others to see what I see”: On #FeministSelfies, Outfit Photos, and Networked Vanity” (2015)
Student-led discussion:  Ben, Eli, and Allison

• Optional deep dive: Julie Wilson and Emily Chivers Yochim, “Pinning Happiness: Affect, Social Media, and the Work of Mothers” (2015)

Friday March 2: blog post due

Week 7: Social Media for Social Movements

Tuesday March 6
• Zeyneb Tufecki, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest (2017). Preface, Introduction, and chapter 1

Thursday, March 8
• Tufecki, Twitter and Tear Gas: chapter 2 and either 3 or 4 (half the class reads each one)
Student-led discussion (focus on chapter 2 but read all 3): Joy and Beth

• Optional deep dive: Tufecki, Twitter and Tear Gas, the rest of Part One

Friday March 9: blog post due

Week 8: The Fragility of Networked Protest

Tuesday March 13
• Tufecki, Twitter and Tear Gas: chapter 5 and either 6 or 7 (half the class reads each one)
Student-led discussion (focus on chapter 5 but read all 3): Jonny and Owen

Thursday March 15
• Tufecki, Twitter and Tear Gas: chapter 8 and epilogue
Prepare for class: preliminary collection for your media curation. Post raw links/tweets/images to blog: at least 5, no more than 10.

• Optional deep dive: Tufecki, Twitter and Tear Gas: the rest of the book

Friday March 16: blog post due

Exploration 2: Social Media Curation. Due Monday March 19.

SPRING BREAK (Read one another’s curation assignments! And get ahead on Phillips book if you can.)

Unit 3: The Hidden Shapes of the Digital World

Week 9: Trolls and the Subculture of Harassment

Tuesday March 27
• Social Media Curation Assignments
• Whitney Phillips, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture (2015). Pages 1-47 (Introduction through end of chapter 3)
• E.D. Adams, “What I Learned while Exposing Myself on LiveJournal” (2016)

Thursday March 29
• Phillips, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things 51-69; 95-113 (chapters 4 and 6)
Student-led discussion: Calvin

• Optional deep dive: Phillips, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, chapter 5

Friday March 30: blog post due

Week 10: The Influence of Troll Logics

Tuesday April 3
• Phillips, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things 115-152 (chapters 7 and 8)
Student-led discussion: Nina

Thursday April 5
• Phillips, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things 153-170 (chapter 9)
• Phillips, “We’re the reason we can’t have nice things on the internet” (2015)
• Katherine Cross, “The Art of the Real” (2017)

• Optional deep dive: Sky Croeser, “Thinking Beyond Free Speech in Responding to Online Harassment” (2016)

Friday April 6: blog post due

Week 11: Algorithms of Oppression

Monday April 9: Capstone Exhibition

Tuesday April 10
Eli Pariser, “Beware Online Filter Bubbles” (2011)
Safiya Umoja Noble, “Introduction” to Algorithms of Oppression (2018)
John Cheney-Lippold, Introduction to We are Data: Algorithms and the Making of our Digital Selves (2017)
Student-led discussion: Jackson, Natasha, and Bryanna

Thursday April 12
No class.

Friday April 13: blog post due

Week 12: Invisible Workers

Tuesday April 17
Sarah T. Roberts, “Commercial Content Moderation: Digital Laborers’ Dirty Work” (2016)
Lisa Nakamura, “The Unwanted Labor of Social Media: Women of Color Call Out Culture as Venture Community Management” (2015)

Thursday April 19
• No class. Watch on your own (or collectively!): Black Mirror episode, “Fifteen Million Merits” (2011). Content note: sexual violence and self-harm.

• Optional deep dive: Tiziana Terranova, “Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy

Friday April 20: blog post due

Week 13: 2016 and After

Tuesday April 24
Laurie Penny, “I’m With the Banned” (2016)
Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Race to the Bottom” (2017)
Carol Cadwalladr, “‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool: meet the data war whistleblower” (2018)
danah boyd, “What Have We Wrought” (video) (2018)

Thursday April 26
Workshop of ideas for Exploration 3

• Optional deep dive: Carol Cadwalladr, “The Great Brexit Robbery: How our Democracy was Hijacked” (2017)

Friday April 27: blog post due

Exploration 3: Hack Your Digital Sphere. Due Monday April 30.

Week 14: Self-Directed Research

Final Project Teams must be decided by Monday April 30.

Tuesday May 1
Library session on research design: 6103 McKeldin Library

Thursday May 3
Project development time in class; each team meets with professor during class to discuss ideas.
Come prepared with: research question and methodology ideas

Required: attend Capstone Dress Rehearsal this week.

Capstone Dress Rehearsal: Week of May 2 – May 8th at the Lab/Conference room. Dates/times:
May 2: 209B Wed 3:30-5:15
May 2: 209A Wed 5:30-7:15
May 3:  209C Thurs 4:00-5:45
May 8: 209D Tues 2:00-3:35

Week 15: Self-Directed Project Development

Tuesday May 8:
Final project peer workshop (first set of teams shares ideas)
Present: Draft research question; methods; examples of revelant scholarly materials; an area on which you would like feedback. 

Thursday May 10:
Final project peer workshop (second set of teams shares ideas)
Present: Draft research question; methods; examples of revelant scholarly materials; an area on which you would like feedback. 

Thursday May 10: Capstone Fair. 6-7.30pm

Final exam session
Monday, May 14 8:00am-10:00am
Final project presentations
Final project submissions due on ELMS

Wednesday May 16:
Final project reports due on blog
Participation evaluation questionnaire due
All online participation complete (don’t forget to log DCC events)