50:989:312 Writing Across Media (Fall 2023)

How do our writing tools shape our writing practices? Any writing medium, from clay tablets to word processors to electronic ink, actively shapes how we think about writing and how we engage in the practice of writing. This course will provide students with the ability to consider how writing changes as it moves across media, and it will engage in experimentation with an array of writing environments and tools. Potential exercises and projects will include making zines and notebooks, the use of generative artificial intelligence, making interactive narratives, and the creation of experiences for virtual and augmented reality.


Course Title: Writing New Media (a.k.a. Writing Across Media)
Course Code: 50:989:312
Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:35-10:55
Location: Digital Commons, Room 102
Professor: Dr. James Brown
Email: jim.brown@rutgers.edu
Office Location: Digital Commons, Room 104
Office Hours: Tuesday 11:00-12:30 (or by appointment)

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this class, students will be able to:

  • Effectively explore and experiment with media technologies
  • Understand the constraints and affordances of media technologies
  • Compose with various media technologies in medium-appropriate ways
  • Articulate an approach to writing and design processes
  • Reflect on learning processes and strategies

Required Texts

Readings for this class will be distributed as paper copies in class.

Course Work

Our work in this class will involve in-class workshops and exercises, writing assignments that involve reflecting on those activities, and a final project and presentation during which you will expand upon something you learned during those workshops and exercises. We will also have readings and weekly writing activities. All of this work will be evaluated using the Learning Record (LR), which is detailed on the course website.

Most work in this class happens in the classroom, during class meetings. That work cannot be made up, so missing class will be a major detriment. In addition, this class will not make much use of Canvas, except as a tool for communication (I will send you messages via Canvas, but that's about it.) If you are looking for a class that provides you with a checklist of tasks that you can complete outside of class or if you plan to miss many class sessions, this is likely not the right class for you.


Grades in this class will be determined by the Learning Record (LR). The LR will require you to observe your own learning and construct an argument for your grade based on evidence that you accumulate throughout the semester. You will record weekly observations, you will document your work during in-class activities (by taking notes and/or taking pictures of things you are making), and you will synthesize draw upon your recorded observations and your work samples to build an argument for your grade. You will construct this argument twice - once at the midterm and once at the end of the course. We will be discussing the LR at length during the first weeks of class.

Attendance Policy

Attendance is required and is crucial for success in this class. Most of our work happens in class with workshops and exercises, and most of this kind of work can't be made up. We have workshops that are focused on specific tools, and we will also have open workshop days where you'll be able to work on your final presentations and projects. These open workshop days are mandatory.

When you complete your midterm and final portfolio, your attendance record will be part of the evidence you draw upon to make an argument for your grade. If you don't attend class regularly, you will not be able to argue for a high grade in this class (see grade criteria in the Learning Record section of the syllabus).

Content Warnings

If we will be reading and discussing material that addresses sensitive topics, I will do my best to let you know in advance. If there are certain specific topics you would like me to provide warnings about, please let me know. I will do my best to flag content based on your requests.

Cell Phone Policy

Phones must be put away during class. If you are on your phone during class, I will ask you to leave.

University policies and resources

Academic Integrity
My assumption is that any work you turn in for this course has been completed by you. If you ever have questions about proper attribution or citation, please don't hesitate to ask.

Code of Conduct
Rutgers University-Camden seeks a community that is free from violence, threats, and intimidation; that is respectful of the rights, opportunities, and welfare of students, faculty, staff, and guests of the University; and that does not threaten the physical or mental health or safety of members of the University community and includes classroom space. As a student at the University, you are expected adhere to Student Code of Conduct: https://deanofstudents.camden.rutgers.edu/student-conduct

Rutgers-Camden has a wide range of resources to help you stay on track both personally and academically. The Raptor Cares Report (https://deanofstudents.camden.rutgers.edu/reporting) connects you to our Dean of Students Office and they can assist you with a variety of concerns: medical, financial, mental health, or any life issue that impacts your academic performance. You can share a concern for yourself, a classmate or a friend.

Office of Disability Services
The Office of Disability Services (ODS) provides students with confidential accommodation services in order to allow students with documented physical, mental, and learning disabilities to successfully complete their course of study at Rutgers University – Camden. ODS provides for the confidential documentation and verification of student accommodations, and communicates with faculty regarding disabilities and accommodations. The ODS provides accommodation services, which can include readers, interpreters, alternate text, special equipment, and note takers. The ODS also works with students, faculty, staff and administrators to enforce the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. https://success.camden.rutgers.edu/success-services/disability-services/

Office of Military and Veterans Affairs
The Office of Military and Veterans Affairs can assist our military and veteran students with benefits, deployment issues and much more. Contact: Fred Davis 856-225-2791 frdavis@camden.rutgers.edu

Support for Undocumented and Immigrant Students
In an ongoing effort to support all students on campus, Rutgers University has established two offices to support undocumented and immigrant students with questions or concerns related to immigration status. The Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Project (RICAP) provides free and confidential immigration legal consultations and direct representation to currently enrolled students. For more information or an appointment, contact Jason Hernandez, Esq., at 856-225-2302 or jason.c.hernandez@rutgers.edu. The Rutgers Office of Undocumented Student Services provides one-on-one case management to assist undocumented students and help them access campus resources including financial aid, career services, health services, etc.


schedule subject to change

Medium Thinking/Medium Design


In Class: Course Introduction, set up Google Drive folders, discuss Learning Record, preview Albers reading


Read: Anni Albers, "Work With Material"
In Class: Discuss Learning Record, Zine-making workshop led by Prof. Sayre, Director of Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH)


In Class: LRO discussion, log book discussion, Albers discussion, zine-making workshop (continued)


Read: Keller Easterling, "Medium Design"
In Class: Discuss Easterling, zine-making workshop (continued)



Just Following Procedure?


Read: John Cage, Foreword to Silence; Kenneth Goldsmith, "Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?"
In Class: John Cage performance workshop


Listen: Harry Mathews, General introduction to Oulipo in 15 minutes [content warning - mention of suicide]
In Class: Oulipo constrained-writing workshop


Read: Sol Lewitt, "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art"
In Class: Sol Lewitt workshop

Writing With/Against Media


Read: Salter and Moulthrop, excerpt from Twining
In Class: Twine workshop


In Class: Twine workshop


In Class: Twine workshop


Read: Kate Compton and Michael Mateas, "Tracery: An Author-Focused Generative Text Tool"
In Class: Tracery workshop


In Class: Tracery workshop


In Class: Learning Record workshop






Read: Weizenbaum, "Computer Power and Human Reason" (excerpt)
In Class: ELIZA chatbot workshop


Read: Chiang, "ChatGPT is a Blurry JPEG of the Web"
In Class: ChatGPT workshop


Read: McCloud, excerpt from Making Comics
In Class: Comics workshop


In Class: Comics workshop


Read: Gertz and Di Justo, excerpt from Environmental Monitoring with Arduino
In Class: Arduino workshop


In class: Arduino workshop


In class: Project proposal workshop


In class: Project proposal workshop and informal presentations

Developing Final Projects


In class: Open workshop


In class: Open Workshop


In class: Slide presentations workshop/Open workshop


In class: Student presentations


In class: Student presentations


In class: Learning Record Workshop



Learning Record

Grades in this course will be determined by use of the Learning Record, a system which requires students to compile a portfolio of work at the midterm and at the end of the semester. When you submit assignments, I will provide written feedback, but I won't provide a grade.

LR portfolios present a selection of your work, both formal and informal, plus ongoing observations about your learning, plus an analysis of your work in terms of the five dimensions of learning and the goals for this course. You will evaluate your work in terms of the grade criteria listed on this page. I will provide written comments on your LR and determine whether you have made a convincing argument.

The LR has four main components: an interview, observations recorded regularly, work samples that document your work in the class, a midterm portfolio, and a final portfolio.


This is an informal interview with someone who is familiar with your learning processes. You can do the interview in person or not, and you can even conduct the interview via email or text message. After the interview, you will summarize it briefly and then offer your own reflections on that interview. The interview is completed only once, at the beginning of the semester.

During the interview, you should ask the following questions. However, you are free to add your own questions or to ask follow-up questions.

1) What is most interesting to you about the way I approach learning?
2) If you had to pick my greatest strength as a learner, what would it be?
3) If you had to pick something that is a challenge for me in learning situations, what would it be?
4) What is something you've observed in my learning process that you think I might not notice about myself?


At least twice per week, you will record observations about your learning. These aren't observations about the course content but are instead observations about your own learning processes.

So, an observation wouldn't be "Easterling's arguments about media offer a useful way of thinking about digital writing." Instead, an observation would be more like, "I'm having a hard time understanding Easterling's text" or "Easterling's text was challenging for me, so I decided to take some extra notes."

We will talk about observations during class and share our observations as we go. You'll have plenty of opportunities to make sure you're on the right track.

Work Samples

While we are completing in-class exercises and workshops, you'll be responsible for recording as much evidence of your learning process as possible. This means saving bits of writing or notes you're taking, taking video or pictures of your work, or any other ways you can think to record your activity. Work samples will be saved in your Google Drive folder, and they will be what you analyze and evaluate during your midterm and final portfolios.

Midterm and Final Portfolios

You'll complete two portfolios in this class, one at the midterm and one at the final. Each portfolio will consist of two sections: Analysis and Evaluation.


You will analyze your work in class (and in other classes during this semester, if applicable) along with the observations you record throughout the semester. That analysis will look at your learning development in terms of the five dimensions of learning and the learning goals of this course.

Dimensions of Learning
The five dimensions of learning have been developed by teachers and researchers, and they represent what learners experience in any learning situation:

1) Confidence and independence
2) Knowledge and understanding
3) Skills and strategies
4) Use of prior and emerging experience
5) Reflectiveness

You can find detailed descriptions of the dimensions of learning on the Learning Record Website.

Course Goals
Your analysis will also consider the specific goals for this course:

  • Effectively explore and tinker with media technologies
  • Understand the constraints and affordances of media technologies
  • Compose with various media technologies in medium-appropriate ways
  • Articulate their approach to writing and design processes
  • Reflect on their own learning process and strategies


In this section, you will evaluate your work in the course (assignments and observations as well as work you have completed in other courses this semester) in terms of the below criteria to make an argument for your grade. You are making an argument in this section, so you'll need to provide specific evidence that your work fits with the grade criteria you've chosen.

Represents outstanding participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed and submitted on time, with very high quality in all work produced for the course. Student has perfect or near perfect attendance. Evidence of significant development across the five dimensions of learning. The Learning Record at this level demonstrates activity that goes significantly beyond the required course work in one or more course goals.

Represents excellent participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed on time, with consistently high quality in course work. Student has near perfect attendance. Evidence of marked development across the five dimensions of learning.

Represents good participation in all course activities; all assigned work completed, with generally good quality overall in course work. Evidence of some development across the five dimensions of learning.

Represents uneven participation in course activities; some gaps in assigned work completed, with inconsistent quality in course work. Evidence of development across the five dimensions of learning is partial or unclear.

Represents minimal participation in course activities; serious gaps in assigned work completed, or very low quality in course work. Evidence of development is not available.


Log Book (due Fridays at noon)

A great deal of your work for this class will happen in your log book. The log book is a Google document that you share with me in which you'll write weekly reflections on our workshops, readings, and on potential final projects that you are considering.

Log book entries are a minimum of 300 words, and you are free to write more than that. They are due every Friday at noon.

Your log book serves as a space to write about our course activities and also as a key place to see your learning development. When you put together your midterm and final Learning Record, you'll have the opportunity to re-read your log book entries and use them as evidence in your argument about your learning. In addition, this is a place to think about which technologies you might like to use in your final project.

The more effort you put in to log book entries, the more success you'll have in both your Learning Record and in your final project.

Project Proposal and Presentation (Due 11/16)

Your final project in this class will be an opportunity to take what you've learned during our various workshops and expand it into a larger project. Each workshop exposes you to a tool or technology, and our exercises with those tools are opportunities to learn how to create with that tool and also how to begin imagining a longer and larger project. Your log book will be a place to record your potential ideas for final projects, and your proposal is the document in which you commit to a final project and describe that project in detail.

Project proposals are due on November 16 by 5:00pm, uploaded to your Google Drive folder. During that class period, each person will give an informal presentation, briefly describing what they plan to do for the final project. Presentations will be very short, and they are an opportunity for students to give one another feedback and ideas about the project.

The format of your project proposal is as follows:

Your project should have a title. While this can change as you continue to work on the project, you should at least have a working title. Remember that a title is an opportunity to shape your own thinking about the project. A creative title can actually help transform a project, so think of the title as more than just a description of the project.

Description of Content (500-word minimum)
In this section, you'll describe what your hoping to accomplish content-wise with your project. You should answer questions such as: What idea are you trying to express, or what argument are you trying to make? What is the goal of your project? What do you want the audience to gain from reading/interacting with/listening/watching your project? What is the significance of the idea you're trying to express or the argument you are trying to make? You have wide latitude for the content of your final project, but you have to ensure that your topic is something you have researched and that it is something that fits the medium you've chosen. In both this section and the previous one ("Description of Medium") you should be keeping in mind how your medium will shape your message. This section should be 500 words minimum, but you can write more.

Description of Medium (300-word minimum)
In this section, you'll describe which tool/medium you are choosing to use for the project and why. You should answer questions such as: How do you plan to convey the content you've chosen? Why is this medium the best fit for what you want to do? What did you learn about the tool during our workshop that you will be applying in the final project? What does this tool do well? What is it built to do, and how does that help you with your project? What are the tool's limitations, and how will that affect the way you use it? This section should be 300-words minimum, but you can write more.

Work Plan
This section is where you will lay out your plan for completing your project. Your proposal is due November 16, and your project is due December 5 prior to the start of class (on December 5 and 7, students will deliver presentations about their projects). In between the submission of your proposal and the submission of your project, you will have four in-class workshops during which you can work on your project and your final presentation, but you'll also need to complete work outside of class in order to complete everything.

This section needs to describe how you plan to get from November 16 to December 5. It should answer questions such as: What deadlines are you setting for yourself? What are the major and minor tasks you need to complete? When do you hope to have a rough draft or prototype of your project completed? How do you plan to seek feedback on your project from Prof. Brown and/or your classmates?

You can present this work plan however you'd like (as a list of dates and tasks, as a calendar, or any other format that best works for you), but it needs to make clear how you've broken the project into smaller steps, set deadlines for yourself, and made a plan for how you'll complete the project.

Final Project and Presentation (Due 12/5)

Your final project in this class will be an expansion or revision of something you began during our workshop sessions. This is the biggest and most significant task you will complete in the class, so you should be clear that this is a significant piece of work that demonstrates your learning development in the class. In addition to completing a final project, you will also complete an 5-minute presentation during which you will present and explain the project to me and your classmates.

Your proposal (due November 16) will detail what you plan to make, what medium you'll use, and how you plan to complete the project during the closing weeks of the semester. I will provide feedback on that proposal as well as on the final project.

Your project will consist of three parts: your project, a statement of goals and choices, and an 8-minute presentation.

Final Project

Your project should be uploaded to your "Work Samples" folder and/or handed in as a physical object, whichever form makes the most sense given your medium.

Statement of Goals and Choices

Be creative with your title!

What idea are you trying to express, or what argument are you trying to make? What is the goal of your project? What do you want the audience to gain from reading/interacting with/listening/watching your project? How have you conveyed the content you've chosen? What is the significance of the idea you're trying to express or the argument you are trying to make?

Why is this tool the best fit for what you want to do? What did you learn about the tool during our workshop that you will be applying in the final project? What does this tool do well? What is it built to do, and how does that help you with your project? What are the tool's limitations, and how will that affect the way you use it?

Writing and Design Process
Describe your writing and/or design process for the project. What drafts and revisions did you move through as you created it? Did you get feedback? Who provided it and how? What significant changes did the project undergo during this process?

This section allows you to reflect on the process and product. What about the project are you most proud of? What might you have done differently if you repeated this project? Any other reflections are about your final project are welcome in this section.

There is no minimum or maximum number of words for this SOGC document, but it should be as detailed as possible.


Everyone will deliver an 8-minute presentation about their project. That presentation should provide a condensed version of the Statement of Goals and choices document, explaining what your project is, what it aims to achieve, and why you've made the choices you have. In class, we will discuss approaches to slide design, and you should be attentive to those discussions. Your slides should not be lists of bullet points but should instead be designed carefully, using visuals to complement your presentation.

When providing feedback on final projects and presentations, here are the questions I will be asking:

  • Is it clear to your audience what your project is trying to accomplish (i.e. what idea you're trying to convey or what argument you're trying to make)?
  • Does the project show evidence that you've researched your chosen topic?
  • Have you made effective use of your chosen medium? Does the medium fit what you are trying to accomplish?
  • Is your project accessible? Can your audience effectively interact with/read/watch/listen to it?
  • Is your presentation carefully designed? Does it reflect that you've applied what we talked about in terms of slide design and time management? Does it observe the time limit?
  • Is your Statement of Goals and Choices complete, and does it offer a detailed account of your project and process?