Engl 197: Simulation & Simulacra

UC Santa Barbara, Winter 2012


Midterm paper (3-4 pages):  20%

  • Questions and topics to be assigned
  • Midterm papers due February 13

Class participation, including one brief class presentation: 30%

  • Guidelines for Presentations:  Each member of the seminar will be responsible for a brief, 5-minute presentation, which will involve outlining a discussion topic and a set of questions for the class. Presentations might ideally begin with a passage that you use as a springboard for analysis of the text. You are welcome and even strongly encouraged to come talk to me about your presentation beforehand. One copy of the questions will be due to me the night before the scheduled presentation; please bring copies for everyone to class.
  • Participation in any seminar involves both general attentiveness and active contribution to discussion. Since this course is a seminar, attendance and participation in discussions will be particularly important, and more than one unexcused absence will significantly and adversely affect your final grade. Please read the assigned material before class and come prepared with questions and issues you would like to address (at times I will give you more specific instructions for this).

Sim exercise: 25%

  • One of your assignments will be to engage in some sort of meaningful activity – an activity that has tangible results – in a virtual space. The activity must be meaningful and non-trivial in the sense that you do something that has a significant material effect on that space. A tour through Second Life would not in this sense qualify but construction would, though it might be more interesting to find a means to engage other participants. An important part of this exercise will be documentation and indeed its purpose is to prompt careful consideration of questions such as these: of what does “meaningful activity” consist exactly? How would it be visible or knowable? What means of documentation would be best suited to capture such activity? What is the relationship between the documentary evidence and the virtual space?
  • Note that “virtual space” might be a game space or virtual environment such as Second Life, but you are welcome and even encouraged to explore other possibilities. Note as well that the temporal frame of this assignment is not fixed so it involve a one-time performance or a series of ongoing activities.
  • LCI students will develop a more elaborate digital archive of their sim exercise. We will discuss further in class.
  • Sim exercises due March 5

Final paper (6 pages, no shorter): 25%

  • The topics for the final paper are not prescribed, but they should of course be based on the material we study this quarter. You are welcome to discuss your topic with me in advance.
  • As you work on the written assignments, you should be concerned to avoid plagiarism and copyright violation. Please take note of UCSB’s explicit policies about academic integrity.
  • Final papers due March 22

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