Teaching - Brandon Walsh

Teaching

Washington and Lee University

University of Virginia

ENGL 394: “Hacking the Book”

This course considers literary experiment instigated by the Internet and exercised on both analogue and digital platforms. When we think of “hacking,” we frequently think of solitary computer programmers in dark rooms. But hacking also implies a culture of profane disruption that closely mirrors developments in literary experimentation over the last seventy years. In this course, we will explore how new media affects the potential for literary experiment in the form of the printed book and how digital explorations offer new ways of engaging with textuality. We will read literature of and about the Internet as well as older texts that serve as precursors for the literary experiments of today. Authors include John Barth, Jean Baudrillard, Jorge Luis Borges, William Gibson, Kenneth Goldsmith, Seth Grahame-Smith, Shelley Jackson, Tom McCarthy, Vladimir Nabokov, and Mark Sample. In this course, we will act as scholar practitioners, reading, writing, and thinking critically, but also experimenting with forms, media, and technology. We will become textual hackers ourselves, exploring literary experiment in a variety of hands-on forms. Assignments include two papers and four digital or analog “hacks”: a Twine hypertext story, a cut up literature experiment, a Time Mapper spatial project, and a Twitter bot.

Draft Syllabus

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WRIT 100: “Writing in the Age of Digital Surveillance”

Concentrated work in composition with readings in which students write at least four revised essays in addition to completing several exercises emphasizing writing as a process. Stress on active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis, and clarity of style.

In this course, we will examine the legal, social, and economic pressures regularly exercised on us by various groups, not all of them benign, as we live our digital lives. In particular, we will explore writing as a means of taking back control in a world that is increasingly surveilled and policed. How can we become not only responsible digital consumers but also active contributors to publicly unfolding humanist pursuits on the Internet? What happens when Big Brother stops watching and starts reading? A variety of sources, journalistic, public, and academic will frame course discussions, and we will also explore a few digital humanities methods for critically examining digital information. In addition to extensive practice with critical writing, the course will also offer an option for pitching and crafting a piece of writing for a public venue. (FW Walsh)

Draft Syllabus

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HIST 211: “Scandal, Crime, and Spectacle in the 19th Century”

This course examines the intersection between scandal, crime and spectacle in nineteenth-century France and Britain. We will discuss the nature of scandals, the connection between scandals and political change, and how scandals and ideas about crime were used to articulate new ideas about class, gender and sexuality. In addition, this class will cover the rise of new theories of criminality in the 19th century and the popular fascination with crime and violence. Crime and scandal also became interwoven into the fabric of the city as sources of urban spectacle. Lastly, we will have an opportunity to discuss how issues of crime, scandal and spectacle resonate in the 21st century. Some of the particular topics we will cover include the Diamond Necklace Affair, the trial of Oscar Wilde, the Jack the Ripper murders, and the birth of detective fiction.

Through this course, students will be introduced to text analysis and data mining for the humanities. This course assumes no prior knowledge of these skills, but asks: how can newly developed technologies that allow computers to “read” large quantities of text shed light on the past? Students will work in groups throughout the course of the term to complete a digital history project that analyzes an element of the 19th century fascination with crime and scandal.

Schedule and accompanying course textbook

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Washington and Lee Undergraduate Digital Humanities Fellows Program

Our attempt to adapt the principles of the Praxis Network to the particular liberal arts context at Washington and Lee, our undergraduate fellowship gives students the opportunity to develop digital projects of their own design in collaboration with digital humanities faculty and with each other. In addition, fellows receive teaching and outreach opportunities to present their own digital humanities work at conferences and elsewhere on campus. Each fellowship experience is tailored to the individual students.

More information

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ENWR 1510: “The Musical: Then and Now”

This themed freshman writing course is based around various forms of the musical from the 1950’s to the present. Beginning with a broad consideration of the role of arts in the marketplace and public life, the course then examines more “classic” musicals alongside newer works as a way of discussing the musical’s continued and evolving relevance to everyday American life. The course familiarizes students with a variety of different genres of real world writing, print and digital: the academic article, the book chapter, the newspaper article, the blog post, and the comment thread, to name a few. We discuss the challenges of each uniqe mode in the service of distilling the expectations of readers in an academic and professional setting. The musicals: Singin’ in the Rain, The Muppets, West Side Story, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Glee, Pitch Perfect, and several music videos as distant cousins of the form.

Syllabus

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IHGC 3559: “American Youth and Film”

This seminar focuses on post-WWII American films made about or for teenagers and adolescents. The changing conceptions of aging, maturity, and American identity on screen form the crux of our discussion, and the course explores these topics in relation to race and rituals of belonging, sexuality and body horror, and the commodification of youth and American identity.

The films included, roughly, one from each decade since the 1950’s: The Wild One, West Side Story, Carrie, and The Breakfast Club. The students selected the films for the ’90s and ’00s, and they chose 10 Things I Hate About You and 21 Jump Street.

Syllabus

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IHGC 3550: “How to Survive an Apocalypse”

This course examines dystopian and post-apocalyptic scenarios from film, texts, and graphic narratives around the turn of the twenty-first century. Discussions of how alternative futures shape and elaborate concerns of the present will form the crux of our discussions, which will include such topics as zombie apocalypse and class anxiety, young adult dystopias and juvenile delinquency, nuclear war and superhero mythology, and technological terror and informational privacy. Tackling these topics across a variety of media will also allow us to assess the power of presentation to shape our understanding of controversial issues — and of our own future. Texts included two novels, two films, and two graphic novels: The Handmaid’s Tale, Ender’s Game, 28 Days Later, Battle Royale, Red Son, and Y: The Last Man.

Syllabus

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ENGL 3820: “History of Literature in English II”

From UVA’s course description:
A literary history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, spanning the period between the epic of Milton and the rise of Modernism. The course is a study in landmark events, including the rise of the novel, the epoch of Romanticism, the age of Victoria, and the emergence of American literature as collaborator (and competitor) with the English tradition. It’s also an encounter with notable writers, – among them Fielding, Austen, Blake, Keats, Dickens, Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, Dickinson, Eliot and Wilde. The method of the course will be to ask students to concentrate on a limited number of memorable texts and to offer wider contexts within the lectures. We’re particularly interested in arguments for the place of reading, literature, and the humanities in a digital age. English majors, possible English majors, and non-English majors all warmly welcome.

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ENRN 3210: “Shakespeare I”

From UVA’s course description:
A survey of the first half of Shakespeare’s career, concentrating on the comedies and histories. We will pay particular attention to Shakespeare’s treatment of romantic love and political life as subjects. Three 5-page papers and a final examination will be required.

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ENWR 3800: “Academic and Professional Writing”

From UVA’s course description:
An upper-level course in academic and professional writing. In this course, students learn to control and produce a range of stylistic and persuasive effects. Combining a weekly lecture with a weekly small-group studio session, the course is designed for students who want to further hone their own writing skills, as well as for students preparing for managerial careers in which they will be responsible for the writing produced by their colleagues. In the lectures, students explore recent research in writing studies. In the workshop-based studio sessions, students propose, write, and edit projects of their own design. (Meets second writing requirement.)

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ENGL 3830: “History of Literature in English III”

From UVA’s course description:
The final stage of the English Department’s three-part sequence of literary history, ENGL 3830 will follow the fate of a long tradition as it crossed the twentieth century. The course will begin with the modernist achievement of James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and T.S. Eliot. It will then widen its scope to engage important” writing from Africa, India and the Caribbean, including the work of Derek Walcott, Chinua Achebe, and Arundhati Roy. ENGL 383 attempts to reflect the rich literary legacy that our new millennium inherits.

Texts include:
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and Other Tales
William Butler Yeats, Selected Poems and Four Plays
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Donald Barthelme, Snow White
Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems, 1927-1979
Sylvia Plath, Ariel
Derek Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948-1984
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance

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