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Viewing: HON 313 : Reading Machines

Last approved: Mon, 17 Apr 2017 13:40:21 GMT

Last edit: Mon, 17 Apr 2017 13:40:19 GMT

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HON (Honors)
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
Reading Machines
Reading Machines
Division of Academic and Student Affairs
Honors Program (24HON)
Term Offering
Fall and Spring
Offered Every Year
Fall 2017
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Course Prefix/NumberSemester/Term OfferedEnrollment
HON 296Fall 201520
HON 202Fall 201420
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Letter Grade Only
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Course Attribute(s)
GEP (Gen Ed)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
Paul Fyfe
Associate Professor

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote

Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
This course invites first-year students into a historically ranging, critically intensive, and hands-on learning environment about the technologies by which humans transmit our cultural inheritance and ideas. "Reading Machines" takes a long view of how we got to now, from the history of manuscripts and books to the electronic platforms of the digital present. These are all machines of reading; in turn, this class will "read" those machines as objects of study. The course proposes that 1) then and now, our technologies for sharing text, image, and data crucially shape the ideas which they convey, and 2) these contexts can help students plan and execute new mechanisms for communication in the present. The course's modules offer critical frameworks of background readings and discussions, a lab-like experience with the materials or skills involved, and applied projects for students to experiment with and study.

“Reading Machines” aims to reward students moving into a variety of disciplines and programs. The course seeks to marry the critical insights of the humanities with the design-and-build impulses of engineering, blending NC State’s “Think and Do” motto into a discovery experience for first-year honors students. Course content centers around issues of media and interpretation in a variety of historical and contemporary contexts. The course also provides a framework for critical and creative thinking as part of NC State University’s QEP program called “TH!NK.” These standards and behaviors of critical + creative thinking, useful in every academic context, are built into the course’s program of activities, many of which are also designed to help students reflect on these very skills (i.e. metacognition). Students will become adept at using the intellectual standards for critical + creative thinking in evaluating the work of others as well as proposing, analyzing, and arguing research questions related to this course’s content.


Is this a GEP Course?
GEP Categories
Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
Identify and distinguish between approaches to historical and contemporary text technologies from disciplines including English and Engineering.
1. Students will research and apply critical readings from participating disciplines in their course projects.
2. Students will assess historical and contemporary text technologies in class and write guided reflections in course journals.
Construct a concept inventory for analyzing various media and their communicative functions.
1. Each course assignment requires students to match an engineering development cycle to the structures of argument in project planning.
2. All course assignments and journal entries are predicated on students’ development and successful integration of analytic concepts.
Students will design media prototypes according to a blended creative and critical approach.
1. Students will collaboratively construct projects which manifest principles of creative engineering and utilize diverse resources on campus to do so.
2. Students will write reflection papers for each of the three major assignments and a final presentation, all of which depend upon successful argumentation and disciplinary synthesis.
English, Media Studies, and Engineering (broadly construed)
This course pursues throughout an argument about the necessary synthesis of engineering and humanities work in tackling problems with creative and critical solutions. It locates approachable problems within contexts including consumer media, history of media, and media analysis and design. In each of these course’s three major modules, students undertake a project development cycle to create a) a researched argument about media’s impact on learning, b) a proposal for a mobile app intentionally and creatively defying an app store terms of service, and c) a physical book augmented with circuitry which functions as an interface to the cloud. While the course rewards participation from across the disciplines, it especially invites students to consider the linkages of English studies to engineering fields. Though “Engineering” includes a variety of subdisciplines, they share an engagement with technologies, a problems-focused paradigm, and a development process for designing and implementing creative solutions, all of which are active in this course’s subject matter and assignments. The course moves through perspectives including literary criticism, media studies, society and technology studies, computational analytics, and critical making. It balances exposure to content in these areas (such as exploring manifestations of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes across a variety of platforms) as well as hands-on experiences (from quills and ink to audiobooks to book binding and physical computing in the NCSU Libraries) to independent project design. Ultimately, students formulate their own creative and critical media projects which expose and answer threshold questions in how mediums affect meaning.
Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:


Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.






US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.








Requisites and Scheduling
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.
Participation in the University Honors Program
b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?
List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.
University Honors Program designation
List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)
Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
Title and author of any required text or publications.

Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.

List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.

The faculty member is available for teaching this course as part of his recognized responsibilities in the Department of English

The course’s goals are for students, having completed all course requirements, to:

  1. be able to identify an array of historical and comparative contexts for media technologies;

  2. accrue a concept inventory for understanding and analyzing various media and their communicative functions;

  3. gain skills in working with varied media forms, from writing with quills to elementary physical computing, in order to generate critical projects; and

  4. navigate the many resources at NC State for supporting such projects, including the NCSU Libraries and MakerSpaces.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students leaving the course should have working analytical vocabulary and diverse introductory skill set for their continuing work as creative and critical makers at NC State and beyond. In addition, the course aims to deliver learning outcomes generalizable to all continuing courses of study. In accordance with the goals of the TH!NK program, students will, upon completion of this course, be able to:

  1. explain the intellectual standards of creative + critical thinking;

  2. evaluate the work of others using these standards;

  3. apply critical + creative thinking skills and intellectual standards in the process of identifying and reckoning with research problems or projects; and

  4. reflect on your own thinking and the thinking of others.

Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
Participation20The class will be conducted as a seminar which will thrive on the participation of its members. Participation means thoughtfully preparing any reading materials, exploring study objects, and communicating with the seminar. It includes but is not limited to speaking up in class. While this is strongly encouraged, our course will provide multiple ways of participating in the topic and materials.
Written Assignment10Students will write during and/or after each class in a hard-copy course journal. They will make entries based on different assignments and submit the journals biweekly for evaluation.
Written Assignment20The first of three course projects, the critical skills scenario presents you with a problem related to the course requiring your researched response and a written paper.
Major Paper20The second project requires an experiment with text analysis tools to write a report on a book which students have never read. Tools and guidance will be provided. Students will submit advance proposals, conduct guided peer reviews, and develop a polished final version.
Project20The final project requires students to creatively manipulate the codex technology into an experimental interface. Detailed instructions and workshops will help students develop and produce their ideas.
presentation10In lieu of a final exam, each student will submit their critical making project as well as an accompanying presentation to the class. In this short presentation, you’ll explain your ideas, how they fit into our course’s conversations, and where you see the conversation going next.
TopicTime Devoted to Each TopicActivity

aeherget (Fri, 10 Feb 2017 20:37:08 GMT): AECHH: Uploading updated syllabus at instructor's request via email 2/9/2017.
Key: 12850