Fall 2014. Section 1983

Class Meets: MWF Period 6 (12:50pm – 1:40pm) in CSE E211A and,

W Periods E1-E3 (7:20pm – 10:10pm) in CSE E211A

Contact: dthorat [at] ufl [dot] edu

Office Hours: M, F (1:45pm – 2:45pm) in Turlington 4411, and by appointment

Download Syllabus

This course is based on the premise that technology is not neutral; it is socially and culturally inflected. Our broad goal is to study how technologies are historically and contemporaneously informed by race and gender politics.  How do technologies express race and gender politics reflected elsewhere in society? How do race and gender shape technologies, technical design, and technology policies? And how are technologies used to direct the conversation on race and gender? We will begin by defining the key terms, race, gender, and technology, and examining how these terms have evolved. The course is then divided into three units, Colonial Technologies, Mediating 9/11, and New Media Politics. In these units, we will trace the intersection of race, gender, and technology in three different time periods. As this class emphasizes writing through media, we will regularly engage with media objects as well as produce them in class activities and assignments. A related goal is to develop a critical lens to analyze the new media objects that we encounter in our daily lives.

As a General Education course, this course satisfies student learning outcomes listed in the Undergraduate Catalog. For more information, see:

By the end of the course, I hope you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the historical and contemporary construction and performance of race and gender through technology
  • Articulate and explain the interrelation of race, gender, and technology
  • Think critically about issues of race, gender, and sexuality in new media technologies
  • Reflect on your position in the new media society
  • Show basic experience with web authoring tools
  • Formulate rhetorical and persuasive arguments with clear thesis statements, well researched ideas, and an effective writing style.


All other texts will be uploaded to Sakai or are available online. You do not need to purchase any of the films, documentaries, or other media objects with which we will engage in the screening periods.


Grade Breakdown
Blog Posts: 195 points
Blog Comments: 45 points
Response Paper: 150 points
Rhetorical Analysis: 150 points
Wikipedia Editing: 50 points
Project Proposal: 60 points
Proposal Paper: 200 points
Quizzes: 50 points
Participation: 100 points
TOTAL: 1000 points

Grading Scale

A         4.0       93-100 930-1000                     C         2.0       73-76   730-769

A-        3.67     90-92   900-929                       C-        1.67     70-72   700-729

B+       3.33     87-89   870-899                       D+       1.33     67-69   670-699

B         3.0       83-86   830-869                       D         1.0       63-66   630-669

B-        2.67     80-82   800-829                       D-        0.67     60-62   600-629

C+       2.33     77-79   770-799                       E          0.00     0-59     0-599

Grading Rubric

Assignment specific grading rubrics will be distributed before that assignment is due. A general overview of how I arrive at the grades for all major assignments is below.

In each written assignment, I will be looking at:
1) Content: How strong is your argument, development, and support? Does your multimedia content (when used) seem well-constructed and relevant to your assignment?
2) Organization: How well-structured are your paragraphs? Do your overall ideas flow well?
3) Mechanics: How frequently do you make errors in grammar, style, and spelling?

You should strive to excel in all three areas.

An A level assignment is complete in content, is organized well, and has few to no mechanical errors. An assignment of this level also demonstrates originality and creativity, showing that the student took extra steps beyond what was required.

A B level assignment is solid overall in terms of content, organization, and mechanics, but may need some minor revision to one of these three areas. An assignment that receives this grade fulfills assignment expectations, but is also complete in content and relatively free of grammatical or mechanical errors.

A C level assignment has promise in some areas, but lacks the command, organization, persuasiveness or clarity of the A or B assignments. An assignment that receives this grade may be overlooking an important component of the assignment, or need significant revision.

A D level assignment does not yet demonstrate the basic lower division writing expectations. The paper has major issues in content, organization and / or mechanics. Assignments that receive this grade will often be incomplete, or have major issues with organization.

An “E” is usually reserved for students who do not do the assignment or fail to attend class. However, an “E” may also be given if an essay blatantly ignores instructions or has major problems in all three areas of evaluation.

Please note that the above rubric does not take into account every aspect of your writing. Multiple criteria determine whether a paper is successful or unsuccessful.  If you have a question about a grade you receive on an assignment, please feel free to discuss it with me during office hours (or make an appointment).


Communication With Your Instructor
The best way to contact me is via email. Please allow at least 24 hours for me to respond to all requests/questions/inquiries. If you would like to meet with me, you may talk to me after class, during office hours, or by scheduling an appointment.

Classroom Behavior

Please be mindful that students come from diverse cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. Some of the texts we will discuss and write about engage in controversial issues and opinions. Many ideas might differ from your own, therefore please have an open mind to diversity. Accordingly, disrespectful and disruptive behavior will result in dismissal from class. Also, side conversations are not appropriate.

Absence and Tardiness
Because of the participatory nature of this course, attendance is crucial. You have up to 4 absences that you can take without penalty (aside from missing potential quizzes). Students who miss more than six class periods will fail the course (although the twelve-day rule, laid out below, is the one case for exceptions). Please note that missing a screening time counts as an absence. It is your responsibility to keep track of your absences.

Prolonged absences will affect your quiz average, since in most cases (aside from the exceptions below) I do not allow you to make up missed in-class assignments. In addition, prolonged absences will affect your grade as follows:

5 absences: 10% off participation grade
6 absences: 10% off final course grade
7 absences: Automatic failure of the overall course

If you are absent, please make yourself aware of all due dates and turn in assignments on time. If you miss a screening, you must watch the film or television show prior to the next class. I also recommend borrowing another student’s notes for the day, or discussing what you missed during office hours.

All members of the class are expected to adhere to official UF time. For this reason, if you are late to class, this will count as ½ an absence. If you are more than 10 minutes late, I will mark you as absent. If you are frequently late to class or absent, this will also negatively affect your participation grade in the course.

Twelve-Day Rule and Absence Exceptions
According to University policy, students who participate in athletic or scholastic teams are permitted to be absent for 12 days without penalty. However, students involved in such activities should let me know of their scheduled absences at least 1 week ahead of time. In these cases, I will allow you to make up missed in-class work within a reasonable time frame, but you should still aim to submit major assignments and blog posts on time.

Likewise, if you must miss class because of a religious holiday, please let me know at least a week ahead of time, and I will allow you to make up missed in-class work.

For the official University policy on absences, please refer to for more detail.

Always bring the assigned reading to class with you, along with materials for taking notes and any assignments that may be due during that class meeting. Be prepared for active discussions. To help with this, I highly recommend that you take careful reading notes and write down potential comments for class ahead of time.

Being present in the classroom is not enough to succeed in this class. While I may lecture on occasion, many classes will rely on your questions and comments relating to our texts and assignments. If you are frequently quiet during class, I may call on you.

Your participation grade will be based on your participation in class discussion, in your behavior during group work, your online presence on the class website, and other behavior factors. If you sleep during class or are not present mentally in the classroom, I may mark you as absent.

Electronic Devices – Cell Phones, Laptops, iPads, Etc.
Out of courtesy to myself and your fellow classmates, silence your cell phones during class time (the vibrate setting is not silent). Keep your phone in your bag or pocket – if I see you texting or surfing the web, I may ask you to leave the classroom, resulting in an absence.

While we are working in a computer classroom, you should use computers for course-related activities only. Checking Facebook, web surfing unrelated to class, and doing work for other classes are examples of behavior that may result in deductions from your participation grade or your being asked to leave class for the day. You can, however, use the class computer to access the class website (to facilitate discussion) or view course readings (if you prefer not to print electronic readings).

Assignment Submission 
Papers and written assignments are due, via electronic copy, in .doc or .docx format (except for blog posts and comments), either the day before or the day of class, depending on the assignment type. Some assignments may be due on the blog. Your assignment is still due if you plan to miss class.

Technology failure is not an excuse for a late assignment. If ELearning is not functioning properly when you attempt to submit a paper, you can always send me an email attachment. This email should include a Help Desk receipt with your paper or other verification of a system-wide Sakai failure. The same policy applies for blog entries: please send me a screenshot or email from WordPress confirming the system error. You must go back and post your blog once the website is working again in order to get full credit.

Always back up your papers on a flash drive or on a cloud service, such as Dropbox. I also recommend saving into a Word file anything that you plan on posting on the class website.

Late Submission 
If you expect to not make a deadline, please contact me in advance of the deadline. I may allow a short extension on a due date once in the term if you contact me before the deadline, and in certain pressing circumstances.

Academic Paper Format
All essays must be formatted in MLA style. This means that your paper must meet the following guidelines:

  • Double-spaced
  • 12 point, Times New Roman font
  • 1 inch margins, on all sides
  • MLA style headers with page numbers
  • MLA style citations

For help with MLA format, find a copy of the MLA Handbook in the library or refer to the OWL Purdue website (

Any file submitted as a Word document must have a file name that follows the “Last Name” “Assignment Name” format, e.g., Thorat Rhetorical Analysis. All blog posts should be in paragraph form and submitted in a legible font.

Assignment Originality and Plagiarism
You must produce original material for all assignments in this course – you should not re-use materials that you have written for other courses. This also applies to material within the class – for example, you cannot repeat material from a blog post wholesale in your research paper. However, you may expand on ideas from your shorter assignments.

Plagiarism is a serious violation of the student honor code ( The Honor Code prohibits and defines plagiarism as follows:
“Plagiarism. A student shall not represent as the student’s own work all or any portion of the work of another. Plagiarism includes but is not limited to:

  1. Quoting oral or written materials including but not limited to those found on the internet, whether published or unpublished, without proper attribution.
  2. Submitting a document or assignment which in whole or in part is identical or substantially identical to a document or assignment not authored by the student.” (University of Florida, Student Honor Code)

I have a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism. If you plagiarize, you will fail the assignment. You may also fail the class and be reported to the Office of the Dean of Students. Always cite your sources.


Statement of Composition (C) and Humanities (H) Credit.
This course can satisfy the UF General Education requirement for Composition or Humanities. For more information, see:

Statement of Writing Requirement (WR): This course can provide 6000 words toward fulfillment of the UF requirement for writing. For more information, see:

Statement of Student Disability Services: The Disability Resource Center in the Dean of Students Office provides information and support regarding accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information, see:

Statement on Harassment: UF provides an educational and working environment that is free from sex discrimination and sexual harassment for its students, staff, and faculty. For more about UF policies regarding harassment, see:

Statement on Academic Honesty: All students must abide by the Student Honor Code. For more information about academic honesty, including definitions of plagiarism and unauthorized collaboration, see:

Course Evaluations: Students are expected to provide feedback on the quality of instruction in this course based on 10 criteria. These evaluations are conducted online at Evaluations are typically open during the last two or three weeks of the semester, but students will be given specific times when they are open. Summary results of these assessments are available to students at

Important Phone Numbers for Emergencies:  University counseling services and mental health services: (352) 392-1575 ;University Police Department: (352) 392-1111 or 911 for emergencies


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