[ Barbara Kruger, 1989. More here. ]

We will read three comic books together (the rest of the course materials will be here, on the course website). The books are available for sale at Vault of Midnight. If enough students commit to buying these books from Vault of Midnight, they will deliver all the books to class, i.e. they’ll save you a trip to the store. Please email me if you would like to buy books from Vault of Midnight. Otherwise, these comic books are on reserve at Shapiro Library:
Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra. 2002. Y: The Last Man, Volume 1: Unmanned. New York: Vertigo.
Sherine Hamdy,‎ Coleman Nye,‎ Sarula Bao,‎ and Caroline Brewer. 2017. Lissa: A Story about Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro. 2014. Bitch Planet, Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine. Portland: Image Comics.

Grading and Requirements
Discussion Participation: 20% of final grade
Discussion Questions: 20% of final grade
Five Projects: 60% of final grade, 10% each

All project assignments need to be turned in through Canvas. Go to Canvas / Assignments and follow the instructions there to turn in work. If you have created something that can’t be turned in via Canvas, please let me know well ahead of time. Discussion questions, the most regular assignment, should be sent to me via email.

Class Participation
This is a seminar course and fundamentally involves lots of discussion. Please come prepared to share your thoughts, questions, confusions, and excitement. I am well aware that there are different ways to participate in a discussion, and if you feel reluctant to jump into the conversation, please come and talk with me in office hours so we can come up with some strategies for you. In general, excellent participation in discussion includes: coming prepared to discuss the readings and films assigned (i.e. do the homework), listening well to other students’ thoughts, responding to them, sharing your ideas, being willing to change your mind, and reflect on any changes you might experience.

Because a significant percentage of your final grade for this course comes from your participation in discussion, I want to explain how that is graded and what you can do to improve your grade. Please notice that, in our discussions, quantity and quality are not the same thing. A high participation grade isn’t only about contributing a lot. Listening to other students, doing your best to build into the conversation as opposed to subtracting from it, and being willing to describe how your thoughts might be changing are all necessary to get the highest scores. Moreover, listening thoughtfully and respectfully are big components as well. Interrupting other people or talking over them will reduce your participation grade. I will be posting weekly grades in Canvas so you can follow your grade. Of course, I am also always happy to talk with you if you would like to gather strategies for improving your grade.

You must bring the reading to every class meeting, unless you have read the library’s reserve copy. Students who do not bring the reading cannot get above 50% in that day’s discussion participating. Similarly, students who don’t take notes will see their discussion grades decrease.

Office Hours and Consultations
I am always happy to talk with your in person. Please come to my office hours, and bring your ideas, musings, and / or rough drafts. I believe writing and learning are long-term processes and I will reward students who take this seriously. I am happy to talk through your ideas. You can sign up for office hours with me through Google Calendar. If you have any trouble signing up for meetings, please email me.

Academic Honesty
My policies conform to the University’s policies. Let me know if you have any questions.

Late Work
I will accept work turned in past its deadline but the grade will be reduced three points for each day late. If something is due at 5pm and it comes in at 5:01pm, it will lose 3 points. If you have trouble meeting deadlines, I strongly recommend you convince yourself that work is due earlier than it really is.

Luddite policy
Despite being a firm believer (and user) of technology, I have a strict policy against laptops and cell phones during our class meetings. Students are not permitted to use laptops to take notes. As I explain here, I believe we all learn better with fewer distractions and, unfortunately, laptops are a huge distraction. If you have a circumstance that makes your laptop necessary for learning, please email me or come and talk with me about it.

Students are expected to attend all class meetings, and be prepared to think, talk, and reflect in them. I will record all the course discussions. If you miss class you have the responsibility to listen to what you missed.

Course recordings
All class meetings are recorded (using an audio recorder). Those recordings are available through Canvas. To find them, log in to Canvas, click on our course, and then Files / Lecture Recordings.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
I share the University of Michigan’s commitment to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities.  Please talk with me if you have a disability and would be aided by any accommodation. Request for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Office located at G664 Haven Hall.  The SSD phone number is 734-763-3000.  Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (VISA) form.  Please present this form to me at the beginning of the term, or as soon as you get it. Everything is confidential.

Discomfort, Safety, and Learning
Learning can be a simultaneously wonderful and difficult process. I’m sure you have already encountered both - figuring out something that is undeniably cool or struggling with a task that makes no sense and never seems to end. I imagine you will have more of both experiences in college as well, but as we start thinking together, I want to call attention to a parallel paradox we will likely encounter as a group: the balance between productive discomfort and safety. Good learning can include some degree of discomfort but should never be or feel unsafe. If it’s not already clear to you, I think it’s very likely that learning about new materials -- perhaps things that you never even realized you didn’t know -- can easily make people uncomfortable. Having your world view, your sense of yourself in the world, shifted even a little bit can be a deeply emotional experience. My goal is never to shock you or make you feel uncomfortable, but I can imagine that might happen throughout the semester because it seems to be fundamental within the process of learning. To make such productive discomfort possible, I will work hard to make our course as safe a space as possible, and I ask you to do the same. I invite you to be kind, empathic, and honest, while sharing your perspectives, gut reactions, and analysis, and particularly any moments when you realize you have changed your mind. As you are working hard to engage new practices and beliefs, I will work hard to enable you to feel safe in the process of learning. If at any point, you feel that our classroom is lacking safety -- if it does not feel like a safe space -- please let me know immediately. I also ask you pay attention to your own moments of discomfort, to see how your thinking might be changing.

Other Problems and Dangers
With other members of our diverse community, I am working to make this university a safe space for all people. To those ends, please know that if you face violence, threats, bullying or other difficult situations, there are people trained to help you:

Confidential support and academic advocacy can be found with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) on their 24-hour crisis line, 734-936-3333 and at http://sapac.umich.edu/. Alleged violations can be non-confidentially reported to the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) at institutional.equity@umich.edu. Reports to law enforcement can be made to University of Michigan Police Department at 734-763-3434.

The Student Life office offers a portal to many services and types of support. Check out this long list of possibilities and feel free to contact them also if you, or someone you know, can’t figure out who to talk to.

If you are needing help and puzzled about where to go or who to talk with, feel free to reach out to me.