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Required Texts
(available for purchase at the campus bookstore or on reserve at the library):

Tom Boellstorf. 2008. Coming of Age in Second Life: An anthropologist explores the virtually human. Princeton: Princeton UP.

Lawrence Weschler. 1999. Boggs: A Comedy of Values. Chicago: U Chicago Press.

Michael Lewis. 2010. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. New York: W.W. Norton.

All other readings will be available as pdfs on the course website’s syllabus page.

Discussion Questions
The most regular assignment in this course should take no more than six minutes a week: By 12 midnight the evenings before our class meets, every student must email me one open-ended discussion question that directly concerns each of the readings or films assigned for that day. This means that on Monday and Wednesday evenings, you will email me questions that the reading generated in your head. These questions should not be inquiries for more factual information. One quick way to decide if you have generated a discussion question is to ask yourself if you could find the answer to your question by searching the internet. If you could – if you are asking for facts – then it is not a discussion question. The course website has examples of discussion questions. Your questions will ultimately be posted there as well, for other students to consider as they think and write. All questions will be graded on a credit / no credit basis, which means as long as you turn something in on time, you will receive full credit. If you are assigned chapters from a book, turn in one question for each chapter.

I ask you to send me your questions because I am interested in what has made you think, what you think deserves more attention, or what is puzzling. More generally, rather than asking you to take reading quizzes (or threatening you with them!) I want to reinforce the idea that we should all be generating questions as we read, rather than looking for the "right" answers. Please take this opportunity to be creative. Don't be afraid to ask big questions, but keep that day's readings in mind.

Although I am very interested in your thoughts in discussion, the course also requires a commitment to writing and we will be emphasizing the extended process of writing throughout the semester. By this I mean: outlining, planning, thinking, talking, writing, editing, rewriting, editing, getting comments, editing, writing some more. Quite unfortunately, for many of us, "writing" means putting words on paper as quickly as possible, getting a grade, and being done with it. In this course and, hopefully, in other parts of your life, writing will become much more of a process – a creative and stimulating conversation between you and me, you and other students, and you and yourself.

Over the semester, you will have regular short writing assignments that are outlined on the course website. Although we do not have a class meeting on Fridays, the writing assignments that ask you to reflect on our readings and discussions for the week will be due at 5pm on Friday. Please email these assignments to me. You are welcome to email these assignments to me earlier than the deadline.

In addition to these short, reflection assignments, you will be writing two short papers (3-5 pages) and a longer final paper (8-10 pages) with a required rough draft. Please look over the guidelines and assignments on the course website for more information about these writing projects.

Late Policy
Assignments that are received after the deadlines will have grades reduced by three points for each day late. I am very firm about deadlines. Emails that come in ten minutes late are late. Discussion Questions that come in three minutes after the midnight deadline will receive no credit. If you are likely to push deadlines or procrastinate, I highly suggest you convince yourself that the deadlines are earlier than they actually are.

An Important Note about Deadlines
In this course, I require you to email all your writing assignments to me. All files must be sent as .doc files and it is your responsibility to make sure the correct file gets to me. I.e. If you send me a file that I can’t open or if you forget to attach a file to your email, your assignment will receive a grade lowered by the policy outlined above.

Academic Honesty
My policies about academic honest mirror those of Lafayette College.

Students are expected to attend all class meetings, and be prepared to think, talk, and reflect in them. I will make all lecture presentations available on the course website, and will also record all the course lectures and discussions. If you miss class you will be able to find the lecture presentation and audio file on the course website. However, please be aware that your participation in class is a very large portion of your final grade (25%), and that the recording might not pick up all the voices in discussion. If you do not come to class and make an effort to contribute to the conversation, and yet do all the other assignments perfectly, you will receive a C as a final grade.

Office Hours and Consultations
I am always happy to talk with you, via email or 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 consider revisions or second drafts of writing assignments, as long as students spend mental energy substantially reconsidering what they write. If you turn in a revised draft, you must submit your original paper (the graded copy) with it.

Course Requirements Class Participation 25% of final grade
Short writing assignments 12.5% of final grade
Discussion questions 12.5% of final grade
First short paper 10% of final grade
Second short paper 10% of final grade
Final paper rough draft and comments 10% of final grade
Final paper, final draft 20% of final grade

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 – for reasons I outline on the course website, I believe we all learn better with fewer distractions and, unfortunately, laptops are a huge distraction. If you have a special circumstance that makes your laptop necessary for learning, please come and talk with me about it.

The Discomfort Caused by Anthropology

It is quite possible that things we read, watch, or discuss in this course might make you uncomfortable. Although I am certainly not trying to shock you, the course materials include people with very different beliefs and experiences. Throughout our time together, I ask two things of you: 1) Without overly censoring yourself, please be respectful of other people; 2) If and when you feel uncomfortable, please take time to reflect on your own reactions, rather than taking "discomfort" as a given. Feel free to talk with me at any point.