Illustration of Digital Culture's Complex Networks

Digital Folklore and Culture

ENGL 334-001
MWF 10:00-10:50

Pr. John Laudun MW 11:00-11:30 and by appointment

COVID Update: The course is in the middle of being revised for remote delivery. See the university’s COVID guidelines for more information.


Memes, fake news, trolling, rickrolling are all well-established forms of internet behavior and are as much a part of our everyday lives as grandma’s gumbo. English 334 explores the varieties and depths of digital cultures, from the first email forwards to the latest tiktoks and everything in between. Course activities include curating collections of multimedia materials; learning how to parse digital content; annotating, sorting, and compiling data sets; applying appropriate analytical frameworks; and exploring ways to present your ideas effectively. The course includes producing an online portfolio and learning collaborative and versioning systems to make it possible to work with others as well as secure your own work.


Participants in this course will learn how to read scholarly and scientific analyses of human behavior with a special emphasis on online behaviors and then apply definitions, models, or analytical concepts in their own thinking and writing. Writing is a significant component of any communication, be it scientific or professional, and participants in this course will be required to assume those voices necessary to accomplishing a particular task. In addition, as a course in folklore studies participants will also create documentation containing both metadata and data in appropriate markup, which may or may not include things like XML.


As an upper-division course, this course assumes all participants are already familiar with accessing and using scholarly and scientific materials in both print and on-line forms. If not, then your first course of action is to take a library tutorial. (See also the guide on how to access JSTOR, and other resources, from off campus.) It also assumes you are familiar with the University’s Code of Conduct. This class is conducted as if we are are all professionals engaged in a mutually rewarding endeavor to which all of us contribute in order to succeed. That means coming prepared, not being distracted, and being engaged with not only the course materials but also each other.

The schedule of graded assignments is:

Course Project

The parameters below are for the final product: there is no expectation that you will have this many words, or perhaps that many examples, when you start – though, to be honest, having many examples to start is better.

Documentation of a Digital Artifact

Some Prompts

There are many ways to make presentations more compelling. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Required Texts

A considerable amount of reading for this course are scholarly materials, mostly as PDFs, available either in on-line databases, like JSTOR, or through the course’s Moodle site. Many of the materials in the latter instance are already uploaded, and so if there is a moment in the course where an item is listed on the schedule but does not appear in the Resources section of the course’s Moodle page, please contact me. (Do not assume because you cannot find something that you are not responsible for it.)

At present, I am only considering one book as a required purchase for this course: Gretchen McCulloch’s Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language. More on this soon.

In addition to the texts we encounter in class, there are other resources that may be useful to those either in need of a bit more discussion or seeking to expand their understanding. JSTOR, for example, offers a variety of tutorials: some are simply slides or texts that you can read on your own and others are interactive tutorials hosted on their own Moodle setup. (Registration is required, but once you are registered, you’ll discover a number of short videos as well as interactive exercises. If you allocate 20 minutes per session for a few days, you’ll learn something.)

In case you are unclear, there is a difference between primary and secondary sources in many fields, though the distinction can be blurry in disciplines, like folklore studies and cultural anthropology, that create their own source materials.

Contact Information

Do not hesitate. Immediately look around where you are sitting and get the name and number of two responsible looking people. Not the cute one — because getting his or her number that way would be just creepy, but someone who has at least your level of maturity, if not higher. Write that information below so that when you do have to miss class, then you can contact them about what you missed.




This course does not proceed by a set schedule: rather it proceeds by an only somewhat set agenda, a sequence of activities designed to maximize your time and energy to learn the ideas and methods promised above. That sequence is readily found in the course site: Digital Folklore and Culture.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.