AMST202: Identity and Citizenship in the Digital Age
6:00 – 7:15 TR
Monroe 211
Martha Burtis

Contact Info:; 654-1355, @mburtis
Office Hours: 5:00 – 5:45 TR
Office Location: duPont 310

Course Description:

This class is an exploration of how digital technologies and networked culture are influencing our sense of self and community, from the crafting and presentation of personal identity, to the empowerment of individual voices to create and effect change, to the building of communal narratives and spaces in an increasingly global and networked society.

Students will engage in a semester-long investigation of how notions of identity and community/citizenship are embodied in our digitally-mediated culture. Identity “markers” such as race/ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic class will become topics for deeper discussion around our evolving understanding of online presentations of self. Students will also be expected to explore and engage with a number of online tools, technologies, and communities as they interrogate how individuals become citizens of (and contributors) to these virtual spaces.

AMST 202 Course Objectives:

  • Understand the relationship between the present and future with the past.
  • Helps students develop their speaking skills in a seminar setting.
  • Hones students’ analytical skills through a variety of writing assignments.
  • Introduces students to blogging and other forms of technology.

Course Goals:

The primary goal of this course is to expose you to a range of ideas about digital identity as well as a range of tools and technologies that will push you to think more deeply about your own citizenship in a networked world.

Specifically, by the end of the semester students will have:

  • Developed an understanding of how identity is formed and presented in online spaces;
  • Considered how digital identity can challenge our understanding of traditional identity “markers” such as gender, race/ethnicity, and socio/economic class;
  • Developed an appreciation for their own digital identity and how it can be altered, maniupulated, and controlled by themselves and others;
  • Explored the range of new media, technologies, and tools that we use to create our digital identities and participate in digital communities;
  • Explored (through participation) the formation and organization of online communities;
  • Considered how the progression of digital technologies over the past 15-20 has transformed our understanding of identity, community, and citizenship;
  • Presented through writing and oral presentation their findings about their own digital identity as well as their participation in online communities; and
  • Utilized a number of web-based digital technologies in their exploration and construction of their digital identity.

A Note about the “Personal Cyberinfrastructure”

A requirement of this class will be for each student to purchase a domain name and Web hosting account. This space will serve as the “hub” of each students’ personal cyberinfrastructure. In addition to building a Web presence in this space, students will branch out from it into the exploration of other, popular Web tools and technologies (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc.) In addition, in this space each student will be required to regularly and thoughtfully reflect upon the work of the class through the public sharing of their ideas.

It is impossible to explore “digital identity” without participating in the open Web. Every student will be expected to do so. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of sharing and experimenting in this open, public space, you should talk to me immediately.

Course Materials

  • The internet: You will spend a lot of time online for this course completing assignments and accessing online readings.
  • A computer: This class does not take place in a computer lab, however we will make use of computers in the class at times. I strongly suggest that you bring a laptop computer with you to class to participate in class activities when needed. If this poses a problem for you, please let me know as soon as possible.
  • A Web hosting account and domain name: You will be expected to purchase a domain name and a subscription to a commercial Web hosting service with a LAMP/cPanel Web environment. One option will be presented to you in class, but you may choose any hosting service you like, as long as it meets the basic LAMP/cPanel requirements. You will need to pay for this subscription for the duration of the class, but you may cancel it (and avoid further charges) at the end of the term.

Class Schedule

Generally, class time will be spent on one of three activities:

  • Topic Investigation: Discussion of a topic that you will have read or reviewed online resources for before attending. For each topic, a different student will be responsible for choosing the list of resources (in consultation with me) and leading the class discussion.
  • Technology Investigation: Discussion and hands-on investigation of a particular online tool, technology, or community. For each technology, a different student will be responsible for preparing an introduction, leading a discussion, and choosing a short assignment for students to complete as part of their investigation.
  • Presentations: Individual, summative presentations of the work you’ve done on one of the two larger projects.

Note: For the first three weeks of class, I will be leading both the technology and topic investigations. During this time, we will be setting up the schedule of topics/technologies for the rest of the semester.

The calendar is initially set up to cover one topic and one technology each week (except for weeks when we are doing presentations). I anticipate topic investigations will happen on Tuesdays and technology investigations will happen on Thursdays. HOWEVER, I also anticipate that some topics/technologies will warrant further discussion and that the calendar will, therefore, shift.

As a result, you should always be prepared to lead your technology/topic on the assigned date, but also be prepared that this date may “slip.” I will never expect you to lead an investigation earlier than the assigned date.

The working calendar of record can be found here. 

Week Course Time Assignment Information
Week One
Topic: Setting up Your Cyberinfrastructure & Who are You Online?Technology: Domains, Webhosts, FOSS Establishing your web presence
Week Two
Topic: Who Owns You OnlineTechnology: RSS & Twitter Introduction to Digital Identity Project
Week Three
Topic: Turning Back the ClockTechnology: Search Decide on approach to final Digital Identity story.
Week Four
Topic and Technology TBD
Week Five
Topic and Technology TBD Introduction to Community Project
Week Six
Topic and Technology TBD
Week Seven
Digital Identity Presentations Digital Identity Project DueCommunity Project Choice Due
Week Eight
Week Nine
Topic TBDGuest Presentation by Bryan Alexander
Note: We will not be having a technology investigation this week. All students will be expected to attend Dr. Alexander’s talk instead of attending class that day.
Week Ten
Topic: Alexander presentationTechnology: TBD


Week Eleven
Topic and Technology TBD Decide on approach to final Digital Community story.
Week Twelve
Topic and Technology TBD
Week Thirteen
Topic and Technology TBD
Week Fourteen
Topic and Technology TBD
Week Fifteen
Community Project Presentations Community Project Due
Week Sixteen Final Exams

What You will Do In this Class

Your Personal Cyberinfrastructure: At the beginning of the semester you will purchase a domain name and a Web hosting account. On this space you will, at a minimum, install a blogging application. You will use this blog extensively throughout the course as a space to share reactions to topical readings/video/etc., work you’ve done as part of technology investigations, and your ongoing project research. Please keep in mind that your blog is as much a place for you to share your concerns, frustrations, or setbacks as it is a place to publish and share “final” work or thoughts.

Other Social Networking Activity: As part of our technology investigations,  I will expect you to establish your presence on a number of other social networking sites (Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.) As part of technology investigations, you will have to complete an explicit short assignment in each of these spaces.

Twitter, in particular, will serve as an important and useful channel for class communication. If you want to reach me, it is also your best bet!

Topic Investigations: Over the course of the semester, we will be investigating a range of specific topics that deal with issues of digital identity, community, and citizenship. Each of you will be responsible for leading one topical investigation. Details of this assignment can be found here.

Technology Investigations: Over the course of the semester, we will also be spending time exploring and using a range of online tools, technologies, and social networks. Each of you will be responsible for leading an investigation of one of these. Details of this assignment can be found here.

Digital Identity Project: You will spend several weeks researching your own digital identity and that of one other individual. Project details can be found here.

Community & Citizenship Project: You will spend several weeks “embedded” in an online community which you are not currently a member of. Project details can be found here.

How You Will be Graded in this Class

  • Blogging: 20%
    This includes your reflective topic posts and technology assignments. It also includes your commenting on your classmates blogs and posting about other things of interest to you. Think of your blog as an extension of the community of the class as well as a place to carve out and explore your own identity. You will have explicit things you need in this space, but I also expect you to “inhabit” it. You will receive an explicit grade on each of the topic discussions and technology assignments. In addition, twice during the semester, I will be reviewing your blog presence holistically and considering how well you are exploring and owning this space.
  • In Class Discussion & Participation: 20%
    Each week, I will be reviewing your participation in class activities. Three times during the semester, you will receive a grade that summarizes your participation grade for that period:
  • Topic Leadership: 15%
    You will receive a grade on how well you prepared for your session, led conversation during the session, and followed-up on students posts after your session.
  • Technology Leadership: 10%
    You will receive a grade on how well you prepared for your session, led conversation during the session, and followed-up on students posts after your session.
  • Identity Project: 15%
    We will talk about the grading of this project when it is introduced in class
  • Community Project: 15%
    We will talk about the grading of this project when it is introduced in class.
  • Final Exam: 5%

I will be using Canvas for grading in this class. I will ask you to login to that site to submit your assignments (blog posts) for various assignments (I know this is a pain. I’m sorry.) You will be able to see your grades on assignments in this space. I may also use private messages to you in Canvas to provide feedback on an assignment that I prefer not to give as a public comment on your blog. However, whenever I think it is appropriate, you should expect me to provide public feedback on your work.

Department of History and American Studies Grading Scale

A 92-100% | A- 89- 91% | B+ 87-88% | B 82-86%| B- 79-81% | C+ 77-78%

C 72-76% | C- 69-71% | D+ 67-69% | D 60-66% | F 0-59%

Mid-Semester Reports

If, at the mid-semester point, I believe that you are in danger of failing this course, I will report your progress as “unsatisfactory” to Academic Services. I will also schedule a meeting with you to talk about your progress and what steps can be taken to improve your grade. I STRONGLY encourage you to attend this meeting if I schedule it with you.

About Honor

As a member of the UMW academic community, I expect you to conduct yourselves according to the University’s honor code at all times in this course. There may be times when I ask or expect you to work collaboratively on assignments. I will make this clear when introducing the assignment. There may be times when you encounter difficulty and seek assistance from a classmate or peer on an assignment. I have no problem whatsoever with this, as long as you make clear to me and your classmates what assistance you received.

I am NOT interested in policing you or your activities in this class. I think we’re all better than that.


I expect you to attend class on a regular basis. If, for some reason, you need to miss class I expect that you will contact me prior to class to let me know (or immediately afterwards in the case of an unforeseen emergency). In the event your attendance begin to represent a problem I will contact you directly. If this happens, it is your responsibility to follow-up with me and discuss your future in the class.

Disability Service Statement

The Office of Disability Services has been designated by the University as the primary office to guide, counsel, and assist students with disabilities. If you receive services through the Office of Disability Services and require accommodations for this class, make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss your approved accommodation needs. Bring your accommodation letter with you to the appointment. I will hold any information you share with me in strictest confidence unless you give me permission to do otherwise.

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  1. Pingback: Welcome to #DI202 | Identity & Citizenship in a Digital Age

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