Course blog for CSP 11 (Fall 2012) @ Occidental College

CSP 11: Copyright + Culture (Fall 2012)

Autoethnographic Comic Assignment

This is a two-part assignment:

Part I (due Monday, 9/3/12 by 8pm)

Using Bound By Law as your inspiration, you will create an autoethnographic comic that depicts your most recent violation of copyright law.  You can create this comic in one of two ways:

Option One: Create an interactive folding comic

Option Two: Create a manipulated photo comic

If you choose Option One, you will follow Jason Shiga’s guidelines (see video below) to create an interactive folding comic.  You can hand-draw this comic, use images you pull from the web, and/or combine these styles.  Once you’ve finished your comic, record a quick video in which you visually document the various “paths.”  Send me this video via email and/or upload it to YouTube and send me the link, and bring the hard copy of your comic into class on Wednesday, 9/5.

If you choose Option Two, you will create your comic using the Comic Book! iPad app.  On Friday, August 31, I will distribute 3 iPads pre-loaded with the Comic Book! app, and share a googledoc so that you can sign up for time slots.  These time slots will be 4 hours each, which should be more than enough time to complete your project if you’ve prepared your materials in advance.  Your “comic book” must be between 2-4 pages long (cover included).  The app will require you to export each page you create individually, so keep this in mind as you work.  You can email me each of the pages individually as PDFs.

Regardless of which option you choose, your comic should visually reflect your thought process, or how you think about copyright infringement in your daily life.  This assignment isn’t intended to be a litmus test of your “pirate” identity (or lack thereof), it is simply a reflexive exercise to help you begin thinking through your daily, lived relationship to copyrighted materials, and your views on the relationship between copyright and culture.  Because your own experiences will undoubtedly have an impact on how you approach course material, I wanted us to acknowledge the class’ range of views on this topic up front.

Before you create your comic:  

  • Consider which option is most evocative and/or appropriate for telling your personal narrative
  • Spend some time roughly taking pictures,sketching out, or culling images online you would like to use/transform in your comic BEFORE you create it (e.g. you don’t want to waste your limited time with the iPad trolling the internet for images/taking and uploading pictures, nor do you want to goof up a panel in your interactive comic and have to start from scratch).
  • Think about how this example fits into (or diverges from) your broader views on copyright, and/or if this is representative of how you procure copyrighted materials
  • Did you experience any ethical hesitation?  Did you have any concern about the potential legal ramifications?  Generally, did you consider your actions infringing?  Alternately, did you reason/rationalize your use of these materials?  If so, how?

Submission guidelines:

See above re: materials to be sent to  Be aware that these comics will be publically archived on our course blog under “Student Projects.”

Part II (due Monday, 9/10/12 by 11am)

This short paper assignment will require you to create a critical dialogue between your autoethnographic comic, and John Tehranian’s essay “Infringement Nation: Copyright Reform and the Law/Norm Gap.”  Your paper should be 2-3 pages long (see formatting guidelines below), and consider Tehranian’s argument regarding the law/norm gap through your own personal experiences with copyright + culture.

Some questions you might consider before writing:

  • Do you consider yourself a “copyright skeptic?”  Alternately, can you sympathize with the perspective of copyright maximalists and/or copyright holders?  Where does your personal perspective on copyrights fall along this continuum?
  • As a member of the generation that grew up in the “Participation Age,” do you think you have a markedly different perspective on copyright than prior generations?
  • Do you agree that copyright has “infiltrated the public consciousness like never before”?  How conscious are you of copyright?
  • Are you aware of surveillance technology when pirating materials?  Does this surveillance concern you?

This paper is both a critical and self-reflexive exercise.  Accordingly, you will need to strike a balance between personal reflection and analysis of Tehranian’s article.  Which specific component(s) of Tehranian’s article and argument you choose to address will undoubtedly be determined, in part, by the content of you autoethnography.  The questions above are intended to get you thinking about potential ways to approach this paper, do not attempt to address them all.

Before you write (relevant pages from A Writer’s Reference):

– Read “Writing about texts” (67-68)

– Read “Analyze to demonstrate your critical thinking” (74-77)

Formatting Guidelines (relevant pages from A Writer’s Reference):

– Document formatting (55-56)

– Citations in MLA style (410-411)

Submission guidelines: You will email your reflection paper as a PDF to by 11am on Monday, 9/10/11.  Please save your paper as follows: YOURLASTNAME_csp11_1.pdf




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