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

Below, you’ll find a the syllabus for CSP 11: Copyright + Culture.  Any readings not linked below can be found in our course Moodle site under “files.”  If you would prefer to download a PDF of the syllabus, you can do so here: CSP11_CopyrightandCultureSyllabus

CSP 11 Syllabus (Fall 2012)

Instructor: Suzanne Scott, PhD  •  • @iheartfatapollo

Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 11:45am-12:40pm (Rangeview 232)

Office hours: W/F 2-3pm (Green Bean)

Course blog:

Course twitter hashtag: #csp11


From the printing press to, copyright law and culture have had a contested relationship.  This course will survey contemporary clashes over intellectual property, with an emphasis on fair use and free culture debates.  Some central questions the course will pose include: Where is the legal and cultural line drawn between sampling and stealing?  What makes a fan-produced text transformative rather than derivative?  Why do we remain so invested in authorship and authenticity?   And, finally, how can we collectively navigate copyright’s culture of fear and doubt and reclaim fair use as cultural consumers and producers?  Readings include work by Walter Benjamin, Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, Roland Barthes, Lawrence Lessig, and Henry Jenkins, among others.  Screenings will include examples of remix culture and fans’ transformative works, The Star Wars Holiday Special, South Park, and Rip! A Remix Manifesto.  In addition to honing their argumentative writing skills, students will create arguments through remix videos and other multimedia forms, asserting their copyrights and embodying the read/write culture championed by Lessig and other scholars.


  • To practice creating and shaping compelling arguments through a variety of media forms
  • To use digital media to collaborate, create a sense of community, and extend conversations beyond the classroom
  • To move from a Read/Only to a Read/Write relationship with culture
  • To become conversant in the historical relationship between copyright and culture, and to critically engage with the key issues and debates surrounding contemporary copyfights and copyrights


Details on all your course assignments, including instruction handouts, submission guidelines, and due dates, can be found under the “Assignments” tab of our course blog. I would encourage (nay, insist) that you plug all these due dates into your google calendars now, to help manage your workflow.  Your final grade for the course will consist of eight elements/assignments, enumerated below:

First, your weekly attendance and active participation (10%) is central to the class’ success and to your success in the class, as is your thoughtful engagement with the course readings.  Documented medical or family emergencies will be excused (provided you email me prior to class to explain your circumstances), and you have one “free pass” for when you need a personal day. All other absences will negatively impact your attendance and participation grade.  Time will be allotted to discuss your response to the readings and their correlation to the course screenings, but you’re encouraged to post any additional material you come across that you think might be relevant to the class (blog posts, videos, articles, etc.) to our course blog.  You can also send me comments and links via Twitter @iheartfatapollo, using our course hashtag (#csp11).

Most Mondays after class, I will post a prompt to our course blog that resonates with the week’s theme and readings.  As part of your digital participation grade (10%), you are required to comment on this post, due before Sunday at 6pm.  As with class attendance, you have one “free pass” for these blog posts, use it wisely.  Though this is a relatively informal weekly writing requirement, I hope you’ll monitor this space throughout the week and continue contributing to the conversation and responding to your classmates comments, especially if you don’t always feel comfortable speaking up in class (I will consider your blog involvement when calculating your participation grade).  Your remarks can be relatively short (1-2 paragraphs), but should be substantive and critical, draw meaningful connections between the prompt and course content, and engage with your classmates’ posts when applicable.

In addition to your attendance and participation grade, you will have six major assignments for this course, including an autoethnographic comic (10%), a position paper (10%), a take-home midterm exam (15%), a remix video creation/analysis project (15%), and a final project that will consist of an in-class presentation (10%) that summarizes the focus and argument of your 8pg. term paper (20%).  More detailed instructions for all of these assignments will be distributed in the coming weeks on the course blog.

Just as remix culture advocates for developing an array of media literacies and proficiencies in as a mode of empowering users, these assignments will require you to think through how to compose arguments on a variety of digital platforms.  Many of these assignments will require multiple steps (thesis statements, outlines, peer review, revision, etc.), so plan your workflow accordingly.

All assignments must be handed in on time, and turning in assignments late will be detrimental to your grade.  For each week your assignment is late, you will be docked one full letter grade.  All assignments must be completed to pass the course.  Exceptions will be made and extensions will be given only for medical or family emergencies (provided you can offer documentation).

Grading breakdown:

Attendance/Participation = 10%

Digital Participation = 10%

Copyright Autoethnography = 10%

Authorship Position Paper = 10%

Take Home Midterm = 15%

Remix Video Assignment = 15%

Term Paper Presentation = 10%

Term Paper = 20%


Readings are listed below on the course schedule; assigned chapters and articles are to be read before class each Monday (unless noted otherwise below).  All readings will be available through Moodle (housed under “Files”), or online via the links provided below.  You can also link to all the course readings through the “Syllabus” tab on our course blog.

We have two required books, available at the campus bookstore:

  • Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011)
  • Lewis Hyde, Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010)


Students with documented disabilities who are registered with Disability Services are required to present their accommodation letter to the instructor at the beginning of each semester or as soon as possible thereafter. Students who experience significant physical or mental impairments can contact Disability Services at (323) 259-2969 to learn about available services and support.


The CAE is an excellent resource for students looking for one-on-one assistance with writing assignments.  They offer meetings with both student writing advisors (on a drop-in basis) and faculty writing specialists (by appointment).  More information, and online appointment scheduling, can be found here:  The CAE is located on the ground floor of the library, down the hall from my office in the Center For Digital Learning + Research.


Students are responsible for knowing the Student Handbook’s definition of academic ethics and Occidental’s policies and procedures for dealing with academic misconduct, including plagiarism ( We will discuss academic ethics during the semester, but if at any time you have any question as to whether a particular use of source materials constitutes plagiarism, please contact me in advance of submitting work.



Week 1 •  Introductions

Wednesday, 8/29:           Introduction to the Course, Course Goals, and Cohort

Friday, 8/31:                    Wordpress blog orientation and autoethnographic comic assignment overview

Read (by 8/31):

Bound by Law


– Friday, 8/31 by 10am: Complete tech and media survey

– Saturday, 9/1: Sign up for wordpress account (see email invitation sent 8/31)


Week 2 •  Copyright + Culture I

Monday, 9/3:                    Labor Day [No Class]

Wednesday, 9/5:             Copyfight and the Copyright Wars

Friday, 9/7:                       Cultural Hegemony and the Law/Norm gap

Read (by 9/5):

– William Patry, “How the Copyright Wars Are Being Fought and Why”

– John Tehranian, “Infringement Nation: Copyright Reform and the Law/Norm Gap”

– Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, “Visualizing Copyright, Seeing Hegemony: Towards a Meta-Critique of Intellectual Property”


– By Monday, 9/3 @ 8pm: create and send autoethnographic comic.  See blog re:assignment guidelines.

– Weekly blog response (by Sunday, 9/9 at 6pm)


Week 3 • Copyright + Culture II

Monday, 9/10:                Speaker: Jonathan Kozol (Thorne Hall)

Wednesday, 9/12:          Technology and art’s “aura”

Friday, 9/14:                    Library instruction session (11:45am-12:40pm in Brown Lab)


– Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”


– Monday, 9/10 @ 11am: Copyright autoethnography reflection paper (PDF via email)

– Weekly blog response (by Sunday, 9/16 at 6pm)


Week 4 • Authorship, Moral Rights, and Plagiarism

Monday, 9/17:                 Moral rights

Wednesday, 9/19:           Position paper workshop: identifying/synthesizing arguments and plagiarism

Friday, 9/21:                    The birth of the reader


– Roland Barthes, “Death of the Author”

– Peter Decherney, “Auteurism on Trial: Moral Rights and Films on Televison”

– Susan Blum, “Interextuality, Authorship, and Plagiarism”


Clips from The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)


– Work on your position paper


Week 5 • Fair Use

Monday, 9/24:                  Peer review of position paper drafts, thesis dissection

Wednesday, 9/26:           What’s “fair?”

Friday, 9/28:                     Codes of Best Practices


– Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, Reclaiming Fair Use (chs 1-2, 5-6, 9)  


– Clips of 30 Rock


– Monday, 9/24 by 11am: Email me a PDF of your authorship position paper draft before 11am AND bring a hard copy of your draft to class.

– Weekly blog response (by Sunday, 9/30 at 6pm)


Week 6 • Remix Culture

Monday, 10/1:                 The rhetoric of remix

Wedesday, 10/3:             Screening

Friday, 10/5:                    Music, sampling, and the RIAA


– Lawrence Lessig, Remix (chapters 1-2, 4-5)

– Virginia Kuhn, “The Rhetoric of Remix”

– Joanna Demers, “Music as Intellectual Property”

– Mark Katz, “Music in 1s and 0s: The Art and Politics of Digital Sampling”


Copyright Criminals (52 min)

Outside Screening:

Rip!  A Remix Manifesto (1 hr 26 min)

NOTE: The screening of Rip! A Remix Manifesto will be preceded by a lecture by James Ford on the evening of Tuesday, October 2 at 6:30pm (location TBD).  Food and drinks will be provided, we should be done around 10pm.


– Monday, 10/1 by 11am: PDF final draft of authorship position paper submitted via email

– Weekly blog response (by Sunday, 10/7 at 6pm) 


Week 7 •  Transformative Fan Texts

Monday, 10/8:           Speaker: Hector Tobar (Thorne Hall)

Wednesday, 10/10:  Textual poaching

Friday, 10/12:            Vidding


– Henry Jenkins, “Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching”

– Francesca Coppa, “Women, Star Trek, and the Early Development of Fannish Vidding”

– Alexis Lothian, “Living in a Den of Thieves: Fan Video and Digital Challenges to Ownership”


– Clips from Star Trek and a selection of fan vids


– Friday, 10/12 @ 11am: Turn in take-home midterm (PDF via email).

NOTE: this will be handed out in class and made available on the blog on 10/8.

– Weekly blog response (by Sunday, 10/14 at 6pm)


Week 8 • Copyright and Fandom Case Study: Rowling V. RDR Books

Monday, 10/15:             Fall break [No Class]

Wednesday, 10/17:      Affirmational vs. transformational fandom and the HP Lexicon

Friday, 10/19:                Remix video partners assigned and discussion of best practices for the assignment

Read (by 10/17):

– Decision in Rowling V. RDR Books case


– Weekly blog response (by Sunday, 10/21 at 6pm)


Week 9 • Remix video lab time (oMac Lab, ground floor @ the Academic Commons)

Monday, 10/22:         Introduction to iMovie and audiovisual resources

Wednesday, 10/24:  Work on remix video project with your partner

Friday, 10/26:            Work on remix video project with your partner

[NOTE: Friday’s class will be held from 12:45-1:30pm]


– Monday, 10/22 by 8pm: Term paper proposals due via email

– Friday, 10/26 by 8pm: Term paper conference sign up via googledoc


Week 10 • Piracy

Monday, 10/29:           Guest speaker: Brett Service

Wednesday, 10/31:     Yo ho, yo ho…

Friday, 11/2:                 Term paper workshopping


– Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture(chapters 4-5)

– Peter Decherney, “Copyright Dupes: Piracy and New Media in Edison v. Lubin (1903)”

– Adrian Johns, “The Pirate at Home and at Large”

– Lewis Hyde, Common As Air (chapter 5)


– Term paper conferences during extended office hours this week

– Friday, 11/2 by 8pm: Googledoc sign up for term paper presentation slots

Extra Credit:            – Come dressed as a pirate/pirated object on 10/31


Week 11 • Considering the “Commons” and the (Digital) Public Domain

Monday, 11/5:        The public domain and the need for a “commons”

Wednesday, 11/7:   The case for Creative Commons

Friday, 11/9:           Guest speaker: Marsha Schnirring on Oxy’s Academic Commons

Read:                          – Lewis Hyde, Common As Air (chapters 2-4, and 9)

– Pamela Samuelson, “Mapping the Digital Public Domain: Threats and Opportunities”


A Fair(y) Use Tale


– Sunday, 11/11 by 8pm: Upload your remix video to YouTube [send me link and written component via email]


Week 12 • Student remix video presentations

Monday, 11/12:      Speaker: Jesus Trevino (Thorne Hall)

Wednesday, 11/14: Student vid screenings and discussion

Friday, 11/16:         Term paper thesis/outline/works cited peer review           


– Wednesday, 11/14: be prepared to screen and discuss your remix video in class.

– Friday, 11/16 by 11am: email me your term paper outline AND bring a hard copy in to class for peer review


Week 13 • Discussion of Presentations and Final Paper

Monday, 11/19:       Prezi demo, bring in questions/concerns about presentations and term papers

Wednesday, 11/21: Thanksgiving Break [No Class]

Friday, 11/23:         Thanksgiving Break [No Class]


– Work on your presentations and term papers over the holiday.


Week 14 • Prezi Term Paper Presentations

Monday, 11/26:       Presentation Group I

Wednesday, 11/28:  Presentation Group II

Friday, 11/30:          Presentation Group III


Week 15 • Prezi Presentations Redux and Course Wrap-Up

Monday, 12/3:         Presentation Group IV

Wednesday, 12/5:   Course Coda


– Friday, 12/7: term papers (PDF via email by noon)



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