Remix Culture: a winter term experience

Long time, no blog. It’s been a valuable if inward-looking time for me, getting the feel of Middlebury, a sense of the students and of the college community. Perhaps it makes sense that my blogging slowed as I took stock of a new context. But I’ve been here a year and a half now (how did that happen?) and I’m starting to feel the impulse to share again.

Starting off with a new course I’ll be teaching over winter term entitled Remix Culture. Now, I’ve taught Remix within the context of various classes before (including within my first year seminar this past fall, Creativity and the Digital Age), but never as its own entity. For that matter, I’ve never taught a four week class before. I get the sense that the best way to tackle a short class is to allow space for deep learning rather than to try to cover a wide expanse. The goal for this class is to have a true integration of concept and practice, so we’ll be reading about remix, talking about remix, and remixing, all the way through from week one to week four. I’m extremely lucky to have the support and resources to run a class like this. I have hopes that this won’t be the only time I teach this course, and that I’ll be able to teach it as a full semester course as well. But for the next month, I’ll be embracing short term teaching; sort of like the drabble* of the educational world.

Have any of you taught Remix Culture as a part of a class before, or as a full class? What were your experiences? How about with the 4 week immersive teaching experience? Would love to hear any thoughts/wisdom on these matters!

*100 word (exactly) work of fan fiction. See fanlore definition.

So, at any rate, here’s the Remix Culture winter term syllabus as it stands right now. Or rather, the real syllabus is on Moodle (and thus not publicly viewable) but this is a facsimile of its core parts.

Required Text: 

Jean Burgess and Joshua Green, Youtube: Online Video and Participatory Culture (New York: Polity, 2009).

All other required readings available by link or download at the course moodle sight.

Course Moodle:

Class resources and required readings are all available at the course moodle site. All work will also be submitted through moodle, including youtube links to your remix video assignments. You can access the moodle site through your own course hub by going to go/hub, or through the go link: go/remix. 

Readings & Inquiries (Due every Sunday at 11PM) 

Each week, you have two to three readings due, and as part of the process of doing these readings, you will write up 100 word musings/questions (aka inquiries) for each reading. These inquiries will consist of questions, short and small, that you pose of the reading, or that the reading inspires you to ask. Your inquiries may explore points you didn’t fully understand, examine associations prompted by the readings, or point to gaps you feel the readings have left unexplored. They should be substantive questions, not trivia or yes or no answers. Post your inquiries in the specified Moodle assignment area each week. I recommend writing up your questions in a word processing program before cutting and pasting to Moodle. We will explore selected inquiries in class, depending on the direction of the class discussion. The inquiries will be graded 1-10.

Group Led Discussion

In the first week of class, I will split you into groups for class-led presentations/discussions based on your interest in the following topics:

  • Parody Mashup
  • Political Remix
  • Fan Vidding
  • Machnima
  • Tumblr vs. Youtube
  • Remix Auteurs
  • AMV (Anime Music Video)
  • Music vs. Video Remix
  • Other: ..

Together, you will meet as a group (in person & virtually) and explore your topic online. You will come to class with key points and examples to share, as well as two to three discussion questions (which could be in reference to your examples). Please have a handout prepared for all of the members of class. Be sure to include all of your group members’ names on the handout!

Group presentation/discussion should last about a half an hour.  I will assign presentation dates/times during the first week of class. The first presentations will take place the second week of class.

Video Remix Assignments (Due Fridays at 11PM)

Over the course of the semester, you will complete three remixes. The first two remixes will be completed in a week each. The third remix will be completed in two stages, with one week allotted to each draft. You will upload all of these remixes (I recommend you choose the unlisted option, so that  your remixes will be viewable only to those with the link) to your youtube account, and submit the link + your process commentary (see below) to moodle. Here are details for each of these assignments:

Quick & Dirty Creative Commons Minute Remixes

For your first remix, you’ll be working with two sets of creative constraints:

  • All of your video and sound must be creativecommons. We will go over resources for creative commons video and audio resources in class, as well as how to download and import files into final cut.
  • Your remixes must be no more than a minute long.

Other than that, follow the guidelines in the General Remix Guideline sheet, and have fun exploring the possibilities of remix with Final Cut!

Respond/Remix

For this week’s video remix assignment, you’ll be creating a response video to a remix/mashup video on youtube of your choice. This means that the first part of this assignment is exploration–explore youtube to locate a video that inspires you to respond to it. You do not need to actually use the “video response” function on youtube; just include a link to the video you’re responding to in your Process Commentary sheet. Some tips:

  • Think about how your video will function as a response both in terms of content and in terms of aesthetic choices.
  • You do not need to use only downloaded footage for this assignment; this would be a good opportunity to begin experimenting with working with DVD footage for higher quality imagery.
  • There is no strict length limit for this assignment, but follow the guidelines listed on the Remix Guidelines sheet (i.e. 2-3 minutes in length, average of 30 edits per minute…)

Intermodal Remix

You’ll have two weeks to complete this final assignment, though you will be submitting a draft on the Friday of the first week. For this assignment, you have a couple of options:

  • choose a mode of video remix and work within the cultural expectations and codes of that mode (mashup, parody mashup, fanvid, political remix, alternative narrative)
  • choose two modes (listed above) and synthesize them for an intermodal mix

Again, follow the guidelines on the Remix Guidelines sheet. Use the highest quality source possible given your subject of choice.

Weekly Process Commentary (Due Fridays @ 11PM with Remixes) 

With each video, you will write an approximately 500 word commentary about the process and outcome of your remix. Below I have written up some prompts to help guide your writing. Some of the prompts will vary slightly each week depending on the specific assignment. You must always include a paragraph discussing the feedback you received from your beta and how you responded to that feedback.

Here are general questions to consider each week:

  • How did the material of class inform your creative choices, and how did the creative process transform your understanding of class material?
  • What were your goals with this remix?
  • Do you feel your remix succeeded with these goals?
  • Favorite moment & why? (Include timestamp)
  • Moment you would change & why? (Include timestamp)
  • Thoughts on the process of making this video? Challenges expected and unexpected along the way?
  • What did you learn (technically and conceptually) through the process of making this video?

In addition, each week I have listed questions specific to that week’s assignment. These can be found on moodle.

Beta Partnerships

In this class, in addition to creating individual remixes, you’ll be involved in the cooperative/collective process of beta-ing. This term and practice emerges from fan culture, though of course it has parallels in academia. Basically, your role as beta is to provide honest and thoughtful constructive feedback on remix drafts to your partner. For the first two weeks, I will assign beta partnerships. For the final project, you may choose your beta partner or you can let me know if you’d like me to match you up with someone.

Please use the beta worksheet and hand it in to me after you’ve both completed your remixes, either in hard copy or uploaded with your remix submission.

Extra Credit

Either create a new twitter account or use an already existing one to participate in ongoing class-related discussion, using the hashtag #middremix – tweet any thoughts you have while reading, connections you see beyond class, links to remixes you discover. Continue conversations with each other by using @ handles (for example, you can always tweet directly to me @les) but be sure to also include the #middremix hashtag.

Week by Week Outline


9 Jan – 15 Jan: Remix and the Creative Commons

Readings (for this week, due Tuesday 1/10 @11pm)

Lessig, Lawrence. Remix Part One (PDF on moodle)
Creative Commons on Wikipedia (link on moodle)
Creative Commons Website About (link on moodle)

Assignments

Inquiry: Lessig Reading (Tues 1/10 @ 11pm moodle)
Youtube Account Set Up (Wed 1/11 @ 11pm submit account address to moodle)
CC Minute Remixes & Process Commentary Due (Fri 1/14 @ 11PM moodle)

16 Jan – 22: Jan Respond/Remix

Readings (due Sunday 1/15 @11pm)

Youtube Chapter 1 & 3
Edwards & Tyron. “Political Video Mashups as Allegories of Citizen Empowerment.” (moodle)

Assignments

Inquiry: Edwards & Tyron (Sun 1/15 @11pm moodle)
Inquiry: Youtube Chapters 1 & 3 (Sun 1/15 @ 11pm moodle)
Respond/Remix: Videos & Process Commentary (Fri 1/20 @ 11PM moodle)

23 Jan – 29 Jan: Vidding & Modes of Remix

Readings (Due Sunday 1/22 @11pm)

Coppa, Francesca. “Women, Star Trek, and the Development of Early Fannish Vidding.”
Jenkins, Henry (in Youtube) “What Happened Before Youtube.”

Assignments

Inquiry: Coppa (Sunday 1/22 @11pm moodle)
Inquiry: Jenkins (Sunday 1/22 @11pm moodle)
(Inter)Modal Remix Draft 1 & Process Commentary (Fri 1/27 11PM moodle)

30 January – 5 February: Remix Synthesis

Readings (Due Sunday 1/29 @11pm)

Youtube, Chapter 5 “Youtube’s Cultural Politics”
DJ Spooky. “In Through the Out Door.”

Assignments

Inquiry: Youtube Chapter 5 (Sun 1/29 @11pm moodle)
Inquiry: DJ Spooky (Sun 1/29 @11pm moodle)
(Inter)Modal Remix Final & Process Commentary (Fri 2/3 @11pm moodle)

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3 thoughts on “Remix Culture: a winter term experience

    1. lstein says:

      Hi Bob! Thanks so much! One week in, and so far it’s off to a good start–the students are enthusiastic and I think we’re all appreciating the opportunity to dig in deeply, with a mix of hands on practice and reading/reflecting. I’ll report back as we make our way through the semester; I’m sure the next time I blink, it’ll be over. Winter term–a very strange (but so far, fun!) beast.

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