Tuesdays 16:30—18:20, beginning 4th February, 2020; NOTE: no class before Chinese New Year
Language is strongly influenced by the medium through which it is presented. When the medium itself is in wide use, norms emerge which determine not only the form that language can take, but also the pragmatic effects of any language use that either exploits or deviates from these norms. The nature of public language--that is, language generated by or for the public at large through various media--in turn influences public discourse (i.e., what is being talked about large-scale, and how it is talked about). When the nature of the medium is expressly exploited linguistically, then this change can achieve overwhelming and widespread effects.
Digital media's (DM's) effect on language; mobile phones; social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp); digital literacy; DM and children's language development; emoticons; new words (e.g. hashtag, meme, troll); bullying ("be best" v. Trump); DM and politics | white supremacy | hate language | terrorism | education | pragmatics | language rights | minority languages | translations | literature | social relations (having 1000+ "friends"?); pre-digital media and language.
Course objectives often begin "This course introduces students . . . ." This course is different because there is an assumption that all students are already familiar with the language of DM. However, being literate in DM and understanding how it works, and the implications for language in general, are quite a different thing. You will examine DM within the field of sociolinguistics, how DM is affecting language and how language affects DM. You will learn to read critically about language issues, and examine connections between DM and language structure, attitudes, and policies in law, education, and politics. You will think critically about language and human relations in DM, especially your own notion of friendship – who qualifies as a "friend"? Has "friend" become synonymous with "acquaintance"?
Owing to the outbreak of Covid-19, the course will be online until further notice. We will meanwhile follow the schedule set by HKU: online teaching and learning (with Recess work from 17 February to 01 March), every week, (including Reading Week). Weekly work will include: (a) a videoed lecture in Moodle, (b) lecture notes, (c) a variety of readings as needed, and (d) graded participation in an online discussion/debate forum. There will also be a midterm writing assignment, which will be in-class if we are back on campus by April or online at the appointed lecture time if we are not back on campus by April. Your major project is a research essay on some topic connected to DM and language. All work online will be asynchronous — i.e. you can do it in your own time but keep deadlines in mind.
In lieu of workshops, regular participation in the discussion forum is expected to show you have absorbed and understand the material. The discussion forum will be graded. A well thought-out, well-argued post is required for every forum.
Consultations will be by email (email@example.com).
Assessment is based 100% on coursework. You will receive a straight letter grade (no pluses or minuses) for your assignments (in the range from A to F). See the grade descriptors at the bottom of this syllabus. All marks are subject to scrutiny by the Arts Faculty Board of Examiners.
- Midterm writing assignment 20%
- Online discussion participation 20%
- Research essay (to be discussed individually) 60%
Any reading materials will be provided for you online.