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"?




There is a two-hour lecture each week (Tuesdays 16:30—18:20, beginning 4th February, 2020; NOTE: no class before Chinese New Year). Attendance in mandatory. Devices will not be permitted in lectures, generally, but,as this is a course about Digital Media, you will be asked to use DM during class, from time to time. There will be a 5-minute break mid-lecture during which you can check email/messages (if you must). Lecture notes will be available in moodle for you to print out before class. If you miss the lecture for any reason, you will be given a make-up task to do (which might be in your own time but could be under supervision). If you fail to do a make-up task, your course grade will be reduced (e.g. B to B-). The purpose of the make-up task is to ensure you cover all the material in the course. Note that this applies to any absence; I am concerned with you missing class, not why you missed it. Please do not send medical certificates. If you have an on-going medical problem, physical or mental, you should apply to the Faculty of Arts for a Leave of Absence. Keep in mind that CEDARS is there to help you with any personal problems you might have.

There is a single hour on Fridays (17:30–18:20) which will be for workshops (five in total) in which students will learn and use some of the tools employed in sociolinguistic analysis. Again, attendance is mandatory. Supervised make-up tasks will be required for any missed workshop. The workshop dates are Feb 7, 14, 21, Mar 27, Apr 3.

You will also have 3 half-hour individual consultations. The first is for brainstorming your major project. This will be the week of 24th February (you will sign up for all consultations in moodle). The second is a progress meeting, 17th-23rd March. The third, 20th-25th April, is to discuss your finished project, the grade, and how you might make improvements. You will have a chance to resubmit your project. The marks from both versions will then be averaged.

Additionally, I will hold consultation hours every Wednesday afternoon (from 6th February) from 15:00 to 17:30. Appointments (which you can make online in moodle) are necessary. Time-slots will be for 20 minutes.

Total mandatory hours: 30.5 (lecture hours = 24; workshop hours = 5; consultation hours = 1.5).




Assessment will be continuous and based 100% on coursework. Your final grade will also be affected by attendance and participation.

In-class writing assignment (April 14)


Project (focus individually chosen; to be discussed with instructor in "brainstorming" session)





All readings will be freely provided/available online. Some readings will be required before class.



Last updated: 12 July 2019