INTRODUCTION

American Studies and the New Technologies has three principal objectives, 1) to provide you with hands-on experience in the new technologies,2) to explore the utility of these technologies in interdisciplinary studies, especially Amerian Studies, and 3) to allow you an opportunity to create a hypertext site that will be useful to the larger American Studies community.

In pursuit of the first of these objectives, we will learn basic hand coding in HTML, learn how to scan documents and convert them to digital texts using and optical character reader (OCR), become familiar with the use of the graphics software package Photoshop, and with digitizing software for audio and video. You will also be introduced to three separate web editing packages, Netscape Composer, Microsoft Frontpage, and HomeSite. Although each of these applications is powerful enough that one cannot expect to achieve mastery in a single semester, and although progress toward master will, as in many things in this life, turn out to be directly proportional to the time you spend working with them and the intelligence and energy you bring to bear on that task, some of you should become skillful enough to actually use them.

We will explore how these skills are best applied for interdisciplinary study both directly and indirectly; i.e, through reading and discussion of web-design focused on the differences between print and electronic "texts" and through the workshops where we'll critique web sites -- our own and others -- for their effectiveness.

Finally, each student will be asked to create a web project, something of sufficient scale to justify all the hard work that will have gone in to it, something that will bring to bear computing, research and anlysis, something genuinely innovative and useful beyond the world of our own classroom.

If it hasn't become clear already, this is going to be in, Monty Python's phrase, "something different." There are a number of things for which you have primary responsibility: you are responsible for your own learning (I'm responsible for assisting you when and wherever I can, but learning is your job); you are responsible to each other (this is a collaborative enterprise; no one knows enough to do the work by themselves; no one, by themselves, can accomplish what we're trying to do here); you will be doing work that is viewed by the genreal public, work that may be held to higher standards than, I think, you are accustomed to; we are going to go very fast, and you are responsible for meeting deadlines by whatever means necessary; if you have any wit and imagination its your responsibility to bring it to bear.

For those of you who are interested in also getting exposure to other software applications like FrontPage, DreamWeaver, and Flash2, if you'll let me know early on, I'll try to arrange for you to get into ITC training classes on these applications.

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