This is the third in a series of articles that works to get feedback on the program I’m directing and helping to develop at Marylhurst University in Portland, OR. Marylhurst is a small liberal arts university focused on non-traditional students and adult learners. I teach (in the classroom and online) for the English Literature & Writing department, which has concentrations in LiteratureCreative Writing, and Text:Image. The new online degree program, which opens January 2013, integrates literary studies and the digital humanities with a focus on service and experiential learning. 

With the feedback on my first and second article in this series, we’ve crafted the following brief description of the program:

Marylhurst University offers a high quality English and Digital Humanities Online degree that integrates literary studies with the digital humanities, a hybrid approach to online instruction, and an emphasis on service and experiential learning. Courses in this small, selective program (capped at 100 students) are taught by a predominantly full-time faculty from the on-campus department.

Now, I’d like to turn this crowdsourcing project toward the degree requirements for the major. The intention for this program is to have its content (literary studies) and its medium (the internet) be thoughtfully connected. This is not just a simple English degree delivered online. In addition to more traditional study of literature, we will also consider the evolution of our various technologies of text, thinking critically about what happens to literary texts when they are made digital and when we engage them via digital interfaces.

I hope to get more direct feedback on the degree’s service and experiential learning components in the future, but for the purpose of making sense of these degree requirements, here’s a very brief description of this aspect of the program: The degree emphasizes the necessary movement between learning we do in front of a screen and learning we do out in the world. Toward this end, students will design and complete a service learning project, which thoughtfully connects their coursework to work they do in their communities. Students will also participate in several face-to-face (low residency) components, including an initial 3-day orientation, a week-long summer seminar, and an optional colloquium that coincides with graduation.

One final note: Marylhurst is on the quarter system, so a BA requires 180 credits. Thus, 3 credits on the quarter system is equal to 2 credits on the semester system. 6 credits on the quarter system is equal to 4 credits on the semester system. A standard course on the quarter system meets for approximately 10 weeks.

75 credits required for major

Required Core: Each cohort (of 20 students) takes these courses together in sequence. Only online program students can register for these courses. Some cohort courses are intensive 6 crs. courses. All others are 3 crs. [39 crs. total]
1. Face-to-Face Orientation
2. Introduction to Literary Studies [6 crs.]
3. Digital Humanities [6 crs.]
4. Survey of American Literature [6 crs.]
5. Survey of British Literature [6 crs.]
6. Literary Theory [6 crs.]
7. Senior Thesis
8. One Additional Face-to-Face Seminar

Service Learning Project: Students work with faculty to develop a tailored service learning project in Service Learning I during their first or second quarter. When they are ready to finish this component (usually in the following quarter), they take Service Learning II, in which they complete a project that illustrates the results of their service learning component and connects it to their other coursework. [6 crs. total]
1. Service Learning I
2. Service Learning II

Major Coursework: Examples within the areas below illustrate possible courses to fulfill the requirements (though not all will be offered each year). Online students can fulfill these requirements by taking online or on-ground classes. These online courses can also be taken by on-ground students. [24 crs. total]
1. The Ethics of New Media
2. Electronic Literature
3. One Text:Image Course (Such as: Text:Image; Literature and Film, Graphic Novel, Literature and Maps)
4. Shakespeare or One Period Studies Course (Such as: Medieval Literature & Culture, Nineteenth-Century Literature & Culture, Postmodern Literature & Culture)
5. One Special Topics Course (Such as: Science Fiction, Ecocriticism, History of the Book, Topics in Digital Humanities)
6. One Ethnic Literature or Gender Studies Course (Such as: Queer Literature, Women’s Literature, Ethnic Literature, Post-colonial Literature)
7. One Creative Writing Seminar (Such as: Fiction, Poetry, Creative Non-fiction)
8. One Multimodal Composition or Media Production Course (Such as: Digital Storytelling, Composing for New Media, Comic Arts)

Electives: 2 courses in English, Film and Media, or Cultural Studies. [6 crs. total]

SOME QUESTIONS: What gaps do you see in this list of required courses? It’s a small program, so I’m limited in the number of courses I can offer, but do you see this degree map allowing students enough choice? Do you see ways to simplify? What here seems particularly exciting and/or innovative? Is the balance right between more traditional English courses and Digital Humanities-inflected courses?

Again, I’m eager to get feedback from existing college students, future college students, teachers, educational technology experts, program administrators, etc. Join the discussion in the comments below, and please share the link to this article.

[Photo by benwatts]