Digital Studies 101

Section 1 - MWF 9-9:50 AM

Instructor: Lee Skallerup Bessette, PhD

HCC 327

Course Description

This course introduces the Minor in Digital Studies and is also a requirement for the Major in Communication and Digital Studies. In this class, you will experience this semester a broad approach to digital inquiry, digital creativity and critical practice as they may manifest in different disciplines. In other words, this class will help you develop the ideas, practices, and skills that continue to pursue in elective coursework, should you choose to proceed with the minor or major. And if if you’re not proceeding with this minor, what you take from this class will be useful in whatever major you pursue as well as, hopefully, the rest of your life. While some coursework will involve working closely with computer software and code, no prior experience with programming is required or expected; this is not a Computer Science class.

From the Instructor: The theme of this class is going to be Absence, Invisibility, Erasure. We will be focusing specifically on interrogating what is not seen, not recognized, marginalized, and even silenced through the digital. We will also be looking at approaches that address these gaps and lacks. This course will be challenging in terms of its subject matter. We will be creating a supportive community for learning and exploration.

Learning Outcomes

Required Texts/Resources/Materials


Reimagine the Syllabus

Digital Polarization

Your Domain/Digital Identity


Modules (x4)

Deep Tech Thoughts (x5)

Final Reflection

Modules are flexible, open-ended inquiries into certain topics and skills related to digital studies and can be found on Three times during the semester, ad hoc working groups will spend two weeks working on a chosen project, concluding that with a presentation on their progress and outcomes. Find your cohort by declaring your intent to work on a particular module in the appropriate Slack channel, and then communicate with that cohort on Slack and in-person through the weeks.


Before the Module Unit begins

During Module Unit

At the end of the Module Unit


Learning is interactive, iterative, and connected. Your grade will be based largely on two elements: your final reflection where you will show what you have learned and evaluate your own performance in the course and standards decided collectively by our learning community. The assignments themselves will be evaluated by means of exceptional, acceptable, and unacceptable. Any work in the course which is deemed unacceptable can be revised and resubmitted.

Academic Dishonesty

The UMW Honor Code is the ethical guideline for this class, and it defines our core beliefs and expectations as a community. In this class, several assignments will be completed as collaborative work, but all other work must be your own, as per Article 1, Sections 1 and 2 of the University of Mary Washington Student Honor Code. If you are unsure if something you’re preparing to turn in constitutes plagiarism, you should ask me or consult the Writing Center. Ignorance of proper citation and acknowledgement practice is not an excuse.

Disability Accommodations

The Office of Disability Resources has been designated by the University as the primary office to guide, counsel, and assist students with disabilities. If you already receive services through the Office of Disability Resources and require accommodations for this class, get in touch with me as soon as possible to discuss your approved accommodation needs. Please bring your accommodation letter with you to the appointment. I will hold any information you share with me in the strictest confidence unless you give me permission to do otherwise. If you have not contacted the Office of Disability Resources and need accommodations, (note taking assistance, extended time for tests, etc.), I will be happy to refer you. The office will require appropriate documentation of disability. Their phone number is 540-654-1266.

Tentative Schedule (Subject to Change and Negotiation)