The following are the two major assignment sequences we’ll be working through this semester. If you’re curious about why I’ve designed them the way that I have, you can see my justifications here

Research Paper Assignment Sequence

Shorter paper

  • The final draft of your first assignment is due by email before class on September 20th. In 900-1200 words, you will describe the history of a hobby, how it is practiced today, and what different groups participate in it. Write about points of conflict or interest in your hobby’s community of practice, and suggest a way that the discourse could be enhanced.

Annotated Bibliography

  • Prepare a list of 5-10 scholarly resources (books, articles, etc. published by a scholarly press) that you find in relation to Stoic and Christian models of desire. At least three of them should be books from university presses (check the library). Include an MLA citation, a summary of the source, an evaluation of the source, and a reflection on the source’s applicability to your final paper.


  • Prepare a 150-200 word abstract of your final paper and post it to your “coursework” section under English 101.

Longer paper

  • In 1500-1700 words (5-7) pages you will describe the concept of “desire” as it operates in “The Hymn of Cleanthes,” Epictetus, or Marcus Aurelius. You will then compare this notion of desire to Augustine’s Confessions, the Anglo-Saxon Riddle 43 (“A Noble Guest of Brave Lineage/A King Who Keeps to Himself Dwells”), “Anima Christi,” or St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. You must explicate at least 2 passages from each text in this comparison. Finally, you will apply what you have learned about desire to a geek (or hobby community) cultural production of your choice (you may define what “geek” is).
    I would like you to:
  1. Generate your own ideas about the concept of desire
  2. Read reliable sources about the works you are discussing
  3. Refine your ideas in light of what you’ve learned from the sources you studied and make your conclusions more nuanced and responsive to what people are already saying about your topic.
  4. Apply your newer, more complicated idea about what desire is and how it works in different contexts to some aspect of geek culture or a hobby community.

Web Project Assignment Sequence

One of your major projects for this semester will be to build an online resource for people who participate in a hobby community. We’ll practice ways to find out who your audience is, to determine what’s useful for them, and to provide what they are missing. At the end of this course, you will have created a personal website with a link to your project. You will complete the following steps in order to create your project:


  1. Pick a hobby and mindmap its connections. Who practices your hobby? What communities form around its practice? What’s important about your hobby?
    2. Identify areas of conflict or interest and stakeholders in your hobby network. Who is talking about what?
    3. Post your mindmap to the class forum

Resource List

  1. Write a list of the different communities, resources, and forums available in your hobby. For each item, give several sentences that explain what it is, how it is useful, what its intended audience is, and whatever else seems relevant.
  2. Post to the class forum.

“About” and “Links” page

  • Take the paper you wrote about your hobby and your resource list and transform them into an “About” page and a “links/resources” page for your website. You should change your formatting and writing style in order to be effective in addressing the kind of audience you would have using your website.

Wikipedia entry

  1. Taking what you’ve learned so far about your hobby, create a Wikipedia-style entry on some topic related to your hobby that is not already covered on Wikipedia.
  2. Post this entry to the class forum.
  3. Develop this entry into the core of your web project. For example, if your entry lists different rulesets for historical fencing tournaments and points out an endemic problem in finding experienced judges, develop a series of fencing videos that teach better judging.


You will give an 8-10 minute presentation about your hobby community to the class in which you will describe the kinds of compositional decisions you are making in regards to audience, purpose, and style. You will address how you are navigating the implicit and explicit ideals encouraged by the institutional context of which your project is a part

While you are free to pick your own hobby (provided that you email or come talk to me about it first), here is a list of five suggested hobbies you could choose to study for the purposes of this course.

  1. Origami
  2. Fencing
  3. Magic the Gathering
  4. Costuming
  5. MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft

Some examples of how these hobbies might yield a rewarding web project:

During your research on origami, you realize that there aren’t clear instructions for how assemble modular projects. You decide that a video series is the best way to address this problem, because it is easier to demonstrate visually than verbally how to connect the pieces together.

During your research on historical costuming, you realize that one of the major sources that people in the American hobby community use in defense of a (wrong) way of doing something is based on a mistranslation of an Italian text. Being a native speaker of Italian, you re-translate the text and provide it, along with a defense and justification of why your translation is better than the current translation, to your hobby community.

During your research on World of Warcraft, you realize that there are not very many resources for visually-impaired people who want to learn how to start playing. You create a website that matches mentors to mentees using a questionnaire to find compatible personalities and goals. You add a forum and a list of links to relevant resources to get players started.