Contemporary Media and Fiction

English 230: An undergraduate course for 60 students
Fall 2022 at the University of Victoria
lək̓ʷəŋən and WSÁNEĆ Territories
TWF, 1:30-2:20pm
Taught by Jentery Sayers (he / him)
With Babak Ashrafkhani, teaching assistant
Office hours: W, 12-1pm; Th, 12:30-1:30pm

View this document in PDF.

This syllabus is licensed CC BY-NC 4.0.


tl;dr Version of this Syllabus

In a rush? Overwhelmed by the start of term? Need a guide to steward you through this course?

I made a one-page, tl;dr version of this syllabus for you. I’ll print you a PDF copy, too. This guide is not intended to replace the syllabus, but I hope it’s convenient in a pinch.

Course Description

How do we not only read stories but also see, hear, watch, and play them? This course introduces you to media studies and how audio, images, text, and interfaces are designed for contemporary fiction. We’ll study comics, animations, short fiction, dramatic podcasts, and games, and you’ll learn how to write about media and fiction for a critical audience by integrating a range of media into your work. Since this course is an introduction, I’ll assume you’ve never taken a class in media studies.

Please note: “media” in the title implies “audio, images, text, and interfaces,” not news or communication outlets (“the media”). Thanks!


We designed this course for you to:

Each of these four outcomes should apply to work across disciplines and occupations, regardless of your occupational interests or major at UVic. They are useful whenever you’re interpreting media or communicating online, for example.

About Us

My name is Jentery Sayers (he / him). I skip a syllable and say it in two: “JEN-tree.” I spend 14.32% of the day looking for my glasses, and I enjoy writing about audio, games, and experimental fiction. I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and went to Virginia Commonwealth University for my BA and BS degrees. Then I moved to Seattle, where I received an MA and PhD in English from the University of Washington. I’ve been at UVic, on lək̓ʷəŋən and WSÁNEĆ territories, since 2011. I teach courses for UVic English, and I direct the Praxis Studio for Comparative Media Studies. You can email me at

My name is Babak Ashrafkhani, and I come from Iran. I earned my BA and MA in English Language & Literature in Iran, and my research in those programs focused on Cultural Materialism. In recent years, I have published Farsi translations of several plays and other texts, and I have had varied performing and production experience, including directing, physical training, and script analysis. The challenging experience of staging my translations in my home country of Iran helped me with critical examination of dramatic works with an emphasis on the differences between the source and the target cultures. The Ph.D. project I am working on at the University of Victoria involves an ecocritical exploration of apocalyptic dystopias in post-war Neo-liberal England through the lens of contemporary British dramatists. You can email me at


We’re back on campus during COVID-19. These are complex and overwhelming times, so we’ll try to keep this course as simple and clear as possible.

We’re asking you to complete only four writing assignments this term, each 25% of your final mark. You’ll have an opportunity to revise one of your first three assignments to improve your mark.

For each assignment, you will respond briefly to a prompt (available in Brightspace) through a combination of audio, images, video, and/or text. The prompt will ask you to examine assigned materials, with attention to detail, from a critical perspective. It will also nudge you to enact a media study of fiction: to demonstrate concepts from class and to perform techniques discussed during workshops and lectures.

Each response will be assessed based on a rubric provided in the prompt itself, and you will submit all four responses via Brightspace. (Please do not submit them via email or in print.)

This means there are no research papers, presentations, or discussion forums in this course. There are no exams, either.

As for scheduling, you will know 50% of your final mark by Tuesday, October 25th and 75% by Tuesday, November 15th. Optional revisions to one response will be due by Friday, December 2nd, and your fourth and final response to a prompt will be due by Tuesday, December 13th (during the exam period).


We’ll meet three days a week (TWF) from 1:30 to 2:20pm. A typical week will include a lecture, a large group discussion about a particular work, and a workshop on critical media literacy. We will use Word in Microsoft Office 365 to provide you with detailed lecture notes (available online) alongside audio recordings (in Brightspace) of class meetings. These notes and recordings are to be used solely for the sake of the course (and for making it more accessible to you). They should not be circulated outside of it. Feedback on this approach is welcome from you along the way.

For details about what we will discuss and when, see the schedule below.


The most important thing to know about this course is that we’ll opt for care in every instance. If the workload becomes too much, or we’re juggling more than we should, then we’ll cut materials. We’ve planned for the maximum in advance, under the assumption that we won’t get to everything. And that’s totally fine.

We suggest dedicating to this course 3 to 5 hours of study each week, plus 3 hours for weekly meetings (TWF). To frame expectations and decrease overwork, we assign to each week in the schedule a number of recommended hours. Of course, 3 to 5 hours per week is only a guideline. You may find that you need more or less time depending on the activity, your preferences, and your own familiarity with the work and materials involved.

In Brightspace, we will also message you once each week with an update on how the course is progressing and what you may wish to consider as we move forward (to plan for reading, assignments, due dates, and whatnot).


Here’s a list of works (“assigned texts”) we’ll study this term. You need to purchase only the first one (Bechdel’s Fun Home, which is $25 new and $19 used). The rest are available either online (public) or in Brightspace (private to the class). If you’d like to purchase some of the games, then feel free, especially if you decide to write about them.

If this ends up being too much for the term, then we’ll cut material or some of it will become optional.

We’ll also provide you with notes and audio that will document material from lectures and discussions. The notes will be circulated online as a Word doc in Microsoft Office 365, and we will invite you to comment, converse, and ask questions in the margins. The audio will be available in Brightspace. Again, we ask that you do not circulate the recordings or notes beyond the course. Thanks a bunch.

You do not need to purchase any software for this course; however, you’ll need access to the internet and a computer. We will use Brightspace and Word for Office 365, both provided by UVic. If you’ve never used Microsoft Office 365 at UVic, then you may need to activate it first by visiting


Here’s the schedule for the term. It’s subject to change. We will use a Brightspace announcement to notify you at least two weeks in advance of any changes, and we will never use schedule changes to increase your workload. In Brightspace, we will also update you each week as to how the course is progressing.

Week 1 (Sept. 7 + 9): Hello!

This week should consume no more than two hours of your time outside of class.

Wednesday, September 7th

Friday, September 9th

Week 2 (Sept. 13, 14 + 16): Mood and Modality

This week should consume no more than three hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, September 13th

Wednesday, September 14th (no class)

Friday, September 16th

Week 3 (Sept. 20, 21 + 23): Message and Material

This week should consume no more than four hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, September 20th

Wednesday, September 21st

Friday, September 23rd

Please note that Tuesday, September 20th is the last day for 100% reduction of tuition fees for standard first term and full year courses, and Friday, September 23rd is the last day for adding courses that begin in the first term.

Week 4 (Sept. 27, 28 + 30): Making and Modularity

This week should consume no more than five hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, September 27th

Wednesday, September 28th

Friday, September 30th (no class)

Week 5 (Oct. 4, 5 + 7): Manipulation and Massage

This week should consume no more than three hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, October 4th

Wednesday, October 5th

Friday, October 7th

Week 6 (Oct. 11, 12 + 14): Movement and Mechanics

This week should consume no more than five hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, October 11th

Wednesday, October 12th

Friday, October 14th

Please note that Monday, October 10th is Thanksgiving Day, and Tuesday, October 11th is the last day for 50% reduction of tuition fees for standard courses.

Week 7 (Oct. 18, 19 + 21): Meta and Minimalism

This week should consume no more than five hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, October 18th

Wednesday, October 19th

Friday, October 21st

Week 8 (Oct. 25, 26 + 28): Memory and Mimesis

This week should consume no more than five hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, October 25th

Wednesday, October 26th

Friday, October 28th

Please note that Monday, October 31st is the last day to withdraw from first term courses without penalty of failure.

Week 9 (Nov. 1, 2 + 4): Meaning and Motivation

This week should consume no more than five hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, November 1st

Wednesday, November 2nd

Friday, November 4th

Week 10 (Nov. 8, 9 + 11): Buffering . . .

Step away from the course and take a break this week. There’s no class on Tuesday, November 8th, and Reading Break is November 10th - 12th.

Please note that Friday, November 11th is Remembrance Day.

Week 11 (Nov. 15, 16 + 18): Markup and Multiple Choice

This week should consume no more than four hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, November 15th

Wednesday, November 16th

Friday, November 18th

Week 12 (Nov. 22, 23 + 25): Mediation and a Mountain

This week should consume no more than four hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, November 22nd

Wednesday, November 23rd

Friday, November 25th

Week 13 (Nov. 29 + 30 + Dec. 2): CYOA

This week should consume no more than four hours of your time outside of class.

Tuesday, November 29th

Wednesday, November 30th

Friday, December 2nd

Please note that Monday, December 5th is National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Exam Period: Roll Credits

This final assignment should consume no more than five hours of your time.

Tuesday, December 13th

We wish you a warm, relaxing, and rejuvenating winter break.


Here are the policies for this course. If anything is unclear, ignorant, or mistaken, then please let us know. We’ll correct it.


There are no prerequisites for this 200-level English course.

Assessment and Feedback

Responses to two prompts are required to pass this course. Failure to complete these two assignments will result in a failing N grade (calculated as a 0 for your GPA).

We will use UVic’s official grading system to produce rubrics to assess your work. We will not post marks publicly or outside our offices, and we do not use plagiarism detection software.

All assignments should be submitted via Brightspace. We will also use Brightspace to provide written feedback on each of your responses, regardless of when you submit them. If you ever want additional feedback, then feel free to ask us. We can provide it in person or via email.

Throughout the term, we’ll request feedback (verbal and in writing) from you on how the course is going. We’ll also ask you to complete Course Experience Surveys at the end of the term (during our last meeting).

Late Submissions and Extensions

We have a “no questions asked” late policy for any assignments (excluding your response to Prompt 4, due in December) submitted within one week (five working days) of the due date. We simply ask that you complete an online form, which we’ll circulate during class in September, to apply that policy. Your response to the online form will help us to track work that’s arriving a few days late. It’ll also save you an email. Of course, we recommend submitting everything on time, but we know that life happens, and for late work we will never expect any sort of documentation from you.

We will deduct two points per working day for every assignment submitted more than one week (five working days) late. Please email me (Jentery) if you need more than a week’s extension. Again, we will comment on all assigned work we receive from you during the term, regardless of when it’s submitted.

Attendance, Participation, and Recordings

We will assume you are attending each class meeting this term. If you are unable to attend a particular meeting, then please email one of us in advance. You do not need to provide us with documentation for an absence. There are no participation marks or the like in this course.

With your permission, we may record audio of our class sessions and circulate it via Brightspace. You will have the option to limit personal information shared in the recording. If you have other questions or concerns regarding class recording and privacy, then please contact


The best way to communicate with me (Jentery) is by email ( or during office hours, which are Thursday, 12:30 - 2:30pm. I respond to email between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

Learning Climate

The University of Victoria is committed to promoting, providing, and protecting a positive, supportive, and safe working and learning environment for all its members. We are expected to adhere to UVic’s equity and human rights policies and the Trifaculty Code of Professional Behaviour. You should alert us immediately if you have any questions about these policies and their application, or if you have concerns about course proceedings or participants.

Academic Integrity

We are expected to adhere to UVic’s academic integrity policy and be aware of the policies for the evaluation of student work. Violations of the integrity policy will result in a failing grade for the given assignment and may additionally result in a failing grade for the course. By taking this course, you agree that all submitted assignments may be subject to an originality review. We do not use software to detect plagiarism in essays or any other assignments.

All course materials, including notes, audio recordings, and this course outline, are made available for educational purposes and for the exclusive use of students in this course. The material is protected under copyright law, even if not marked as such. The syllabus itself is licensed CC BY-NC 4.0. Any further use or distribution of materials to others requires written permission, except under fair dealing or another exception in the Copyright Act. Violations may result in disciplinary action under the Resolution of Non-Academic Misconduct Allegations policy (AC1300).

Online Conduct

The University of Victoria is committed to promoting critical academic discourse while providing a respectful and supportive learning environment. All members of the university community have the right to this experience and the responsibility to help create such an environment. The University will not tolerate racism, sexualized violence, or any form of discrimination, bullying, or harassment.

Please be advised that, by logging into UVic’s learning systems and interacting with online resources, you are engaging in a university activity. All interactions within this environment are subject to the university’s expectations and policies. Any concerns about student conduct may be reviewed and responded to in accordance with the appropriate university policy. To report concerns about online student conduct, email


If you have a disability or health consideration that may require supports, please feel free to approach us and/or the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) as soon as possible. CAL staff are available by appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals, and arrange appropriate supports. We will never ask you to disclose a diagnosis to us, and we know that access needs are social, cultural, and structural issues that aren’t always addressed, or adequately addressed, by institutions such as the academy.

Auto-generated transcription and captioning may be enabled in this course. Please be aware that automated transcription and captioning is at best 70-90% accurate and by nature will include errors. This depends on the subject matter, speaker, audio quality, and the like. Words prone to error include specialized terminology and proper names. We ask that you refer to the audio feed for clarification of any errors. If you find transcription or captioning that is offensive, please contact us. If you require captions as part of academic supports, please contact us and/or CAL.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We aim to create an inclusive learning environment that attends to difference and honours each of you, including your experiences as well as the intersections of race, gender, disability, sexuality, religion, power, and class. We want to be a resource for you, and we are also still learning. If something is said in class (by anyone, including us) that makes you feel uncomfortable, then don’t hesitate to talk with us. If you have a name and/or set of pronouns that differ from those that appear in your university records, then let us know and we’ll correct the documents provided to us. If your performance in the class is being impeded by your experiences outside of class, then just keep us posted and we’ll make adjustments. We also welcome any suggestions to improve the quality of the course and/or its culture and materials, and we will make available mechanisms for anonymous feedback since you may prefer them. If you’d rather speak with someone outside the course, then Luke Carson (chair) and Erin Ellerbeck (undergraduate adviser) in English are excellent resources.

The following student groups may be relevant to your life as a student here at UVic:

Language for this policy was drawn from the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown University, and from the work of Monica Linden, in particular.

Basic Needs

We want you to thrive in this course and everywhere else. Please let us know as early as possible if you have any concerns or if you require any supports to succeed. We’ll do our best to help. If, for instance, you need to cover gaps in care, then please don’t hesitate to bring your children to class meetings. Babies who are nursing are always welcome, as we do not want you to choose between feeding your child and continuing your education.

UVic takes student mental health very seriously, with a website full of resources. They offer services such as assistance and referral to address students’ personal, social, career, and study skills concerns. Services for students also include crisis and emergency mental health consultation and confidential assessment, counselling services (individual and small group), and referrals. Many of these programs are connected with Health Services, which you may contact by phone.

The Student Services website lists several policies that you might want to know about and may make your life at UVic safer and easier. Only some of them are directly related to this course, but they’re still important.

Language for this policy was drawn from the work of Richard Pickard at UVic.

Territory Acknowledgement

As researchers and instructors at the University of Victoria, we acknowledge and respect the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples on whose traditional territory the University stands, and the Songhees, Esquimalt, and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

Many thanks to Madyson Huck, Yu-Hsuan Liou, Faith Ryan, and Ian Waddell, who taught previous iterations of this course with me (Jentery). Thanks as well to Julie Funk and Stefan Higgins for providing feedback on the course materials, and to Faith for collaborating with me to develop early drafts of the lectures and workshops.

This syllabus is licensed CC BY-NC 4.0.