ENG 281 ON 2


Dr. Amanda Licastro

(You can address me as Dr. L or Professor)

Telephone number: Please use email

Stevenson email: alicastro@stevenson.edu          

Best times for phone contact: I prefer email and will answer anytime before 10pm and after 9am.

Office location: DC 238 (on Greenspring on the first floor of Dawson Center)

Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday 1-2pm on OMN, and Fridays at GS, by appointment


ENG 281 – Cyborgs and Virtual Worlds

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): Placement or a grade of “C” or better in ENG 152

Classroom or Studio Location: Tuesday and Thursday in SoD 125 on OMN

Scheduled Class Days and Time: Check Webexpress

Course Description: Is the divide between human and machine becoming harder to maintain? From the Golem of folk tales to Frankenstein and even Siri, the concept of the semi-artificial person, or cyborg, is long-lived, appearing across popular, religious, and scientific imaginations. As technology becomes more personal, the cyborg becomes less alien, and the prospect of our own transformation into technologically enhanced organisms seems imminent. In this course we will investigate posthumanism through a critical look at cybernetics in our culture, examining representations in media such as literature, film, television, advertising, video games, and comics. Students will research the current state of modern medical and robotics science and use this to inform their readings of the cyborg in our society. Critiques will be framed through the lens of gender, race, and labor using the theory of scholars Katherine Hayles, Donna Haraway, and Lennard Davis.  The class will engage in multimodal research projects on a WordPress blog that focus on building written and visual rhetorical skills. Readings will include fiction such as Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which will be paired with films such as The Stepford Wives and shows such as “Black Mirror.”

Instructional Methods Used in this Course: lecture, discussion, guest speakers, group work

Required and Recommended Texts, Manuals, and Supplies: You need all three required texts and a notebook. Please use the specific edition requested.

1) Author: Mary Shelley

Title: Frankenstein

ISBN: 9780321399533

Edition: Second

Pub Date: 2007

Publisher: A Longman Cultural Edition, 2nd Edition

Format: paperback

*Optional online content: https://broadviewpress.com/product/frankenstein-online-critical-edition-web-passcode/?ph=520e08a63daa08ffebfa06f6#tab-description

**Also recommend the audiobook, but only as a supplement to the print edition

2) Author: Jennifer Haley

Title: The Nether

Edition: November 30, 2014

ISBN: 0810130637

Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Format: paperback

3) Author: Philip K Dick

Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

ISBN: 0345404475

Publisher: Del Rey

Format: ebook or paperback


Course Objectives/Learning Outcomes:

  • Solve a problem appropriate to the study of a specific topic whose context has been delineated to the point that several possible definitions can be inferred;
  • Read texts closely and analytically;
  • Locate sources suitable for problems appropriate to the study of the specific topic and for an audience schooled in the literature of that topic;
  • Write competently and to the standard of the discipline in the academic style;
  • Produce an effective organizational pattern with careful language choices during class participation and/or oral presentations; and
  • Read texts as complex interactions of values.

Grading Scale:

A 93-100 4.0
A- 90-92 3.7
B+ 87-89 3.3
B 83-86 3.0
B- 80-82 2.7
C+ 77-79 2.3
C 70-76 2.0
D 60-69 1.0
F 1-59 0.0

Students must earn a minimum grade of “C” in courses that are used to fulfill the SEE requirement and major requirements.

Grading Standards: All assignments require the honor pledge be stated and agreed to before submitting.

Active Class and Online Participation 25%
Short Writing Assignments 20%
Midterm Project 25%
Final Group Project 30%

Course Requirements: Each student will complete a journal, blog posts, two formal essays, and a digital project. There will be reading assignments every night.


Policies: You must arrive to class on time and avoid leaving early unless there are serious extenuating circumstances. Please contact me if you will be absent and find a classmate to share their notes with you. Late journal entries and blog posts will not be accepted under any circumstances. However, extensions for essays and digital projects will be considered on an individual basis. Please come see me for help – I welcome you to visit my office hours to speak with you anytime!        

Classroom and Studio Policies: The use of cell phones and headphones is prohibited unless explicitly stated in class. Remove your headphones before entering the room and put your phone on silent. You will be using a computer in class regularly. You are welcome to bring your own laptop. You are not to use this time to check social media, sports scores, gossip blogs, or anything other than our course work. Please respect our time together and use the computers to complete your assignments to the best of your ability…you are paying to be in this class and learn after all…

Submission of Assignments or Projects: All assignments will be submitted online on our course blog. A tag and category will be provided and must be used to receive credit for your work. All citations should be in MLA format. Please use OWL at Purdue for guidance in formatting your citations.


Diversity Statement

Stevenson University commits itself to diversity as it relates to awareness, education, respect, and practice at every level of the organization. The University embraces people of all backgrounds, defined by, but not limited to, ethnicity, culture, race, gender, class, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, physical ability, learning styles, and political perspectives. The University believes its core values are strengthened when all of its members have voice and representation. The resulting inclusive organizational climate promotes the development of broad-minded members of the University who positively influence their local and global communities.

Standards of Academic Integrity

Stevenson University expects all members of its community to behave with integrity. Honesty and integrity provide the clearest path to knowledge, understanding, and truth – the highest goals of an academic institution. For students, integrity is fundamental to the development of intellect, character, and the personal and professional ethics that will govern their lives and shape their careers. Stevenson University embraces and operates in a manner consistent with the definitions and principles of Academic Integrity as set forth by the International Center for Academic Integrity. Students are expected to model the values of academic integrity (honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage) in all aspects of this course.

Students will be asked to assent to and to uphold the University Honor Pledge:

I pledge on my honor that I have neither given nor received

unauthorized assistance on this assignment/exam.” 

Suspected violations of the Academic Integrity Policy will be reported and investigated as outlined in the Policy Manual, Volume V.

If you are unsure what counts as plagiarism – for instance if you cut and paste part of a paper, buy an essay online, have someone help you write your paper, or borrow a paper from someone else – this STILL counts as plagiarism. Instead of cheating, come ask me, or a tutor, or a librarian for help!!!


Disability Services
Stevenson University will make reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. The Office of Disability Services (ODS) facilitates equal access for every student who self-identifies as having a disability. If you are a student with a disability who needs accommodations in this class, please contact the Director of Disability Services located in Garrison Hall South Room 138 or send an email to ODS@stevenson.edu. Once accommodations are authorized by ODS, please provide me (your instructor) with your approved accommodations memo as soon as possible. Accommodations are not retroactive.

This is the link to the University’s Office of Disability Services: http://www.stevenson.edu/academics/academic-resources/disability-support-services/

Academic Link
The John L. Stasiak Academic Link,
located on Owings Mills in the Center for Student Success (GHS 101), provides free tutoring for many classes. If you are having difficulty with or would benefit from discussing the material with an upper level peer, seek assistance early in the semester. Tutoring often makes a difference in a student’s grade. To view the tutoring schedule and sign up for an appointment, go to stevenson.go-redrock.com, visit the Link in person, or call 443-394-9300.

SU Library

The SU Library provides extensive electronic and print resources to support your coursework. Research Guides and databases can be found on the library home page, as well as brief tutorials to assist you in using these resources. A professional librarian is always available to help you find the best information sources for your needs. For more information about library services, please visit: http://stevenson.libguides.com/stevensonlibrary

Online Learning Resources

Atomic Learning (Hoonuit), available through Blackboard, is an online learning resource available to all Stevenson students that provides video tutorials for instruction on a wide variety of topics.

The Wellness Center

Stress is a normal part of being a student. However, if personal, emotional, or physical concerns are interfering with your ability to be successful at Stevenson, please call the Wellness Center at 443-352-4200 to make an appointment. More information about the Wellness Center can be found at: http://www.stevenson.edu/student-life/health-wellness/