DOWNLOAD Syllabus and first 2 weeks assignments HERE
DOWNLOAD Project planning sheet HERE


Making is Fun in Women's Studies, one in a series of feminist workshops

WMST 319A, Fall 2016 UMD
Thursdays, 3:30pm - 6:00pm CSS 1114

Professor: Katie King
Office: 2101C Woods Hall, University of Maryland, College Park
Katie’s office hours: Weds 10-11:30 am by appointment only: email me to make appointment and then Tuesday afternoon to confirm. Use
Office phone: 301.405.7294 (voice mail)
KK’s website with MESSAGES:

Class website at:

course description

A feminist Maker's Movement picks up threads from many women's practices across time and space. The digital amid fibers can be as old at the Andean khipu, an ancient recording device of knots and threads, and as recent as making your own Lilypad arduino wearable, sewn from electronic pieces. Practice and play are learning at its most immersive and important, recognized today as pivotal to adult thinking processes in making, feeling, sharing, and changing the world.

social media as play, play as learning, learning as movement, movement as social change, social change in social media, social media as play, play as learning, learning as movement …  it’s time to join this circle.

Commerce and knowledge work today backdrop so-called transmedia stories, those told across technology platforms, as well as the making, sharing and patterning of knowledges across economic and social sectors, making up what some call the transdisciplinary. In this class we will be studying this context as well as the practices of feminist making and the possibilities it offers for activisms, learning and play. Where do you come in? Where do I come in? This women’s studies workshop is going to be your chance to share with each other in an exciting, experimental semester in a new course in our department! Our primary concerns for the workshop course series are that students develop skills in some forms of presentation in addition to written essays and that students engage in significant collaborative work. Topics of workshops change over time and all workshops are designed to have students think transdisciplinarily and interdisciplinarily, learning how differing approaches shape knowledge.

To create our own community of making activists, we want to all get to know each other and work well together. Ours here is an active and ambitious learning community. We want to emphasize conversation, emotional engagement, collaboration, contemplation, creativity, and critique. There are no prerequisites or restrictions on registration except for numbers of students we can accommodate.

We will not be using Canvas in this class, but rather working with Blogger, a public online site, using it for class multimedia presentations, for class preparation and review, and maybe for other possibilities! Blogger is one example of making on social media, and we want to be studying it as well as using it, seeing what it is good for! Please bookmark our class site:

All students please do come to office hours to just talk. I want to get to know each of you personally! This class really and truly explores what fun is and why it matters! It will also be demanding, I hope in the most satisfying ways, full of comradeship and excitement. I want to know how the class is working for you, what touches and excites you, how your projects are going.

Let me know in office hours or after class when you need help, or any special accommodations, the sooner the better. Folks with disabilities or who need time from class to observe religious holidays, please contact Katie ASAP to make any arrangements necessary. If you are experiencing difficulties in keeping up with the academic demands of this or any other course, you can also contact the Learning Assistance Service, 2202 Shoemaker Building, 301-314-7693. They have educational counselors who can help with time management, reading, math learning skills, note-taking and exam preparation skills. All their services are free to UMD students.


Each of the books of our course is a knot in a complexity of networks and systems. It is these networks we are studying and that enable our FEMINIST MAKING. The words and pages and pictures and videos and websites, and more, are ALL what we work with in this class, not just books, although books as objects and artworks are also of particular interest. Notice all the formats you can obtain books in as well. Please share your materials, knowledges, visions, and friendship. 

Please pay attention too to the course in its layers. Use these to inform our networks exploration as they include and connect our books and our feminist making practices. 

LAYER IT ALL! be curious about how transformations happen and what new words mean. 

textiles => computers and digital culture
food => climate change and alternative economies
draw => making practices and the neurobiology of learning
stories => social change and community making
games => techno-trickery and the critical role of fun
screens and role play => infrastructure and new materialities


• Corbett. 2013. Little Book of Craftivism. Perseus. Paper ISBN: 978190871407
Amazon  Google  
=Companion, Craftivist Collective Website: our-story/

• Beuchley. 2013. Sew Electric. HLT. Paper ISBN: 9780989795609 Amazon  Google   
=Companion Website: 
LilyPad Arduino Website  
SparkFun Electronics  

• Panjwani. 2016. Start Making!: A Guide to Engaging Young People in Maker Activities. Maker Media. Paper ISBN: 9781457187919 Kindle ASIN: B01DWWVEX4 
=The Clubhouse Network:  
Make magazine website:  

• Reed. 2005. The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle. Minnesota. Paper ISBN: 9780816637713  Kindle ASIN: B0043XYNGW  


• Brown. 2015. The Doodle Revolution. Peng Rand. Paper ISBN: 9781591847038  
Amazon   Google  Google ebook    
=Companion website:  

• Imarisha 2015. Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. AK Press. Paper ISBN: 9781849352093  Kindle ASIN: B00USBMIOC  Audible Audio: ASIN: B01DPSB46M  
=Companion website:  
Xenogenesis Suite: A Musical Tribute to Octavia E. Butler:  
Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower: the Concert Version:  

• Bechdel. 2013. Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Paper ISBN: 9780544002234 Kindle ASIN: B005LVR75Y  
=Author website:  
Fun Home on Broadway:  

All readings are also on reserve at McKeldin Library. Several are new though and await library purchase. All will be on 24 hr. reserve. Notice how many of the books are available on the Kindle, an ebook reader. You do not need the Kindle device to read these, but can download an app for your computer/laptop or smart phone or iPad to read them without one: Some are available as Google eBooks. To learn how to read these on your computer, look at: Usually the price is a bit lower for each of these, many available for less than $10, although you cannot resell such books. Please ensure access to as many of our course books as you can, bring those you have obtained or notes about them to the first class. 

You are required to read these books, not to buy them, or even to own them. All are on reserve at McKeldin and many are available at other libraries. Share them, rent them, borrow them, xerox them, scan them. Fair use means producing copies for your own private research use. Of course you can help others in obtaining originals for such fair use copying. Always be sure to locate your books long before you need to read them, even if one or more turn out to be just coming out or even out of print. Find what you can and read them anyway! ISBN numbers are included to make ordering them easier if you wish to buy them. 

how the class will be organized

This will be a hands-on course that will require collaborative work. So-called constructionist learning and collaboration open up our analysis of interconnections and making among many worlds, and in forms of social justice action. You will want and need to start gathering materials you will use for projects asap. Some I will provide for you in class, some you will bring to share with each other. Making inventories of such materials as we identify interests and projects will be a crucial part of the first section of the course. We will also find out about Maker Spaces in the area, including on campus! 

We will do BOTH laptop or tablet or phone work with media and ALSO do crafty type things with our very own hands! Bring your own laptop, netbook or iPad if you can, to connect with social media, to become increasingly savvy about web resources, and to use data visualizations and virtual environments for cognition and collaboration. Throughout the course we will share resources for all these and for many varieties of making, not just new media ones. 

• The first part of each class will involve active participation in a variety of forms, usually starting off with hands on practice and considering how it works with the readings and other research we did before class
• After a break we will continue discussion and often work off of Katie’s class site presentations to collectively work out and discuss what kinds of making do what sorts of play and work in the world and how that matters in women's studies and in our lives. 

In other words, the course will involve both taking things in, absorbing them and learning to put them in context; and also actively using what we come to know, sharing it others, thinking on one's feet, brainstorming and speculating, figuring out how it all fits together. Hands on and research. Both require careful preparation before class and keeping up with class pre-preparation. Some educators call these forms passive and active learning. One can take in and absorb more complicated stuff than one can work with and work out, at least at first. We do both in the class, but we also realize that active learning requires patience and imagination, a bit of courage to try things out without knowing something for sure yet, and a willingness to play around with being right and wrong, guessing and a lot of redoing.

The course site for our entire class is located at:   

Graphics, materials for use and discussion, notes, communications and assignment help, and other vital class information and presentations live here. You can fully participate in the workshop class only if you stay very familiar with our website. Bookmark it immediately! Plan on visiting this site and reading email often, at least every couple of days, not just a few minutes before class. These are course requirements. If you have any difficulties getting access to these resources come and talk to me as soon as possible. Any announcements about cancellations due to weather or other considerations, and general class requirements will be sent out on coursemail and you need to see those immediately. 

graded assignments

SUMMARY OF GRADED MATERIALS: collaborative work is 75% of grade; individual LA is 25% 
• inventories and brainstorming write ups, document online presence, logbook & LOA materials as applicable
• storyboard (crafty, electronic, or online), includes presentation & digital picture 
• tools & skills: demo and write up of what you learn new and what you get better at 
• people analysis in written form with contact log 
• demo your prototype, turn in digital pictures 
==> each of these is worth 15% of your grade: 5 together = 75%
• final individual learning analysis: 25% 

This is an experimental class and will involve a lot of shaking, stirring, doing, and figuring this out on the fly! Grades will be determined generously, but hard, imaginative, collaborative work in good faith and using smart processes are essential. Working with something like the five-step process discussed below is key for good collaborations. Each step involves team-work, demos and products of various sorts. We will decide together what projects are according to your interests and skills. We will figure out documentation forms appropriate for various kinds of making. You will research these yourself and come up with guidelines that will shift and shape with projects as we figure them out. One approach involves various versions of a five step process developed for social justice media. How does this need to be altered for our purposes?

The process:

1. Strategy — what’s your big idea?
• inventories and brainstorming write ups, document online presence, logbook & LOA materials as appropriate 
We will start off the class with inventories of who we all are, when we can be available for partnerships, workshops and team work, what we can do, what we want to learn to do, what making presences and skills we already have, and what we might be working toward. Brainstormings will be the first write-ups to share. All through the class you will keep a logbook of what you have done, what you are in the middle of doing, what you are working toward. 

2. Story — help people understand it.
• storyboard (crafty, electronic, or online), includes presentation & digital picture 
A storyboard is a form of visual thinking and planning. It allows you to visually demonstrate to yourself and others a sequence of steps in an interactive and/or collaborative process. It allows you to reorder your procedures, to brainstorm with others, and to create consensus. You will present your storyboard and turn in a digital picture to document it. 

3. Tools — set up simple tools that make it easy for contributors to see what’s happening and get involved.
• tools & skills: demo and write up of what you learn new and what you get better at 
You will participate in skills building in the course of the class, perhaps in workshops, with team members or partners, or on your own. You will demonstrate a new skill or something you got especially better at and write up how that happened and how it matters. 

4. People — who are you trying to reach? how can they help right now?
• people analysis in written form with contact log 
Some students might want to develop a project with an NGO or activist group in mind. Others will be thinking about audiences for projects. In these and other cases analysis of who is involved in what you are doing and what it is supposed to make happen are essential. You will write this up and may include a contact log of people involved. 

5. Prototype — build fast. test and improve it together.
(Shake and repeat.)
• demo your prototype, turn in digital pictures 
You will present the prototype for your project and will document both presentation and any objects with digital pictures. 

Wondering how grades are determined? What they mean? 

A work is excellent, unusually creative and/or analytically striking
B is fine work of high quality, though not as skilled, ambitious, or carefully presented as A
C is average work fulfilling the assignment; should not be hasty, or insufficiently collaborated  
D work is below average or incomplete; shows many difficulties or cannot follow instructions
F work is not sufficient to pass; unwillingness to do the work, or so many difficulties unable to complete

Remember, you can always talk to Katie about grades and your evaluation concerns during office hours anytime. 

what to do when you must unavoidably miss class, perhaps for illness:  

TALK TO AT LEAST TWO CLASS BUDDIES IMMEDIATELY. Before you even come back to class, call them up or email them and find out if any thing you need to plan for is happening the day you return, and make sure that you know about any changes in the syllabus. Try to have done the reading and be as prepared as possible to participate in class and with your projects when you return.
MAKE A DATE TO MEET WITH CLASS BUDDY TO GET NOTES AND DISCUSS WHAT WENT ON IN CLASS WHILE YOU WERE GONE. You are responsible for what happened in class while you were gone. As soon as possible, get caught up with notes, with discussions with buddies and finally with all the readings and assignments. Always talk with class buddies first. This is the most important way to know what went on when you were gone and what you should do. 
AFTER YOU HAVE GOTTEN CLASS NOTES AND TALKED ABOUT WHAT WENT ON IN CLASS WITH BUDDIES, THEN MAKE APPOINTMENT TO SEE KATIE. If you just miss one class, getting the notes and such should be enough. But if you've been absent for more than a week, be sure you make an appointment with Katie, and come in and discuss what is going on. She wants to know how you are doing and how she can help. Or, while you are out, if it's going to be more than a week, send Katie email at and let her know what is happening with you, so she can figure out what sort of help is needed. You may need to contact team members as well. 
IF YOU ARE OUT FOR ANY EXTENDED TIME be sure you contact Katie. Keep her up to date on what is happening, so that any arrangements necessary can be made. If you miss too much class you will have to retake the course at another time. But if you keep in contact, depending on the situation, perhaps accommodations can be made. Since attendance is crucial for the process of this special course and thus for your final grade LET KATIE KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING so that she can help as much and as soon as possible.
IF AT ALL POSSIBLE YOU SHOULD ATTEMPT TO DO TEAM OR PARTNER WORK VIA CELLPHONE WITH OTHER MEMBERS. Similarly if you are, say, too sick to attend a demo session but are perhaps at home recovering, you might make arrangements with a class buddy to “attend” via cellphone, listening to presentations and even possibly giving your own. Consult with Katie, but especially with class buddies for such possibilities. 
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EXCUSED ABSENCE AND ANYTHING ELSE: generally speaking you are only allowed to make up work you missed if you have an excused absence. That the absence is excused does not mean you are excused from doing the work you missed, but that you allowed to make it up. I usually permit people to make up any work they miss, and do not generally require documentation for absences. Be sure to give explanations in your logbook and do make up all work you have missed.