Starting on Monday, March 23, like all other JHU courses this spring, our class will be conducted entirely online, in response to the public health need for social distancing.

This change means that we will no longer be looking at rare books and archival materials in person, of course. Many of our original aims will remain intact, however, as we pivot to a deeper examination of the presence and the legacy of women’s writing in the digital environment.

The methods we’ll be using now will require some changes to our planned assignments. Our new situation also warrants a more explicit statement of our social contract as a learning community–and some changes that reflect the adaptations we’ll all need to make.

Guiding Principles

  1. We are suddenly in a new situation that we did not expect.
    • It’s scary. Individually and collectively, we have new priorities.
    • It’s also disappointing. Many important events and activities have been cancelled or postponed.
    • An online course is very different from the in-person, artifact-intensive course on campus we all signed up for.
    • Many of us are now in environments that are not ideal and/or not what we are used to, in terms of teaching and learning.
  2. We need to be as humane and kind with each other as possible.
    • The generous solution is the best solution.
    • The simple solution is the best solution.
    • Sharing and communicating clearly are especially important now.
  3. We cannot reproduce our original course in an all-online environment.
    • Some assignments are no longer possible.
    • Some expectations are no longer reasonable.
    • Some objectives are no longer meaningful.
    • Many tasks and activities will be more difficult to accomplish without our usual set of resources.
  4. We can still learn from our texts, our work, and each other, feeding the intellect and the soul.
    • Some of our work will be carried out asynchronously, to maximize access and accommodate different time zones and personal contexts.
    • We’ll use synchronous discussion to address big questions, carry out class business, and cheer each other on.
    • We’ll help each other by working in small groups when possible and I will try to meet with each of you one-on-one at least once during the rest of the semester.
  5. We must try to be flexible, to adapt to the new situation, and to communicate as much as possible about how to do so.
    • More changes might come.
    • Everybody needs support and understanding in this moment.

This addendum is based on one posted on Twitter by Brandon Bayne, an associate professor of religious studies at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.