Professor Lori Emerson
The Tactile Word // 
English 3060
MTWRF 12:45 pm to 2:15pm, Hellems 259

Contact Information: 

Office: Hellems 151B (walk through the main door for 151; my office is on the right)
Office Hours:
 Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays 2:15pm to 3:15pm 
E-Mail: (this is the best way to reach me)

Required Texts: 

Available at Innisfree Bookstore:

  • The Humument, 6th editionTom Phillips
  • Between Page and Screen, Amaranth Borsuk
Specific Course Description:

In this class we will study and even imitate a range of writing practices, from the end of the 19th century through the 21st century, in which the material qualities of the letter and the word are foregrounded—the shape, size, texture, and sound of the letter/word. We will attempt to “read” the visual poems of Guillaume Apollinaire and Stéphan Mallarmé and then we will move through the wild avant-garde, typographical experiments of Futurism and Dada, the concrete poetry of the 1950s and 1960s in the U.S. and Canada, the late 20th century collaged novel of Tom Phillips, and we will finish by reading the conceptual writing and digital literature of the early 21st century. We will also watch the recently released film Helvetica, a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design, and global visual culture.

Course Requirements and Policies:

In addition to a class presentation on a writer or theorist, you will be required to contribute to online discussion forums on our class blog, write a research paper, and produce a group creative project. Please note: our course will be almost entirely paperless. You may bring your laptop to class; however,  this means I expect you to use it appropriately so that neither you nor people around you are distracted – you should only look at course materials on your computer during class time.

Please also note: I do not accept late work. Work that is not submitted by the due date will automatically receive an F.

Also, keep in mind that I am always delighted to meet with students in my office—not only is it a pleasure to get to know you personally, but meeting individually is often the best way to have your individual questions/concerns about the class adequately addressed. I am also happy to look over drafts of your work but only during office hours (or by appointment); I cannot look over drafts over email.

You will also be required to contribute to class regularly. Participation begins with attendance.  Both absences and tardiness will affect this portion of your grade.  For this course, you are allowed two absences without penalty; this should be reserved for sickness, family emergencies, holidays, tiredness, laziness etc. since there is no such thing as an “excused absence” for our class. A third absence will result in the reduction of this portion of your grade by one full letter grade.  A fourth absence will result in the reduction of this portion of your grade by two full letter grades. A fifth absence will result in you failing the course. Arrival in class more than 15 minutes after it begins is considered an absence.  You are responsible for contacting a class member if you miss a class, and you are expected to be fully prepared for the next class session.

Your participation grade will also reflect the quality and thoughtfulness of your contribution in class, respect shown to class members, your attitude and role in small group exercises, and evidence of completion of reading assignments.  If you would like an “A” in participation then you must contribute at least once every single class. Please remember, then, that ALL in-class discussions and exercises assume (and depend upon) you have read the assigned material.  Review your syllabus frequently and plan your workload accordingly.

Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

  • Two Online Discussion Forums: 14% (or 7% each)
  • Short research Paper (6-7 pages): 26%
  • Individual Presentation: 20%
  • Final Group Project: 25%
  • Participation: 15%

Please note there is no final exam for our class.


An I is an incomplete grade.  Use of the I is at the discretion of the course instructor.  Students must ask for an incomplete grade.  An I is given only when students, for reasons beyond their control (usually physical or mental illness), have been unable to complete course requirements; they should not be given when a student just disappears from a course.  A substantial amount of work must have been satisfactorily completed before approval for such a grade is given.  If an instructor grants a request for I, the instructor sets the conditions under which the course work can be completed; please note that work must be completed within a year otherwise you will receive an F.

Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty:

As you know, plagiarism is using another person’s words and ideas as though they were your own.  It is easy to avoid plagiarism: simply put the material you have taken from someone else’s writing in quotation marks and cite the person’s name and publication in your paper.  Plagiarism is a serious offense which can result in expulsion from the university.  A paper which contains any plagiarized material at all will receive an F; two such plagiarized papers will result in the student receiving an F for the course.  In terms of academic dishonesty more generally, the University of Colorado at Boulder Catalog states:

A student-run Honor Code was instituted on the Boulder Campus in 2002. The intent of the Honor Code is to establish a community of trust where students do not plagiarize, cheat, or obtain unauthorized academic materials. An honor code council collaborates with the colleges and schools in addressing allegations and instances of academic dishonesty and in assisting to educate all members of the university community on academic integrity issues. Breaches of academic honesty include cheating, plagiarism, and the unauthorized possession of examinations, papers, computer programs, as well as other class materials specifically released by the faculty. A student accused of academic dishonesty will either accept the accusation made by a faculty member or request a hearing before a student panel, who will make a decision on the accusation of academic dishonesty. In addition to academic sanctions imposed by the faculty, students found responsible for academic dishonesty also face consequences from the honor code council ranging from probation, including attending a mandatory class in ethics to expulsion from the campus. More information about CU-Boulder’s Honor Code may be found here.

It is department policy that all instances of academic dishonesty should be reported to the Associate Chair-UGS who will then notify the Honor Council.

Non-Discrimination Statement:

Our class will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, or political beliefs. Anyone who does engage in any of these forms of discrimination will be asked to leave the class.

The University of Colorado at Boulder policy on Discrimination and Harassment, the University of Colorado policy on Sexual Harassment and the University of Colorado policy on Amorous Relationships apply to all students, staff and faculty. Any student, staff or faculty member who believes s/he has been the subject of discrimination or harassment based upon race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status should contact the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH) at 303-492-2127 or the Office of Judicial Affairs at 303-492-5550. Information about the ODH, the above referenced policies and the campus resources available to assist individuals regarding discrimination or harassment can be obtained here.

Disability Notice:

If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner so that your needs be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities. Contact: 303-492-8671.

Student Classroom/Course Related Behavior:

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Those who fail to adhere to such behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, culture, religion, politics, sexual orientation, gender, gender variance, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records. See policies here.

Religious Observances:

Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to deal reasonably and fairly with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments or required attendance. In this class, simply come see me in  my office hours to inform me of your circumstances. See full details here.


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