Pranking Culture | SIS 2240-01

Lewis Hall DECK | 12:40-1:40 M/W/F

textbooks (required)

Prankiology Text book

contact information

: Merritt Hall G-15

Office Hours: 3:03-4:29pm M/W or by appt.

Contact: 871-3107 |

DOCTA Muhlhauser
: Hill Hall 217

Office Hours: 2:00-3:00 M/T/W/F or by appt.
Lab Hours: 4:00-5:00 M/T/W/F Hill Hall 101

Contact: 857-2424 |

Pranks are important sources of humor and political action in popular culture. As The Yes Men have shown, pranks can be more than balancing a bucket of water on the top of a door waiting for the next person to enter or shaking someone’s hand with a buzzer. They can be persuasive arguments challenging common assumptions, walking the fine line between humor and tragedy, negotiating the border between being funny and being mean, and crossing the boundary between being politically insightful and an ad hominem attack.

In this interdisciplinary course, we are going to explore pranking and humor through a variety of lenses (e.g., psychology, biology, rhetoric, semiotics, and physical education). We are going to use these disciplinary lenses to better understand how humor works in a variety of situations. After taking the course you will be able to describe how pranks and humor are used to make thoughtful arguments advocating for real political change. You are going to be able to effectively read, write, utilize, and criticize pranking and humor as forms of communication.

course objectives

  • To understand pranks and pranking from the perspectives of multiple disciplines
  • To create a final evaluation of pranks by moving from a multidisciplinary perspective
    to an interdisciplinary perspective
  • To understand and critically evaluate the various purposes and uses of pranks,
    both in the past and potential future uses
  • To improve in both written and oral communication and to be able to communicate
    using the view point of various disciplines
  • To successfully implement and coordinate pranks using a variety of modes and media
    and understand the affordances and constraints of these modes and media
  • To produce print and digital texts designed for multiple audiences
  • To do all of the above while having funs


conduct and guidelines for pranking and humor
For the tasks in which you are required to prank or motivate a prank, you must get approval from the doctas. Unauthorized pranks are prohibited in this course because, well, we don't want to get into trouble, and we don't want you to get into trouble. So see us with all your pranking desires and Get Approval Before You Prank (GABYP).

This class presents a number of political views and activist agendas. We, the doctas, are not trying to push an agenda on you. We do not necessarily agree or disagree with the arguments or the political views we present. We use them as examples for how to communicate through pranks. If you don't agree with the information presented or the argument, then you may have found motivation to prank or dispute the information and argument presented in a reading or lecture. We encourage you to explore a variety of viewpoints.

We, the doctas, expect to discuss readings and pranks in the class. This means we also expect ya'll to agree, disagree, agree and disagree at the same time with respect for each other and an ethic of understanding. In other words, YOU are not not unintelligent indivduals with not a lot of nothing to contribute but we ask that you do it in a respectful way that seeks to unmisunderstand others. In more words, discuss with respect.

All the readings are digital and are on the class website. If you are not reading from a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, you should print out the readings and bring them with you. You should have read the assigned reading before coming to class.

Since we will be working collaboratively on many assignments, and since learning is a communal effort, your regular attendance is vital. If you miss more than six classes, you will receive an “F” for the course. And, since some things come up unexpectedly, please remember you have six absences to account for these unexpected happenings.

late work
Late work is not accepted. Seriously.

Cellular phone calls and texting are sorta banned forthwith from our classroom.  If you do call or text or your phone rings, then you will be given a warning. The second time will result in an absence. Laptops, cell phones, and iPads are allowed for taking notes and class discussion related searches.  They are not for random surfing, texting, skyping, or tweeting no matter how uninterested you might be. iPhone 6 or iWatch EXCEPTION - if an iPhone 6 or iWatch rings or bleeps an incoming text does during class, you are exempt from the above rule for two occurrences as long as you allow us to use your iPhone 6 or iWatch for five minutes.

academic honesty
Plagiarism is not tolerated in any form. You will fail the course if you commit plagiarism knowingly or unknowingly. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another’s words or ideas. In short, it’s the theft of someone else’s intellectual property and a serious violation of college policy and academic ethics. The easy availability of materials on the Internet makes it tempting to use other people’s work (or incorporate it into your own) without asking permission or citing sources. However, you are responsible to give credit where credit is due. Please come to my office if you have any questions about citing sources.

As a member of the McDaniel College community, you are expected to abide by the Honor Code on all of your assignments.The McDaniel Honor Code encourages academic integrity among individuals and fosters accountability within the community as a whole. What does this mean? It means: a) the work you submit must be your own, and, b) if others are damaging the values of the community, you have a responsibility to speak up about it.

copyright and readings
All readings posted on our class website are password protected and are intended for use in this class only. Copying, e-mailing, or posting these materials online for any other purpose without the copyright holder's express written consent may be prohibited by law. For more information about copyright, including information about how to obtain permission to use a copyrighted work, please see the U.S. Copyright Office's Frequently Asked Questions page.

americans with disabilities act/section 504
McDaniel College, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973/Section 504, will provide reasonable accommodations for eligible students with disabilities. If you require special assistance, please see me privately and/or you may seek assistance directly from the office of Student Academic Support Services in Room 117 in Academic Hall (410-857-2504 or e-mail at

Grading criteria will come in the form of a variety of rubrics for evaluating your work. We will not round up or round down.

Total = 2328 pts.

  • A 2328-2165
  • A- 2164-2095
  • B+ 2094-2048
  • B 2047-1932
  • B- 1931-1862
  • C+ 1861-1815
  • C 1814-1699
  • C- 1698-1629
  • D+ 1628-1583
  • D 1582-1466
  • D- 1465-1396
  • F 1395-0


Here you will find a schedule and links to all the readings. Readings are password protected.
Username: prankingculture
Password: Sis2240!
Finally, make sure to check this frequently because it is subject to change (REALLY!).


Sharing your pranktivism video -

iMovie Assitance ->
1. In your McDaniel Portal, click on the link to "Atomic Learning"
Here is a pic - atomic learning
2. Login
3. Search for the tutorial for iMovie 2013.
4. Watch the tutorials.

iMovie Fun

PowerPoint Lectures
Linguistics and semiotics
Some more Rhetoric
Review of Harold and tropes
Psychology Intro
False Memory
Social Psychology
Humor 1

Image Resources

Reading Responses

Citation Resources

Teaching Resources