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Critical News

Hey, everyone. Welcome to the course. (Our first order of business is to come up with a cool name for me to call you all. "Critics" or "theorists" is a bit dry, and "critical readers" is a bit dumb. Extra credit to someone who can come up with a better tag. "Crickets?" [thanks, Kim]) I'll be putting announcements on this page having to do with course requirements, changes in these web pages, and other matters. Between this page and the main page, you should get a good sense of what's new and upcoming in the course. So I recommend checking out both those pages every time you visit the course web site--at least once a week.


Change of plans for Thursday's office hours: only 3:30-5....


Hey folks, it's been a great semester. I've appreciated your willingness to engage each other and the course material. Good luck during finals week and have a great holiday season and new year's celebration. I look forward to seeing you next semester. A few final end-of-the-semester announcements:

My office hours for exam week are listed below (12/12); of course, I'm also available by appointment and through e-mail.

Don't forget to turn in questionnaires on any group pedagogical projects that you may have missed doing earlier this semester; not turning in the expected number of questionnaires will hurt your participation/preparation grade.

For your final essays, keep in mind that if you want detailed comments on them, please let me know either over email or by attaching a note to the paper itself. If you want them returned to you before you return to campus, please attach a self-addressed envelope to the paper when you turn it in (I don't mind paying postage). Graded papers will be available in the English department office (Fenton 277) in early January, and may be picked up from me (Fenton 240) during my office hours when the spring 2002 semester begins.


My office hours for next week are M 9-1:30, 3-6; T 9-11:30, 3-6; W 9-12, 1-3:30; Th 9-11:30, 3-5.


A few reminders and announcements: (1) Please don't forget to return your questionnaires on any of the group pedagogical projects you haven't yet commented on. I'm going to be spending the next two weekends grading each of the projects, so don't let your classmates down by not commenting on their projects! (2) Please see the main page for the plan for the final two weeks of the semester--and note that we'll be meeting the Monday of exam week for pizza and course evals! (3) I'll be going back to non-sign-up-sheet office hours next week; I'll be available to see people if they want to discuss any aspect of the course M 2-4, T 2:30-4, W 2-5, Th 2:30-3:30, F 2:30-5, and by appointment.


Check out the massive upgrade of the links page when you get a chance!


Hey folks, have a great Thanksgiving break and be sure to be thinking about your final critical/theoretical essay further. I've sent out messages on the listserv giving examples of topics developed by students who have taken Critical Reading from Professors Marzec and McVicker. Be aware that the library's web site has a wealth of research tools available to anyone with a web connection: the MLA Bibliography and WorldCat (available through FirstSearch) and Project MUSE (available as a trial database) can point you toward studies that are similar to your own that yours should draw on and be in dialogue with; Lexis-Nexis, Ethnic NewsWatch, and GenderWatch (available through the research and references database) can help people track any story through the media (for those doing more of a media analysis or cultural studies project). The workload will remain fairly intense the last three weeks of classes, so take advantage of the week off to develop your project ideas further than what you did in your proposal. We'll have a conference the first week back from break, so stop by my office when you return and reserve a time on the sign-up sheet on my door (Fenton 240). OK, take care and have fun!


The assignment sheet for the final critical/theoretical essay is up and running. It includes some suggestions for the proposal due before break, and will be updated regularly in light of questions you ask me--so ask away!


I've finally finished several important web pages: the reflective essay page, the group pedagogical project page, the final critical/theoretical essay page, and a page that gives tips on reading strategies. Let me know if you have questions about any of these pages

You should be picking up your mid-term grades from your advisors on Friday or Monday. For this class, I based your mid-term grades on several factors: the number of discussion questions you've done plus eight (a generous measure that assumes you'll do one per week from this week on) to project your total for the semester; the quality of your discussion questions, reflective essays, and contributions to group activities and discussions; and the number of non-emergency absences times two (to indicate what happens to the actual grade you earned if you miss the same number of classes in the second half of the semester as you did in the first--this is a pessimistic measure, since as few as two absences thus far this semester would penalize you 1/3 of a grade off your final grade when doubled to four, when in fact you could go the rest of the semester without missing another class and incur no attendance penalty when I calculate your final grade for real). The mid-term grade is therefore a loose projection of what could happen rather than a firm prediction of your final grade. Because it does not include your grade for the group pedagogical project (which counts more toward your final grade than participation/preparation and discussion questions combined), it is even looser than it might otherwise be. The purpose of giving a mid-term grade at all is to send you a message--if you got anything below a B+, you're going to have to make some changes in the way you approach the course (as participation/preparation and discussion questions are intended to improve, not drag down, your final grade, and it's crucial to avoid an attendance penalty). See me if you have any questions about your mid-term grade--it's entirely possible I've miscounted discussion question sets or absences, but I'm going to assume I'm right unless I hear different from you.


Curtailed office hours this week: Monday 12-1 and 2-4, and W 10-10:30 only; extra office hours next Monday: 12-1, 2-5. I'm giving a lecture at the University of Rochester on Tuesday and attending a delegate assembly for the faculty union I'm part of on Friday and Saturday, but leaving Wednesday afternoon. Professor Robert Marzec will attend Friday's class as an observer/note-taker.


Just wanted to let you know that I'm extending my office hours this week: I'll be available to meet with you on Thursday from 2-5 pm and Friday from 2-3 pm. Also, I've (finally) completed the page that gives advice on discussion questions; other pages are coming down the pike as well--check here for details.


Hey folks, a technical glitch you should be aware of: my e-mail account has been having problems that I think are now cleared up, but the result is that I have not received any e-mail you sent to me personally or to the course listserv since last Thursday around 5 pm. So if you did try to send me something over e-mail between then and 10 am this morning, you'll likely get it bounced back to you with an error message appended to it. Can you forward that error message/original message to me personally at simon@fredonia.edu when you can? Thanks!


A few announcements of importance. On Thursday, there's going to be a teach-in on the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and their repercussions at 7:30 pm in the Williams Center. I would like to invite all of you to come and join the discussion. More details to come on this, and on the global studies conference that will take place in S-104 Williams Center on Friday and Saturday. As a result of my participation in the conference, Friday's class will be optional (I won't be there). Extra-credit will be given to those who come to class and sign a summary of their discussion of American New Criticism. Extra-credit will also be given to those who attend any of the conference sessions and write me a 2-3-paragraph email in which they give their reaction to the session(s) and relate it/them to some aspect of the course. Extra-credit will be in the form of erasing one absence from your attendance record, improving your participation/preparation grade, or both, depending on the quality of the discussions and/or of your reactions. We will pick up the regular schedule for class on Monday; we'll move on to authorial/historical approaches to literary texts.

Because of Friday's class being made optional, I'm going to ask that you read ahead for next class and try to read all the assigned readings for the rest of the week of Wednesday. If need be, choose one Russian formalist and one American New Critic to focus on in particular and read the others less carefully.

Finally, the groups for the pedagogy project are just about set--see the main page for details. And check here for announcements about assignment sheets and such for the group pedagogical project.


Hey folks, I have to cut my office hours short today: 2-3:45 pm, instead of 2-5. Sorry--meeting! To make up for it, I'll be in the office from 3-4 Thursday.


Please be aware that the instructions for subscribing to the class listserv on your syllabi left out one small but important detail (which I've corrected on this web site): when sending the command to the machine that handles subscriptions (listserv@listserv.fredonia.edu), it should read "subscribe engl34502 Your Name". Usually the machine figures out what your name is without your doing this (I didn't do it, and it knows my name), but in the odd instance, it replaces your name with one of those one-line ads that appear at the bottom of yahoo! users' email messages like "click here to win a million dollars" or "aol sucks." To avoid this, give the machine your name! Thanks.

All the links are up and running except the ones that describe and explain the assignments in more detail. I didn't want to overwhelm you, and I have two other course websites to do this week, so I'll put those up ASAP. Check here for details.

OK, see you all tomorrow!

M A I N * N E W S * L I N K S * R E S E R V E S

ENGL 345: Critical Reading, Fall 2001
Created: 8/31/00 5:02 pm
Last modified: 12/20/01 4:56 pm