College of Arts and Sciences
ENGL 345: Critical Reading
Section 1: TTh 3:30-4:50, Houghton 112
Office: Fenton 265; M 10-12, 2-4, TTh 11-12, W 11-12, 1-3, and by appointment; 673-3856
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Web Page: www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/
ANGEL Space: https://fredonia.sln.suny.edu/default.asp
About the Course Web Pages
This web site is designed to help you get as much out of this course as possible--you can use it to find out what assignments are due and when, how your work will be assessed, and how to use the world-wide web for research, among other things. Please get in the habit of checking back to these pages to keep track of changes to the syllabus (which will also be announced on ANGEL) and to surf the ever-expanding list of links to interesting web pages related to the course. And please contact me anytime (see above for my coordinates) if you have ideas about how to improve these pages or the course as a whole.
I. Course Description
Focus on helping students develop an awareness of their own acts of interpretation in reading and an understanding of the strengths of different approaches to interpretation and criticism. This section is an introduction to major modes of and issues in literary criticism and theory. In it, we will be relating literature, criticism, and theory, but our emphasis will be on understanding, analyzing, evaluating, and working with different modes of reading the world and its texts. We will consider the strengths and weaknesses of a range of interpretive, contextualizing, and interventionist critical strategies, their stakes and historical contexts, and their relations to social struggles for dignity, justice, and creativity. This is a core course for students in the English major.
In ENGL 345, as in most courses offered by the English Department, students from a range of majors, minors, and concentrations interact, and the goals of the professional programs are integrated with specific course goals. Achieving these goals (described in Section IV, below) will require us to foster academic skills and intellectual habits of reading closely and attentively, thinking critically and creatively, listening actively and carefully, speaking thoughtfully and concisely, and writing clearly and analytically--skills and habits of importance to everyone, but of particular importance to future teachers. Understanding of key issues in critical interpretation, contextualization, and intervention; self-awareness about one's own critical or theoretical assumptions, preferences, habits, and values; and knowledge of older and newer modes of criticism and theory, as well as their stakes and historical contexts, are essential for English majors but also useful to future teachers, particularly in curriculum development, course design, and lesson planning. In addition, ENGL 345 typically offers an opportunity to gain experience in and insight into collaborative peer teaching, from planning to implementation to reflection (see Sections IV-VI, below).
III. Textbooks. The textbooks adopted for this course are:
IV. Course Objectives and Outcomes
ENGL 345 is designed to help students develop (1) an awareness of their own acts of interpretation in reading and (2) an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to interpretation and criticism. Students will read and think about the assigned literature, criticism, and theory, participate in class discussions and activities, and read and write informal reflective essays on the discussion forum in order to gain, develop, and demonstrate the awareness and understanding called for in the above goals. Specifically, students will participate in the course discussion forum and class discussions, as well as write a final research project, in order to reach goal 1. Students will write reflective essays, participate in a team pedagogical project, and write a final research project in order to reach goal 2. (See Section VI, below, for more information on these projects.) Students will thus have multiple opportunities to practice and to continue making progress toward meeting the department's three student learning outcomes: #1: "English majors will read attentively, closely, and critically"; #2: "English majors will write thoughtfully, coherently, and persuasively"; #3: "English majors will develop and challenge their own thinking through scholarly research." Students are expected to leave the course with a better ability to recognize, understand, analyze, evaluate, work with, and put to various uses different modes of reading the world and its texts.
V. Instructional Methods and Activities
The methods used in the classroom will include a combination of instructor-led lecture and discussion, cooperative group work, and student-led discussion activities and collaborative pedagogical projects.
VI. Evaluation and Grade Assignment
Attendance/Preparation/Participation/Team Work (15%). Regular attendance and thoughtful participation are crucial to your enjoyment of and success in this course. If there is absolutely no way for you to avoid missing a class, you must contact me ahead of time or as soon as possible after your absence, preferably by email (see section VIII for more on attendance policies in this course). Even more important than showing up on time, of course, is coming to class prepared and focused. I expect you to read what has been assigned for a given date at least once (and preferably more than that!) by the time we begin to discuss it in class. This is a discussion rather than a lecture course, after all; although I will provide some context and background for our reading, the bulk of class time will be spent in small- or large-group discussions and activities. Since it's difficult to make good contributions to discussions about a literary, critical, or theoretical work if you haven't read it carefully or thought about it searchingly, how well you budget your time outside of class will to a large degree determine how well you do in this class in general and how well you do on this portion of your course grade in particular. On the first day of class, students will be divided into eight teams. Each team will collaborate in and out of class. Teams will be offered a series of increasingly difficult challenges, ranging from values clarification discussions to problem-solving activities in class to designing and teaching a 30-to-45 minute lesson on the intersections between one of the assigned novels, criticism, and theory.
Your grade for this segment of the course will be based on a combination of your attendance, the quality of your participation in class and on the course discussion forum (described below), your contributions to the success of your team's work, and your level of preparation, improvement, and effort over the course of the semester. As there are no tests in this course, think of my evaluation of your preparation/participation/team work as a different but equally important method of assessing your overall performance in the course. Due to the importance of attendance and participation, more than two unexcused absences will lower your preparation/participation grade and each non-emergency absence after the third will lower your final course grade by a full grade (e.g., with four non-emergency absences a B+ will become a C+; with six, it will become an F). Please see Section VIIIB below for definitions of excused and emergency absences and keep in mind that excused absences count toward your total of non-emergency absences for the semester.
Online Participation (15%). If you need any help using course ANGEL site (https://fredonia.sln.suny.edu/default.asp), please see me. We will be using it to distribute announcements, provide research and other resources, and collect certain assignments, so be in the habit of checking it regularly. To supplement and prepare for our class discussions and activities, as well as continue them after the end of class, I have created a discussion forum on our course ANGEL site. In addition to the required contributions you will make as part of your team work (see below), you should use it regularly and often to develop your writing and critical thinking skills, demonstrate your engagement with the course material, and consider and respond to others' ideas and interpretations. For instance, you can, among other things,
Over the course of the semester, I will keep track of the timing, amount, and quality of your posts to the discussion board, including the quality of the ensuing online discussions initiated by them. 0-4 posts will earn you a zero, 5-9 posts an F, 10-14 a D, 15-19 a C, 20-24 a B, and 25+ an A on this segment of your final grade. Reflective essays (see below) will count toward this total. The quality of your online participation will also be factored into your preparation/participation/team work grade (see above).
Reflective Essays (20%). Over the course of the semester, you must post a number of reflective essays to the course discussion forum and come to each class having read and thought about your peers' essays. Your team (see below) may decide to form a rotation for posting these essays. If not, you are free to post on a schedule of your own choosing. If so, roughly every fourth week, you would post on issues raised by your week's readings. In either case, your reflective essays should be 500-to-1000-word discussion forum posts in which you thoughtfully respond to and reflect on key issues raised by the readings, discussion questions, in-class discussions, and/or team pedagogical projects. You can use reflective writing as a tool of exploration and discovery in any of the following ways, and more:
Your grade for this segment of the course will be determined by the number of reflective essays you post to the course listserv: 4 or more essays=A; 3=B; 2=C; 1=D; 0=F. Essays will be graded on a +/0/-/F basis; F essays will not be counted toward your total. No more than one essay per week will count toward your total for the semester, although all essays you post beyond the fourth will earn you extra credit on this and on your preparation/participation grade. In addition, the quality and variety of your essays will be factored into your preparation/participation/team work grade.
Team Pedagogical Project (25%). During the first week of classes, the class will be divided into eight teams. Each team will have the opportunity to decide on what novel (by Flynn or Shteyngart) and on what mode of literary criticism or theory (or combination of modes) it will focus its pedagogical project; each team will be responsible for using the novel it chooses to help your peers better understand the interpretive strategy/theoretical approach and to guide your peers through a consideration of its value and stakes (for example, by using the strategy/approach to analyze the novel, by considering the strengths and weaknesses that emerge when trying to apply it to the novel, by considering how the novel explicitly or implicitly engages or resists it, and so on). At least one week before your teaching segment is slated to begin, your team must meet with me for feedback and advice on your ideas and plans. At most two Fridays after the conclusion of your teaching segment, your team must turn in to me a 500-1000-word group-authored reflection on the experience of planning and teaching about your chosen interpretive strategy/theoretical approach via your chosen novel, and you must also email me a 250-500-word self- and group-assessment of the relation between the actual teaching experience and your team's plans and expectations, and of your own contributions to both, along with a brief reflection on what you learned by doing this project. The assignment sheet and advice for the team pedagogical project can be found at http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/cr6/tpp.htm.
Your grade for this segment of the course will be based on a combination of factors: my overall assessment of your team's research and planning process, lesson plan, teaching effectiveness, and commitment to working collaboratively; the quality of the team-authored reflection on your planning and teaching; the honesty and thoughtfulness of your own self- and group-assessment; and my overall assessment of your individual contributions to the team's efforts and success.
Final Research Project (25%). The topic for your 10-15-page (or equivalent) final research project is open. A list of suggested topics and formats will be posted on the course web site later in the semester, but students are encouraged to develop their own topics and choose their own formats. Whether the topic eventually chosen is instructor- or student-initiated, all students must turn in a 2-3-page research-based proposal after Spring Break that lays out a compelling justification/rationale for pursuing the project. This will be discussed with students during a mandatory April conference with the instructor. Further information and advice on the final research project can be found on the course web site at http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/cr6/frp.htm.
Your grade for this segment of the course will be based on the strength and persuasiveness of the rationale/justification for the project offered in the proposal; the degree of intellectual and analytical development from proposal to finished project; and, on the finished project itself, the effectiveness with which you incorporate relevant critical/theoretical concepts and arguments into the project, along with other quality measures that depend on the format chosen (see the assignment sheet for details).
B. Grading. I will grade student work during the semester on a letter basis (A=outstanding, B=good, C=average, D=bad, F=unacceptable) and convert letter grades into numbers when calculating final grades. I use the following conversion system (the number in parentheses is the "typical" or "normal" conversion, but any number in the range may be assigned to a given letter grade):
A+=97-100 (98); A=93-96.99 (95); A-=90-92.99 (91); B+=87-89.99 (88); B=83-86.99 (85); B-=80-82.99 (81); C+=77-79.99 (78); C=73-76.99 (75); C-=70-72.99 (71); D+=67-69.99 (68); D=63-66.99 (65); D-=60-62.99 (61); F=0-59.99 (55)
Your final grade is determined by converting the weighted numerical average of the above assignments into a letter grade, according to the above scale.
C. Portfolio. English majors should be aware of the English Department's guidelines for ongoing portfolio submissions; it is strongly recommended that the final research paper from this course be included in your portfolio.
A. Contemporary References
B. Classic References
C. Key Journals
VIII. Course Schedule and Policies
A. Tentative Course Schedule. The following course schedule is subject to revision--please refer here regularly for updates to this schedule and to the course ANGEL space for announcements of changes. (Key: RR=Rivkin and Ryan's Literary Theory: An Anthology)
Week 1: Who Are We and What Are We Doing Here?
T 1/29 welcome, intros, overview; choosing teams
Th 1/31 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, Preface and Preface to the Second Edition (RR ix-xii); explore Kate Beaton, Hark! A Vagrant and be sure to read #132
Week 2: Complexity and Coherence
T 2/5 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Formalisms" (RR 3-6); Boris Eichenbaum, "The Formal Method" (RR 7-14); Cleanth Brooks, "The Formalist Critics" (RR 22-27)
Th 2/7 Viktor Shklovsky, "Art as Technique" (RR 15-21); Cleanth Brooks, "The Language of Paradox" (RR 28-39); W.K. Wimsatt, Jr., "The Structure of the Concrete Universal" (RR 40-49); E.P. Thompson, "Witness Against the Beast" (RR 533-548)
Week 3: Structuralism and Semiology
T 2/12 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: The Implied Order: Structuralism" (RR 53-55); Jonathan Culler, "The Linguistic Foundation" (RR 56-58); Ferdinand de Saussure, "Course in General Linguistics" (RR 59-71); Vladimir Propp, "Morphology of the Folk-Tale" (RR 72-75); Roman Jakobson, "Two Aspects of Language" (RR 76-80)
Th 2/14 Roland Barthes, "Mythologies" (RR 81-89); Michel Foucault, "The Archaeology of Knowledge" (RR 90-96); John Fiske, "Television Culture" (RR 1274-1284)
Week 4: Speech Acts and Interpretive Communities
T 2/19 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Language and Action" (RR 127-130); Richard Lanham, "Tacit Persuasion Patterns" (RR 177-194); J.L. Austin, "How to Do Things with Words" (RR 162-176); Stanley Fish, "Not So Much a Teaching as an Intangling" (RR 195-216)
Th 2/21 Stanley Fish, "Interpretive Communities" (RR 217-221); Pierre Bourdieu, "Distinction" (RR 237-253); John Frow, "Text and System" (RR 222-236)
Week 5: The Unconscious and Trauma
T 2/26 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Strangers to Ourselves: Psychoanalysis" (RR 389-396); Sigmund Freud, "The Interpretation of Dreams" (RR 397-414); Jacques Lacan, "The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience" and "The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason since Freud" (RR 441-461)
Th 2/28 Sigmund Freud, "The Uncanny," "Beyond the Pleasure Principle," and "Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego" (RR 418-440); Frantz Fanon, "The Negro and Psychopathology" (RR 462-469); Nancy Chodorow, "Pre-Oedipal Gender Configurations" (RR 470-486); Bessel van der Kolk and Alexander McFarlane, "The Black Hole of Trauma" (RR 487-502)
Week 6: Women and Differences
T 3/5 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Feminist Paradigms" (RR 765-769); Helene Cixous, "The Newly Born Woman" (RR 348-354); Gayle Rubin, "The Traffic in Women" (RR 770-794); Luce Irigaray, "The Power of Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine" and "Women on the Market" (RR 795-811); Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, "The Madwoman in the Attic" (RR 812-825); Coppelia Kahn, "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" (RR 826-837)
Th 3/7 Audre Lorde, "Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference" (RR 854-860); Gloria Anzaldua, "Borderlands/La Frontera" (RR 1017-1030); Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Three Women's Texts and a Critique of Imperialism" (RR 838-853); Geraldine Heng, "'A Great Way to Fly': Nationalism, the State, and the Varieties of Third-World Feminism" (RR 861-881)
Week 7: Post-Structuralism and Post-Modernism
T 3/12 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Introductory Deconstruction" (RR 257-261); Friedrich Nietzsche, "On Truth and Lying in an Extra-moral Sense" and "The Will to Power" (RR 262-270); Martin Heidegger, "Identity and Difference" (RR 271-272); Barbara Johnson, "Writing" (RR 340-347); Jacques Derrida, "Differance," "Of Grammatology" and "Semiology and Grammatology" (RR 279-339)
Th 3/14 Jean-Francois Lyotard, "The Postmodern Condition" (RR 355-364); Jean Baudrillard, "Simulacra and Simulations" (RR 365-377); Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus" (RR 378-386)
Week 8: Reading Gone Girl
T 3/19 Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, Part One (1-102); TEAM PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT: The Outsiders (Team #3)
Th 3/21 Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, Part One (103-215); TEAM PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT: MCTK (Team #2)
M 3/25-M 4/1 NO CLASSES: SPRING BREAK AND TRAVEL DAY
Week 9: Reading Gone Girl
T 4/2 Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, Part Two (216-366); TEAM PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT: Team Jacob (Team #4)
Th 4/4 Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl, Part Three (367-415); TEAM PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT: The Big Literary Theory (Team #1)
F 4/5 PROPOSAL for Final Research Project due by 11:30 pm on discussion forum on course ANGEL site (attach as .rtf, .doc, .docx, or .pdf document, please)
Week 10: Ideology, Hegemony, Imperialism, Colonialism
T 4/9 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Starting with Zero" (RR 643-646); Karl Marx, "Wage Labor and Capital" and "Capital" (RR 659-672); Antonio Gramsci, "Hegemony" (RR 673); Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (RR 693-702); Slavoj Zizek, "The Sublime Object of Ideology" (RR 712-724); Antonio Negri, "Difference and the Future" (RR 725-742)
Th 4/11 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: English Without Shadows: Literature on a World Scale" (RR 1072-1074); Mikhail Bakhtin, "Discourse in the Novel" and "Rabelais and His World" (RR 674-692); Pierre Macherey, "For a Theory of Literary Production" (RR 703-711); Raymond Williams, "The Country and the City" (RR 508-532); Edward Said, "Jane Austen and Empire" (RR 1112-1125); Ania Loomba, "Situating Colonial and Postcolonial Studies" (RR 1100-1111)
Week 11: Culture, Power, History, Everyday Life
T 4/16 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: The Politics of Culture" (RR 1233-1234); Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (RR 1235-1241); Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, "The Culture Industry as Mass Deception" (RR 1242-1246); Michel De Certeau, "The Practice of Everyday Life" (RR 1247-1257); Dick Hebdige, "Subculture: The Meaning of Style" (RR 1258-1267); John Fiske, "Culture, Ideology, Interpellation" (RR 1268-1273)
Th 4/18 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Writing the Past" (RR 505-507); Michel Foucault, "Discipline and Punish" (RR 549-566); Stephen Greenblatt, "Shakespeare and the Exorcists" (RR 592-620); Louis Montrose, "Professing the Renaissance" (RR 584-591); Nancy Armstrong, "Some Call It Fiction: On the Politics of Domesticity" (RR 567-583)
Week 12: Gender, Sexuality, Ethnicity, Race
T 4/23 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Contingencies of Gender" (RR 885-888); Judith Butler, "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution" (RR 900-911); Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, "Epistemology of the Closet" (RR 912-921); Judith Halberstam, "Female Masculinity" (RR 935-956); Michel Foucault, "The History of Sexuality" (RR 892-899); Gayle Rubin, "Sexual Transformations" (RR 889-891); Michael Moon, "A Small Boy and Others: Sexual Disorientation in Henry James, Kenneth Anger, and David Lynch" (RR 922-934)
Th 4/25 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Situating Race" (RR 959-963); Ian Haney Lopez, "The Social Construction of Race" (RR 964-974); Toni Morrison, "Playing in the Dark" (RR 1005-1016); Shelley Fisher Fishkin, "Interrogating 'Whiteness'" (RR 975-986); Lisa Lowe, "Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity: Marking Asian American Differences" (RR 1031-1050)
Week 13: Reading Super Sad True Love Story
T 4/30 Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story 1-98; TEAM PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT: Cynical Sons of Bitches (Team #5)
Th 5/2 Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story 99-177; TEAM PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT: Tri-pod (Team #7)
Week 14: Reading Super Sad True Love Story
T 5/7 Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story 178-269; TEAM PEDAGOGICAL PROJECT: Team ABCP (Team #6)
Th 5/9 Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story 270-331; course evaluations
Week 15: The End Is Near! The End Is Near! The End Is...uh, Here?
Th 5/16 4-6 pm: optional, extra-credit session in our regular classroom during which students may present on their final research projects and seek peer feedback before turning them in
F 5/17 FINAL RESEARCH PROJECT due no later than 11:30 pm in the FRP Drop Box on our ANGEL course site
B. Class Policies
1. Attendance. As stated in Section VI above, barring emergencies each absence after the third will lower your final course grade by a full grade. Please be aware that absences due to emergencies are the only absences that will not be counted toward your total for the semester. Emergencies include but are not limited to death in the family, hospitalization or serious illness, and natural disasters; scheduled and unavoidable school-sponsored events (games, meets, performances, etc.) are also counted as emergencies for the purpose of this attendance policy. Besides emergencies, the only other absences that won't affect your participation/preparation/team work grade are excused absences. Please notify the instructor over email, in advance if possible and, if not, as soon after the absence as possible, if you wish an absence to be considered as an emergency or excused absence; the decision will be made at the instructor's discretion.
2. Online Participation. Please familiarize yourself with the university's "Computer and Network Usage Policy" (Undergraduate Catalog 2012-2013) and check with your instructor first before posting something to the course ANGEL space that is not directly related to the course.
3. Late Assignments. Online posts that are not well-timed with the course material and fail to spark other students' interest and responses will not count the same as well-timed posts or posts that do inspire further discussion. Late written assignments will not be accepted or graded. Only students who ask for an extension at least two days before the due date of any written project will be granted an extension.
4. Plagiarism and Academic Integrity. To plagiarize is "to steal and pass off as one's own the ideas or words of another" (Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). SUNY Fredonia strongly condemns plagiarism and takes severe action against those who plagiarize. Disciplinary action may extend to suspension from privileges or expulsion from the university. Please familiarize yourself with the university's "Academic Integrity Policy" (Undergraduate Catalog 2012-2013) and check with your instructor if you have any questions about it.
5. Students with Disabilities. If you have a documented disability, please contact our Office of Disability Support Services in the Learning Center at Reed Library.
6. Portable Electronic Devices. Please turn them off before you enter the class. If I see you using them while class is in session, I will hold onto them for you until we are done for the rest of the class. I will consider written requests to use them for academic purposes.
ENGL 345: Critical Reading, Spring 2013
Created: 1/31/13 12:12 pm
Last modified: 4/22/13 2:44 pm
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia
For earlier versions of this course, please go to the Fall 2001 web site, the Spring 2002 web site, the Spring 2004 web site, the Fall 2005 web site, or the Fall 2012 web site.