Division of Arts and Humanities
ENGL 345: CRITICAL READING
Section 1: Thompson W-239, TTh 9:30-10:50
Office: Fenton 240; TTh 3:30-4:30, WF 2-4:30, and by appointment; 673-3859
Web Page: www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/
About the Course Web Site
This web site is designed to help you get as much out of this course as possible--you can use it to find out how you will be graded, what reading and writing assignments are due and when, how to subscribe to the course listserv for your section, what books are on reserve for your use in Reed Library, and how to use the world-wide web for research. Please take the time over the weekend after the first week of classes to read this page carefully and to familiarize yourself with the other pages for this course. Please get in the habit of checking back to this web site to keep track of changes to the tentative schedule listed in your syllabus and to find advice on papers, as well as 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 hope you enjoy taking this course as much as I enjoy teaching it!
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 literary theory. 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 several interpretive strategies, their stakes and historical contexts, and their relations to social struggles for dignity, justice, and creativity. The first ("criticism") half of the course will be devoted to debates that have shaped the way we think about the author, the text, the reader, literature, history, and culture and the way they relate to our own readings of William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. The second ("theory") half of the course will be devoted to testing the proposition that theorizing can happen in a variety of genres and modes of writing; in it, we will read Mahasweta Devi's short story collection Imaginary Maps as a theoretical text in dialogue with feminist, new historicist, marxist, and postcolonial studies. This is a core course for students in the English major. Majors and concentrators may take this course for honors credit as part of the Honors Program in the English Department. If you are interested in doing this, please come to my office hours during the first two weeks of classes for more information.
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, including Secondary English Education majors. Understanding of key issues in interpretation and criticism; 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, read and write discussion questions on their section's listserv, and read and write informal reflective essays on their section's listserv in order to gain, develop, and demonstrate the awareness and understanding called for in goals 1 and 2 above. Students will participate in a group pedagogical project in order to reach goal 2. Students will propose a topic for, research, and write a final critical/theoretical essay in order to reach goal 1). (See Section VI, below, for more information on these projects.) Students will thus leave the course with a better ability to recognize, understand, analyze, evaluate, and work with 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, with some cooperative group work (typically on Tuesdays), and student-led discussion activities and collaborative pedagogical projects (typically on Thursdays).
VI. Evaluation and Grade Assignment
Attendance/Preparation/Participation (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 soon 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 extensively, 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.
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 class listserv (described below), and your level of preparation over the course of the semester. As there are no tests in this course, think of my evaluation of your preparation/participation as a different but equally important method of assessing your overall performance in the course. Due to the importance of attendance and participation, barring emergencies more than two unexcused absences will hurt your preparation/participation grade and each absence after the third will lower your final course grade by one-third of a grade (e.g., with four absences a B+ will become a B; with six, it will become a C+).
Course Listserv (30%). There will be a course listserv (email@example.com) for this section of ENGL 345. This listserv will be your space; I will keep my own input to a bare minimum. Although you may use the listserv in any number of ways, you must use it in the following ways:
In general, your questions should "look ahead" to the next class's discussion, not recycle the previous class's discussion. However, you may ask questions that "look backward" in the sense that they make connections between past and upcoming texts, topics, issues, or discussions. Click here for further advice on generating discussion questions. See Section VIII, below, for instructions on joining the listserv and click here for a troubleshooting guide in case you run into difficulties joining or using the listserv.
Your grade for this segment of the course will be determined by the number of on-time sets of questions you post to the course listserv. Since there are fourteen weeks when discussion questions are due in the semester, and since you are allowed four missed weeks without penalty, 10 or more sets of questions=A; 9=B+; 8=B; 7=C+; 6=C, 5=D; 4 or less=E. The quality of your discussion questions will be factored into your preparation/participation grade (see above).
Your grade for this segment of the course will be determined by the number of on-time reflective essays you post to the course listserv. Since there are fourteen weeks when reflective essays are due in the semester, and since you are allowed nine missed weeks without penalty, 5 or more essays=A; 4=B; 3=C; 2=D; 1 or 0=E. The quality of your reflective essays will be factored into your preparation/participation grade (see above).
Group Pedagogical Project (25%). During the first week of classes, the class will be divided into nine groups. Each group will have the opportunity to decide during what week and on what topic it will do its pedagogical project; each group will be responsible for teaching a given mode of literary criticism or literary theory to the rest of the class on Thursday of the week devoted to that interpretive strategy. Your group is responsible for helping your peers better understand the interpretive strategy/theoretical approach and for guiding your peers through a consideration of its value and stakes. It is strongly recommended that your group use Shakespeare's play or Devi's short stories to help it achieve these goals, but it is up to your group to decide how best to proceed. At least one week before your teaching segment is slated to begin, your group must meet with me for feedback and advice on your ideas and plans. At most one week after the conclusion of your teaching segment, your group must turn in a 500-1000-word group-authored reflection on the experience of planning and teaching about your chosen interpretive strategy, and you must also email me a 250-500-word self- and group-assessment of the relation between the actual teaching experience and your group's plans and expectations, and of your own contributions to both. Click here for further advice on the group pedagogical project.
Your grade for this segment of the course will be based on a combination of factors: my overall assessment of your group's lesson plan, teaching effectiveness, and commitment to working collaboratively; the quality of the group-authored reflection on your planning and teaching; the honesty and thoughtfulness of your own self- and group-assessment; ratings by your peers of the effectiveness of your group's teaching; and my overall assessment of your individual contributions to the group's efforts and success.
Final Critical/Theoretical Essay (30%). The topic for your 10-15-page critical/theoretical essay is open--although some suggestions will be given, students are encouraged to develop their own topics for this final project. Whether the topic eventually chosen is instructor- or student-initiated, all students must turn in a 2-3-page research-based proposal before spring break that lays out a compelling justification/rationale for pursuing the project. This will be returned to students after spring break during a conference with the instructor. Please use MLA format for citations and bibliography in both the proposal and the paper.
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 paper; and, on the paper itself, the effectiveness with which incorporate appropriate critical/theoretical concepts and arguments into your paper, the coherence and validity of the paper's arguments, the effectiveness of the paper's structure in conveying your ideas and convincing your audience, and the quality of the paper's prose (including grammar, syntax, and punctuation). Click here for an assignment sheet for and suggested approaches to the final critical/theoretical essay.
B. Grading. All work during the semester will be graded on a letter basis (A=outstanding, B=good, C=average, D=bad, E=yeesh) and converted into a number for purposes of 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); E=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 highly recommended that a paper from this course be included in your portfolio.
VII. Bibliography. See the reserves page for a complete list of reserve readings, available at the circulation desk of Reed Library, which can be helpful in preparing for your pedagogical project and final paper.
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 be aware that changes, posted here and announced on the news page, supersede what's listed on the syllabus handed out the first day of classes. Don't forget that you must submit 10 sets of discussion questions (roughly weekly) and 5 reflective essays (roughly every other week) over the course of the semester to earn As for those segments of your final grade (see Section VI for details). (Key: D=Devi's Imaginary Maps; K=Keesey's Contexts for Criticism; RR=Rivkin and Ryan's Literary Theory: An Anthology, S=Shakespeare's The Tempest.)
Week 1: Who Are We and What Are We Doing Here?
Th 1/24/02 welcome, intros, set-up
Shakespeare and Critical Controversies
Week 2: Getting Started, Setting Out
T 1/29 Donald Keesey, Preface and "General Introduction" (K v-vii, 1-8); Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, Preface (RR x-xii); Gerald Graff and James Phelan, Preface (S v-ix)
Th 1/31 Gerald Graff and James Phelan, "The Life and Work of William Shakespeare" (S 3-9); William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act I (S 10-32); Sources and Contexts (S 116-172), particularly Ronald Takaki, "The 'Tempest' in the Wilderness" (S 140-172)
Week 3: Brave New World?
T 2/5 William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Acts II-V (S 32-88)
Th 2/7 Gerald Graff and James Phelan, "Why Study Critical Controversies about The Tempest?" (S 91-108); George Will, "Literary Politics" (S 110-113); Stephen Greenblatt, "The Best Way to Kill Our Literary Inheritance Is to Turn It into a Decorous Celebration of the New World Order" (S 113-115)
Week 4: Modes of Production and Interpretation
T 2/12 Donald Keesey, "Historical Criticism I: Author as Context" (K 9-16); Donald Keesey, "Historical Criticism II: Culture as Context" (K 451-459); E.D. Hirsch, "Objective Interpretation" (K 17-28); Stephen Greenblatt, "Culture" (K 477-482); Louis Montrose, "Professing the Renaissance: The Poetics and Politics of Culture" (RR 777-785)
Th 2/14 Paul Brown, "'This Thing of Darkness I Acknowledge Mine': The Tempest and the Discourse of Colonialism" (in both S 205-228 and K 483-497); Meredith Anne Skura, "Discourse and the Individual: The Case of Colonialism in The Tempest" (S 286-322); Paul Yachnin, "Shakespeare and the Idea of Obedience: Gonzalo in The Tempest" (K 40-52)
Week 5: Complexity and Coherence
T 2/19 Donald Keesey, "Formal Criticism: Poem as Context" (K 71-79); Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Formalisms" (RR 3-7); Victor Shklovsky, "Art as Technique" (RR 17-23); Cleanth Brooks, "Irony as a Principle of Structure" (K 80-87)
Th 2/21 Russ McDonald, "Reading The Tempest" (K 108-120); Frank Kermode, from Shakespeare: The Final Plays (S 174-182); Reuben Brower, "The Mirror of Analogy: The Tempest" (S 183-202)
Group Pedagogical Project: Drew Elder, Matt Gallets
Week 6: Modes of Reception and Reinscription
T 2/26 Donald Keesey, "Reader-Response Criticism: Audience as Context" (K 139-149); Louise Rosenblatt, "The Quest for 'The Poem Itself'" (K 150-157); Wolfgang Iser, "Readers and the Concept of the Implied Reader" (K 158-165); Janice Radway, from Reading the Romance(RR 1042-1049)
Th 2/28 Ole Martin Skilleas, "Anachronistic Themes and Literary Value: The Tempest" (K 181-189); Ania Loomba, from Gender, race, Renaissance Drama (S 324-336)
Group Pedagogical Project: Michael Chojnowski, Brian Hamilton, Vanessa Hosein, Elaine Yingling
Week 7: Mimesis and Referentiality
T 3/5 Donald Keesey, "Mimetic Criticism: Reality as Context" (K 203-212); Robert Alter, "Character and the Connection with Reality" (K 213-225); Josephine Donovan, "Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as a Moral Criticism" (K 235-245)
Th 3/7 Bernard Paris, "The Tempest" (K 246-254); Deborah Willis, "Shakespeare's Tempest and the Discourse of Colonialism" (S 256-268); David Scott Kastan, "'The Duke of His Milan/And His Brave Son': Old Histories and New in The Tempest" (S 268-286)
Group Pedagogical Project: Brittany Deschler, Jillian Miller, Matt Wakelee
Week 8: Structure and Intertextuality
T 3/12 Donald Keesey, "Intertextual Criticism: Literature as Context" (K 279-292); Jonathan Culler, "The Linguistic Foundation" (RR 73-75) and "Structuralism and Literature" (K 302-311); Northrop Frye, "The Critical Path" (K 293-301)
Th 3/14 Northrop Frye, "Shakespeare's The Tempest" (K 338-345); Francis Barker and Peter Hulme, "Nymphs and Reapers Heavily Vanish: The Discursive Con-texts of The Tempest" (S 229-246)
Group Pedagogical Project: Kelli Murphy, Nancy Sanick, David Thomas
Week 9: Undoing It All?
T 3/19 Donald Keesey, "Poststructural Criticism: Language as Context" (K 371-382); Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "The Class of 1968--Post-Structuralism par lui męme" (RR 333-357); Jacques Derrida, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" (K 383-394); Paul de Man, "Semiology and Rhetoric" (K 395-404)
Th 3/21 Stephen J. Miko, "Tempest" (K 415-424); PROPOSAL for Final Critical/Theoretical Essay due before you leave for spring break
Group Pedagogical Project: Jennie May Cronin, Ehren Miller, Mac Servis
F 3/22 - M 4/1 Spring Break: No Classes.
Devi and Modes of Theorizing
Week 10: Starting Over, Settling In
T 4/2 Gayatri Spivak, "The Author in Conversation" and Translator's Preface (D ix-xxii, xxiii-xxix); Mahasweta Devi, "The Hunt" (D 1-17)
Th 4/4 Mahasweta Devi, "Douloti the Bountiful" (D 19-93)
Week 11: Learning from Below?
T 4/9 Mahasweta Devi, "Pterodactyl, Puran Sahay, and Pirtha" (D 95-196)
Th 4/11 Gayatri Spivak, Afterword (D 197-205); Viewing: Mahasweta Devi: Witness, Advocate, Writer (Shashwari Talukdar, 2001, 27 mins.)
Week 12: Gender, Sexuality, Patriarchy
T 4/16 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Feminist Paradigms" (RR 527-532); Gayle Rubin, "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy' of Sex" (RR 533-560); optional reading: Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, from The Madwoman in the Attic (RR 598-611)
Th 4/18 Audre Lorde, "Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference" (RR 630-636); Adrienne Rich, "The Politics of Location" (RR 637-649); Teresa de Lauretis, "The Technology of Gender" (RR 713-721)
Group Pedagogical Project: Karen Hallowell, Lauren Hirsch, Dan Kaczmarek, Lauren Maricle
Week 13: History, Discourse, Power
T 4/23 Stephen Greenblatt, "Invisible Bullets" (RR 786-803); Alan Sinfield, "Cultural Materialism, Othello, and the Politics of Plausibility" (RR 804-826)
Th 4/25 Michel Foucault, from The Archeology of Knowledge and Discipline and Punish (RR 421-428, 464-487); Mikhail Bakhtin, "Discourse in the Novel" (RR 32-44)
Group Pedagogical Project: Joel Cuthbert, Brett Gray, Michelle Julian
Week 14: Capital, Labor, Ideology
T 4/30 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Starting with Zero: Basic Marxism" (RR 231-242); Karl Marx, The Manifesto of the Communist Party, "Wage Labor and Capital," and from Capital (RR 256-261, 262-267, 268-276); optional reading: Terry Eagleton, "Literature and History" (K 460-467)
Th 5/2 Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (RR 294-304); Stuart Hall, "The Rediscovery of 'Ideology'" (RR 1050-1064); optional reading: Slavoj Zizek, from The Sublime Object of Ideology (RR 312-325)
Week 15: The British Empire, Postcolonial Studies, World Literature
T 5/7 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "English Without Shadows, Literature on a World Scale" (RR 851-855); Patrick Brantlinger, from The Rule of Darkness (RR 856-867); Edward Said, from Orientalism (RR 873-886)
Th 5/9 Paul Gilroy, from The Black Atlantic (RR 970-977); Antonio Benítez-Rojo, from The Repeating Island (RR 978-995); optional reading: Carol Boyce-Davies, "Migratory Subjectivities" (RR 996-1015)
Week 16: The End Is Near...uh, Here
I will be available for conferences on your final critical/theoretical essays during extended office hours this week (TBA).
T 5/14 meet in regular room from 9:30-10:30 for bagels and course evaluations
F 5/17 FINAL CRITICAL/THEORETICAL ESSAY due no later than 5 pm
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 one-third of a grade (e.g., with four absences a B+ will become a B; with six, it will become a C+). 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 major 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.
2. Course Listserv. You are required to subscribe to your section's listserv during the first week of classes and to read and think about your peers' discussion questions before each class meeting. To subscribe to your section's listserv, compose an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave the subject line blank, and write "subscribe engl34501 Your Name" in the body of message. Please be sure to delete any signature or other text that may appear in the body of your message, as it will only confuse the very literal-minded machine that handles listserv subscriptions. Very soon after sending this message, you should receive an email from the machine that handles listserv subscriptions asking you to confirm your subscription; please follow the instructions in this email carefully, as you are not subscribed to the listserv until you have done so. Soon after doing this, you should receive another email message from the machine that handles listserv subscriptions informing you that you are now indeed subscribed to your section's listserv and laying out basic information about the listserv. Save this message--it's very useful. Once you get this message, you will begin receiving messages from others who are subscribed to the listserv; you also will be authorized to send messages to them by composing a message to the machine that distributes messages to those who are subscribed to the listserv. To do so, simply send an email message to email@example.com. It is highly recommended that you either save a copy of every message you send to the course listserv (many email programs automatically save all messages sent in a "sent mail" folder) or "cc:" yourself whenever you send a message to the listserv, as your listserv participation will be graded both quantitatively and qualitatively (see Section VI, above) and it is possible that technical or human error could result in your messages being lost in transit, accidentally deleted, misfiled, or miscounted. Please familiarize yourself with the college's "Computer and Network Usage Policy" (College Catalog 2001-2003, pp. 227-229), and keep this simple rule of thumb in mind: check with me first before posting something to your section's listserv that is not directly related to the course.
3. Late Assignments. Late discussion questions, reflective essays, and final projects 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; asking for an extension on the final project means that your final grade for the semester will be an incomplete (I), and that you must turn in your final project before the end of the following semester so that the I becomes a grade other than an E.
4. Make-up Work/Extra Credit. There will be some opportunities for extra credit to make up for absences or missed discussion questions that would jeopardize your passing the course; however, this is a privilege, not a right, and can only be undertaken after consultation with me.
5. Plagiarism and Academic Honesty. 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 college. See pages 216 and 226 of the College Catalog 2001-2003 for further information.
ENGL 345: Critical Reading, Spring 2002
Created: 1/25/02 1:22 pm
Last modified: 4/11/02 9:17 am