Division of Arts and Humanities
ENGL 345: CRITICAL READING
Section 1: MW 3-4:20, Fenton 176
Office: Fenton 265; MWF 1-2, TTh 9-12, and by appointment; 673-3856
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 during the first week or so 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 on the syllabus and to find advice on assignments, as well as to explore 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. These sections are 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. 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, including English Adolescence 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, 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 the above goals. Students will participate in a team pedagogical project in order to reach goal 2. Students will participate in the course listserv, class discussions, and write a final research project 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 Mondays), and student-led discussion activities and collaborative pedagogical projects (typically on Wednesdays).
VI. Evaluation and Grade Assignment
Preparation/Participation/Team Work (10%). 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. On the first day of class, students will be divided into ten teams. Each team will collaborate in and out of class. Teams will be offered a series of increasingly difficult challenges, ranging from problem-solving discussions in-class, to designing a teaching a 45-minute lesson, to making a 10-minute presentation on the connection between a work from outside the course and the course material.
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), 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, 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 a full grade (e.g., with four non-emergency absences a B+ will become a C+; with six, it will become an E). 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.
Course Listserv (35%). There will be a course listserv for this section of ENGL 345 (email@example.com). Detailed instructions for subscribing to and using it are given below (see Section VIII), will be discussed in class, and are available elsewhere on the course web site, along with a troubleshooting guide, at http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/engl345f05/listserv.htm. 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:
Your grade for this segment of the course will be determined by the number of on-time sets of discussion 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 seven missed weeks without penalty, 7 or more sets of discussion questions=A; 6=B+; 5=B; 4=C+; 3=C, 2=D; 1 or 0=F. The quality of your discussion questions will be factored into your preparation/participation/team work 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=F. Essays will be graded on a +/0/-/F basis (F essays will not be counted toward your total for the semester); the quality of your reflective essays will be factored into your preparation/participation grade (see above).
Team Pedagogical Project (20%). During the first week of classes, the class will be divided into teams. Each team will have the opportunity to decide during what week and on what topic it will do its pedagogical project; each team will be responsible for teaching a given mode of literary criticism or literary theory to the rest of the class on Wednesday of the week devoted to it. Your team 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. 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 one week 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, 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. The assignment sheet and advice for the team pedagogical project can be found at http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/engl345f05/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 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.
Team Presentation Project (10%). The week after we return from Thanksgiving Break, each team will deliver a ten-minute presentation on the ways a work from outside the course connects to the course material. For a list of works that teams must choose and special order from the college bookstore by October 17, please go to http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/engl345f05/readingx.htm.
Your grade for this segment of the course will be based on the quality of the connections you draw between the work and the course and the quality of the presentation on such matters as organization, clarity, and ability to engage your audience.
Final Research Project (25%). The topic for your 10-15-page final research project is open. A list of suggested topics will be posted on the course web site later in the semester, but students are encouraged to develop their own topics. Whether the topic eventually chosen is instructor- or student-initiated, all students must turn in a 2-3-page research-based proposal in November that lays out a compelling justification/rationale for pursuing the project. This will be returned to students during a 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/engl345f05/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 paper; and, on the paper itself, the effectiveness with which you 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).
B. Grading. I will grade student work during the semester on a letter basis (A=outstanding, B=good, C=average, D=bad, F=yeesh) 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 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 research project.
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. Don't forget that you must submit at least 7 sets of discussion questions and 5 reflective essays over the course of the semester to earn an A for those segments of your final grade (see Section VI for details). (Key: RR=Rivkin and Ryan's Literary Theory: An Anthology)
Week 1: Who Are We and What Are We Doing Here?
M 8/22 welcome, intros, overview; choosing teams
W 8/24 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, Preface and Preface to the Second Edition (RR ix-xii)
Week 2: Complexity and Coherence
M 8/29 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)
W 8/31 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)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 1 (Pi–a Colada Creek Ducks)
Week 3: Structuralism and Semiology
M 9/5 Labor Day: No Class
W 9/7 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); Roman Jakobson, "Two Aspects of Language" (RR 76-80); Vladimir Propp, "Morphology of the Folk-Tale" (RR 72-75); Roland Barthes, "Mythologies" (RR 81-89)
Week 4: Speech Acts and Interpretive Communities
M 9/12 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Language and Action" (RR 127-130); 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)
W 9/14 Stanley Fish, "Interpretive Communities" (RR 217-221); John Frow, "Text and System" (RR 222-236); Pierre Bourdieu, "Distinction" (RR 237-253)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 2 (The Cladahs)
Week 5: Culture and Everyday Life
M 9/19 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 Horkeimer and Theodor Adorno, "The Culture Industry as Mass Deception" (RR 1242-1246); John Fiske, "Culture, Ideology, Interpellation" and "Television Culture" (RR 1268-1284)
W 9/21 Michel De Certeau, "The Practice of Everyday Life" (RR 1247-1257); Dick Hebdige, "Subculture: The Meaning of Style" (RR 1258-1267)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 3 (Pink Parrots)
Week 6: The Unconscious and Trauma
M 9/26 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Strangers to Ourselves: Psychoanalysis" (RR 389-396); Sigmund Freud, "The Interpretation of Dreams" and "Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego" (RR 397-414, 438-440); 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)
W 9/28 Sigmund Freud, "The Uncanny" and "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" (RR 418-437); Frantz Fanon, "The Negro and Psychopathology" (RR 462-469); Bessel van der Kolk and Alexander McFarlane, "The Black Hole of Trauma" (RR 487-502)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 4 (Just the Team)
Week 7: Women and Difference
M 10/3 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, "Women on the Market" (RR 799-811)
W 10/5 Audre Lorde, "Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference" (RR 854-860); 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)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 5 (Team X!)
Week 8: Post-Structuralism and Post-Modernism
M 10/10 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Introductory Deconstruction" (RR 257-261); Jacques Derrida, "Semiology and Grammatology" (RR 332-339); Barbara Johnson, "Writing" (RR 340-347); 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)
W 10/12 Fall Break: No Class
Week 9: Ideology and Hegemony
M 10/17 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Starting with Zero" (RR 643-646); Antonio Gramsci, "Hegemony" (RR 673); Mikhail Bakhtin, "Discourse in the Novel" and "Rabelais and His World" (RR 674-692); Antonio Negri, "Difference and the Future" (RR 725-742)
W 10/19 Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (RR 693-702); Pierre Macherey, "For a Theory of Literary Production" (RR 703-711); Slavoj Zizek, "The Sublime Object of Ideology" (RR 712-724)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 6 (The Lucky Charms)
Week 10: Power and History
M 10/24 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: Writing the Past" (RR 505-507); Raymond Williams, "The Country and the City" (RR 508-532); E.P. Thompson, "Witness Against the Beast" (RR 533-548); Michel Foucault, "Discipline and Punish" (RR 549-566)
W 10/26 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)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 7 (Stop, Drop and Roll Again)
Week 11: Gender and Sexuality
M 10/31 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)
W 11/2 Gayle Rubin, "Sexual Transformations" (RR 889-891); Michel Foucault, "The History of Sexuality" (RR 892-899); Michael Moon, "A Small Boy and Others: Sexual Disorientation in Henry James, Kenneth Anger, and David Lynch" (RR 922-934)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 8 (Still JKL)
Week 12: Race and Ethnicity
M 11/7 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); Henry Louis Gates, "The Blackness of Blackness: A Critique of the Sign and the Signifying Monkey" (RR 987-1004); Shelley Fisher Fishkin, "Interrogating 'Whiteness'" (RR 975-986)
W 11/9 Gloria Anzaldua, "Borderlands/La Frontera" (RR 1017-1030); Lisa Lowe, "Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity: Marking Asian American Differences" (RR 1031-1050); Robert Dale Parker, "Tradition, Invention, and Aesthetics in Native American Literature" (RR 1051-1067)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 9 (Wild Daisies)
Week 13: The Post-Colonial and the Global
M 11/14 Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, "Introduction: English Without Shadows: Literature on a World Scale" (RR 1072-1074); Dennis Walder, "History" (RR 1075-1089); Edward Said, "Jane Austen and Empire" (RR 1112-1125); Anne McClintock, "The Angel of Progess: Pitfalls of the Term 'Post-colonialism'" (RR 1185-1196); Ania Loomba, "Situating Colonial and Postcolonial Studies" (RR 1100-1111)
W 11/16 Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, "Decolonising the Mind" (RR 1126-1150); Edward Kamau Braithwaite, "English in the Caribbean" (RR 1151-1166); Homi Bhabha, "Signs Taken for Wonders" (RR 1167-1184)
Team Pedagogical Project: Team 10 (hopeless descent into the heartless cityscape of december)
F 11/18 PROPOSAL for Final Research Project due
M 11/21-11/25 Thanksgiving Break: No Classes.
Week 14: Reading X
M 11/28 Presentations by Team 2/The Cladahs: Gregory Maguire, Wicked; Team 3/Pink Parrots: Fight Club; Team 5/Team X!: H.G. Wells, The Time Machine
W 11/30 Presentations by Team 1/Pi–a Colada Creek Ducks: Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses; Team 4/Just the Team: Donnie Darko; Team 6/Lucky Charms: I[heart]Huckabees; Team 7/Stop, Drop, and Roll Again: Julio Cortazar, "A Continuity of Parks"; Team 8/Still JKL: E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime; Team 9/Wild Daisies: Toni Morrison, Beloved; Team 10/hopeless descent: Mulholland Drive; Note: Class will be run by Iclal Vanwesenbeeck, Assistant Professor of English, as I have to be home with my wife and child today
Week 15: Reading Millennium Actress
M 12/5 Viewing: Satoshi Kon, Millennium Actress (2002)
W 12/7 Viewing: Satoshi Kon, Millennium Actress (2002); wrap up course
Week 16: The End Is Near...uh, Here
F 12/16 FINAL RESEARCH PROJECT 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 grade. 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, natural disasters, and snow days; 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. 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 and reflective essays. To subscribe to the class 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 ENGL34501@listserv.fredonia.edu. 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" (Undergraduate Catalog 2005-2007, pp. 216-221) and check with your instructor first before posting something to the class 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 F.
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 college. Please familiarize yourself with the college's "Academic Integrity Policy" (Undergraduate Catalog 2005-2007, pp. 212-215, see also p. 199) and check with your instructor if you have any questions about it.
ENGL 345: Critical Reading, Fall 2005
Created: 8/22/05 10:24 am
Last modified: 12/5/05 1:00 pm
For earlier versions of this course, please go to the Fall 2001 web site, the Spring 2002 web site, or the Spring 2004 web site.
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia