Division of Arts and Humanities
ENGL 345: CRITICAL READING
Section 1: TTh 9:30-10:50, Fenton 158; Section 2: TTh 11-12:20, Fenton 158
Office: Fenton 240; M 1-4, W 9-12, 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 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 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. 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. The first ("criticism") part 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 ways those debates relate to our own readings of John Keats's poem "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Herman Melville's long short story "Benito Cereno," and Subcomandante Marcos's manifesto, "Chiapas: The Southeast in Two Winds (A Storm and a Prophecy)." The second ("theory") part 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 focus on theories of trauma, ideology, gender, and politics. 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 group pedagogical project in order to reach goal 2. Students will do a critical essay and 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 Tuesdays), and student-led discussion activities and collaborative pedagogical projects (typically on Thursdays).
VI. Evaluation and Grade Assignment
Attendance/Preparation/Participation (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.
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 and improvement 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 fourth will lower your final course grade by a full grade (e.g., with five non-emergency absences a B+ will become a C+; with seven, it will become an E).
Course Listserv (20%). There will be a course listserv for each section of ENGL 345 (firstname.lastname@example.org for Section 1 and email@example.com for Section 2). 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 way: roughly every other week, no later than 8 pm Monday, you must post to your section's listserv a 500-1000-word reflective essay in which you thoughtfully respond to and reflect on key issues raised by our readings, discussion questions, in-class discussions, and/or group pedagogical project from the week before. No more than one reflective essay per week will count toward your total for the semester. For advice on crafting reflective essays, please go to http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/engl345s04/re.htm.
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 eight missed weeks without penalty, 6 or more essays=A; 5=B; 4=C; 3=D; 2 or less=E. The quality of your reflective essays will be factored into your preparation/participation grade (see above).
Critical Essay (20%). Soon after you return from spring break, you must turn in a 5-to-7-page critical essay in which you advance and justify your own interpretation of Melville's "Benito Cereno," in dialogue with essays from the first part of the course. The assignment sheet and advice for the critical essay can be found (a little later in the semester) at http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/engl345s04/ce.htm.
Your grade for this segment of the course will be determined by the effectiveness with which you incorporate appropriate critical approaches 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).
Group Pedagogical Project (25%). During the first week of classes, the class will be divided into 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 or theoretical concept. 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. 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. The assignment sheet and advice for the group pedagogical project can be found at http://www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/engl345s04/gpp.htm.
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 Research Project (30%). 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, 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 April that lays out a compelling justification/rationale for pursuing the project. This will be returned to students during a conference with the instructor. Please use MLA format for citations and bibliography in both the proposal and the paper. 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/engl345s04/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, E=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); 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 critical essay, 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 6 reflective essays (roughly every other week) over the course of the semester to earn an A for that segment of your final grade (see Section VI for details). (Key: CC=Keesey's Contexts for Criticism; FT=Butler's and Scott's Feminists Theorize the Political; MI=Zizek's Mapping Ideology; T=Caruth's Trauma: Explorations in Memory)
Week 1: Who Are We and What Are We Doing Here?
Th 1/22/04 welcome, intros, set-up
Week 2: Getting Started, Setting Out
T 1/27 Donald Keesey, Preface and "General Introduction" (CC v-vii, 1-8)
Th 1/29 John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (CC 485-487); Subcomandante Marcos, "Chiapas: The Southeast in Two Winds (A Storm and a Prophecy)" [http://zapatistas.net/two-winds.html] [be sure to print out all five (5) chapters]
Critical Contexts for Keats, Marcos, and Melville
Week 3: Modes of Production and Interpretation
T 2/3 Donald Keesey, "Historical Criticism I: Author as Context" (CC 9-16); Donald Keesey, "Historical Criticism II: Culture as Context" (CC 409-418); E.D. Hirsch, "Objective Interpretation" (CC 17-28); Terry Eagleton, "Literature and History" (CC 419-426); Stephen Greenblatt, "Culture" (CC 436-441)
Th 2/5 Allen C. Austin, "Toward Resolving Keats's Grecian Urn Mode" (CC 47-57); Sidney Kaplan, "Herman Melville and the American National Sin: The Meaning of 'Benito Cereno'" (CC 58-65); Marjorie Garson, "Bodily Harm: Keats's Figures in the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'" (CC 452-461); Brooks Thomas, "The Legal Fictions of Herman Melville and Lemuel Shaw" (CC 462-469)
Week 4: Complexity and Coherence
T 2/10 Donald Keesey, "Formal Criticism: Poem as Context" (CC 75-83); Cleanth Brooks, "Irony as a Principle of Structure" (CC 84-91); John Ellis, "The Relevant Context of a Literary Text" (CC 92-98)
Th 2/12 David Kent, "On the Third Stanza of Keats's 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'" (CC 112-115); R. Bruce Bickley, "The Method of Melville's Short Fiction: 'Benito Cereno'" (CC 116-120)
Week 5: Modes of Reception and Reinscription
T 2/17 Donald Keesey, "Reader-Response Criticism: Audience as Context" (CC 129-139); Wolfgang Iser, "Readers and the Concept of the Implied Reader" (CC 140-147); Norman Holland, "The Miller's Wife and the Professors: Questions about the Transactive Theory of Reading" (CC 148-162)
Th 2/19 Douglas Wilson, "Reading the Urn: Death in Keats's Arcadia" (CC 172-184); Catharine O'Connell, "Narrative Collusion and Occlusion in Melville's 'Benito Cereno'" (CC 185-193)
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 1): Tracy Cummings, Ashley Fiandach, Sarah Kahn
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 2): Andrea Brown, Gayner Harley
Week 6: Mimesis and Referentiality
T 2/24 Donald Keesey, "Mimetic Criticism: Reality as Context" (K 205-214); Bernard Paris, "The Uses of Psychology" (CC 215-223); Josephine Donovan, "Beyond the Net: Feminist Criticism as a Moral Criticism" (CC 224-234)
Th 2/26 Eva Brann, "Pictures in Poetry: Keats's 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'" (CC 244-248); Allan Moore Emery, "The Topicality of Depravity in 'Benito Cereno'" (CC 249-258)
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 1): Stacey Brooks, Jessica Cannon, Matt Vercant
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 2): Chris Hastings, Dan House, Karen Mattison
Week 7: Structure and Intertextuality
T 3/2 Donald Keesey, "Intertextual Criticism: Literature as Context" (CC 265-278); Northrop Frye, "The Critical Path" (CC 279-287); Jonathan Culler, "Structuralism and Literature" (CC 288-297)
Th 3/4 Lore Metzger, "'Silence and Slow Time': Pastoral Topoi in Keats's Odes" (CC 306-309); Charles Swann, "Whodunnit? Or, Who Did What? 'Benito Cereno' and the Politics of Narrative Structure" (CC 310-326)
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 2): Erin Ackerman, Lindsey Geiger, Jenna Link
Week 8: Undoing It All?
T 3/9 Donald Keesey, "Poststructural Criticism: Language as Context" (CC 341-352); Jacques Derrida, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" (CC 353-363); Paul de Man, "Semiology and Rhetoric" (CC 364-373)
Th 3/11 Barbara Jones Guetti, "Resisting the Aesthetic" (CC 384-391); Elizabeth Wright, "The New Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism" (CC 392-400)
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 1): Nick Aiello, Kailey Cartwright, Abby McLoughlin
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 2): Kara Davis, Eric Marlowe
Week 9: Rereading Melville
T 3/16 Herman Melville, "Benito Cereno" (CC 489-529)
Th 3/18 Herman Melville, "Benito Cereno" (CC 489-529)
F 3/19 - F 3/26 Spring Break: No Classes.
Theories of Trauma, Ideology, Gender, and Politics
Week 10: Trauma and Experience
T 3/30 Cathy Caruth, "Preface" and "Introduction" (T vii-ix, 3-12); Dori Laub, "Truth and Testimony: The Process and the Struggle" (T 61-75); CRITICAL ESSAY due in class
Th 4/1 Shoshana Felman, "Education and Crisis, or the Vicissitudes of Teaching" (T 13-60); Laura Brown, "Not Outside the Range: One Feminist Perspective on Psychic Trauma" (T 100-112)
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 1): Stephanie Delude, Sara Ries, Chris Tofil
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 2): Meghann Boltz, Dan Culhane, Candice Gereau
Week 11: Recapturing the Past
T 4/6 Cathy Caruth, "Introduction" (T 151-157); Bessel van der Kolk and Onno van der Hart, "The Intrusive Past: The Flexibility of Memory and the Engraving of Trauma" (T 158-182); Georges Bataille, "Concerning the Accounts Given by the Residents of Hiroshima" (T 221-235)
Th 4/8 Claude Lanzmann, "The Obscenity of Understanding': An Evening with Claude Lanzmann" (T 200-220); Cathy Caruth and Thomas Keenan, "'The AIDS Crisis Is Not Over': A Conversation with Gregg Bordowitz, Douglas Crimp, and Laura Pinsky" (T 256-271)
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 2): Emily Craver, Meghan Dandrea, Amy Frontuto, Michelle Parnett
Week 12: Ideology
Note: Mapping Ideology is out of print; it is, however, on reserve, so you may read and/or copy the supplemental readings at Reed Library
T 4/13 Theodor Adorno, "Messages in a Bottle" (MI 34-45; xerox); Supplemental Readings: Peter Dews, "Adorno, Post-Structuralism and the Critique of Identity" (MI 46-65); Seyla Benhabib, "The Critique of Instrumental Reason" (MI 66-92)
Th 4/15 Jacques Lacan, "The Mirror-phase as Formative of the Function of the I" (MI 93-99; xerox); Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (MI 100-140; xerox)
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 2): Joe Angelo, Colin DesOrmeaux, Trista Mosher, Lauren Wozniak
F 4/16 PROPOSAL for Final Research Project due
Week 13: Critique
T 4/20 Terry Eagleton, "Ideology and Its Vicissitudes in Western Marxism" (MI 179-226; xerox); Supplemental Reading: Michele Barrett, "Ideology, Politics, Hegemony: From Gramsci to Laclau and Mouffe" (MI 235-264)
Th 4/22 Slavoj Zizek, "How Did Marx Invent the Symptom?" (MI 296-331; xerox) and "Introduction: The Spectre of Ideology" (MI 1-33; xerox)
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 2): Erica Beutnagel and Rachel Kearney (with Colin DesOrmeaux)
Week 14: Feminism and Poststructuralism/Postmodernism
T 4/27 Judith Butler and Joan Scott, "Introduction" (FT xiii-xvii); Judith Butler, "Contingent Foundations: Feminism and the Question of 'Postmodernism'" (FT 3-21); Joan Scott, "'Experience'" (FT 22-40)
Th 4/29 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "French Feminism Revisited: Ethics and Politics" (FT 54- 85); Jane Flax, "The End of Innocence" (FT 445-463)
Group Pedagogical Project (Section 1): Janice Colvin, Ann Dupont, Erin O'Mara
Week 15: Feminism and Postcolonialism
T 5/4 Donna Haraway, "Ecce Homo, Ain't (Ar'n't) I a Woman, and Inappropriate/d Others: The Human in a Post-Humanist Landscape" (FT 86-100); Chantal Mouffe, "Feminism, Citizenship, and Democratic Politics" (FT 369-384)
Th 5/6 Zakia Pathak and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, "'Shahbano'" (FT 257-279); Zakia Pathak, "A Pedagogy for Postcolonial Feminists" (FT 426-441)
Week 16: The End Is Near...uh, Here
T 5/11 1:30 pm: Sections 1 and 2 Final Class Meeting--course evaluations, peer review, wrap up course
F 5/14 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 fourth 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 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' reflective essays at the end of each week. To subscribe to your section's listserv, compose an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave the subject line blank, and write "subscribe ENGL3450x Your Name" in the body of message (where x is your section number). 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 (where x is your section number). 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 2003-2005, pp. 241-246) and check with your instructor first before posting something to your section's listserv that is not directly related to the course.
3. Late Assignments. Late reflective essays, critical 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. 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. Please familiarize yourself with the college's "Academic Integrity Policy" (College Catalog 2003-2005, pp. 237-239, see also p. 225) and check with your instructor if you have any questions about it.
ENGL 345: Critical Reading, Spring 2004
Created: 1/26/04 4:56 pm
Last modified: 4/30/04 11:54 am
For earlier versions of this course, please go to the Fall 2001 web site or the Spring 2002 web site.