The course reading and writing will be exploratory. You will experiment with diverse types of prose —informal, formal, personal, and critical—designed to give you the opportunity to develop your own insights about reading and literature. More specifically, you will keep a daily reading journal and write drafts and revisions of three formal writing assignments each about 5/6 pages. In every case, we will emphasize the relationship between writing and intellectual inquiry. Ideally, I believe, a literature course should increase your capacity to reflect on your role in the world and remind you that learning is a continuous process. No writer (critical or creative) ever finishes learning the craft; the mark of a vigorous mind is openness to new ideas, points of view, and a willingness to encounter characters, actions, and thoughts we might find unfamiliar and repulsive.
Finally, please keep all your writing—this includes in-class writing. You will be collecting a writing portfolio and will be submitting this at the end of the session for evaluation. The portfolio includes: journal entries, drafts of essays, revised essays, and in-class writing.
Your reading journal serves as your log-book for what you’ve read. It can help you keep track of your own development as a reader, recall texts we’ve read (so you may draw on them in your analysis), and sharpen your analytical skills. I will not evaluate your journal based on its mechanical errors but rather on the level of engagement with the reading. Your journal must be submitted in your final port-folio. For days when I don’t assign a specific topic to be covered by your journal entry, I expect you to spend a good 15 minutes reflecting on what you’ve read. A skilled free-writer (and you will soon be one) can easily get a page or two out in that time. It’s your journal, have fun!
We will be doing in-class writing a lot as a way to collect our thoughts before diving into a new discussion. Please keep and date these. You are essentially creating an archive of your writing.
Formal Writing Assignments:
There are three 5-6 page essays assigned for this class: On poetry, on short story fiction, and on longer form—either the novel Passing or the play Millennium Approaches. They are due in solid draft form on Mondays (this draft will not be graded though it should be turned in with the rest of your writing). I strongly encourage you to put as much effort as possible into the draft over the weekend so your Monday nights do not become overtaken by revisions—after all, you still have to read for class on Tuesday.
On Mondays we will be spend part of our time working with these drafts in a variety of ways (formal draft workshop, peer-review, critical self-analysis, working on a student paper then turning to your own, etc.).
Assignments and Handouts
Assignment #2: Essay Assignment#2
Assignment #3: Essay Assignment #3
Gordon Harvey’s Elements of the Academic Essay: Gordon Harvey’s