ENGLISH 398: CRITICAL WRITING

"what do we need to know about that?"

AUTUMN QUARTER, 2000

W. J. SULLIVAN


OFFICE: Galvin 470A OFFICE PHONE: 419-995-8229
E-MAIL: sullivan.2@osu.edu OFFICE HOURS: MWF 8:45-9:45 and by appointment
HOME: 1222 State Street, Lima HOME PHONE: 419-222-7883

REQUIRED TEXTS:

Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts: Writing About Literature with Critical Theory. 2nd Edition. New York, etc.: Longman, 1998.

Cassill, R. V., and Joyce Carol Oates, eds. The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. 2nd Edition. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1998.

Bly, Robert, and David Lehman, eds. The Best American Poetry 1999. New York: Scribner, 1999.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. by J. Paul Hunter. Norton Critical Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.

Bakis, Kirsten. Lives of the Monster Dogs. Warner Books, 1998


WJS COURSE OBJECTIVES:

1. To read, analyze, inform one another about, and cultivate an enjoyment of a selection of works of literature from the major genres--the short story, poetry, the novel.

2. To investigate the contemporary literary critical scene in its most significant manifestations.

3. To practice the art of written literary criticism in a series of essays.

4. To construct an annotated bibliography of selected literary-critical and theoretical texts for posting on our class website.


MAJOR CLASSROOM PATTERNS (i.e., regularly recurring events):

1. Lynn, "Practicing," pp. xxx.

2. Handouts: Classic interpretations of major works.

3. Reporting On: Individually read and reported-on assigned ancillary reading within various critical-theoretical schools and movements.


ENGLISH 398--2

Departmental Statement on English 398

English 398, the third writing course for English majors, is an intensive writing course that provides students the opportunity (1) to discuss the conventions, practices, and expectations of scholarly writing in English studies, and (2) to practice and thereby further develop the writing skills learned in First-Year Writing and 367. To these ends, students will produce during the term 20-25 pages of graded writing assignments, which might include the following: reading responses, critical exercises, short essays, annotated bibliographies, library or internet exercises, or research papers. A significant number of these assignments should include the possibility for revision. Although the literary texts studied in the course may range across genres, the content of the course may be alternatively organized. An instructor may choose, for example, to organize the course around a particular theme, historical or literary period, critical problem, or other topic.

398 instructors also serve as their students' major advisors. As advisors, faculty are expected to work closely with students in constructing their major programs. In most cases during the quarter, students will, in direct consultation with faculty, complete major program worksheets or (in the cases of students nearing the end of their programs) complete and file major program forms.

The Department of English recognizes the following goals for English 398:

* Familiarize students with the scholarly discipline of English, including an awareness of genre and various methods of critical reading and response;

* Assist students in improving their command of prose style in critical argument;

* Instruct students in the close reading of primary texts and in using that close reading in their writing;

* Develop in students an ability to use both primary and secondary sources in their writing;

* Instruct students in research skills and tools necessary to critical study, including the use of library and computer resources.


ENGLISH 398--3

EXAMS, QUIZZES, PAPERS, ETC.:

As noted above, English 398 is (at least) a writing course. It satisfies the "third writing course" requirement of the General Education Curriculum. In the course of the quarter, then, I will assign and ask you to write FOUR 4-5 page essays of about 1200 words, topics to be drawn from the literary and critical reading.

In practical terms, that means, for instance, that you'll be writing a paper on the poetry in The Best American Poetry 1999., a paper on one or more short stories, another on one of the novels we read, etc. All of the papers will involve research into and the incorporation of secondary sources, and one of them will involve substantial formal research in secondary literature and full MLA-style documentation. Given the small number of assignments, I expect that I will ask to see multiple drafts of each of the essays, and I hope you will agree as a class to conduct writing seminars (workshops) with one another, reading and critiquing first and intermediate drafts in small groups. We will space out the writing of these four essays as evenly as we can across the quarter.

I propose that we apportion the subjects of the essays as follows:

Essay #1 on poetry; Essay #3 on the novel;
Essay #2 on a short story; Essay #4: on literary critical theory.

In their final revised forms, the four essays will be presented in a portfolio during Final Exam week and will constitute 80% of your course grade.

There will, of course, be other, incidental writing assignments in the nature of exercises, overnight "homework", critical essays/handouts, and the like.


ETC:

If you've been reading till now, you've come across WJS Course Objective #4:

To construct an annotated bibliography of selected literary-critical and theoretical texts for posting on our class website.

That Annotated Bibliography is the subject of this "ETC." and it amounts to a Course Group Project. In order to construct the bibliography, I'll ask that you each read a minimum of THREE (3) critical/theoretical articles in addition to those we read as a group. I'll provide lists to choose from or, at the least, give you some leads on where to find materials. For each of these three items, you'll write a short precis (5-6 sentences), suitable as an introduction to the piece for English Majors. We'll workshop these summaries, decide collectively who our audience is and what they need to know, and be responsible collectively for what the summaries say and how they say it. The students in the section of English 398 in Autumn 1999 began this project. We will add to their work. Your successful participation in the Course Project will net you 20% of your course grade.


ENGLISH 398--4

POLICIES:

ATTENDANCE: Required. I'm convinced that a writing course like English 398 "requires" a consistent commitment on the part of all its participants--a commitment that includes coming together when scheduled and whenever possible. The good of the class--and therefore, by definition, your own personal good--depends on it. That's most of what I mean by "required." In more concrete terms, though, I mean that I will allow THREE absences with no questions asked; thereafter, I will dock your final grade (i.e., your average) by a point for every hour missed without an awfully good and well-documented reason. I hope it doesn't come to that.

LATE PAPERS: In general, I will take a hard line on late papers; even when fully justified, they are a nuisance and they undermine valid pedagogical goals. In order to have a clean operating policy, then, let me say that the grade for any given paper will be docked one-third of a letter grade for each day late after a deadline. I encourage you to consult with me if you're experiencing trouble about a given deadline: a limited grace period can be arranged (limit: one time per quarter).

I reserve the right to refuse to accept, without giving a reason, any particular late paper.


SYLLABUS

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 1 CLASS BUSINESS
(When nothing appears in this column for a given day, the Assignment is our work.)
W 9/20 Course arrangements, introductions, syllabus, etc. Begin discussion of student course objectives.
Lynn, Texts, "Introduction: Textual Tours," pp. xvi-xx, and Chapter 1, "Critical Worlds: A Selected Tour," pp. 1-19. F 9/22 "Three Assumptions" Exercise.

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 2 CLASS BUSINESS
Lynn, Chap. 2, "Unifying theWork: New Criticism," pp. 20-41,
Assign Essay #1
M 9/25 Lynn, "Practicing," pp. 38-41.
Handout: Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and Brooks, "Keats's Sylvan Historian." W 9/27 Brooks and Keats
Begin to read "The Best American Poetry 1999. See assignment for Essay #1. F 9 /29 MLA On-Line/Oscar: Search and Order Procedures--GA 439

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 3 CLASS BUSINESS
M 10/2 Reporting on New Criticism
Lynn, Chap. 3, "Creating the Text:  Reader-Response Criticism," pp. 42-75. W 10/4 Lynn, "Practicing," pp. 68-74.
Bleich, David. "The Subjective Character of Critical Interpretation," and Fish, Stanley. "Normal Circumstances, Literal Language, Direct Speech Acts, the Ordinary, the Everyday, the Obvious, What Goes without Saying, and Other Special Cases."
ESSAY #1 DUE
F 10/6

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 4 CLASS BUSINESS
M 10/9 Reporting on Reader-Response Criticism
Lynn, Chap. 4, "Opening up the Text: Deconstructive Criticism," pp. 76-105 W 10/11 Lynn, "Practicing," pp. 101-105.
Handout: Poe, "The Purloined Letter." Derrida and Lacan on "The Purloined Letter."
Assign Essay #2
F 10/13 Poe, Derrida, Lacan

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 5 CLASS BUSINESS
M 10/16 Reporting on Deconstruction
Assigned Short Stories W 10/18
Assigned Short Stories F 10/20

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 6 CLASS BUSINESS
Assigned Short Stories M 10/23
Lynn, Chap. 5, "Connecting the Text:  Biographical, Historical, and New Historical Criticism," pp. 106-149. W 10/25 Lynn, "Practicing," pp. 146-148.
Burks, Deborah. "'I'll Want My Will Else': The Changeling and Women's Complicity with Their Rapists."
ESSAY #2 DUE
F 10/27

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 7 CLASS BUSINESS
Shelley, Frankenstein.
Assign Essay #3
M 10/30 Reporting on New Historicism
Shelley, Frankenstein, and Lynn, Chap. 6, "Minding the Work:  Psychological Criticism," pp. 150-175, W 11/1
Shelley, Frankenstein. F 11/3 Lynn, "Practicing," pp. 172-174.

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 8 CLASS BUSINESS
Shelley, Frankenstein M 11/6
ESSAY #3 DUE W 11/8
Veterans Day/No classes F 11/10

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 9 CLASS BUSINESS
M 11/13 Reporting on Psychological Criticism
Lynn, Chap 7, "Gendering the Text: Feminist Criticism," pp. 176-204 W 11/15 Lynn, "Practicing," pp. 200-203.
F 11/17 Reporting on Feminist Criticism

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 10 CLASS BUSINESS
Bakis, Kirsten. Lives of the Monster Dogs.
Assign Essay #4
M 11/20
Bakis, Kirsten. Lives of the Monster Dogs. W 11/22
Thansgiving Vacation R-F 11/23-24

ASSIGNMENT WEEK 11 CLASS BUSINESS
Bakis, Kirsten. Lives of the Monster Dogs. M 11/27
Bakis, Kirsten. Lives of the Monster Dogs. W 11/29
ESSAY #4 DUE. F 12/1

FINALS WEEK: 12/4-12-7

Last Modified on 02/04/2006.