Course Requirements


ATTENDANCE & PARTICIPATION:   A seminar is like cooking a barrel of odds and ends together -- according to Huck Finn, when you cook stuff that way "things get mixed up and the juice gets swapped around and things go better." The first requirement for a good seminar is that we always show up, and come prepared to talk with each other about the day's reading. So I'll take attendance all semester. Two unexcused absences are allowed. Beyond that your grade will be affected. While there won't be a separate grade for participation, I hope to hear everyone's voice often throughout the term, and everyone will give one oral report:

MOVIE REPORTS:   As one way to explore the way 20th century America has used Mark Twain's work, we'll spend the week before Spring break looking at movie versions of his books, or (in a couple cases) his life and personality. You'll each be assigned a movie to watch, from a list I'll put together after the Roberston Media Center finishes acquiring the films. Your assignment is to view the film, write a 2-page review|critique of it that you'll send to the rest of the class by Friday, February 26, and then in class on Monday or Wednesday of the following week (i.e. either March 1 or March 3), to briefly introduce your movie and play a 3-4 minute representative clip from it.  

WRITTEN WORK:   You'll write three different kinds of assignments.

  First, the 2-page (600-800 word) review of a movie. By FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26, AT 5 p.m. you'll e-mail your analysis to the whole class, so that we can read all the reviews before we begin looking at the films in class the next week. We'll talk more about the details of this later....

  Second, a 2-page close reading of a passage from one of Mark Twain's texts, due in class MONDAY, MARCH 22. This assignment has two main purposes: to give us another chance to discuss your writing before you write the long essay, and to give you practice in looking closely at a text. We'll talk more about this assignment later too . . .

  Third, you'll do a final essay or project, due FRIDAY, APRIL 30, BY 5 p.m., on whatever aspect of Twain's work and its legacy that interests you most. We'll talk more about this as the semester goes on too. If you choose to write a final essay, it should be 12-15 pages long. Instead of an essay, you can also create a web-based project. If you're interested in this alternative, let me know soon, and we can work together to define a good project and to make sure you have or get the training you'll need in HTML markup language, &c. I'd love to be able to add more good student projects to the MT website, so I'll be happy to help anyone interested in trying this option. I'm always happy to read good essays too, though, so you should decide which final project is most intellectually attractive to you.

  Written work must be submitted on time.