ESSAYSYou'll write two 6-7 page essays. The first is due in discussion on Thursday, February 28th, and should focus on one of the writers we've read up till then -- i.e. Stowe, Douglass, Longfellow, Emerson or Thoreau. The second is due in your discussion on Thursday, April 25th, and should explore one of the writers we read in the second half of class, from Poe to Dickinson. Essays must be handed in on time.
At least two weeks before the first essay is due, I'll try to give you a clear description of what I'm looking for in your written work. And I'll encourage you to meet with me to discuss your ideas as you write each essay. For now it's probably enough to say that you'll be encouraged to write each essay on whatever question interests you most in one of the texts we'll read in each section of the semester.
ATTENDANCEI won't take attendance in the 10 o'clock Monday|Wednesday lecture classes, but will in our Thursday discussions. During the semester you can miss one discussion session for any reason (and don't need to say anything to me about that one absence), but more than that one unexcused absence will affect your final grade (so if you ever have to miss a second discussion for a reason you think is excusable, make sure you talk with me about it -- beforehand if possible).
DISCUSSION ASSIGNMENTI won't try to grade "participation" in discussions. But, a main reason for these sessions is to give you and me a chance to hear voices besides mine. So I hope you'll all come to each discussion prepared and willing to talk about that week's reading. Besides hoping, I've come up with an assignment to nurture such a commitment. Beginning with the discussion on Thursday, January 24th, by 9 a.m. on Thursday morning you'll email everyone in the section a passage from the week's reading (in this first case, Uncle Tom's Cabin) that you think is worth discussing, along with a brief explanation of why you think so. Examples: "this seems to contradict what Stowe says elsewhere about mothers"; "I really like the way this merges Tom's 'black' dialect with the language of the King James Bible"; "I couldn't figure out what this passage is saying, and it sounded important"; "this struck me as an example of how unconscious Stowe is of her racism"; etc. etc. Passages should be at least 5-6 lines long. You can transcribe the passage from the text yourself, or find an online e-text and cut and paste it into the email, but in any case you'll do this for all the subsequent discussion sessions too, with passages from Douglass, Longfellow, Emerson and so on. This is a requirement, but you can take a week off without penalty at any point during the semester.
The other half of this assignment is to read through the emails you get from the other students in your discussion, and pick at least one that cites a passage or raises a question you would like to discuss. At the beginning of each discussion, I'll call on a couple students at random to nominate their picks. (It would be better not to nominate your own passage.)
(The email addresses for the sections are: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org )
EXAMYes, Virginia, there will be a final exam, on Thursday, May 9. We'll talk about this later too.