General Education Literature, From Gothic Origins to True Crime 12:30-1:45 TTh, 206 EPB Spring 2017, Department of English, University of Iowa
Instructor: Chelsea Burk Office Hours: Tuesdays 11-12:30 and Thursdays 1:45-3:15 in 307 EPB
Course Description and Goals: Since the rise of the gothic novel in eighteenth-century Britain, literary figures have sought answers to mysteries that plague them. Crime and bearing witness to crime have even earlier roots—as do debates regarding how to define a crime and who is recognized as a witness (consider all the Greek and Roman myths you know, and the religious texts you may have read). Writers often situate the act of reading as way to bear witness to crimes that would otherwise go unmarked.
This course will explore the dynamic and innovative tactics writers have employed as they interrogate the stereotypes related to the legal and ethical realms. Our discussions will trace how the ideas of the witness, the detective, and the criminal have altered over time and in various places, between fiction and non-fiction tales depicting ‘true crimes.’ As a class centering around your experiences as readers and how you interpret literary texts, we will discuss how the texts relate to your expectations as readers and consumers of detective/crime media (which we will look at, too!). We will contextualize each work we read with information about the writer’s historical, cultural, and literary influences.
This course requires:
engaged, thoughtful participation, rigorous attendance and daily reading tasks
Students use and refine their skills of reading, speaking, and writing to respond critically and thoughtfully to literary texts, as well as course themes in other media.
Students learn to see themselves as readers, recognizing the influence of individual differences (such as gender, ethnicity, geography) and experiences on interpretation.
Students consider the connections between individual texts and broader cultural contexts.
Required Texts (available at Prairie Lights bookstore on 15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City) Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1817) Penguin 978-0141439792 Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet (1887) Penguin 978-0140439083 Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace (1996) Anchor Books, 978-0385490443 Truman Capote, In Cold Blood (1966) Random House 978-067974558 Moisés Kaufman, The Laramie Project (1998) Vintage, 978-0804170390 Other Required Materials
All additional readings are available on the course ICON website (uiowa.instructure.com). You are responsible for printing out the day’s readings and bringing them to class on the day we discuss the assigned text. Failing to bring a physical copy of the assigned text to class on the day we discuss them will result in a zero for the day’s participation grade.
Paper and a writing utensil are required for daily notes, quizzes, and writing exercises.
Grading: Your final grade consists of the following: Participation: 20% Daily reading tasks, discussion, in-class activities, and in-class writing Reading Quizzes: 12% Eleven 5-point quizzes given on the reading (if you read, you’ll get full points—no tricks); the lowest score will be dropped Response Paragraphs: 5% Two assignments to build essay skills. One focuses on paragraph construction (ungraded, focus on instructor feedback), the other on close reading (graded) Major Essays: 60% Three major essays that focus on the interpretive skill sets you will build: Close Reading (#1), Comparative Analysis (#2) and Storytelling(#3) Final Portfolio: 3% A compilation of selected written assignments into one document at the end of the semester, plus a 2-3 page written reflection
You will receive a detailed criteria sheet for each major assignment explicitly outlining my expectations. These, and all assignment sheets, will also be available on ICON. I will be as clear as possible, but please don’t hesitate to ask questions. I am ready to correspond and meet with you to help as you complete each project. You may access your grades on ICON at any time during the semester, and you are always welcome to schedule a meeting with me to discuss them in more detail.
Your final grade will be determined using the university’s A-F grade scale, with plus/minus grading. A+ is only used in the case of rare and extraordinary academic achievement, as outlined by the CLAS.
Students sometimes assume that they start with 100% for an assignment, or for the course, and lose points for doing things wrong. On the contrary, you must work toward your grade. Aligning with the College of Liberal Arts and Science’s expectations, I consider a grade of C to be competent work that meets all of the requirements of the assignment and the class. My grading policy is as follows:
A grade of C: You can earn a C by attending class regularly and punctually, completing with competence all of the work assigned and participating regularly in class activities. This requires 1) adequately meeting all criteria for assignments, and 2) completing reading assignments on time and being prepared to share your opinions on the texts in class and during discussions.
A grade of B: You can earn a B by fulfilling all of the C requirements while demonstrating a significantly higher level of effort and competence on all work assigned for the class. To earn a B you must show an interest in energetically, creatively, and critically engaging with the material and assignments. B work typically reflects independent thinking. The B student is self-reflexive and often asks questions such as “How can I make my work better? How can I revise this? How can I make my work unique and interesting? How can I help the class have productive and energetic discussions?”
A grade of A: To receive an A in the course, you must surpass the requirements for B work as well as demonstrate high-level critical thinking and original analysis. A students interrogate all sides of issues enthusiastically in order to clarify their own opinions. A students don’t skip class, fail to honor deadlines for any reason, or show up unprepared to discuss the reading. A students will instead be willing to make intellectual discoveries and demonstrate an effort to inquire further into commonly understood issues.
A grade of D: You can earn a D by not fulfilling your responsibilities outlined under “Grade of C” criteria, and/or failing to show respect for or interest in your fellow students’ presentations of ideas. A D student is a student who has many excuses but few completed assignments. For example, D students often fail to turn in reading responses and then claim later that they were ill or had a family emergency. D students are generally disinterested students who refuse to take an active role in making the class energetic and productive.
Workload Expectations: For each semester hour credit, students should expect to spend two hours per week of work outside of class. This is a three credit hour course, so the average out-of-class preparation per week during a regular semester is six hours. The amount of work will fluctuate throughout the semester; some weeks will be a bit lighter and others more intense.
Attendance: Because this is a discussion-based course, attendance is crucial. I will take attendance at the beginning of each class. If possible, please let me know in advance and provide official documentation if you need to miss class due to illness, religious obligations, or university activities. You can also find an “Explanatory Statement for Absence from Class” form on the Registrar’s website under “Forms for Students.” You will still be expected to turn in written assignments by the designated time, and I will provide an alternate assignment for participation credit. It is your responsibility to note due dates and to check in for alternate assignments. My absence policy is as follows: More than two unexcused absences (a week of class) results in a 1/3 letter grade drop in your participation grade (20% of your final grade). So, if you miss 3 classes without a legitimate (university-defined) excuse and documentation, a participation grade of B would move to a B-, etc. If you miss class for a reason that is not officially an excused absence, I cannot offer alternate participation credit and you may not make up daily reading task credit or daily quizzes. Any time you are absent, you will want to look at ICON for updates and check with a peer to find out what you missed. You are responsible for getting any notes from a classmate if you miss class. I recommend exchanging contact information with a classmate early in the semester in case of such an event. Please note that missing class is not an excuse for failing to submit an assignment on time. You are responsible for submitting assignments on time and in the correct format.
Participation: As noted above, your active, thoughtful, and informed participation is worth 20% of your final grade. Key elements I look for when considering a student’s participation are:
Your book or a print copy of the text that we are discussing that day are out on your desk and annotated with passages to bring up in class.
Responding verbally and nonverbally with respect and courtesy to both classmates and the instructor.
Offering comments and questions that are both generous and generative during discussion—we work as a team in this class to push the entire group towards more nuanced understandings and critical thinking.
Behaviors that will negatively impact your participation grade are:
Disrespecting classmates or the instructor with comments in class or by talking while I am delivering information or while your peers are making a point.
Signifiers of despondency: sleeping in class, forgetting your book or the readings, being tardy, and leaving early
Using electronic devices during class. I expect anything with a screen and an “off” button to be turned off/silenced and put away, unless specifically warranted by a class activity. I will alert you ahead of time when it is required to bring a laptop for class activities. This means no Kindles, phones, tablets or laptops for your readings or for notes. Print and bring in readings from ICON—we have a computer lab in room 210 EPB, and the Main Library is next door.
A Note of Caution: Nearly all of the texts we are reading depict or discuss violence. In Cold Blood details murder, racism, and pedophilia, A Study in Scarlet and Alias Grace center around the sexual and domestic violence that undergird patriarchal societies, and The Laramie Project grapples with homophobia and the murder of Matthew Shepard, a young man in Laramie, Wyoming. Every person in our class brings years of lived experiences with them into the classroom. If you are at all concerned about reading certain texts, please don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with me. Taking care of yourself is crucial for academic success. Please note that I am a mandatory reporter. I have listed confidential resources beneath the university’s “Sexual Harassment” policy.
Submitting Written Work: Written must be uploaded to ICON by the date and time stated on the reading schedule. Technical difficulties are not an excuse for late work. It is your responsibility to make sure you see a confirmation screen—ICON has this feature built-in, so you will know if something doesn’t upload. For work that is submitted electronically, make sure you use a Word document and that it uploads successfully. I will only accept assignments in Word (.doc or .docx) format. I do not accept assignments via email. Late major essays will be docked 1 letter grade for every day late up to three days after the due date, beginning as soon as the original due date has passed. A paper due at 8 p.m. turned in at 8:30 p.m. that night, for example, will be docked 1 letter grade. Late major essays submitted over three days after the due date will not be accepted. If you are having trouble with an assignment, please talk to me well before the due date.
Electronic Communication: You are responsible for knowing about any and all official correspondence sent to your @uiowa.edu address. Please also check the course’s ICON homepage regularly in order to catch any updates or changes. I will use ICON to post reminders of assignments, deadlines, updates, and readings. I encourage you to email me your questions and concerns, using your university email address. I cannot answer emails that are sent from email addresses outside the university (gmail, Hotmail, etc.). I will do my best to respond in a timely manner, and will let you know in advance any time I expect to be inaccessible by email. Although I will likely reply sooner, please allow at least 24 hours M-F and 48 hours over the weekend for me to respond.
In your emails, please practice good email etiquette: open by addressing me (Dear Ms. Burk/Chelsea), write in complete sentences with correct capitalization and punctuation, and close with your signature. I will not to respond to emails that do not follow the appropriate format. Writing emails with the proper format and tone is crucial in the digital age; remember that this is not a text message or tweet, but a formal document of which the university reserves the right to record. When you write me, consider if the question requires more than just a few sentences in email. If so, I would rather you come talk to me in office hours or schedule an appointment with me. I do not discuss grades over email, but I am happy to set up an appointment with you during my office hours to talk about any grade concerns you might have.
24/7 Policy for Discussing Graded Work: With regard to any assignment at any point in the semester, I am happy to speak with you about what you did well, how you could improve, and what you can work on for future assignments. In order to keep conversations relevant, constructive, and useful to you, please discuss graded assignments with me no sooner than 24 hours after the assignment is returned and no later than 7 days after return. I will gladly email with you to set aside office-hour time or set up an appointment to talk in person.
Academic Honesty: All CLAS students have, in essence, agreed to the College’s Code of Academic Honesty: “I pledge to do my own academic work and to excel to the best of my abilities, upholding the IOWA Challenge. I promise not to lie about my academic work, to cheat, or to steal the words or ideas of others, nor will I help fellow students to violate the Code of Academic Honesty.” Any student committing academic misconduct is reported to the College and placed on disciplinary probation or may be suspended or expelled. To find the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Code of Academic Honesty go to the website: http://clas.uiowa.edu/students/handbook/academic-fraud-honor-code
Be aware that plagiarism does not just include trying to pass off another person’s work as your own, but also includes collaborating with another student on non-group work like essays, submitting your own work from a previous course without prior approval from your instructor, and not properly citing another person’s words or idea with appropriate MLA style in-text citations and a Works Cited page. I run all writing assignments will through turnitin.com software through ICON. Any assignment that I deem plagiarized will receive a zero.
Grade Concerns and Complaints: If you have concerns, complaints, or suggestions about the course, the first step is to bring them directly to your instructor. Please arrange to discuss any issues with me during office hours. If the problem is not resolved by our discussion, you should contact the General Education Literature Director, Barbara Eckstein. Send an email to email@example.com specifying your section and instructor, briefly describing the nature of your issue, and requesting an appointment to discuss it.
Writing Center: If you are having difficulty with the writing in this course, I encourage you to visit the Writing Center in addition to visiting my office hours. The Writing Center is located in 110 EPB and offers full-semester tutoring sessions, one-time appointments, and digital edits to papers within a 48-hour time frame. Visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~writingc/ for more information and to schedule appointments. The Tutor Iowa site is also valuable for students seeking extra help: http://tutor.uiowa.edu/
Students who require Accommodations: I would like to hear from anyone who has a disability, which may require seating modifications of testing accommodations or accommodations of other class requirements, so that appropriate arrangements may be made. Please contact me during my office hours. The University of Iowa is committed to providing an educational experience that is accessible to all students. A student may request academic accommodations for a disability (which includes but is not limited to mental health, attention, learning, vision, and physical or health-related conditions). A student seeking academic accommodations should first register with Student Disability Services (SDS) and then meet with the course instructor privately in the instructor's office to make particular arrangements. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process among the student, instructor, and SDS. For more information, see http://sds.studentlife.uiowa.edu.
Adds/Drops/Section Changes: I have no authority to add, drop, or change your section of Interpretation of Literature. You may make such changes through MyUI (with some exceptions) through the first week. After that point, you may make such changes using add/drop slips, which should be taken to the English office (308 EPB) for signature. Transfer Students: you were placed in this course based on your transcript. If you have questions, contact the English Department Office.
CLAS Policy Statement: This course is given by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This means that class policies on matters such as requirements, grading, and sanctions for academic dishonesty are governed by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students wishing to add or drop this course after the official deadline must receive the approval of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Details of the University policy of cross-enrollments may be found at http://www.uiowa.edu/~provost/deos/crossenroll.doc
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is reprehensible and will not be tolerated by the University. It subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. Visit the sexual harassment awareness site at http://www.sexualharassment.uiowa.edu/ for definitions, assistance, and the full University policy.
Severe Weather: The University of Iowa Operations Manual, Part V Chapter 16, outlines appropriate responses to a tornado or to a similar crisis. If a tornado or other severe weather is indicated by the UI outdoor warning system, members of the class should seek shelter in rooms and corridors in the innermost part of a building at the lowest level, staying clear of windows, corridors with windows, or large free-standing expanses such as auditoriums and cafeterias. The class will resume, if possible, after the UI outdoor warning system announces that the severe weather threat has ended.
COURSE CALENDAR This calendar is subject to change based on the needs of the class. Updates will be posted to ICON and shared in class. Reading is due on the date listed (e.g. read “The Cask of Amontillado” for discussion on Thursday)
Week 1: Jan. 17 & 19 Gothic Beginnings T: Introductions; Intro. to the Gothic