General Education Literature, Awkward Years and Growing Pains 12:30-2:45 MTW, 4 EPB Summer 2015, Department of English, University of Iowa
Instructor: Chelsea Burk Office Hours: Monday 11-noon, Tuesday and Wednesday 2:45-3:45, and by appointment in 309 EPB
Course Description and Goals: Braces. Zits. Week-long relationships and life-altering crushes. Gangly arms and weird haircuts. Growing up is hard. As college students, you have a front row seat to the drama of your own entry into adult life. In this class, we will zoom in on other people’s stories of awkward years and growing pains. Our class will read from a variety of genres, including memoir, long and short fiction, poetry, and drama. Our interpretive discussions will also include some film clips, a television episode, and social media. With each text, we will discuss the ways in which the author/creator crafts narratives about growing up, including common tropes and intriguing variations on them. This course will be a semester-long conversation about what it means to read, about how we think of ourselves as readers, and about the interactions that take place between ourselves and texts. We will connect our conversations to the theme “Awkward Years and Growing Pains,” exploring how literary texts invoke, support, and undermine various norms in coming-of-age stories. Our discussions will trace how the transition into adulthood has altered over time and in various spaces. As a class centering around your experiences as readers and how you interpret literary texts, we will also interrogate coming-of-age stories as they relate to your readerly expectations, as well as historical, cultural, and literary contexts. Our course is not self-contained—no reading is. Our readings, assignments, and discussions will both call upon and hone critical analysis skills you’ll need for future courses and other important tasks once you get your degree. I hope that our conversations will encourage you to enjoy (or continue enjoying) reading for its own sake; I also hope that the class will highlight the relevance of interpretative thinking for every area of life. This course requires engaged, thoughtful participation, four short interpretive essays and two longer analytical essays including a final research paper, and regular in-class reading quizzes.
Students use and refine their skills of reading, speaking, and writing to respond critically and thoughtfully to literary texts, as well as coming-of-age narratives 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 S. Dubuque St.)
Norton Introduction to Literature Shorter 11th Edition, University of Iowa Edition[Norton, ISBN 9780393137538]
Morrison, Toni, Song of Solomon (Vintage, 978-1400033423)
Harjo, Joy, Crazy Brave (978-0393073461)
Other Required Materials
Readings on ICON (icon.uiowa.edu) are noted on the syllabus. You are responsible for printing them out and bringing them to class on the day we discuss them.
Paper and a writing utensil are required for daily notes, quizzes, and writing exercises.
Grading Your grade will depend substantially on the two major writing assignments and four shorter responses to reading. Over the course of the semester, I will give eleven reading quizzes of 5 points each designed to test your basic comprehension of a text. I will count the ten highest quizzes towards your final grade, dropping the lowest score. Your active, thoughtful and informed participation in class will count as a significant part of your final grade.
You will receive a detailed criteria sheet for each major project 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.
Participation (including discussion and in-class writing exercises): 20% 2-page Reading Responses: 20% Reading Quizzes (10): 15% Major Essay One (Close Reading Interpretation): 20% Major Essay Two (Research Essay): 20% Final Portfolio: 5%
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.
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.
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.
If you have more than two unexcused absences, your final participation grade will be docked 1/3 of a letter grade for each absence over three. In other words, after three unexcused absences, a participation grade of B becomes a B-, then C+, etc. Excused absences will not count towards these three, but you must provide documentation for such absences.
If you miss fewer than three classes, no automatic penalty will be applied—but do keep in mind that you will not be able to make up quizzes, daily assignments and opportunities to participate. You may miss out on important discussions or information about upcoming assignments. Any time you are absent, you will want to look for ICON 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.
Late major essays will be docked 1 letter grade for every day late up to three days. Late major essays submitted after three days will not be accepted. Late minor writing assignments will not be accepted. If you are having trouble with an assignment, please talk to me well before the due date.
Participation As noted above, your active, thoughtful, and informed participation is worth 20% of your final grade. Successful participation in the course will require considerable time and energy both during class and in outside preparation. Presence does not equal participation. See “Participation Guide” for specific details and strategies for success.
Show respect and courtesy at all times towards both classmates and the instructor. The ideas and situations we will encounter in our readings this semester will at times be uncomfortable and difficult to discuss—growing up is no walk in the park, after all. I want to emphasize that this classroom is a safe space for dangerous ideas and a dangerous space for safe ideas. During our discussions, I expect us to see one another not as adversaries attempting to take down opponents with a “correct” answer, but as collaborators pushing the entire group towards more nuanced understanding and critical thinking. Be brave. Take risks. But also be kind. We will all misstep—me included. The most challenging ideas can ultimately be the most rewarding.
Class Disruptions and Your Participation Grade Your participation will suffer if you do not contribute to the classroom community. For instance, disrespecting classmates or the instructor, talking while I am delivering information or while your peers are making a point, sleeping in class, forgetting your book or the readings, being tardy, leaving early, and using electronic devices will erode your grade. Given the elevated level of maturity and commitment to enthusiastic intellectual pursuit that characterize undergraduate students at Iowa, these are rare occurrences. However, in the case of consistent or particularly egregious disruptions, I will ask you to leave, resulting in a zero for the day’s participation credit. Our course moves quickly through complex ideas and such distractions inhibit learning and slow us down, to the detriment of the class’s overall success.
As useful as electronic technology can be for our activities and discussions, it can also be distracting. During class sessions, I expect all electronic devices, including cell phones, to be silenced and put away, unless specifically warranted by a class activity. Laptops should not be out or in use, except with permission for specific assignments. Print and bring in readings from ICON—we have a computer lab in room 210 EPB, and the Main Library is a stone’s throw away. Using electronic devices outside of specific class activities demonstrates a lack of engagement, and therefore participation. Note that even though I do not have x-ray vision, I can see when you’re texting under the desk or clicking through Reddit on your computer. I may not always interrupt class to request that you put devices away—however, you will receive a zero for that day’s participation credit. I keep a record of each time a student’s cell phone is out/in use, and make note of each instance on your midterm and end of semester participation grades.
Submitting Written Work All outside written work—major papers, reading responses—must be uploaded to the designated ICON dropbox by the date and time stated on the reading schedule (below) the start of class (2:30).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.
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 will not 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 48 hours for me to respond.
In your emails, please practice good email etiquette: open by addressing me (Dear Ms./Chelsea Burk), 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 University 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.
Workload Expectations For each semester hour credit in this course, students should expect to spend two hours per week preparing for class sessions. This is a three credit hour course, so your average out-of-class preparation per week is six hours. Because we are squeezing the information of a 16-week course into 6 weeks, this average will likely surpass six hours of preparation in addition to time in the classroom.
Academic Honesty The administrative home for this course is the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 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 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.
Collaboration In this class, students may collaborate on written assignments in the form of peer reviews and classroom discussion. If a classmate has played an important role in helping you formulate a paper, identity and thank that student in an acknowledgements section of your paper. We will discuss incorporating acknowledgements in essays in more detail as the course proceeds.
Suggestions 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, preferably by scheduling a meeting. If the problem is not resolved by our discussion, you should contact the General Education Literature Director, Barbara Eckstein. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 very valuable for students seeking extra help: http://tutor.uiowa.edu/
Students with Special Needs 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. It is your responsibility to register your disability with the Office of Student Disability Services (3015 Burge Hall, 225-1462) and to present a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR Form) to the instructor when discussing specific requirements for accommodation.
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 ISIS (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 (308EPB) 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 is a tentative calendar and 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 “Cinderella” for Tuesday and be prepared to discuss it that day) You are responsible for tracking course activities, readings, and assignments as the semester progresses.
Week 1: June 29-July 1: Ways of Reading; Foundations of Literary Analysis: Plot, Narration/Point of View, and Close Reading
M: Introductions, Syllabus and Course Information; Tom Wayman, “Did I Miss Anything?” (ICON); Katherine Addison, “The Emperor and the Scullery Boy: Quests and Coming-of-Age Stories” (handout); Autobiography of a Reader assigned
T: Quiz on the Syllabus; Close Reading and Various Contexts: Anne Sexton “Cinderella” (ICON); Narration/POV: Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl” (anthology 170) and Gwendolyn Brooks, “We Real Cool” (anthology 720)
W: Plot: Margaret Atwood; “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” (anthology 229); Essay #1 assigned; Autobiography of a Reader Dueto ICON by 12:30 p.m. (when class begins)
Week 2: July 6-10:
M: Genre: The Küntslerroman: Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave (15-80)
T: Setting & Theme: Crazy Brave (80-Afterword)
W: Genre: The Bildungsroman: Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon Ch. 1-3 Power Paragraphs Response Dueto ICON by 12:30 p.m. (when class begins)
***Essay #1 outline draft due to ICON by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, July 10
Week 3: July 13-15: M: Morrison, Song of Solomon Ch. 4-7; Bring two hard copies of draft forin-class workshop
T: Morrison, Song of Solomon Ch. 8-11
W: Morrison, Song of Solomon Ch. 12-end
***Essay #1 Due by 11.59 p.m. on Saturday, July 18
Week 4: July 20-24: M: Intro. to Drama; Hamlet Act I & II; turn in draft and workshop sheets from Essay #1 at the beginning of class Paper #2 Assigned
T: Hamlet Acts III & IV
W: Hamlet Act V; Adaptations Response Due to ICON by 12:30 p.m. (when class begins); In-class work on proposal for paper #2; Proposal for Paper #2 Due by 11:59 on Thursday, July 23rd
T: Harlem Renaissance: Countee Cullen, “Saturday’s Child” (anthology 1017), Langston Hughes, “I, Too” (anthology 1021); Helene Johnson “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem” (anthology 1022)
W: Freaks and Geeks Episode 1 (In Class) and AV Club Review (ICON); Coming-of-Age on Screen Response due on ICON by 12:30 p.m. (when class begins)
*** Draft of Essay #2 Due by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, August 1st
Week 6: August 3-6 M: Digital Coming-of-age stories: Adrian Chen, “Facebook Will Now Shove the Horrid Past in Your Face,” and Amy Webb, “We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online”(ICON); Bring Laptops for in-class work on Portfolio
T: Margaret Atwood, “Lusus Naturae”; Course Evaluations
W: Billy Collins Action Poetry: “Forgetfulness,” “Hunger,” “Now and Then,” “Some Days” (ICON); Bring one copy of Polished draft for Essay #2 for in-class workshop
***Workshop sheet and copy of Polished draft from Wednesday’s workshop due in my mailbox (308 EPB) before the office closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, August 7
***Essay #2 and Final Portfolio due to ICON by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 7