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Literary Interpretation Syllabus

Literary Interpretation Syllabus

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Published by sophilosoph
David Foster Wallace's syllabus for ENGL 67, Literary Interpretation, Spring 2005, Pomona College, Claremont, CA
David Foster Wallace's syllabus for ENGL 67, Literary Interpretation, Spring 2005, Pomona College, Claremont, CA

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CourseSyllabusEnglish67-LiteraryInterpretationSection02,Spring2005CLASSLOGISTICSTuesdaysandThursdays,2:45-4:00,Crookshank4.INSTRUCTORINFOName
=
DavidWallace;Office
=
Crookshank101;OfficePhone
=
607-8357;CellPhone
=
OfficeHours
=
Tues.4:00-5:00,
1/.it~tl~~~~.....,.
~.3~o_fi;~~.)~.ft1ee~;-~a~~rldhb~y-;;a~p·p;;jOintment.REQUIREDTEXTSAlltheseshouldbeinpaperbackattheHuntleyBookstore:(1)J.M.Coetzee,
Waiting/ortheBarbarians;
(2)ThomasHarris,
TheSilencea/theLambs;
(3)MattheaHarvey,
PitytheBathtubItsForcedEmbracea/theHumanForm;
(4)TonyHoagland,
WhatNarcissismMeanstoMe.
AllotherreadingswillbeprovidedtoyouinXeroxhandouts.SomeoftheXeroxesImayhavetomakemyselfatKinko's,inwhichcaseyou'llgettoreimbursemeforthem(totalcosttoyouwillbe::::$10.00).BASICCOURSESPIELThegoalsofthissectionofE67aretosurveycertainimportantformsofmodemliterature-shortstories,novels,poems-andtointroduceyoutosometechniquesforachievingacriticalappreciationofliteraryart."Criticalappreciation"meanshavingsmart,sophisticatedreasonsforlikingwhateverliteratureyoulike,andbeingabletoarticulatethosereasonsforotherpeople,especiallyinwriting.Vitalforcriticalappreciationistheabilityto"interpret"apieceofliterature,whichbasicallymeanscomingupwithacogent,interestingaccountofwhatapieceoflitmeans,whatit'stryingtodo
tolfor
thereader,whattechnicalchoicestheauthor'smadeinordertotrytoachievetheeffectsshewants,andsoon.
*
Asyoucanprobablyanticipate,thewholethinggetsverycomplicatedandabstractandhard,whichisonereasonwhyentirecollegedepartmentsaredevotedtostudyingandinterpretingliterature.Accordingly,partofE67's
raisond'etre
istoserveasakindofbootcampthathelpsprepareyouformoreadvancedand/orspecializedlitcoursesdowntheline.CLASSFORMATEnglish67isaseminar.Bywayofelucidation,pleaselookatthefollowingglossfromProf.'sE67syllabusforFall'05:"Thisisadiscussion-basedcourse;itis
not
alecturecourse.Whatwelearnwillbedrivenprimarilybythequestions,comments,ideas,andenergiesthatyoubringtoourdiscussions.Inotherwords,wewilllearnabouttextsbyactivelyengagingthemandeachotherinourregularmeetings."
*
Here'sasomewhatsexierriffon"interpretation"fromProf.'ssyllabusforoneofhispastE67s:Wewillalso,ofcourse,paygreatattentiontoourownactsof
interpretation.
Arewedecrypting,translating,orparaphrasingthetextsweread?Demystifyingthem?Remystifyingthem?Arewetrailingthemasliterarydetectives,ortryingtheminareaderlycourt?Arewebathingtheminacidstoreducethemtotheirconstituentparts?Whatisatstakeforusinreadingworksofimaginativeliterature,andwhatsocial-andsolitary-functionsdoesitperform?
 
COURSERULES&PROCEDURESWRITINGASSIGNMENTSThreemajoressays(5-10pageseach)willbeassignedatintervalsoverthesemester.Foreachessay,I'llprovideacoupleofsuggestedtopics,butyoucanalsoworkupyourown(ifyoudo,Irecommendthatyoubounceyourtopicoffmeinadvance).You'llhaveatleasttendaystodoeachmajoressay,andit'sexpectedthatthesepaperswillrepresentyourverybest,mostcarefulandconsideredwork.Iwillscheduletimeforoptionalconferencesbeforeeachessayisdue.Ifyoucanmakeareasonablecaseforit,Iwillpermityoutoreviseeitherthefirstorthesecondmajoressay;thefinalgradeforthatessaywillthenbecometheaverageoftheinitialgradeandtherevisiongrade.
(N.B.
"Revise"doesnotmeanmerelyfixingthetyposorclunkersthatImarkedonthefirstversion.).Therewillalsobe11unannouncedin-classwritingassignments(a.k.a.mini-papers)of1-2handwrittenpageseach.Mini-papers,whichIwillnotmarkonmuch,"wilibegradedeitherS
(=
"Satisfactory")orU
(=
"Unsatisfactory").InordertoqualifyforanS,amini-papermustbewritteninclassatthetimeit'sassigned;thereisnowaytomakeupamissedmini-paperevenifyouhaveanexcusedabsenceontherelevantclassday.Norcanmini-papersberevisedforcredit.Attheterm'send,acompositegradeforallyourmini-paperswillbecalculatedasfollows:10papersgradedSwillresultinthenumericalequivalentofanA
**;
9Sswill
=
A-;8Sswill
=
B+;7Ss
=
B;6Ss
=
B-,andsoonandsoforth.
(1)
Attendanceateachclassmeetingisrequired.Anabsencewillbeexcusedonlyifit'snegotiatedinadvanceorthere'samedicalemergency.Ifnecessary,youwillbepermittedonefreeunexcusedabsence;eachadditionalunexc.abs.willloweryourfinalgradebyonewholenumber.
**
(2)
Youarerequiredtodoeverylastiotaofthereadingandwritingassigned,exactlyintheformatrequested,anditneedstobetotallydonebythetimeclassstarts.Thereisnosuchthingas"fallingalittlebehind"inthecoursereading;eitheryou'vedoneyourhomeworkoryouhaven't.Chroniclackofpreparation(whichiseasytospot)willloweryourfinalgradebyonewholenumber.(3)Eveninaseminarcourse,itseemsalittlesillyto
require
participation.Somestudentswhoarecripplinglyshy,orwhocan'talwaysformulatetheirbestthoughtsandquestionsintherapidback-and-forthofagroupdiscussion,areneverthelessgood,seriousstudents.Ontheotherhand,asProf.pointsout
supra,
ourclasscan'treallyfunctionifthereisn'tstudentparticipation-itwillbecomejustmegivingahalf-assedad-liblecturefor90minutes,which(trustme)willbehorribleinallkindsofways.Thereis,therefore,asmallpercentageofthefinalgradethatwillconcernthequantityandqualityofyourparticipationinclassdiscussions.ButthetruthisthatI'm
*
I'mhappytodiscussagradedmini-paperwithyouatanytime,ofcourse.
**
SeetheFYIaboutnumericalgrade-conversionsonpp.3-4ofthesyllabus.
 
waymoreconcernedaboutcreatinganin-classenvironmentinwhichallstudentsfeeltotallyfreetosaywhattheythink,askquestions,object,criticize,requestclarification,returntoaprevioussubject,respondtosomeoneelse'sresponse,etc.Clinicallyshystudents,orthosewhosebest,mostpressingquestionsandcommentsoccurtothemonlyinprivate,shoulddotheirdiscussingwithmesolo,outsideclass.Ifmyscheduledofficehoursdon'tworkforyou,pleasecallmesothatwecanmakeanappointmentforadifferentmeetingtime.~(4)Yourthreemajoressaysmustbeeithertypewrittenorhigh-qualityprintedinregular
r
font.Theymustbejouble-spaced,withone-inchmarginsallaround,andstapled.Theymusthaveanunnumberedtitleaewithournethecourse,thedate,andyouressay'stitle.Yourlastnameandthepagenumbermustappearinteuper-~nornerof.2and
0
everer"r(5)
An
extensiononamajoressaywillbegrantedonlyundertrulyextraordinarycircumstances,andonlyiftheextensionisnegotiatedinadvance.(6)Yourmini-papersmusthaveyourname,thecourse,andthedateatthetop.Notitlenecessary.Yourhandwritingmustbelegible;whatIcannotread,Imark"U."Feelfreetouseblockcapitals,toskipeveryotherline,ortodowhateverelseyouneedto
)(b.
dotoinordertomakeyourmini-papersmaximallyeasytoread.
"1
(7)Partofyourgradeforwrittenworkwillhavetodowithyourdocument'spresentation."Presentation"hastodowithevidenceofcare,ofadultcompetenceinwrittenEnglish,andofcompassionforyourreader.Yourthreemajoressays,inparticular,mustb~ofreadandeditedforobvioustyPosandmisspellings,basic-&!!_orsingrammar/usage/punctuation,andsoon.Youaretotallypennittedtomakeneathandwrittencorrectionsonyouress'rionsbeforeyouhandthemin.Youarealsowelcometocontactmewithquestionsaboutproofreading,grammar,usage,etc.,asyou'reworkingonrevisingandeditingyouressays.Butpapersthatappearsloppy,semiliterate,orincoherentwillbeheavilypenalized,andinseverecasesyou'llberequiredtoresubmitasanitizedversioninordertoreceiveanycreditfortheessayatall.(8)Pleasebuyalarge,roomypocketfolderthat'sjustforthisclasssothatyoucankeepallyourin-classwriting,mini-papers,essays,andXeroxhandoutsinoneorganizedplace.Don'tloseordiscardanythingforthiscourse.You'rerequiredtobringallrelevantmaterialswithyoutoeachclasssession;plus,attheterm'send,I'llwanttoreviewallyourgradedwork,andtherewillbeapenaltyifyoucan'tproduceit.WEIGHTEDDETERMINANTSOFFINALGRADEEssay1
=
15%;Essay2
=
15%;Essay3
=
30%;Mini-PaperComposite
=
20%;Attendance,preparation,qualityofclassparticipation,presentations,improvement,alacrityofcarriage,etc.
=
20%.(FYI:Forreasonsofprecision,Igradewithnumeralsanddecimalsinsteadoflettersandoperators.Thescaleandequivalentsgolikethis:13
=
A+
=
Mind-blowinglygood.12
=
A
=
Extremelygood.
11
=
A-
=
Verygood.10
=
B+
=
Good.9
=
B
=
High-average.

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rrrwagner added this note
If you still have the materials from this course I would paypal you the world to send them to me through the Spring. Could even Xerox copies so as not to damage them.
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