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ENGLISH 2RW6A Reading & Writing Criticism

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Grace Kehler

Email: kehlerg@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 208

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23723

Website:

Office Hours: Mondays 4:30-5:30pm



Course Objectives:

Course Description

This course will offer a grounding in reading literary and cultural texts from a range of contemporary critical approaches. Special attention will be paid to writing skills and developing sustained analytical arguments about literature and culture. Students will be introduced to literary and cultural theory and learn how to apply theoretical approaches and key concepts to the development of arguments about literary and cultural texts in their own essay writing. Importantly, this course—which takes place in an active learning classroom—emphasizes student participation as key to learning. Read, watch, and contemplate ALL assigned texts prior to the class and to your tutorials, and come prepared to come prepared to explore these texts with others in the class. You don’t need to be an expert or to understand everything in the texts, but you do need to be a thoughtful, engaged participant!

Fall Term Overarching Themes: encounters, co-existences, dependencies, and relationships

 

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, successful students will be able to:

  • Explain, both orally and in writing, key terms and concepts introduced in the course
  • Identify critical frameworks or lenses and evaluate their usefulness as well as their limits
  • Analyze course materials by demonstrating the relationship between the theory and the literary or cultural texts
  • Create clear, persuasive, well-supported arguments about literary, cultural, and critical/theoretical texts
  • Edit and revise their own work
  • Work collaboratively in small groups (of about 8-10 students) that will also take turns leading class explorations

 


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

REQUIRED TEXTS AND DEVICES FOR THE FALL TERM

  • In order to connect to the classroom electronic pods in the active learning classroom (ALC), you will need an HDMI adapter for your computer. You can purchase this device at the Campus Store or most electronics stores.
  • The required texts are listed on the syllabus and our Avenue to Learn site. These texts include: uploaded documents to Avenue, McMaster Library online texts, and other online texts.

 


Method of Assessment:

First-Term Method of Evaluation

  • 2 Essays (1,200-1,300 words; about 5 double-spaced pages): 2 x 25 = 50%

*Please note that the final grade for the first paper includes the submission of earlier draft work and commentary. Instructions on the second essay (and the distribution of marks) will follow.

Essay 1 due date: Oct 20th by 4.30 pm; Essay 2 due date: Nov. 17th by 4.30 pm

  • Tutorial work: 10% (Your TA will explain your tutorial assignments to you.)
  • In-Class Assignments: 15% (see the schedule for details)
  • Take Home Exam: 25%   Due: Dec. 11th, 2017.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Assignments

Extensions must be approved before the due date. Late assignments will be deducted two percent per day (including Saturdays and Sundays).

 


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.


Topics and Readings:

SCHEDULE: FALL TERM (Sept. 11-Dec. 4 2017)

Sept. 11 Week 1: Course Introduction & Getting to Know You

In-Class:

  • Who we are: TAs and Instructors
  • Getting to know you:
    • Why are you taking English and Cultural Studies?
    • What types of active, in-class learning interest you?
    • How might critical reading and writing be helpful to you in your current life and after graduation? For example, how might critical thought benefit you as a student, a family member, a community member, a citizen, or a worker?
  • Introduction to the Course and the Assignments

Sept. 18 Week 2: Critical Thinking and Reading as Everyday Practice

Required Reading and Viewing:        

  • Seeing Through Paulo's Glasses: Political Clarity, Courage and Humility  (This is a very clear 16-minute documentary that introduces the main ideas of Paulo Freire. Begin here!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4jPZe-cZgc
  • Freire, Paulo. Ch. 2 & 3 from Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Avenue)
  • Brandt, Di. “This land that I love, this wide, wide prairie.” (Avenue)

Key Concepts:

  • pedagogy; banking system of education; problem-posing education; teacher-learner; loving dialogues; consciousness raising (Conscientizaçao)

In-Class:

  • Lecture-dialogue on the pleasures and challenges of reading theory
  • Group work on key concepts and historical/current examples
    • See the Avenue Slides on Freire for more information on the passages and questions that will be assigned to groups
    • Each group will offer written notes (electronic or white board) and verbal responses to the class as a whole and post their findings to Avenue (1%)
  • Brief modelling—by me—on reading Di Brandt’s essay using concepts from Freire

 

Sept. 25 Week 3: Reading Cultural Practices through Art and Theory

Required Reading and Viewing:

  • Waste Land. Dir. Lucy Walker. Art House Films, 2010. Available for streaming through the McMaster Library online catalogue.
  • Douglas, Mary. Excerpts from Purity and Danger. 1-6, 36-41 (Avenue)    

Key Concepts: waste or dirt as “matter out of place” (36); symbolic systems of classification; dirt as relative

In-Class:

  • Lecture-dialogue on Mary Douglas’ Purity and Danger
  • Group work to prepare for the first written assignment: Analyze either a repeated image in Waste Land or a short segment using either concepts from Freire or Douglas. (More instructions to follow on Avenue.) Feel free to argue for or against the movie’s representation of the catadores. You might also point out the uses or limitations of the theoretical model you use.
    • Groups will post notes of their discussions online (1%)
    • I will facilitate a class discussion—hopefully a debate!—on (1) the strengths and weaknesses of the documentary and (2) the uses or limits of Freire’s or Douglas’ theories in a reading of Waste Land.

Oct. 2 Week 4: Writing Workshop (Class divided into 2 groups)

***Students with surnames beginning with “A” through to “Mc” (i.e. McDavid) will participate in a workshop from 2.30 – 3.20 pm

***Students with surnames beginning with “Me” (i.e. Medha) through to “Z” will participate in a workshop from 3.30-4.20 pm

Required Reading:

  • Slides on components of a good thesis, introduction, and essay (Avenue)

Bring:

  • a draft thesis statement along with a point form list of specific images, exchanges, or scenes from Waste Land that you plan to use to support and explain your central idea
  • Your homework plus your in-class exchanges with others in the class will be worth 5% of your first essay grade

In-Class:

  • Exchange your work with another student (two, if time permits) and comment on how the thesis could be made more detailed and what additional evidence might be needed
    • Checklist provided
  • The TAs and I will be available to assist you with this work

Term Break Oct 9th -13th

Oct. 16 Week 5: Critical Race Theory/Indigenous Studies

  • FIRST ESSAY DUE THIS WEEK BY FRIDAY, OCT 20TH AT 4.30 PM, ALONG WITH YOUR DRAFT WORK AND STUDENT COMMENTARY (See Avenue for instructions about how to make your submission.)

Required Reading and Viewing:

  • Slides on Critical Race Theory, colonization, and decolonization. (Avenue)
  • 8th Fire. Episode 1 of 4. “Indigenous in the City.” CBC documentary hosted by Wab Kinew. (Optional: If you have a bit of extra time and are not very familiar with such things as the Indian Act and residential schools, do watch episode 2 as well.)
  • http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2434082811
  • Deerchild, Rosana. “My Poem is an Indian Woman.” (Avenue)
  • King, Thomas. “One Good Story, That One.” (Avenue)

Key Concepts: settler colonialism; decolonization; terra nullius; restorative justice; creative writing as theory

Bring:

  • Notes about colonization or decolonization based on any one text assigned this week for an in-class note share and discussion
  • One question about colonization or decolonization you’d like to explore with the class

In-Class:

  • Note Share and Discussion
    • What struck you as most important or challenging in the text?
    • What images, passages, dialogue, and/or scenes made you think more critically (that is, more deeply or differently) about the relationships between First Nations and later arrivals to this part of the world?
    • What remaining questions do you have about colonization and decolonization?
    • 5-10 minute note share with another student
  • Combine your notes to reflect your new understanding of the text
  • post on Avenue (2%)

 

  • Overview/clarification of colonization and decolonization
    • White boards to keep track
  • Lecture-Dialogue on decolonizing the imagination
    • Why is decolonization important for all members of society? Why might poetry and other forms of culture be crucial to the project of decolonization?
  • Time permitting, we will annotate the poem that Deerchild includes in her first-person essay.

Oct. 23 Week 6: Critical Race Theory & Diaspora

Required Reading

  • Brief online introduction to diaspora, hegemony, and intersectionality (Avenue)
  • Mootoo, Shani. “Out on Main Street” (Avenue)

Key Concepts: diaspora; hegemonic culture; intersectional identity

In-Class:

  • Lecture-dialogue on diaspora and Mootoo’s story by Shamika Shabnam
  • Two-minute individual write up on the role of storytelling in fostering better relationships among people of diverse backgrounds. You may, of course, also explore the limits of storytelling and promote other forms of interaction. (1%)
  • Group discussion with reference to “Out on Main Street”: How do we get from fear-based to compassionate relations? What role does or might story telling play in fostering better relationships among people of diverse backgrounds?

 

Oct. 30 Week 7: The Affective Turn in Cultural Studies

Representing and Responding to Pain

Required Reading and Viewing:

Key Concepts: affect; depathologizing illness narratives; pedagogy of suffering; ethical witnessing

In-Class:

  • Introduction to Studies of Affect & Pain
  • Group Work: Choose one or two of the following questions OR make up your own discussion questions about Hyperbole and a Half, drawing on either Cvetkovich’s or Frank’s critical writing.
  • Questions: Arthur W. Frank, in The Wounded Storyteller, writes that those who are “ill offer others a truth,” what he calls “the pedagogy of suffering” (145). What does Allie Brosh’s graphic narrative about her depression have to teach us? What do the drawings communicate about her distress and what do they implicitly ask of the reader? To what extent does Brosh suggest that depression is a “public feeling”—as Cvetkovich claims? What are the public stigmas the (unnamed) avatar in the graphic narrative has absorbed? What destigmatizing forces are at work in Hyperbole and a Half?  (Post responses online for 2%.)

Nov. 6 Week 8: Working With Affect: Talking Back to Negative Feelings

Guest Lecture and Workshop (**The material you produce in the workshop is worth 3% of your final grade.)

  • Dr. Michelle Peek will conduct a workshop on Art Not Shame
  • I will post the readings and further instructions by Oct 16th.

Nov. 13 Week 9: Ecological Perspectives

  • ESSAY TWO DUE THIS WEEK BY 4.30 PM ON FRIDAY, NOV. 17TH

Required Reading:

  • Lecture Slides (Avenue)
  • Excerpt from Cheryl Glotfelty’s Introduction to The Ecocriticism Reader (Avenue)
  • Oliver, Mary. Selected Poetry (Avenue)

Key Concepts: anthropocentrism; biocentrism; poetics of ecological relations

In-Class:

  • Lecture-Discussion to introduce Mary Oliver and ecological writing
  • In-class activities TBA (1%)

Nov. 20 Week 10: Ecological Perspectives

Required Reading and Viewing:

  • Alaimo, Stacy. Introduction to Bodily Natures, 1-22 (Avenue)
  • Blade Runner (2007 director’s cut) (Link to full movie provided on Avenue)

Key Concepts: dematerializing networks; matter; more-than-human world; trans-corporeality; posthuman environmental ethics

In-Class:

  • Lecture-discussion on Alaimo’s key concepts and how to rethink our place in the world
  • In-class activities TBA (1%)

Nov. 27 Week 11: Guest Lecture/Panel Discussion on hopeful interventions in our communities

In-Class:

  • Patrick Byrne of CityLAB (Hamilton) will host a panel on community engagements
  • Details of in-class work TBA (2%)
  • The in-class work today will be the first step towards your final project for the fall term. I am working out the details of this project, but, generally speaking, this will be a capstone project in which you will engage the major course questions of learning from and with others and of rethinking your place in the world. I’ve called it a take-home exam, but it would be equally accurate to call it a reflection on course texts that have assisted you becoming a better critical thinker and reader of contemporary problems or challenges.

Dec. 4 Week 12

  • Exploration of and Workshop on Writing the Final Take-Home Exam
  • Final Exam/Project Due Date: Dec. 11th, 2017.


Other Course Information:

Additional course information

 Attendance and Participation

Success in the course depends on consistent attendance at lectures and tutorials. 10% of your final grade is based on regular, informed participation in tutorials. 15% of your grade is based on the completion of (very) short written assignments based on class activities. In the larger group setting, it is particularly important that everyone observe rules of common courtesy. Laptops and phone may be used only for the purposes of note-taking and class-work. Contributions to discussion must be based on course material. Comments should always be collegial and respectful of others in the class.

Late Assignments

Extensions must be approved before the due date. Late assignments will be deducted two percent per day (including Saturdays and Sundays).

 Assignment Review and Grade Inquiries

Students must allow 24 hours after graded assignments are returned before approaching their TA with queries about their grade. Instructors and TAs are available to discuss grades only during office hours or by appointment; graded assignments will not be discussed via email. If you are unsure why you received a particular grade, read the comments over carefully and review the assignment details. If you are still unsure or would like clarification or tips for improving on your next assignment, please meet with your TA to discuss the grade.

If students would like to request a change to their grade, they must provide their TA with a written explanation outlining why they believe a higher grade is warranted, and be prepared to leave this with their TA for her/his consideration. If, after discussing the matter with their TA, an agreement cannot be reached, students can then make an appointment with both the TA and instructor together to discuss the circumstances. Please note that requests for a re-evaluation of assignment grades may result in a lower grade than was originally assigned if the instructor deems this warranted.

Disputes regarding grades will only be considered if students are able to present the original marked copy of the class work. For this reason, students should retain all pieces of work submitted and graded during the term. They should also retain a copy of any outlines, drafts and research notes in case of academic integrity concerns.

 Avenue to Learn

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn, the online learning management system at McMaster. Students should be aware that when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, usernames for the McMaster e-mail accounts and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

We use Avenue to distribute required readings and information about course assignments, including handouts and assignment guides, so you should make a point of accessing it frequently (at least twice per week) in order to keep up-to-date. Any announcements about changes to assigned readings, office hours or class cancellations will also be made through Avenue. Students who are unfamiliar with the Avenue system should familiarize themselves as soon as possible. If you have any questions please seek immediate assistance from your TA or instructor during office hours, or review the online tips available on the McMaster Avenue to Learn webpage.

 Email Policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from the student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student. Instructors and TAs may delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Given the size of the class, please contact your TA with any initial questions. The TAs, who are responsible for a maximum of forty students, will be able to respond much more quickly than the instructor. TAs will attempt to respond to your inquiries within 48 hours.

Academic Integrity Policy

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty: 1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has

been obtained. 2. Improper collaboration in group work. 3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

 Turn it in

In this course we may use a web-based service (Turnitin.com) to reveal plagiarism. Students will be expected to submit their work electronically to Turnitin.com and in hard copy so that it can be checked for academic dishonesty. Students who do not wish to submit their work to Turnitin.com must still submit a copy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to Turnitin.com. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, etc.). To see the Turnitin.com Policy, please go to www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity