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ENGLISH 1H03 Words in Place (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2020

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Daniel Coleman

Email: dcoleman@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 303

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23717

Website

Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:30-4:30PM



Course Objectives:

Course Description:

Many public ceremonies in Canada now include acknowledgements of whose land we are meeting on. What does it mean to acknowledge the people and the place where we live and work? How do places come into focus when we write and speak about them? This introductory course in English literature examines oral narratives, art, poetry, documentary, fiction, and/or literary non-fiction that emphasize the dynamics of particular places in relation to Indigenous and colonial histories; diasporic histories of movement, displacement, emigration and immigration; natural, economic, and political geographies; as well as the particular languages – i.e. different Englishes, Indigenous languages – that places give rise to. Considerable emphasis will be placed on the development of skills in slow or close reading and in writing. Because of the focus on particular places, the course will pay considerable attention to writing in the Hamilton Bay area, though we will not restrict ourselves to local writing exclusively.

Course Objectives: The assignments in this class have been designed to help student meet the following objectives. By taking this course, students will:

  • Develop independent and creative thinking through verbal and written forms
  • Use the skills of reading slowly, carefully, and attentively to engage in close reading of texts
  • Engage confidently and enthusiastically with assigned readings and discuss those readings with instructors and a diverse range of students
  • Cultivate a passion for reading and be able to draw insight from reflection, analysis, and imaginative experiences
  • Express ideas in clear and compelling writing with a focus on writing good sentences
  • Manage their time to effectively complete course elements
  • Learn the value of questioning how and what they know

Class Format

Lectures will be held twice a week. The lectures will refer to and be based on the materials you have read for that week. In order to make the most of the lectures, then, you should have read the readings for each lecture beforehand. Because passive listening is not conducive to retention of what one learns, I tend to break up lectures with questions to stimulate brief discussions. This is another reason why you will want to have read the materials in advance, so that you are not embarrassed when you are asked to turn to your classmate to discuss a question. Tutorials are held once a week, and these are aimed at discussing the things we have read as well. Each week you will sign up for a question and write a reflection paper in response. This paper will not be graded, but simply checked in as a participation mark. The idea is that writing the weekly reflection papers will ensure that you are prepared for both lecture and tutorial discussion.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Textbooks:

  1. Courseware package of critical and theoretical readings designed for this course.
  2. Daniel Coleman. Yardwork: A Biography for an Urban Place. Wolsak & Wynn, 2017.
  3. Rob Kristofferson and Simon Orpana. Showdown: The Making of Modern Unions. Between the Lines, 2016.


Method of Assessment:

Grade Breakdown:

Diagnostic writing assignment                       10%                 Due Date: Tue, January 14, midnight

Regular reflective writing                                20%                 Due in tutorial each week

Close reading analysis (Essay)                      25%                Due Date: Tue, March 17, midnight

Engagement and participation                        20%                 Weekly lecture and tutorial participation

Final exam                                                      25%                 Date will be announced in April Exam

                                                                                                Schedule

 

Assignments: Remember that all assignments must conform to MLA format (see https://natureofwriting.com/courses/essay-writing/lessons/the-essay-format/topic/the-essay-format-mla). 

A. Diagnostic writing assignment (10%) 300-500 words, due midnight January 14, uploaded to Avenue site and its Turnitin capacity.

This essay is meant to allow you to become acquainted with our marking standards and for us to become acquainted with your writing.  Please write a short essay of 300-500 words (approximately two double-spaced pages) on one of the following topics:

  1. Describe a place that is sacred to you or someone you know. We are deliberately not defining the word “sacred” in this question. It may mean a variety of things to different people. What about the place makes it so precious or important?
  2. Describe a work of art (a poem, story, film, painting, map) that either made a place come alive for you or that contributed to protecting that place from harm.
  3. Have you come across the work of a local writer that you really like? How do they evoke a powerful sense of the local place in their work?

This assignment is designed to help you meet these course objectives:

  • Develop independent and creative thinking through verbal and written forms.
  • Express ideas in clear and compelling writing with a focus on writing sentences

 

*Evaluation: This essay and the Close Reading Analysis essay that is due at the end of term will both be evaluated with reference to a standard essay grading rubric which evaluates the following categories: the essay presents a clear idea of its purpose or thesis, it is well organized (good sequence of paragraphs and ideas), it supports its claims with evidence or details, it has good style (good word choices, sentence structures), and it has been well edited and proof-read, including following MLA format for page layout, citations, and references.

 

B. Regular reflective writing (20%): To each tutorial, students will bring a reflective response to the week’s assigned readings. This reflective piece of writing will consist of a one-paragraph response to one from the series of questions your TA will give you a week in advance of each week’s readings. You will be asked to sign up in tutorial to answer one from the list of questions that have been designed and then write your reflection at home. You will then bring these reflection pieces to the next week’s tutorial and be prepared to speak from them during class discussion. Once you have written your reflection, please highlight or underline a sentence within your writing that you would like to feature, either because it’s a piece of writing you enjoyed creating, because it catches the essence of your reflection for this week, or because it captures something (an idea, a turn of phrase, a feeling) you want to keep track of for future development. The reading reflections are our way to encourage you to have given some careful thought to the topics at hand each week and to be ready to enter into discussion from that pre-class thinking, rather than simply speaking on-the-fly. Because it is a way for us to track your participation, the reflection piece may only be submitted in tutorial on the day we are discussing the assigned reading. You may not email it in before or after tutorial, and late statements are not accepted as they were not prepared in time to participate in the class discussion. Early statements are not accepted until we actually discuss the assigned reading for each week. Your TA will collect these reflection papers each week for your participation mark. (0 = not done, √ (check mark) = done, √+ = outstanding, √- = minimally done). At the end of the semester, your TA will calculate your grade by adding up your check marks and totaling them against the number of reflection pieces that were assigned. A student who receives a standard check mark for each possible week, will receive a B grade; those who missed handing in assignments or received √- will receive a lower grade on a descending scale and those who received √+ will receive higher grades on an ascending scale.

This assignment is designed to help you meet these course objectives:

  • Develop independent and creative thinking through verbal and written forms.
  • Use the skills of reading slowly, carefully, and attentively to engage in close reading of texts.
  • Cultivate a passion for reading and be able to draw insight from reflection, analysis, and imaginative experiences.
  • Express ideas in clear and compelling writing with a focus on writing sentences.
  • Manage your time to effectively complete course elements.
  • Learn the value of questioning how and what you know.

C. Close reading analysis (Essay) 25%: 1,000 words, due by midnight Tue, March 17, uploaded to Avenue site and its Turnitin capacity. Students are asked to select a short passage from one of the texts about place that we have viewed, listened to, or read in this course and write an analysis of it. This analysis should attend to details in the passage that you think are crucial to its impact. These details may be specific images or metaphors, elements of sound (rhythm, rhyme, melody, echo), uniquely phrased ideas or concepts, structural elements with which the author creates surprise or emphasis, references to cultural histories or knowledges, or other elements in the writing that make it particularly powerful. Recalling that this class is about “Words in Place,” remember to choose a passage that you think uses words particularly effectively to convey the particularity, urgency, beauty, trouble, or vulnerability of place.

This assignment is designed to help you meet these course objectives:

  • Develop independent and creative thinking through verbal and written forms.
  • Use the skills of reading slowly, carefully, and attentively to engage in close reading of texts.
  • Cultivate a passion for reading and be able to draw insight from reflection, analysis, and imaginative experiences
  • Express ideas in clear and compelling writing with a focus on writing sentences.
  • Manage your time to effectively complete course elements

 

D. Engagement and participation (20%): Many classes include a grade for participation, which many people interpret simply as attending and speaking from time to time during class. I am using the term “engagement” here because we know that people learn and retain more of what they learned when they actively work with the materials and discuss it with others. Engagement, then is the opposite of “passive” models of learning that imagine a person can learn simply by listening to a lecture, even if they never put what they hear into some kind of activity or practice. For the purposes of our class, Engagement = Preparation + Participation. Engagement doesn’t mean being the loudest or most frequent speaker in the room, so we will introduce various activities into our lectures that involve preparation and participation. From time to time, for example, we may hold pop quizzes in lecture, when you can demonstrate you have read and thought about the readings for that day and are prepared to discuss them. The weekly reflective writing assignments that you bring to tutorials also allow you to demonstrate your preparation. You can demonstrate engagement by sharing notes with others in the class, organizing peer-editing groups for essays, discussion groups on topics or materials we take up in class, or exam preparation groups. Please keep your TA informed of these kinds of activities so we can include them in your engagement and participation grade. We will keep track of attendance in lectures and tutorials to reward your presence in our discussions. You will also be asked to fill out a “student engagement” rubric part way through the course and at the end, so you can assess your own engagement and participation in both lecture and tutorial elements of this class.

Associated Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop independent and creative thinking through verbal and written forms.
  • Engage confidently and enthusiastically with assigned readings and discuss those readings with instructors and a diverse range of students.
  • Cultivate a passion for reading and be able to draw insight from reflection, analysis, and imaginative experiences.
  • Learn the value of questioning how and what you know

E. Final exam (25%) The examination period for Winter 2020 extends from Monday, April 13 to Tuesday, April 28. We do not learn when the exam will be scheduled until the end of February. So please do not plan trips away during this time, as you may miss the final exam. University regulations require final exams for 3-unit courses to be two hours in length and to constitute 25% of the final grade. I have not yet generated the final exam, but be prepared to answer some short answer questions in one or two sentences and to write a short essay. The two parts of the exam are meant to test the depth and the breadth of what you have learned in this class. So questions will be drawn from any materials in the course (readings, lectures and tutorials, visits from writers or artists, class discussions). Closer to the exam date, I will offer more concrete information about its structure and contents.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignment policy: Late assignments will lose one grade point per day late (e.g. a B+ will become a B), including weekends. Assignments more than seven days late will not be accepted. Late response papers will not be accepted. If you anticipate difficulty in meeting an assignment deadline, please discuss the matter in advance of the due date with your TA. Any extensions are at the discretion of your TA, unless you have accommodations in place.


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:

This class will consist of instructor-led lecture discussions of reading materials alternating with tutorial discussions of this material in smaller groups each week. Students are expected to come to class each week prepared to discuss all assigned readings. To encourage a high level of preparation, I have designed the “regular reflective writing” assignment in such a way that each tutorial students will hand in a response to discussion questions based on the week’s readings. All texts below are in the Coursepack except for Coleman’s Yardwork and Kristofferson & Orpana’s Showdown! which students should buy in Titles Store.

McMaster’s standard statement on schedules: “The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term. The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.”

Week One (January 7 & 9):  World of Wonders

Tue, Jan 7

Introduction: the focus of this class, discussion of the course outline

Bruce Cockburn (Canadian, San Francisco), “World of Wonders.” Song. Available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_ei2BA-Ypc (4:55 min) and an acoustic version at www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYJEocg29HE (6:08 min)

Thur, Jan 9

Introduction, continued

Bruce Cockburn, “Stolen Land,” Song (available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fx9fiP-iM1I) and “Radium Rain,” Song (available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE6ZF9-u8vY)

Week Two (Jan 14 and 16): Creation Stories

*Diagnostic Essay due by midnight, Tuesday, Jan 14. Uploaded to Avenue site and its Turnitin capacity.

Brian Maracle (Mohawk, Six Nations) “First Words.” Haudenosaunee traditional orature, written by Mohawk language teacher, Brian Maracle.  From Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada’s Past. Anchor Canada, 2005. pp. 11-31. 20 pages.

Genesis chapters 1-3, Holy Bible (Palestine); traditional creation narrative of the three Abrahamic traditions: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. 12 pages.

Week Three (Jan 21 and 23): The Work of Attending to Place

Daniel Coleman (Hamilton), “Prologue” (pp. 7-12) and “Holy Land” (pp. 15-39) from Yardwork. Wolsak & Wynn, 2017. Literary non-fiction essays, 29 pages.

Week Four (Jan 28 & 30): The Energy in Earth

Ethelwyn Wetherald (Welland County, 1857-1940), “Unheard Niagaras” (1902). Short lyric poem.

Rabindranath Tagore (Bengal, 1861-1941), “The Same Stream of Life,” short song from Bengali written and translated into English by Tagore, first published in Gitanjali (1912).

Week Five (Feb 4 & 6): Pavement, Pictures, Poetry

Frances Ward (Hamilton), photographs rwa#1 and rwa#2

Bernadette Rule (Hamilton), “Asphaltography” and “How His Own Light Carried His Death Within It”

*The above photographs and poems are from an anthology of photographs by Frances Ward and poems by Hamilton area writers entitled Road Work Ahead. Edited by Frances Ward. Asphalt Tree Press, 2010, pp. 8-11. 4 pages.

Week Six (Feb 11 & 13): Land as Home, Land as Exile

Jeannette Armstrong (Syilx Okanagan), “Blood,” poem from her book of poems entitled Breath Tracks. Williams-Wallace/Theytus Books, 1991. Short lyric poem.

Dionne Brand (Trinidad/Toronto), “I’m giving up on land to light on,” poem from her book of poems entitled Land to Light On. McClelland & Stewart, 1997. Short lyric poem.

Nilofar Shidmehr (Iran/Vancouver/Hamilton), “Detached” and “Few and Far Between” (2019). 2 short lyric poems.

Feb 17-20 - Winter Recess – no classes this week

Week Seven (Feb 25 & 27): Dubbin’ Hamilton

Klyde Broox (Hamilton), “Foreign Accent,” “Hyphenation,” and “Red Hill Chainsaw Massacre,” dub poems from his book of poems entitled My Best Friend Is White (McGilligan Books, 2005). Three short dub poems.

Week Eight (March 3 & 5): Graphic History in Hamilton

Rob Kristofferson (Hamilton) and Simon Orpana (Hamilton). Showdown: The Making of Modern Unions. Between the Lines, 2016. Graphic non-fiction novel. 121 pages.

Week Nine (March 10 & 12): Drawing Lines on Place

Thomas King (Cherokee/Greek, Guelph), “Borders,” short story from King’s book of stories entitled One Good Story, That One. HarperPerennial, 1993. pp. 131-145.  14 pages.

Week Ten (March 17 & 19): Ecologies

* Close reading analysis essay due by midnight Tuesday, March 17, uploaded to Avenue site with its Turnitin capacity.

Satish Kumar (India/England), “Three Dimensions of Ecology: Soil, Soul, and Society,” essay from Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth. 2nd edition. Edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. Golden Sufi Centre, 2017. pp. 134-147. 13 pages.

Week Eleven (March 24 & 26): Reciprocity with Place

Robin Wall Kimmerer (Potawatomi, Syracuse, NY), “The Honorable Harvest,” essay from Braiding Sweet Grass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Milkweed Editions, 2013. pp. 175-201. 26 pages.

Week Twelve (March 31 & April 2):

John Terpstra (Hamilton), “Everything is Utterance” and “The Once and Future Creek,” poems from manuscript in preparation, used with permission of the author. 2 pages.

Daniel Coleman, “Yardwork,” closing essay from Yardwork. Wolsak & Wynne, 2017. pp. 235-249. 14 pages.

Final Exam Period: Monday, April 13 to Tuesday, April 28 – We will not find out when our class’s exam has been scheduled until late in February. In the meantime, plan to be available on campus for the entire exam period so you do not miss our final exam.

 


Other Course Information:

Guidelines for this course:

  • Attend all classes.  I strongly hold the view that education is a collective, communal activity. This community of learning happens best face to face. Therefore, I do not try to make it easy for students to miss classes by posting my notes on the web or by providing make-up activities for people who miss class without a good reason. We will make arrangements to provide notes for those whose accommodations require notetaking. Indeed, one way you can increase your participation grade in this class is to volunteer to provide notes for students who may need them. Repeated absence will be deemed non-participation in the course.
  • Tutorials Participation: Tutorials start one week after classes begin. The purpose of tutorials is to give students an informal place to discuss what they are learning, to ask questions in a more intimate, less-intimidating environment, and to give students a chance to engage with graduate student TAs in English and Cultural Studies who have been in the field of study longer and who have a passion for it. For these reasons, students are encouraged to attend every tutorial and to be prepared to discuss the material weekly. We have built significant percentage of the class grades into tutorial attendance to encourage and reward student participation in them.
  • Late assignment policy: Late assignments will lose one grade point per day late (e.g. a B+ will become a B), including weekends. Assignments more than seven days late will not be accepted. Late response papers will not be accepted. If you anticipate difficulty in meeting an assignment deadline, please discuss the matter in advance of the due date with your TA. Any extensions are at the discretion of your TA, unless you have accommodations in place.
  • Assignment Review and Grade Inquiries: Please allow 24 hours after assignments are returned before approaching your TA with any grade-related queries. I say this because we have had students approach their TA for an explanation of their grades without having read the TA’s comments, and this is disrespectful of the effort your TA put into their comments on the paper explaining why it received the grade it did.  If you are unsure why you received a particular grade, read your TA’s feedback over carefully and review assignment details. If you wish to request a re-grade, you must provide your TA with a written explanation outlining why you believe a higher grade is warranted. If you are still unable to come to an agreement with your TA about your mark, your TA will consult the Senior TA or me for a final re-evaluation. Please note that this may result in a lower grade than was originally assigned. To be on the safe side, please discuss any concerns about term-work grades with your seminar tutor or me before the last day of classes.
  • Please keep copies of all assignments submitted during the term.  This allows you to refer back to them when you are studying for exams or so you can verify the grades I have recorded for you.
  • Respect your colleagues.  Students are expected to conduct themselves in a collegial manner in all aspects of the class.  This means being well prepared for your own contributions to class discussions, as well as responding constructively to one another’s contributions.
  • Email and Electronic “education.”  I am not a fan of the increasing amount of teaching conducted via the internet. It is very important that we as a society learn to speak with one another in person, especially when the topics are complex or difficult. Many forms of electronic communication are wonderful aids, but they allow people to fire off comments and not have to stand physically behind what they say. For these reasons, I do not post assignments or notes on the web. Along the same lines, students are wise to use the instructors’ and TAs’ emails sparingly. We would much rather discuss questions before or after class, during breaks, or during office hours than by email.
  • If you do need to communicate by email with your TA or professor, however, you are expected to adhere to general standards of academic decorum. Remember to include a greeting (for example, “Dear Dr. Coleman”) and a signature (“Sincerely, Jane Doe”). Be aware that instructors’ ability to respond to email is limited by the same “hours of work” as other professional responsibilities. You may not receive an immediate answer to your query. Before you send a message, make sure the information you seek is not readily available elsewhere, such as the course outline or Avenue to Learn. Email requests for such information may not receive a response. If you missed a class and would like to see another student's notes, please consult the note-sharing arrangements our class has made on Avenue to Learn. Neither the professor nor your TA is responsible for summarizing material you have missed. If your message requires an extensive answer or conversation in response, your TA or instructor is likely to ask you to come to office hours to discuss it in person.
  • Laptops and smart phones: I have had students in the past surfing the net, sending text messages, hanging out on social media, and doing other work during class and therefore not being truly present in class. Research on “multi-tasking” indicates that it is not efficient or time-saving. In fact, people who try to multi-task take longer to get work done and often do a sloppier job of the task. Some students, however, use these technologies to take notes and check information as the lecture progresses. You need to monitor your own use. But please respect your colleagues and our collective interaction in class by powering off smart phones and keeping the laptop on task at all times.
  • Accessibility: We may all need some form of accommodation in this class, because we all learn differently, and we are all subject to emergencies of various kinds and degree. Your ability to engage and participate fully in this course is important to me. If there are circumstances that may affect your ability to meet certain requirements as assigned in the course and/or if you have had specific accommodations approved by Student Accessibility Services, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can work together to develop strategies for adapting assignments to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course. Whether or not you have a documented disability, resources exist on campus to support your learning. This includes the Student Success Centre, which provides academic skills support for all students. See Student Accessibility Services: www.sas.mcmaster.ca/ or Student Success Centre: www.studentsuccess.mcmaster.ca/
  • Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO): Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students requiring a RISO accommodation should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.