21:352:224: Survey of American Literature: Course Description
Spring 2010: Ehrlich, Office: 521 Hill

Course Aims: What is American literature? To what extent does American literature reflect life in the United States? What are some of the major American authors and works? What can we learn from minor authors and movements? What are the effects of changing public literacy, the nature of reading and writing, and the technology of publication?

How does American literature differ from other Anglophone literatures, such as those of Britain, Ireland, Canada, India, South Africa, and other countries? What can we say of literature written in other languages but within the U.S. borders?

Readings: Ultimately the work of each student begins with close readings of particular texts. Please read intelligently. Take notes of your readings and responses as you go. Summaries and paraphrases are for your own use, not for papers or exams. Papers require the enlargement of some critical reaction or idea supported with evidence from the texts. Try to separate your own responses from common knowledge, reference works, or background material. Be ready to make a positive contribution to the class as you would to a conversation. Keep up with the readings to be ready to participate in every class meeting.

Writing: Good essays and papers are interesting, sane, disciplined, informative, and engaged. They entail work; they entail risk; they communicate discovery. The writer's tone of voice springs from arguments and evidence. Bad papers, on the other hand, are boring, patchwork, self-indulgent, wandering, fake. The worst are desperate attempts to "please the teacher." Avoid makework -- papers designed to do little more than to show some time and effort went into an assignment. If the student learns nothing while writing such papers, what can the teacher learn by reading them? Put another way, a good paper is a record of discovery which also offers to share that discovery. Plot summaries and digests of encyclopedia articles and other papers without evidence of reading will not be accepted. Avoid library research and internet downloading in papers of reactionm and analysis. In submitting assigned papersl, please type or use a computer printer with standard typefaces, double spaced, with standard 1" margins all around. Avoid ornamental typefaces, right justification and elaborate cover pages: instead invest your effort instead in proofreading, and correcting. Needless to say, summaries and other downloads will not be accepted.

Revision: You may revise and submit any home paper punctually to attempt to raise its grade. Please as far as possible do so on the original sheets by hand--don't make another printout.

Assignments: Essays, Papers, Exams, Quizzes: Expect weekly assignments to parallel the readings, a combination of in-class essays, more formal papers, scheduled exams, and spot quizzes. In some cases extra credit assignments will be possible.

Class participation:Be sure to particiate each time in the class -- the best place to test and share your responses and analyses. As you read, think of what might be worth saying and sharing with the class.

Grades, Late Work, Attendance: In addition to letters, grades may consist of adjectives (excellent, very good, good, OK, poor, unacceptable) or inflectional marks (plus, check, question, or minus marks). If your work shows promise but has major flaws, you may receive the grade of R. asking you to re-do your work. Students whose work is incomplete or below average will receive mid-term warnings. Registration and attendance are not sufficient grounds for receiving a passing grade. Course grades reflect overall patterns of performance ,including the quality of class participation, essays, reports, quizzes, papers, and examinations. Occasional late work may be accepted at a reduced grade, but excessive late work handed in at the end of the semester may not be accepted or will ontain very reduced grades. More than three (3) unexused absences may result in a lowered grade. Makeup exams will be provided only with an officially documented excuse. If you have a genuine crisis which prevents the completion of course work on time, please receive the support of the Dean of Students.

PersonaL Electonics: Please turn off and do not use computers, cell phones, smart phones, beepers or other personal electronic devices during the class. If you have genuine emergency, please leave the classroom temporarily. .