21:350:469: Literary Genres: Comedy: Syllabus -- Page 2 (9/3)

MTh4 (Fall 2002)
Ehrlich, 521 Hill, Office Hours: MTh 4-5pm and by appt.
Rutgers University, Newark NJ
My email: ehrlich@andromeda.rutgers.edu
Class email: banana@andromeda.rutgers.edu
Class web page: http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~ehrlich/469/



C. Course Assignments:: Several workshop exercises, two (2) short papers, 2-3 pp, one (1) longer paper (4-8 pp), three (3)oral reports, midterm and final exams

D. Course Aims: What is comedy? Why do we laugh? Why do we sometimes just smile? What is the source of our pleasure in comedy? Are there recurring ingredients in the plots, characters, and jokes in comedy? Does comedy also contain ideas, attitudes, and values? When does comedy depend on cultural, social, and historical circumstances? Although our approach will be historical and literary - through classical, medieval, renaissance, and modern texts - we will also make frequent use of the more familiar forms of comedy -- films, situation comedy, standup comedy, and comedy in advertising and popular culture.

D. Readings: We will read and discuss a play almost every week. Of course some plays will require more than a week, and during some weeks we will focus on other matters. There will also be reading assignments in an accompanying textbook, and some reading options in the case of the oldest classical and newest contemporary plays. Count on carefully reading about ten (10) plays plus chapters in one (1) textbook.

E. Writing etc: There will be three (3) papers, two of which will be relatively short (2-3 pages) and one of which will be of medium length (4-8 pages). With approval, a longer term paper (8-12 pages) entailing library research may be substituted for one of the papers. All papers should reflect individual reading responses and the pursuit of an issue for discussion. In general, papers which seem to be encyclopedia articles -- such as plot summaries, definitions, surveys, and other general discussions -- will not be accepted. In addition, there will be several informal exercises and workshops to collect examples of comedy and humor from tv, films, graffiti, oral folklore, fakelore, etc. There will also be opportunities to outline comedy, parody, and more, and to develop class projects and performances. We may also be able to organize an excursion to Broadway or off-Broadway theatre.

F. Class participation: This is a workshop, not a lecture course. Daily attendance and participation are essential. Each student will make three (3) short oral reports during the semester to initiate daily class discussion. The oral reports may be prepared in connection with a paper, but they are intended to be conversational - producing a response from other students - and are not scripts to be read aloud.

Field trips:At the start of the semester, two of the plays on our list are being performed Off-Broadway and a third is the basis for a Broadway musical. We will try to arrange class theatre dates,

G. Scheduling: To encourage originality, papers and oral reports will always be due promptly on the scheduled s in the syllabus. Occasional late work may be accepted at a reduced grade. Frequent late work will not be accepted. After papers are returned, students may revise them within a week or two in an attempt to earn better grades -- usually by developing ideas or providing additional evidence from the readings in support of those ideas.

H. Grades: There will be a mid-term examination and a final examination, both of which will be based mainly on the assigned readings and not general knowledge. In humanities courses it is not always possible to assign exact numerical and hence quantitative grades since the essence of course work is relative and qualitative. In addition to the standard letter grades of A, B, C, D, and F with plus and minus signs, you may see equivalent inflectional grades such as + ,, , ?, and - (where is typical or average and the other grades are relatively higher or lower). I assign Midterm Warning grades to students whose work is below average or incomplete.

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