POLICIES FOR E236 STUDIES IN LITERARY TRADITION, CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY FALL 2008 (UPDATED 8/24/08)
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Course Information. English 236. MWF 12:00-12:50 a.m. Location: Beckman 205. Instructor: Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D. Office hours: MW 11:-11:50 a.m. in Cyber Cafe. firstname.lastname@example.org. E236 is part of the 15-credit core course requirement for the BA in English. Catalog: "This course provides an overview of some of the major texts of the western literary tradition. . . ." Credits (3).
Course Objectives. This course focuses on a small number of key texts in western literature, ones that are not only excellent in their own right but that have exercised a great deal of influence in subsequent periods right through to the present. We will study these works mainly for what they have to offer on their own, but we will also consider the nature of the influence they have had in shaping subsequent literary works. My comments will provide historical and thematic background, and the course will center on discussion of assigned texts.
Major Study Units. The course will follow a roughly chronological order and will cover epic poetry, drama, sacred literature, and fiction from Homer through Cervantes. We will devote a few weeks to each work.
Classroom Activities. Lecture, student presentations, and discussion when students pose questions or offer comments to me or to the entire class. I encourage such questions and comments -- thoughtful student participation improves any course, broadening its scope and introducing a variety of opinion that wouldn't be available otherwise. A key point: my lectures improve significantly when students take an active part in the class: I remember to mention things I might have forgotten to say, and sometimes make connections I hadn't thought of. My tasks are to lecture concisely, to listen well, to ask good questions, and to help you find out more about the texts we study. Your tasks are to listen, respond, and develop your own ideas, your own "voice," as a reader of literary works. In humanities study, insightful interpretation and an ability to make interesting connections between one author or concept and another are central goals.
Evaluation Methods. A term paper; a journal requirement; in-class presentations based in part on prior discussion by email with the instructor, an in-class final exam. YOU CANNOT PASS THIS CLASS WITHOUT SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETING ALL FOUR REQUIREMENTS. I will use +/- grading.
Attendance. Students should attend regularly. Missing an inordinate number of meetings (i.e. more than 20%) may become a factor in the final grade. Students are responsible for keeping up with missed sessions by listening to the audio files that become available within a few days of each session.
Exam, Alternate Scheduling. If you run into scheduling problems, taking the final a day or two before its set date might be possible at our mutual convenience. Please inquire about this well before the exam.
Incompletes. "Incompletes" are designed to help those who have completed most of their work but who are unable (due to circumstances beyond their control such as accident or serious illness) to complete the course requirements on time. Incompletes are not intended to help those who haven't been able to keep up with the course workload, and I will not grant an incomplete in such cases.
"FW" (Failure to Withdraw). "Course withdrawal: Students who officially withdraw from a course between the third and the tenth week of a regular term (see academic calendar for interterm and summer deadlines) will receive a 'W' on their transcripts indicating the withdrawal. Students cannot drop a course after the tenth week of a regular semester (see academic calendar for interterm and summer deadlines). It is the student's responsibility to officially withdraw from a course or all courses. Failure to attend a course does not constitute a withdrawal. Students who stop attending courses without officially withdrawing will receive a grade of "FW" (failure to withdraw) which is calculated as an 'F' grade." (Chapman Undergraduate Catalog) At some schools, such a grade can have repercussions for a student's financial aid and academic status, so if you decide to drop the course, please avoid an "FW" by dropping the course before the deadline passes. Don't take the final exam if you have attended few class sessions and have no intention of turning in journals or the term paper: taking the exam commits you to a letter grade.
Paper Rough Drafts. One-paragraph descriptions of projected paper required. Please read the term paper instructions carefully since they contain the prompt and advance draft comments. I reserve the right to require proof of the final paper's authenticity, such as notes or an early draft.
Paper Final Drafts. The default due date for final papers is the day of the final exam, although if possible (based on my schedule and when I must turn in grades) I will try to extend that deadline several days. Please send papers by email attachment; if you do so and do not receive confirmation within approximately three days, it is your responsibility to email me. IF YOU DON'T RECEIVE CONFIRMATION, I DID NOT RECEIVE YOUR WORK!
Presentations. Presentations are fairly informal, but students should approach them with a sense of intellectual responsibility. Presentations are as much for others as for oneself. I will judge presentations on the following grounds: did the student 1) Send me a reasonably complete draft of the presentation beforehand, as required, to discuss substantive ideas? 2) Seem to have put genuine effort into preparing? 3) Email me a revised written version after presenting, if I requested one, so that I can replace the earlier version I may have posted to the students' blog? I won't judge students on their "rhetorical" skills during the actual presentation: the grade for this component will be based on how seriously they approached the task beforehand, and whether they followed up afterwards if asked to do so.
Journals. I will not mark journal sets down unless they are late, incomplete, or so brief as to suggest evasion of intellectual labor. They should consist of honest responses to the assigned readings, not "yes-or-no" style answers, quotation of the assigned texts without further comment, or pasted secondary material from Internet sources in place of one's own reflections.
Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty. Plagiarism consists in using other people's specific language or paraphrased ideas without attribution. Plagiarism in essays and cheating on tests will result in an "F" for the course -- not only for the assignment in question. Dishonesty in journal sets (copying other students' work, plagiarizing or relying almost entirely on Internet material, pasting the same response repeatedly, etc.) will result in an "F" for that journal set. In severe or repeated cases, plagiarism can lead to suspension or even expulsion, as Chapman's Undergraduate Catalog suggests. Many less serious problems stem from lack of experience in consulting and incorporating sources, so please read the guides on Citing Texts and Plagiphrasing. Even honest failure to handle sources appropriately can affect grades because it reduces the scholarly effectiveness of one's work. There's nothing wrong with consulting online material (Spark Notes, Wikipedia entries, etc.) so long as you only mean to gain quick familiarity with a text's basic features and critical history and do not avoid making your own interpretation of the primary text. But you must always document your sources, whether you are paraphrasing them or quoting directly.
Chapman U Academic Integrity Statement. "Chapman University is a community of scholars that emphasizes the mutual responsibility of all members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith. Students are responsible for doing their own work, and academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction by the instructor and referral to the university's Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional sanctions up to and including dismissal. See the Undergraduate Catalog for the full policy."
Source Work. It is acceptable to consult legitimate sources (scholarly articles, books, excellent web sites) while developing your paper, and if you are a graduate student you should engage with secondary material. But the most important thing if you are an undergraduate is to study your primary texts patiently. Commercial notes (even good ones) may hinder this process: they may give you an accurate sense of what is usually said about a given work, but what is "usually said" is for that very reason not interesting and shouldn't replace your own insights. Other people's ideas are valuable only if you make them your own honestly, a task that is part of genuine education. Check your school library's online portal for article databases. Project Muse and JSTOR are among the best for humanities work. They not only list scholarly essays but, most often, allow you to download them as HTML or PDF files. Chapman's portal is Chapman Library, and CSU Fullerton's (unless you use "My Fullerton") is CSUF Library.