American Literature to 1865
Web address: www.chipspage.com
Baird Hall 104
The RSU Bulletin 2005-2006 describes English 2773 as "A survey of American Literature from its colonial beginning to approximately 1865" (120). This course presents a selective survey of important writers and works in American literature from its beginnings through the Civil War, with specific emphasis on Native American works, writings of the early explorers, early colonial writings (the Puritans, e.g.), slave narratives, and various other literature from the nineteenth century, including works by Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Emily Dickinson, among others. In the true spirit of a survey, my fundamental aim is to give you an overview of early American literature with samplings from a great many writers and works to improve your understanding of American heritage and culture and also to enhance your abilities in critical thinking, critical reading, and writing. Additionally, I hope to foster your understanding of literature as not merely "matter for scholastic study," or a hoop you must negotiate along the way to a college diploma, but as truly meaningful beyond the classroom because literature speaks to and about us all in the most fundamental ways as human beings, offering intelligent and thinking people a valuable and inexhaustible life resource throughout their lives.
None, though successful completion of English 1113 and 1213 (Composition I and II) is strongly advised.
Texts and Materials
The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 6th edition. Volumes A and B.
"Handouts" from my website.
Participation in class discussion.
Quizzes and exams or exercises on grammar, convention, diction, and mechanics.
8 informal critical response writings (200 word minimum each).
2 midterm exams and a final exam.
2 formal papers of 1000-1200 words (4-5 pages).
Corrections of graded critical responses and formal papers.
Attendance: Each class is important, so it is crucial that you be in class on time every day. I record attendance daily, and absences will affect your grade. For this course there are no distinctions between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. Students with more than five absences will receive an automatic F for the courseregardless of the reasons for any of the absences. I understand that "stuff happens," and not every student will be able to attend every class meeting. I will try to work with you on any major assignments you happen to miss (i.e. any assignments other than reading quizzes), especially when you let me know about the absence missing class: feel free to call me at home or send email any time you know you will not be in class.
Late work: Late work will be penalized one letter grade for each class day the assignment is late. Work turned in more than three class days late will receive no higher grade than F.
Bare minimum course requirements: Regardless of your overall grade average, to be eligible to pass the course you must turn in both formal papers, submit at least five critical responses, complete corrections assignments for both formal papers and at least two critical responses, and take both midterms and the final exam.
Plagiarism: Except for assignments expressly calling for collaborative effort, all written work must be your own. Any unacknowledged borrowing from the writings of others will be considered plagiarism, a serious breach of academic integrity. I will submit any cases of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty for review by the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. Penalties for plagiarism are severe, ranging from an F for the course to expulsion from the college. For a fuller definition of plagiarism, follow the "On Plagiarism" link on my website.
ADA Statement: Rogers State University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services. Before any educational accommodation can be provided, any student who has a disability that he or she believes will require some form of accommodation must do the following: 1) inform the professor of each class of such need; and 2) register for services to determine eligibility for assistance with the Office of Student Affairs, located in the Student Union.
Students needing more information about Student Disability Services should contact the Office of Student Affairs at (918) 343-7579.
Class discussion: Most class periods will involve open discussion of the readings with very little lecture. Your participation in discussion is mandatory. I will call on reticent or "quiet" students frequently, and class participation does factor into your semester grade.
Reading quizzes: unannounced quizzes testing your close attention to the readings.
Grammar and mechanics quizzes and exams: on basic concepts in grammar, convention, diction, and mechanics following discussion of my "Golden Rules," "Nuggets," "Word Problems," and "Quotes and Documentation" web pages. Golden Rules are important rules of grammar and style. The Nuggets cover a variety of conventions and problems, especially in the handling of quotations. A variety of common problems in diction are described in Word Problems. The Quotes and Documentation handout presents basic conventions for citing and documenting sources according to MLA guidelines.
Critical response writings: typed informal writings of at least 200 words responding to the readings before we discuss them in class. Note that each critical response assignment is valid for one class period only, and that critical responses are accepted only by the beginning of the period for which they are assigned. I will post critical response questions on the web and announce them in class the meeting before each reading assignment is due.
Exams: The midterm and final exams will consist of two parts: 1) "short answers," or brief paragraph-length commentary on the significance of specific passages from our readings, and 2) essays on central themes of the works we read and discuss. There will be one essay on each midterm and two on the final. You will have some choice in the short answer and essay portions of each exam: you might on one midterm, for instance, select 5 of 7 short answer questions and 1 of 3 essay options.
Papers: In two essays of 4-5 typed pages (1000 word minimum), you will explore in some depth a subject you choose from a list of paper topics I will post on the web at the appropriate time. You will be required to turn in a topic sentence outline or paper proposal before the paper is due as indicated on the schedule of readings and assignments.
Corrections: For at least two critical responses and for both formal essays, after your work is graded you will 1) record all marked errors on corrections worksheets, and 2) hand in corrected drafts with all changes highlighted. Since corrections require a freshly printed draft after the paper has been graded, you should save all your work on disk to avoid having to retype entire drafts. For specifics, see corrections instructions.
Conferences: Conferences are not mandatory, but I strongly recommend them if you struggle with any aspect of the readings and at any stage of the paper-writing processexploring topics, drafting, revising, or editing. My typical aim in paper conferences is to head off potential problems in your essays and to offer helpful, critical response to your work before you submit it for grading."Rewrites": You may rewrite and resubmit graded formal papers for re-grading. Rewrite grades replace original grades completely. Note that rewriting involves far more substantial revision than correcting grammatical errors: rewrites should also address larger problems in focus, structure, content, and style. The starting point for revision is my typed comments on your graded papers; rewrites should also address comments and questions written in the margins of the original graded papers.
As you will see, I believe in using the Internet as a teaching tool. Most handouts and all out-of-class assignments will be posted on my website rather than being distributed as "hard copy" in classyou are responsible for printing and reading these web-page "handouts" before we discuss them in class. Most handouts are indicated as linked pages on the schedule of readings and assignments. I may occasionally contact you through email also, and I encourage you to email me with questions on any course matters large or small.
You should track your grades throughout the semester by keeping a "Scorecard." You can also track grades and see your cumulative average (overall course grade) by downloading and filling in the "grade calculator" for this class from my website. Feel free to see me any time throughout the semester to check your cumulative gradeI keep grades on computer spreadsheets that are updated weekly.
The Bottom Line: I hope every member of this class gets an A, and I will do everything I can to make this happen. Don't get me wrongthe standards for "A" work are high, and I make no exceptions in course policies on absences, missed assignments, plagiarism, or late work. But I guarantee you have one of the most accessible instructors at Rogers State: ask for help outside of class, and I'll do my level best to deliver.