Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)


25 Jan 2007

Agenda Items (RRRR Sequence)

This course asks you to read a small number of literary works, and a large number of critical essays. We will keep returning to the same set literary works time and time again, always with a new critical focus. Keeping up with the readings is crucial. Studies have shown that regular weekly quizzes are very effective for keeping students on track, but I hate spending class time on quizzes, and I hate marking them. I'm sure you don't enjoy taking them, either. For that reason, we will use agenda items.

For each assigned reading, choose a quotation that you would be ready to talk about in class if called on. Type the quotation out, and write a line or two about what you would say. You will post your agenda item on your SHU weblog, and you will bring a printout to class (to consult if you are called on, or to hand in, if necessary).

When I teach an introductory course, I am happy no matter pretty much no matter what a student has to say about an assigned reading. But for EL312, your agenda item should be an attempt to engage directly with that week's critical approach. For instance, our first chapter in Keesey's book examines author intent -- that is, what we think the author meant. Thus, all your agenda items should focus on some aspect of author intent.

If I were to teach this as a class that met three times a week, I would easily assign two readings per class meeting. That means on a typical week, you might have six reading assignments, which would call for six different agenda items.

Agena items are due on your blog, on the Monday before class meets. (I won't consider it late if it's up by midnight on Monday.)

Please note that you don't actually have to have all the readings finished by Monday... but you should at least have looked at each reading by then, so that you will have time to write your weekly Critical Exercise (which is due on Wednesday).

Why are agenda items and exercises due a few days before class?

So that you will have time to wrestle with and ponder these challenging intellectual topics on your own, before class meets. That means we will spend less time in class casting around looking for something to talk about, and more time developing the ability to do the literary criticism that we have been reading about.

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