Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Ex 1-1: Close Reading

Length: 2-3p.

Write a close reading -- using the text of one of the texts we have read so far, to defend a claim you want to make about that text.

Permalink | 9 Sep 2005 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

CST Quiz

Permalink | 16 Sep 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-2a: Informal Oral Presentation

Length: 5 min. Comparison. Prepare 2-3 handouts that demonstrate your ability to cite specific passages in the assigned readings to defend your preliminary position on an issue raised by the readings. Conclude with a statement of where you see conflicting evidence, and invite peer feedback.

Permalink | 23 Sep 2005 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Quiz: Dramatic Terminology

Permalink | 28 Sep 2005 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-2b: Comparison

Revise Ex 1-2 based on peer feedback. Length: 2-3 pages, plus an additional half page that lists specific changes that you made due to peer feedback.

Permalink | 30 Sep 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Portfolio 1 (5%)

Delayed from 30 Sep. Details below.

In general, you will be asked to print out the blog entries you wrote on the assigned readings (including the readings in How to Read Literature Like a Professor and the CST readings.

One component of the blogging portfolio will ask you to demonstrate that you are participaing in online discussions with your peers. If you visit peer blogs and leave comments there, or if you post comments on your own blog in response to comments left by your peers (or me), submit those in order to get participation credit.


In general, I want you to 1) post a single long blog entry, where you include links to the pages on your own site and on the pages of your classmates and 2) print out all the relevant work (you can scrunch the typesize down in order to save space). Please do not print the authoring pages, which are what you see after you log in with your username and password. The authoring pages look like this:

Instead, print out the pages that are visible to your readers when they visit "http://blogs.setonhill.edu/YourName/2005/08/blahblah.htm" or "http://blogs.setonhill.edu/YourName/001234.htm". They should not have "Movabletype Publishing Platform" on the top, they should instead have your name at the top.


Obviously, if you have changed the layout or colors on your blog, that's perfectly fine with me -- you don't need to make your blog look like the example. My point is to illustrate what the default weblog design currently looks like, and to differentiate from the authoring view.

Here are a few examples from another class. The content that this student has posted differs from the content you'll need to present, but you can get some idea of the form.


If you've been keeping up with the blogging homework, this assignment will be simply a matter of printing and compiling. Those of you who have had me in other classes, please look closely at these instructions -- I'm changing a few things. (Feel free to ask questions.) Towards the end of this posting, I answer some technical questions about trackbacks and creating links.

If you've fallen a bit behind, this assignment gives you the chance to catch up.

If you've fallen far behind, you have my sympathy, but no apologies. I've said several times that weblog entries will feel like a pointless chore if you start them only after the classroom discussion is already over.

Your portfolio is a collection of your best blog entries, representing your developing intellectual engagement with the concepts and skills we have examined.

The portfolio includes certain requirements, such as "Coverage" (that is, you should demonstrate that you have done the minimum blogging that I asked you to do -- a brief response to each assigned reading, with a few reflections) and "Depth" (a certain portion of your blog entries should demonstrate your ability to engage critically and at length with a difficult subject matter, far beyond a simple statement of a topic that you'd like to discuss in class).

Check the course outline page and see what's marked as "Discuss". For "Coverage" I would like to see an entry for most assigned readings; I would love to see an entry for each assigned section of readings (which means two entries for A Doll House, for example), but if you are planning to churn out two-sentence entries in the hours before the deadline, you might as well not bother -- I'd rather have a few in-depth entries than cookie-cutter last-minute entries.

I don't require you to include every blog entry you wrote -- if you only blogged two or three lines when we first disucssed a text, but you've got much more to say about it now, I'd rather see the more detailed entry.

For "Timeliness" I'd like you to include your best work online blogging that you completed before the deadline -- especially if you blogged early enough that you were able to participate in an online discussion before class.

Since blogging also involves commenting and linking, I'm asking you in your cover blog entry to link to entries in which you started or particpated in online conversations. In your cover blog, when appropriate, use the terms I've described below. (I am not giving you a magic number of entries for each category... that's for you to determine, given the "Coverage" requirement I've given you.)

  • The Cover Entry: Post a blog entry that contains links to all the entries that you plan to submit for your portfolio. For the benefit of an outside reader (that is, someone who doesn't know what a blogging portfolio is), introduce each of these links and explain why they are significant. (For example, see "Favorite Blog Entries: Journaling Mode.")
  • The Collection: Your blogging portfolio is supposed to be a collection of your best weblog entries. For the purposes of this class, a "good" blog entry is one that demonstrates your intellectual engagement with the assigned readings and student panels, and/or the questions raised by your peers. I will accept a bulleted list of entries, but please write for an audience that does not know or care about your homework requirements.
    1. Coverage. Ensure that you have blogged something substantial (for a C-level grade, at least a paragraph) that demonstrates your intellectual involvement with the assigned readings.
    2. Depth. Some of the "coverage" entries you selected above should demonstrate your ability to examine a concept in depth. Do some original online research, and link to the precise pages where you got ideas that helped you formulate your ideas. If you prefer to use a library book, quote a passage that you found interesting. Here are a few examples of a blog entry that goes above and beyond the standard "what I thought about the book" blog entry: Fitting in in the Diamond Age and Forced Reading-- Beloved Character.
    3. Interaction. Of the "Coverage" blogs entries included above, some should demonstrate your ability to use weblogs to interact with your peers. For instance, you might disagree (politely) with something a peer has written; link to and quote from the peer's blog entry, then carefully (and respectfully) explain where you disagree. Rather than hurl accusations in order to make the other person look bad, cheerfully invite the other person to explain their perspective. Quote passages from the texts your peer has cited, or do additional research that helps unveil the truth. (These may or may not include some entries you have already included among your "Depth" entries.)
    4. Discussions. Blogging feels lonely when you aren't getting any comments; you will feel more motivated to blog if you enjoy (and learn from) the comments left by your readers. Your portfolio should include entries (which may or may not overlap with either the "Interaction" or "Depth" entries) that demonstrate that your blog sparked a conversation that furthered your intellectual examination of a literary subject.
    5. Timeliness. A timely blog entry is one that was written early enough that it sparked a good online discussion, before the class discussion. A timely blog entry might also be an extra one written after the class discussion, if it reacts directly to something brought up in class. The blog entries that you write the night before the portfolio is due won't count in this category. And don't try to change the date in your blog entries -- I know that trick! ;)
    6. Xenoblogging. "Xeno" means "foreign," so xenoblogging (a term that I coined last term) means the work that you do that helps other people's weblogs. Your portfolio should include three entries (which may or may not overlap with the ones you have already selected for "Coverage") that demonstrate your willingness to contribute selflessly and generously to the online classroom community. Examples of good xenoblogging:
      • The Comment Primo: Be the first to comment on a peer's blog entry; rather than simply say "Nice job!" or "I'm commenting on your blog," launch an intellectual discussion; return to help sustain it.
      • The Comment Grande: Write a long, thoughtful comment in a peer's blog entry. Refer to and post the URLs of other discussions and other blog entries that are related.
      • The Comment Informative: If your peer makes a general, passing reference to something that you know a lot about, post a comment that offers a detailed explanation. (For example, the in the third comment on a recent blog entry about the history and culture of print, Mike Arnzen mentions three books that offer far more information than my post did.)
      • The Link Gracious: If you got an idea for a post by reading something somebody else wrote, give credit where credit is due. (If, in casual conversation, we credited the source of every point we make, we'd get little accomplished. But since a hyperlink is so easy to create, it's not good practice -- or good ethics -- to hide the source of your ideas.) If a good conversation is simmering on someone else's blog -- whether you are heavily involved or not -- post a link to it and invite your own readers to join in.
    7. Wildcard: Include one blog entry on any subject -- related to online writing or not, serious or not -- that you feel will help me evaluate your achievements as a student weblogger.
  • Print out your cover entry. If you would like to hand-write a note on this cover entry, I'd be happy to read and respond.
  • Print out the other entries you plan to include, including pages from peer weblogs where you participated in the online discussion.
  • On each entry you submit, hand-write a brief note that indicates which category or categories you feel this entry fulfills. Thus, the same entry might count for coverage, timeliness, and depth.
  • Please *do not* insert each page into a plastic sleeve. I want to be able to jot notes on your printouts.
  • I'd prefer that you use a single huge staple to keep it all together. A big metal clip will also probably be okay.
  • If you use a big paperclip, it will probably come undone, so please submit paperclipped work in a folder or envelope.
If you have questions about this assignment, please post them here. (If you aren't a student in my class, and you just want to comment on the basic idea of using weblogs in a classroom, I invite you to post on my academic weblog instead.)
Permalink | 3 Oct 2005 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 1-3: Pro/Con

Length: 3p. Choose a good thesis -- one that asks an intellectualy complex question about one or more of the plays we have studied. Perform a close reading that assesses evidence both in favor of and against your thesis. (Rescheduled from 07 Oct.)

Permalink | 10 Oct 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Midterm Exam

(Midterm covers all texts studied thus far, including articles, and the SHU production of Fuddy Meers. Identification, short answer, essay.)

Permalink | 14 Oct 2005 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Informal Oral Presentations of Paper 1 (3%)

Length: 5 min.

Permalink | 19 Oct 2005 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Polished Revision -- Paper 1 (7%)

Length: 5 pages.

Updated 21 Oct:

Expand and refine the informal oral presentation you prepared, paying special attention to writing a paper that defends a non-obvious claim about one or more of the literary works we have studied.

Your paper should include a detailed analysis of alternative or opposing arguments. If your thesis is "Oedipus the King is a tragedy," you aren't going to find much opposing evidence, so "proving" that claim isn't much of an intellectual accomplishment.

You are welcome to use quality external resources (such as academic journal articles or books), but for this paper external sources are optional.

Follow MLA style when formatting your paper. Include a Works Cited list, even if the only work you are citing is the play you are analyzing.

If your thesis is "The play Machinal and the movie Dead Man Walking both offer convincing arguments against the death penalty," once again you are presenting a one-sided arugment.

You might instead say,

In Machnal, Sophie Treadwell creates a sympathetic portrait of a convicted murderer because she dehumanizes the victim. The script for Dead Man Walking, on the other hand, achieves the much more complicated task of emphasizing the suffering of the victims, while at the same time demanding sympathy for the criminal. Machinal minimizes the crime in order to evoke sympathy for the criminal, while Dead Man Walking dares the audience to see the fundamental humanity all but obscured by the arrogance and self-loathing of a horrific criminal. For this reason, Dead Man Walking delivers a more socially challenging message.

Make sure your thesis makes a claim about the literary representation of reality, rather than using convenient details from selected plays to support a belief that you already had before you entered the classroom.

For example, a thesis like "The death penalty is wrong, as seen in Machinal and Dead Man Walking" is set up to mine the literary works in order to make an argument about the death penalty. In such a case, you might substitute different plays, or cartoons, or comic books, or folksongs, and still have essentially the same paper -- with different details, but an identical conclusion. Such a paper wouldn't demonstrate your intellectual ability to engage with the literary works, even if it would demonstrate your committment to the issue you are examining.

Permalink | 26 Oct 2005 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Portfolio 2 (5%)

Permalink | 4 Nov 2005 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (2)

Ex 2-0: Resubmission (Optional)

Revise exercise 1-1, 1-2, or 1-3. Replaces a lower grade.

Permalink | 7 Nov 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 2-1: CST Application Report

Length: 2-3 pages. Demonstrate your ability to apply CST principles to support an argument that you make about one or more of the plays on the syllabus.

Include direct quotations from CST documents and the play(s) you wish to examine.

You will need to approve your paper topic in advance. Dead Man Walking is constructed as a social debate, so I would expect a paper on that topic to delve more deeply into one particular aspect of the issue, rather than simply restate the debate depicted in the play. If, on the other hand, you choose a different play, in which the social justice issue is not immediately obvious, you can more easily demonstate your ability to think critically on your own.

Possible paper topics might include:

This assignment does not call for an analysis of current events, or your own personal ruminations on the matter. Instead, demonstate your skill at close reading. As always, avoid plot summary. Assume that your reader not only knows the texts well, but has them within arm's reach. There is no need to summarize the plot or write a lengthy explanation of your chosen CST principle.

Use textual evidence to support a specific, non-obvious claim that arises from the particular representation of reality found in one or more literary works.

You may use this exercise as the basis of Paper 2.

Permalink | 11 Nov 2005 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (3)

Ex 2-2: Term Paper Presubmission

Length: 2-3 pages. Demonstrate your ability to think through the argument you plan to write for your final term paper. The Presubmission Report is a worksheet that asks you to present your topic, evidence for and against your thesis, and a preliminary conclusion. Grammar and punctuation do not matter at this stage.

Update, 18 Nov: Details are below.

1) Your topic (e.g. "Gender in Hamlet")

2) Your thesis, along with a short introduction to the major points you plan to make in your paper, in the order in which you plan to make them. ("Hamlet's status as both a thinker and a fighter illustrate a tension between competing visions of Elizabethan manhood. Hamlet's unwillingness to act would, in fact, have made him an unfit king, at least according to the values espoused within the world of the play.")

3) Literary Evidence

3A) Direct quotes from the play that support your thesis

3B) Direct quotes from the play that challenge your thesis

4) Outside Evidence

4A) Direct quotes from academic or historical sources that support your thesis (apply what you have learned in STW... the EBSCOHost databases you should use are Academic Search Elite and MLA Bibliography)

4B) Direct quotes from academic or historical sources that oppose your thesis

5) A preliminary conclusion

6) Questions you would like me to address, in order to help you do your best work on this assignment.

Permalink | 21 Nov 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Portfolio 3 (5%)

Permalink | 30 Nov 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Paper 2 (15%)

Length: 8-10 pages.

Rescheduled from 2 Dec.

Permalink | 5 Dec 2005 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Ex 2-3: Pro/Con Close Reading

Length: 3p. Write a close reading of Death of a Salesman that makes a specific, well-defended argument. (Note: an argument that does not recognize and address alternative views is rarely worth making. Be sure to include a "con" section.)

(Note -- since the publication date of Resurrection Blues is listed on Amazon.com as January, naturally we couldn't do that play in this class. So we're going back to a play the same author wrote more than 50 years earlier.)

Permalink | 9 Dec 2005 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Final Exam (3:30-5:30 pm)

Identification and other detail-oriented questions will focus on the second half of the term. Essay questions will cover the whole term.

Permalink | 13 Dec 2005 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)