Drama as Literature (EL 250)

1. When and Where

Mon, Wed, Fri 9:00 AM - 9:50 AM A403


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2. Instructor

Dennis G. Jerz (jerz.setonhill.edu)

Contact Information:

  • 403 St. Joseph (Box 461)
  • first_contact2003@jerz.set0nhill.edu
  • 724-830-1909

Office Hours: Tue 2-3, Wed 1-2, Thu 11-12; and by appointment.

If you want to be sure to catch me during office hours, send me an e-mail to let me know you're coming.

Office Visits: I usually leave my door open. When my door isn't open, please come back later, or send me an e-mail so we can find a time when we're both free.

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3. Course Description

From the Catalog:

Emphasis varies from term to term, e.g.: Short Fiction; Autobiography; Science Fiction. Alternate years. Repeatable for credit. 3 credits.

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4. Course Objectives

Your objectives for this course are to

  • learn about the origins and historical development of drama,
  • expose yourself to a broad range of dramatic literature,
  • gain experience recognizing and interpreting basic dramatic elements (character, plot, theme, close reading, etc.),
  • develop an awareness of the complex theatrical context required to bring a dead script back to life (acting, directing, stage effects, financial and political patronage, etc.),
  • and ultimately, to discern the core cultural values represented in each play.
To that end, you will:
  • read all plays on the syllabus, along with additional readings,
  • complete quizzes and exercises to ensure that you are keeping up with the readings and to evaluate your progress,
  • attend performances of Fuddy Meers and Kindertransport here at SHU,
  • participate regularly in classroom and web-based discussions, and
  • write two formal papers (minimum 5 and 8 pages).
You will be invited to read aloud from scripts during class, and may choose to prepare scenes and monologues as part of your class participation grade, but acting ability is not expected.

As part of a university initiative to emphasize the Catholic heritage of this institution, the course will introduce and apply Catholic Social Teaching (CST), a body of baseline philosophical and ethical principles that the Church affirms as necessary for living a fully human life. Key principles of CST include the essential dignity of the human person, the social nature of the human person, and the moral obligations of both governments and individuals to tend to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.

At the end of this course, you should be able to

  1. Demonstrate competence in the critical reading of complex literary texts
  2. Engage intellectually with your peers (in person and online)
  3. Identify social justice issues and engage intellectually with the moral and ethical principles related through Catholic Social Teaching (CST)
  4. Write a college-level paper that appropriately uses primary and secondary sources to defend a non-obvious claim (without minimizing or neglecting opposing or alternative views)
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5. Course Requirements

The class format will be discussion and lecture. Your job is not to memorize everything I say in class (or what SparkNotes.com says online) and then pour it all out during the exam. Instead, you will be asked to develop the capacity to present and defend your own original thoughts about the assigned readings.

Students should keep up with the readings, reflect on them before coming to class, and help sustain an active, positive learning environment.

Please keep copies of rough drafts of papers. I may want to talk with you about them before recording a grade.

I will often send out bulk e-mails to the address on file for you in the J-Web system. If you check a different address more regularly, please use SHU's e-mail forwaring service so that you don't miss important updates.

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5.1 Attendance

Students are expected to attend every class. (See Seton Hill University Catalog, p. 28-29, “Class Attendance” and “Excused Absences”.)

A student’s final grade is lowered by the proportion of unexcused absences. Thus, a student with a final grade of B- (2.7 out of 4) with a record of 10% unexcused absences would get a C+ (90% of 2.7 = 2.43).

Seton Hill University recognizes that extra-curricular activities of all sorts are important components of a liberal arts education. Nevertheless:

  • Students who miss a class period for any reason are still responsible for the material covered that day.
  • An excused absence does not automatically grant an extension for any work collected or assigned that day.

Because a large percentage of your course grade depends on your familiarity with the assigned readings, falling behind or procrastinating can lead to big trouble.

If you are absent from class without an acceptable excuse, on a day when a major assignment is due -- perhaps because you stayed up all night working on a paper and are too tired to attend class -- the assignment will be counted an extra day late. (You might as well go to bed without finishing the paper, come to class so you don't fall farther behind, and then turn in the paper the next morning.)

5.1.1. Emergency Absences

Those who miss class due to an unplanned emergency should submit an “Absence Form,” with proper documentation, as soon as possible.

For each class that you miss, print out and complete an “Absence Form” (available at http://jerz.setonhill.edu/teaching/AbsenceForm.htm). After you initiate this contact, we can discuss when or whether it will be possible for you to make up the work that you missed.

Before you contact me, please consult the online syllabus and/or a classmate's notes to determine what you missed. (If you ask me to e-mail you a summary of what you missed in class, I will refer you to this document.)

For some classroom activities, such as listening to peer oral presentations, there may be no appropriate make-up assignment. (See 5.2 Participation.)

5.1.2. Scheduled Absences

Those who miss class due to a scheduled activity must plan to complete all make-up assignments before the missed class. This may involve extra work on my end, so please submit an acceptable “Absence Form” (see above) as soon as possible.

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5.2 Participation

Students are expected to contribute actively to a positive classroom environment, both in person and online. Students who dislike public speaking may wish to invest more effort in their online writing, and vice-versa.

Common sense and common courtesy dictate that absences, late arrivals and early departures, use of telephones or headphones, lack of preparation, and inattentiveness will impact your participation grade.

Those who consistently participate above and beyond the call of duty will receive a bonus.

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5.3 Late Penalties

Any work that is submitted on time and in the proper format receives a 1/3 letter grade bonus. (This grade is factored into the mark I put on the paper -- you won't see a "+1/3" on it.)

Work that is unstapled, crumpled, or otherwise not ready when I collect it forfeits the bonus. Further, if your paper isn't in the stack with all the others, I will put it at the bottom of my "to do" list. (This might mean that I don't comment on it in as much detail, or, if the assignment is a draft, you might not get it back in time to submit the revision.)

Getting Credit for Late Work
If your assignment is not ready when I collect all the others, and thus doesn't make it into the stack, I will record a zero for that assignment.

In order to remove that zero, and get partial credit for your late work, follow this two-step process.

  1. Paste a copy of your work into an e-mail (please do not send an attachment) with your last name, the course name, the assignment name, and the word "Late" in the subject line. Example:

    "Smith EL250 Ex 1-2 Late"
  2. Write the word "Late" on a printout of your assignment, and hand it to me at the next class period (there's no need to make an extra trip to slip it under my office door).

If the e-mail submission of late work arrives in my box by 11:59:59 pm on the due date, it forfeits the bonus but receives no other penalty.

If you miss an exercise or response paper, you should still complete it in order to get credit for it in your class participation portfolio.

Unless I grant you an extension in advance, all other assignments are penalized one letter grade for each day they are late (including Saturdays, but not counting Sundays or SHU holidays).

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5.4 Texts


Bolt, A Man for All Seasons (0679728228)
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (006000942X)
Gwynn, Drama: A Pocket Anthology (0321091752)
Lindsay-Abaire, Fuddy Meers (0822217511)
Robbins and Prejean, Dead Man Walking: The Shooting Script (1557043000)
Samuels, Kindertransport (1854592270)
Treadwell, Machinal (1854592114)

In addition to the texts listed above, readings also include handouts and online texts. When we are scheduled to discuss an online text, bring a complete printout to class with you.

If you would prefer to buy an inexpensive paperback, instead of downloading and printing out your own copy, here is an additional list:

Marlowe, Doctor Faustus. (any edition)
Shakespeare, Hamlet (any edition)
Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (any edition)

You may, if you wish, purchase these books from Amazon via the links I have set up.

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6. Assignments

All assignments are marked on a standard four-point scale.

Thus, if a particular exercise is worth 8% of your final grade, and I mark a "3.5" on it, don't panic -- you got a 3.5 out of 4, not a 3.5 out of 8.

When submitting exercises or major papers, your submission must include a printout from Turnitin.com, as well as a "submission note" (We will go over this very clearly in class.)

Exercises (15%)
Participation & Quizzes (15%)
Portfolios (15%) -- Reflective assessment of online activity.
Papers (30%) -- Two papers, completed in several stages.
Exams (25%)

Note: If you ever feel you want more rapid or more detailed feedback on an assignment, regardless of whether it was late or on time, make an appointment with me during my office hours, and I will go over the work with you in detail.
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Exercises (15%)

Homework assignments, usually about 2-3 pages.

My goal is to get them back to you in time for you to learn from my feedback, so you can apply it to your next assignment. For that reason, the late penalty for Exercises is a bit steeper.

Exercises earn only a maximum of half credit (2.0 out of 4) when they are submitted later than midnight on the day they were due.

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Participation & Quizzes (15%)

This component of your grade includes my assessment of your engagement with the subject matter, including workbook assignments, meaningful contributions to the class discussion (both in person and online), and ability to anchor observation in specific examples taken from the assigned readings.

Online Discussions (Weblogs): For each discussion of a text, you will be asked to spark an online discussion of an assigned reading, by posting (at least 24 hours before the class discussion) a brief "agenda item," and participating in an online discussion.

I will take quiz and exam questions from the examples brought up in online discussions, so I hope you will participate regularly.

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Portfolios (15%)

Portfolios are collected three times, and count for 5% each time.

The most important component of the portfolio is your reflection on your online participation.

This assignment asks you to compile the agenda items you posted, the most productive online conversations in which you participated, and thoughtful expansions of agenda items that you found particularly intersting. It also asks you to reflect on your developing understanding of key concepts and issues that we have been discussing.

If you post about one well-thought-out follow-up a week, including brief quotations from the literary works and supplemental materials we have been studying, then the portfolio assignment will be easy. If you fall behind, you'll have to do a lot of writing to catch up, and the activity won't be as rewarding. (More details will be announced after everyone in the class has had some time to learn and adjust to the online environment where we'll be working.)

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Papers (30%)

Numerous online, homework, and in-class assignments are part of the sequence that leads up to writing a successful Paper 1. The two final phases of Paper 1 are:
Paper 1: Informal Oral Presentation (3%) (revision of Ex 1-1, Ex 1-2, or Ex 1-3)
Paper 1: Polished Revision (7%)

Likewise, Paper 2 is broken up into parts, beginning with routine classroom activities that gradually become more focused. The most advanced parts are:

Ex 2-1: Presubmission Report (counts towards "Exercise" grade)
Paper 2: Formal Presentation of Term Paper (5%)
Paper 2: Final Draft (15%)

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Exams (25%)

Midterm (10%)
Final (15%) (Date TBA)

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