Professor Diana Joseph Office Hours: MTWTH 11-12 & by appt.
MW 12-1:45 AH 310 Office: Armstrong Hall
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 389-5144
English 340: Form and Technique in Prose
This course studies the technical underpinnings of prose genres. Through lectures, readings, class discussions, exercises in imitation, and workshops, we will examine the relationship between form (how the story is told) and content (what the story is about.) Specifically, we will pay close attention to technical matters including point of view, characterization, setting/place, tone, style, imagery, structure, and theme.
Required Texts and Materials
On Writing Short Stories. Ed. Tom Bailey.
$ for copying expenses
1. Exercise Notebook=50%
Each class day, I’ll give you an exercise. You’ll begin it in class and complete it on your own time. These exercises must be typed and double-spaced and placed in a 3-ringed binder. Keep track of your work—when I collect the exercise notebook I’ll check for all exercises and prompts assigned throughout the semester and all workshop revisions AND I’ll assess according to the strength of the work; evidence of your effort; effectiveness of your revision; and originality.
Participation is not merely showing up for class—that’s called attendance. I define participation as your active engagement with the class demonstrated through thoughtful contributions to class discussion, evidence of preparedness, and helpful feedback during workshops. Because this class relies so heavily on participation, you can’t sit silently and expect to do well (that’s called intellectual freeloading.) But I also don’t want one voice to dominate class discussions. Expect to listen as much as you talk. I don’t want to give reading quizzes so do the readings. Finally, each of you will offer an assessment of your peers’ workshop responses; I will take this into consideration when determining participation grades.
3. Justification Paper=25% Due on Finals Day
This is an 8-10 page formal essay in which you explain the relationship between form and content in your own work and defend your craft choices. Support and illustrate your claims with specific examples from work you produced for this class. If it helps support your case, refer to the work we’ve discussed in class.
We’ll workshop your exercises, with an interest in what your piece is about, and in how it’s told, and how its form reinforces its content. If writing is a series of choices, then what are the effects of these particular choices? If there’s an infinite number of ways to say something, then why are you saying it in this particular way? Why use first person instead of third person limited? What’s the effect of present tense over past? What are the story’s significant images and how do they create meaning? This workshop centers around describing (and interpreting) your use of the elements of fiction—and describing how each works with the rest to create unity, a singular effect, a vivid and continuous dream.
As a workshop participant, you must read the drafts up for workshop. You’re expected to write feedback, positive and critical, on the manuscript(s), and you should have suggestions in mind for class discussion. Expect to be called on.
Workshops are a give-and-take experience. If someone fails to provide evidence of reading and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your draft, then you’re not obligated to give that individual much feedback, either. But if someone gives a reading that shows time, effort, and thought – whether or not you agree with the comments – then you owe that person equal consideration. Workshops are about giving what you get.
Finally, workshops are not about egos – fragile, super, or otherwise. Workshops are not about being defensive, nor are they about hurling insults. Workshops are about the text, locating its strengths and weaknesses, and finding ways to make it stronger. Be critical, but be constructive.
Each absence over 3 will lower your final grade by 5%. I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absence.
Participation is 25% of your final grade; if you’re not here, you can’t participate. If you fail to turn in workshop material on the day it’s due, you lose your workshop spot—and participation credit. If you don’t come to class on the day of your workshop, it won’t be rescheduled—and you lose participation credit. Frequent tardiness will affect your participation grade.
All coursework must be completed to pass this class.
Writing done for this class is considered public text.
Assignments are tentative and subject to change.
Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated; it may result in failure of the class.
I’m available for help outside class during my office hours or by appointment.
1/16 “Girl,” 306
1/18 “All the Way in
1/23 “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” 347
1/25 “The First Day,” 286
1/30 Exercise Packet Entry Due
2/27 “Cathedral,” 108
3/1 No Class
3/8 “Home,” 410
Exercise Packet Entry Due
3/13—3/15 Spring Break
4/12 Exercise Packet Entry Due
Your Name___________________________________________________________________English 340
On a scale of 1-10, rate the time/effort you estimate each student put into your workshop critique. Use the back of this sheet for further comments, if necessary.
1. Bigham, Kellie J
2. Brummund, Andrea J
3. Chermak, Briana C
4. Engler, Aaron C
6. Franzen, Adam P
7. Hamilton, Matthew J
8. Hammers, Eric R
10. Hickey, Janel M
11. Klein, Nathan J
12. Lonnquist, Carl D
14. Mariette, Jacob K
15. Martin, Tim M
16. McCorquodale, Brian M
17. Moeller, Heather A
18. Murray, Thomas E
19. Nerison, Bobbie
20. Peters, Brittney E
21. Schacht, Lindsay N
22. Schmitt, Daniel
23. Tyson, James R
24. Wayne, Tiffany L
25. Zierhut, Katie M