Friday, January 25, 2008

I love this essay.
For snark and definitions, click here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ever wonder about advances? Click here.
We talked about this in class the other night.
"...the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed--love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands."

For the rest of William Faulkner's Nobel Prize speech, click here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Who's reviews? Click here.
If Flannery O'Connor had a blog...click here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

To judge a book by its cover, click here.
To read about censoring something itty-bitty, click here.

To read some additional comments about it, click here.
For a list of intoxicated writers, click here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

For a list of independent bookstores in Manhattan, click here.

Wanna go?

Friday, January 18, 2008

For a really interesting interview with Ann Patchett, click here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I think all writers should read Lewis Hyde's THE GIFT. (I'll probably have it on the reading list for the Teaching Creative Writing class I'm doing this fall.) For more about it, click here.
I've always been obsessed with Flannery O'Connor, but these days, I am even more so. Even though we've only met once, I love love love my Southern Women Writers class, of which O'Connor's work is the heartbeat.

For more about the Fabulously Snarky Lady, click here. To see MSU's MFA students and a certain professor hanging out at her grave, click here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award: click here. (Joyce Carol Oates is nominated in two genres.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Three Dogs, Two Husbands, One Son

Can you write your memoir in six words? Click here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

If you love memoir, here's a site for you.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

For an intriguing exercise, click here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

English 449/549 Southern Women Writers Spring 2008

Professor Diana Joseph Office Hours:
MW 2:00-3:45 PA 104 Office: 201L Armstrong Hall
Email: diana.joseph@mnsu.edu Phone: 389-5144

www.dianajosephssyllabi.blogspot.com


English 449/549: Southern Women Writers

This course examines selected fiction and nonfiction prose by Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, and Dorothy Allison. Through class discussion, short papers and presentations, and researched literary analysis, we will explore the following questions: how are these texts crafted? How do the styles of individual authors compare and contrast? Is knowledge of the author’s life significant to understanding her work, or is the author “dead”? How does awareness of the critical response a book receives enlighten a reader’s understanding of it? How does the historical moment in which a text is set—along with that moment’s cultural, political, philosophical, racial, religious, and gendered influences—impact its meaning?

Required Texts
O’Connor, Flannery Mystery and Manners
Wise Blood
The Complete Stories

Walker, Alice The Color Purple
In Love & Trouble

Allison, Dorothy Bastard Out of Carolina
Two or Three Things I Know for Sure

Assignments:


I.
Participation=25% of final grade
Merely showing up is not participation. I define participation as your active engagement with the class, demonstrated through evidence of preparedness, and thoughtful contributions to discussions. Because this class relies so heavily on participation, you can’t sit silently and expect to do well (that’s intellectual freeloading.) But I also don’t want one voice to dominate class discussions (that’s just tedious.) Expect to listen as much as you talk.

II.
Response Papers=50% of final grade

You’ll write a short paper—no more than one single-spaced page, 12 point font—in response to the assigned novel, short story or non-fiction book. MLA format. Each response will address the text in ONE of the following ways:

1. The Art
This approach requires that you limit your focus to a single aspect of craft. You might examine how metaphors are used. You might analyze the rhetorical effects of a single passage. You might discuss some aspect of characterization. The possibilities are wide, but your idea must be specific. Make sure your response goes beyond merely making observations; explain why your point is significant.

2. The Artist
This way to respond focuses on the author, but it should not be just a biography. Your point about the author must in some way enhance or deepen our understanding of the text.

3. The Scholarship
How have literary scholars responded to the work? Read a single critical essay about the text; write a brief summary of key points. How do you respond to the idea? How can you contribute to the dialogue?

4. The Universe
When was this text written? How have the cultural, social, political, historical, religious, philosophical, racial, gendered, etc. influences of the time lent meaning or significance to the text? How does knowing this enrich or deepen our understanding of the text?

Because your response cannot be more than a single-spaced page, make sure your idea is specific. I’m not interested in rambling or cloudy prose. Your response should not describe or discuss your personal feelings about the text, whether you liked it or disliked it. It should contain a clear, direct thesis as its first sentence; every claim it makes should be supported by evidence; how and why that evidence supports your idea must be clearly explained. Some responses require outside research; use MLA format. Each paper will be assessed on a scale of 1 to 10.

UNDERGRADUATES: YOU WILL WRITE 8 RESPONSE PAPERS; YOU MUST WRITE ABOUT EACH CATEGORY TWICE.

GRADUATE STUDENTS: YOU WILL WRITE 15 RESPONSE PAPERS; YOU MUST WRITE ABOUT EACH CATEGORY THREE TIMES. WHAT CATEGORY YOU WRITE ABOUT FOR THE THREE REMAINING PAPERS IS UP TO YOU.

As part of your participation grade, you will be asked to present your papers. Be prepared for this. Bring two copies to each class meeting: one to give to me; and one to place on the document camera for your presentation.

III.
Researched Literary Analysis=25%
This assignment includes an annotated bibliography; a survey of scholarship; researched literary analysis in which you refute or advance the scholarly debate; and a reflective preface. MLA format.

UNDERGRADUATES: YOUR LITERARY ANALYSIS WILL BE A MINIMUM OF 10-15 PAGES.

GRADUATE STUDENTS: YOUR ESSAY ANALYSIS A MINIMUM OF 15-20 PAGES.

The annotated bibliography and reflective preface do not factor into the page count.

If you are uncertain about proper documentation techniques, refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. For your research, investigate the multiple resources available via electronic databases, especially JSTOR.

Grading Criteria:
1. A clear thesis that makes a significant (original, not trite, clich├ęd or obvious) point

2. Logical claims that support the thesis without contradicting the facts of the texts.

3. There is adequate and relevant evidence to support each claim

4. There is well-developed explanation/discussion of how/why the evidence supports each claim

5. The ideas in the essay show originality and imagination

6. The essay is well-organized

7. The writer does not rely too heavily on any one source

8. The prose is readable: the writer varies sentence lengths and structure, uses strong verbs, has a strong voice, and avoids distracting mechanical and surface errors

Grade 90-100: significant thesis; excellent support of thesis; excellent discussion, logical organization, varied sentence lengths and structures; readable prose; practically error-free in grammar, spelling, and punctuation

Grade of 80-89: significant thesis; adequate support; good organization; competent sentences; precise diction; infrequent mechanical errors

Grade of 70-79: obvious thesis with relevant support; good organization; mechanically correct sentences; boring prose; occasional mechanical errors

Grade of 60-69: obvious or insignificant thesis with inadequate or irrelevant support; weak organization; tedious prose; many mechanical errors

Below 60: trivial thesis; lack of supporting material; lack of organization; frequent structural errors; frequent and repetitious mechanical errors; unreadable/incomprehensible prose

Class Policies
Do the work. Missed assignments cannot be made up. No late work is accepted. Your final grade will drop 5% for every class you miss over three. I don’t distinguish between excused and unexcused absences. Frequent tardiness will negatively affect your participation grade. Plagiarism results in failure of the course. 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.


Schedule of Events

Monday, January 14
O’Connor, Mystery and Manners, “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” 63

Wednesday, January 16
Mystery and Manners, “Writing Short Stories,” 87
O’Connor, Complete Stories, “Good Country People,” 271

Monday, January 21—NO CLASS—MLK DAY

Wednesday, January 23
Mystery and Manners, “The Church and the Fiction Writer,” 143
Complete Stories, “Revelation,” 488

Monday, January 28
Mystery and Manners, “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction,” 36
Complete Stories, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” 117

Wednesday, January 30—NO CLASS—JOSEPH AT AWP CONFERENCE

Monday, February 4
Mystery and Manners, “The Fiction Writer and His Country,” 25
Complete Stories, “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” 405

Wednesday, February 6

Writing a survey of scholarship

Monday, February 11

Mystery and Manners, “The Teaching of Literature,” 121
Walker, In Lover & Trouble, “Roselily,” 3

Wednesday, February 13

Mystery and Manners, “Total Effect and the Eighth Grade,” 135
In Love & Trouble, “The Child Who Favored Daughter,” 35

Monday, February 18
Mystery and Manners, “Southern Fiction,” 36
In Love & Trouble, “The Revenge of Hannah Kemhuff,” 60

Wednesday, February 20
Mystery and Manners, “A Memoir of Mary Ann.” 213

Monday, February 25
Allison, “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure”

Wednesday, February 27
Mystery and Manners, “Novelist and Believer,” 154

Monday, March 3
Mystery and Manners, “Catholic Novelists and Their Readers,” 169

Wednesday, March 5
Mystery and Manners, “The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South,” 191

Monday March 10—NO CLASS—SPRING BREAK
Wednesday, March 12—NO CLASS—SPRING BREAK


Monday, March 17
O’Connor, Wise Blood

Wednesday, March 19
Wise Blood

Monday, March 24
Wise Blood

Wednesday, March 26
Wise Blood

Monday, March 31
Complete Stories, “Enoch and the Gorilla,” 108

Wednesday, April 2
Film of Wise Blood

Monday, April 7
Mystery and Manners, “The Regional Writer,” 51
Allison, Bastard out of Carolina

Wednesday, April 9
Bastard out of Carolina

Monday, April 14
Bastard out of Carolina

Wednesday, April 16
Bastard out of Carolina

Monday, April 21
Film of Bastard out of Carolina

Wednesday, April 23
Walker, The Color Purple

Monday, April 28
The Color Purple

Wednesday, April 30
Film of The Color Purple

Monday, May 5

Working on Literary Analysis

Wednesday, May 7

Last Day of Class

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

English 340 Form and Technique Spring 2008

Professor Diana Joseph Office: AH 201 L
Interns: Natalie Stowe and Matthew Vercant Phone: 389-5144
Email: diana.joseph@mnsu.edu Hours: MW 12-2 T 5-6
and by appointment
http://dianajosephsyllabi.blogspot.com/

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 large and small group 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
The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, ed. Martone
$ for copying expenses

Assignments
1. Imitation=50%
For each story we read, I’ll give you an imitation exercise. You’ll begin it in class and complete it on your own time. These exercises must be typed and double-spaced. You will have at least 3 opportunities to workshop one of these exercises in a small group. Toward the end of the semester you’ll develop your exercise into a full-length imitation of the original text. We’ll workshop these in a large group. You’ll turn in your story, all drafts and revisions, along with a reflective preface on Finals Day.

2. Craft Analysis=25%
A. Select a story from any edition of Best American Short Stories between 1994—2007. The story you pick should be one you love. Make a copy that you’ll turn in to you with your essay.

B. In your essay, define, then discuss and analyze ONE of the following elements of fiction as it relates to the story you selected. Support and illustrate claims with specific examples from the text; explain how and why the examples support your claim.

Point of view Characterization Style Structure

Setting/place Tone Imagery Theme

3. Participation=25%
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.

Class Policies
Each absence over 3 will lower your final grade by 5%. I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absence.

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.


Schedule of Events

Monday, January 14 First day of class
Wednesday, January 16 “Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story,” 53

Monday, January 21—NO CLASS—MLK DAY
Wednesday, January 23 “Gryphon,” 131

Monday, January 28 “Silver Water,” 159
Wednesday, January 30—NO CLASS—JOSEPH AT AWP CONFERENCE

Monday, February 4 “White Angel,” 229
Wednesday, February 6 Small Groups

Monday, February 11 Small Groups
Wednesday, February 13 Small Groups

Monday, February 18 “Fiesta, 1980,” 244
Wednesday, February 20 “Pet Milk,” 256

Monday, February 25 “Nebraska,” 338
Wednesday, February 27 “The Things They Carried,” 501

Monday, March 3 Small Groups
Wednesday, March 5 Small Groups

Monday March 10—NO CLASS—SPRING BREAK
Wednesday, March 12—NO CLASS—SPRING BREAK

Monday, March 17 Craft Analysis Due
Small Groups

Wednesday, March 19 “Brokeback Mountain,” 521

Monday, March 24 “The Way We Live Today,” 569
Wednesday, March 26 “First Body,” 595

Monday, March 31 “Strays,” 542
Wednesday, April 2 Small Groups

Monday, April 7 Small Groups
Wednesday, April 9 Small Groups

Monday, April 14 Large Group
Wednesday, April 16 Large Group

Monday, April 21 Large Group
Wednesday, April 23 Large Group

Monday, April 28 Large Group
Wednesday, April 30 Large Group

Finals Day Imitation Story/Reflective Preface Due


Name___________________________________________________________________
On a scale of 1-10, estimate the time/effort you estimate each student put into your workshop critique.

1. Akers, Timothy

2. Anson, Michaela

3. Barna, Regina A

4. Brovold, Anna E

5. Casperson, Nicholas J

6. Crowley, Allison

7. Franzen, Adam P

8. Gillespie, Lynn K

9. Harder, Christopher J

10. Harms, Mitchell A

11. Herauf, Derek W

12. Hickey, Ryan T

13. Kelley, Brandy A

14. Klecker, Michael S

15. Mielke, Peter D

16. Milbert, Mary E

17. Myers, Emily S

18. Natale, Richard D

19. Paulsen, Niquoia M

20. Peregrin, Anthony J

21. Seipel, Nicholas J

22. Tanner, Erik V

23. Urlacher, Emily S

24. Vevea, Elizabeth M

25. Young, Lucian R

English 643 Fiction Workshop Spring 2008

Diana Joseph Office: AH 201 L
English 643 Phone: 389-5144
Email: diana.joseph@mnsu.edu Hours: MW 12-2 T 5-6
and by appointment
http://dianajosephsyllabi.blogspot.com

Graduate Seminar—Fiction Writing

This workshop differs from traditional workshops.

When we discuss a story, there won’t be talk about what we “like” or “don’t like.” There won’t be talk about what’s “good” or “bad”; there won’t be any value judgments. (This kind of feedback is hugely subjective and frequently confusing—like when six people love it, six people hate it, and one needs more time to think things over.) There won’t be advice on how to “fix” your story. (It’s your story, which means it’s your vision/version of the world, which means you should be the only one who can fix it.) There won’t be suggestions about what you “could” or “might” do. (I’m not interested in talking about writing that hasn’t been written.)

I am interested in what your story is about – the questions it raises, its themes, your artistic vision – and I’m interested in how your story is told, 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 on 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.

This approach demands work that’s more polished and developed than a rough first draft. Do not bring in work that is incomplete—it must have a recognizable beginning, middle and end. If you’re bringing in a chapter from a novel, please provide a brief description of your project. If you bring in sloppy work, don’t be surprised if there’s not much to say about it.

Class Materials
This is no required text for this class.$ for photocopying/printing costs

Assignments
See Schedule of Events for due dates

1. Craft Analysis/Presentation=25%

A. Select a story from any edition of Best American Short Stories between 1994—2007. The story you pick should be one you love. Make copies of your selection for everyone in the class.

B. Define, then discuss and analyze ONE of the following elements of fiction as it relates to the B.A. story you selected. Support and illustrate claims with specific examples from the text; explain how and why the examples support your claim. Turn in your craft analysis on the day of your presentation.

Point of view Characterization Style Structure

Setting/place Tone Imagery Theme


2. Revised Story/Justification Essay=25%

Revise any one of the stories you’ve written this semester and worshopped in this class.
Write an essay in which you:

A. Describe your revision process;

B. Compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences between the two versions;

C. Describe, discuss, explain, and justify the choices you made regarding how this story is crafted. How does your use of craft create unity, a singular effect, a vivid and continuous dream? (If it doesn’t, discuss what you perceive as the story’s shortcomings.)

Outside sources are not required, but if you find it helpful to refer to any of the stories we’ve read from Best American, feel free to do so.

3. Participation=50%

I define participation as your active engagement with the class, demonstrated through evidence of preparedness, and thoughtful contributions to discussions and workshops. Each of you will offer an assessment of your peers’ workshop responses; I will take this into consideration when determining participation grades.

Class Policies

Do the work; don’t miss class; show up on time. Participation is 50% of your final grade. If you’re not here, you can’t participate. If you fail to turn in your story on the day it’s due, you lose your workshop spot. If you don’t come to class on the day of your workshop, it won’t be rescheduled. If you’re not here to give your Best American presentation, you can’t make it up. All coursework must be completed to pass this class. Assignments are tentative and subject to change.

Due Dates

1/22 Copies of your Best American selection due

1/29 Workshop Story Due
Best American—Cole & DeWolf

2/5—No Class—Precinct Caucus

2/12 Workshop
Best American—Rolfes

2/26 Best American—Irwin
Workshop

3/4—No Class—Andreas Reading

3/11—No Class—Spring Break

3/18 Best American—Lacey
Workshop

3/25 Best American—Schultz
Workshop

4/1 Best American—Melcher
Workshop

4/8 Best American—Surdo
Workshop

4/15 Best American—Philips
Workshop

4/22 Workshop

4/29 Workshop

Finals Day—Revised Story/Justification Essay Due


______________________

Your name_________________________________________________________English 643On 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. Cole, Antoinette K


2. DeWolf, Daniel E


3. Irmen, Ami M


4. Lacey, Kathleen N


5. Melcher, Nathan G


6. Phillips, Alex J


7. Rolfes, Luke T


8. Schultz, Dylan T


9. Surdo, Jonathan M

Looking for something to read?

Click here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

For the most literate cities in America, click here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Reading list for Southern Women Writers; we're starting with Mystery and Manners.

Flannery O'Connor
Mystery and Manners
Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor
Wise Blood

Dorothy Allison
Two or Three Things I Know For Sure
Bastard Out of Carolina

Alice Walker
The Color Purple
In Love and Trouble