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

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