Requirements, Goals, Procedures, and Standards for this Course

ENGL 3706/6902: Course Description

Required Reading

Leitch, Vincent B., ed.  The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism2nd edition. New York: Norton, 2001.
Three public-domain short stories to analyze through the lenses of the theories we will be studying (links provided on course calendar)
Numerous self-assigned books, web sites, articles, and chapters related to your research project.

Course description

Credit hours: 3 semester hours
Prerequisites: Any one of our core survey courses: ENGL 3710, 3711, 3712 or 3713
Description: “Provides an introduction to literary theory and criticism for English majors, emphasizing the history and application of critical approaches to literature. By reading core works in literary theory, students will learn application of theoretical approaches to various texts.”

Course goals

Presumably, every student taking ENGL 3706/6902 plans to be English Studies professional at either the secondary or collegiate level.  Part of one’s professional commitment to our discipline (at whatever level) is staying current with the professional literature.  To fulfill this obligation today, one must be literate in “theory.” For our purposes, we will define “theory” as a long-running series of philosophical conversations about a wide variety of phenomena related to art, writing, language, subjectivity, and culture.
Theory is a vast subject area and we will have done well if you leave this class able to question your own assumptions about the nature, value, and function of literature—and if you can engage the assumptions and assertions of the professional critics and theorists you will read for this class and in the future.  In addition, after completing this course, you should have become familiar with the sometimes difficult jargon and concepts so frequently “deployed” by theoretically informed scholars in their professional work.
NOTE: Some people find “theory” scary—even threatening. The purpose of this class is to demystify theory and make modern literary criticism more accessible to you. Therefore it will be assumed that everyone in the course is new to the subject. No prior experience required!

Americans with Disabilities Act

In accordance with YSU policy—and basic human decency—special adaptations or accommodations are available to anyone who needs them to accomplish this course’s learning objectives. Students needing such accommodations should inform me as soon as possible.
University procedures require students with disabilities to verify their eligibility for special adaptations and accommodations through the Office of Disability Services in the Center for Student Progress (phone: 330-941-1372). Please do so at the beginning of the semester, or when given an assignment for which an accommodation is required.

The Basic Framework

This semester ENGL 3706 will run as a “conference course.” The will affect the way the course will run. Because we’re now a conference course, we are not obliged to keep a specific schedule of days and times nor are we obliged to meet in a specific place. We will use this freedom to create a hybrid course that features both individual conference time with the instructor and ordinary classroom lecture. We will work out the details when we meet in class, but my thought is for us meet for lectures on Tuesdays during our regularly scheduled time (2:00—3:15p) at our regularly schedule place (Moser Hall 2008). You will then meet with me in person (in my office: 243 DeBartolo Hall) for an hour of your choosing at some other point during the week. During these conferences we will explore what you do and don’t understand about the reading and discuss how we might apply what we’re learning to your other coursework. Ideally, we’ll be able to schedule personal conferences during my office hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but I’ll do all I can to accomodate your time constraints.
Attendance: No attendance will be taken in this course, but a seminar class only succeeds if all the participants attend all class meetings and come prepared to engage in class discussions.
Tardiness: You are always welcome to take your seat in class no matter how late you are, but do try to be unobtrusive about it. 
Going Paperless: In an effort to do a nice thing for our mother earth, this class is paperless. All assignments are to be composed in Microsoft Word and sent to me as e-mail attachments on the due date. I will use the “Comment” feature of Word to respond to your work and explain your grades. If you do not have access to Word at home, make plans to use one of YSU’s many computer labs to compose, send, and receive your work. Alternately, inexpensive student versions of Word are available at the information desk on the second floor of Kilcawley Center.
Get confirmation! Ordinarily, I will send you an email message confirming I received your work and have stored it on my hard drive. I cannot tell whether you are a flake or the victim of a technical glitch when I don’t receive work from you by the deadline. Therefore, it is your responsibility to submit all assignments on time, in the proper format, and to follow up if you do not receive, within 24 hours, an e-mailed confirmation from me that your work was received. You are not done “handing in” your work to me until you have received an email confirming I have your work. So keep checking your email!
Use the right platform! You must send me your work as a .doc or .docx file in Microsoft Word. An .rtf or simple text file is NOT acceptable. If you do not have access to Microsoft Word or a computer at home, you will have to make time to come to campus and use one of YSU’s computer labs. Your student fees pay for this resource. (If you do own a personal computer, it is possible to buy MS Word at a significant discount at the Information Center in Kilcawley.) No assignments submitted on paper will be accepted.
Label your files intelligently! Label the Microsoft Word files will email to me in such a way that I can distinguish your work from the other 80—100 students I have each semester. Your last name, first initial, and a brief abbreviation indicating which assignment you’re sending will be sufficient. Example: Smith R FIN tells me which student named Smith is sending me the final project for this course.
A word about the reading: The reading load is stiff in this course; we will average 50-80 pages a week. We probably won’t be able to discuss every single writer in detail. Nevertheless, each of the assigned writers has made a significant contribution to the way English Studies professionals view the significance of their work and to the methodology by which that work is conducted. The good news is that theory ain’t literature. You just have to read for basic comprehension, not for subtle literary effects. If you understand each writer’s basic argument and see the steps they made along the way to advancing that argument, you’ve read the work closely enough for our purposes.

The Assignments

The following is a quick-reference list of the assignments due this semester. For more details, please follow the links
In-person discussion of your recollection and comprehension of the assigned readings: 150 pts. (10 pts. each week)
Personal Statement: worth 100 points.
Personal Statement: Redux: worth 50 points.
The Literature Search: worth 50 points.
The Prospectus: worth 50 points.
The Research Paper: worth 250 points.
Class Evaluation Memo: worth 50 points

The Grading

Your grades will be based on your performance only on the written work described above.  There is no curve in this class and grades will be weighted this way:
In-person Survey
150 pts.
Personal Statement + Redux
150 pts.
Lit. Search
50 pts.
50 pts.
Research Paper
250 pts.
Class Evaluation Memo
50 pts.
700 pts.
Grades for all assignments will be assigned according to the following scale:
The above scale will determine how many points your assignments can earn.  For example, your lit. search is worth 5% of your final grade, or 30 points.  If you earn a B- on this project, you will earn 81% of 30 points, or 24.3 points.  I will convert, in this way, all graded assignments from percentages to points.  Your final grade will be the total of all points earned during the course of the semester.  The total number of points possible for this course is 690; therefore, if you earn a total of 607.2 pts. by the end of the term, you will have earned approximately 88% of the possible total. As you can see from the above scale, your final grade for the course would be a “B” since YSU doesn’t recognize a “B+.”

Standards for Written Work

Grading is as objective as possible in this class. In keeping with this course’s goals, your work will be evaluated according to:
I use the following specific criteria for assigning grades to all major assignments (formal essays and research papers).
A—an “excellent” paper, indicating superior effort, understanding, and achievement
B—a “good” paper, indicating above-average effort, understanding, and achievement
C—a “satisfactory” paper, indicating average effort, understanding, and achievement
D—an “unsatisfactory” paper, indicating below-average effort, understanding, and achievement
F—an “unacceptable” paper, indicating inferior effort, understanding, and achievement

Important Policies

Plagiarism Policy. YSU defines plagiarism in the Student Code and in the Undergraduate Bulletin as a serious breach of academic honesty subject to a range of penalties, including expulsion from the university. While definitions vary, the essence of the offense is intentionally attempting to pass off the work of others as your own work.
While some have found it tempting to download papers from the web or to “recycle” the work of their friends, the consequences will be devastating when you are caught.  (Believe it: with nearly 20 years experience reading student papers and a semester’s time to get to know your thinking and writing abilities, I’ll know if you’re cheating.) The minimum penalty for plagiarism in this class is automatic failure of the course and having a disciplinary action report placed in your student file.
Plagiarism is a fundamental breach of the trust upon which the teacher-student relationship is based. This trust is sacred to me. Be warned: I will be merciless if I “Google” lines from your paper and find them verbatim on the web (unless they are duly cited). Besides, plagiarism robs you of a valuable learning experience—and one that you’re paying for.  Just don’t do it.
Policy on Incompletes. In unusual circumstances, a student in good standing (a grade of “C” or better) may be unable to complete course requirements by the end of the semester.  An Incomplete (I) for this course is possible if all of the following conditions are met:
1) you request the incomplete in writing;
2) you were earning a passing grade at the time you were unable to attend;
3) the circumstances necessitating the request are beyond your control; and
4) I agree that an Incomplete is the appropriate course of action. 
YSU’s incomplete policy states that if no formal grade change occurs by 1 Sept. 2011, an “I” automatically reverts to an “F.”  In other words, you have until the end of summer to make up the work.
Exceptions to The Above Rules. The above description of the rules by which this course will operate is intended to create a level playing field for all students—and to encourage everyone’s full and engaged participation in the course.  However, as William Blake says, “One law for the lion & the ox is oppression.”  I therefore reserve the right to alter any of the above rules if doing so will help a student in unusually difficult circumstances earn his or her grade in a timely manner—and if doing so does not devalue the hard work of his or her more fortunate classmates.