30.7.10

Welcome to the Introduction to Literature

We will be using blogs as a place for personal and public reflection on literature. We will also develop our critical analysis and writing skills both through our individual posts and by reading classmates’ posts. Our blogs will be the subject of our classroom discussions and help us to see the multiple viewpoints that literature inspires. We will discover that there is not one right answer, but rather a variety of ways to make meaning of text; when contemplating literature there is always room for deeper reflection.

Writing
Response Topics are located on your course syllabus and will act as a springboard for your analysis and contemplation of our reading. Response Topics will vary in scope: some will ask you to make personal connections to the text; others will ask you to respond critically to the form and style; some will ask you to imitate features of the texts; others will engage you in the historical context; and there will be times when the subject of contemplation is left up to you. Your posts will help us unpack the meaning of the text in our class discussions where we will rarely discuss the plot, but we will instead explore other essential elements of fiction, including theme, character, style, tone, diction, imagery, setting, and structural form. Lessons will include a discussion of applying critical analysis, including Feminist, Reader Response, and New Historicist theory. We will also learn to ask questions about texts and explore structural elements of form including textual gaps—what's missing—and analyze why author's employ this important device. Strategies such as PPA, double-entry journals, annotated bibliographies and difficulty papers will work to assist our literary exploration as well as provide you with effective strategies to utilize in other reading intensive college courses.

Reading
Reading is at the heart of every literature class, but in this class the authors you will read will include the people sitting next to you in the classroom. Each student will author their own personal blog and I will link each blog to a class page where, together, we will build our own online reading and writing community. An average of 4-6 hours of weekly reading is expected. I will select a contemporary novel and a novel from the Western Canon each semester. Some students will need to put aside more time as we delve into the canonical novel as these tend to be denser in style and form and thus require more effort. Students will also be required to read literary criticism in preparation for their research papers. The research paper itself will add an additional reading burden, so plan on weeks 8-14 of the semester to include the heaviest load of work for the course. To conclude, we will read and view sections of an American play. Often we will have the opportunity to watch the play performed in the campus theater—depending on production schedules and times. Throughout the semester, a thematically linked selection of poems will be incorporated into our discussions and course lessons.

Each student will be required to comment on at least one of their classmates’ blogs every week. When we encounter opinions other than our own, we are given the additional opportunity of expanding our own assumptions about the world and, in doing so, unlock a broader understanding of the text and, perhaps, ourselves. If you do not have computer access at home, no problem! Frequent and regular use of the library has always been a big part of the collegial experience. You will need to schedule a minimum of two hours per week prior to the Sunday deadline to create, post, and comment using the computers that are available to you in the library or the  Campus Computer Labs. I suggest talking with the staff about your schedule and planning ahead. Additional help is also available in the Writing Center.

Please don't ever hesitate to ask me any questions pertaining to the class and/or the use of blogging technology.

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