Course Syllabus for English 331: Major Prose: Experimental Fiction/Intro to DH (Spring, 2015)
|Time: Tuesday/Thursday 12:30-1:50 (MAC 219)||With: Prof. Chuck Rybak|
|Email: email@example.com||Campus Phone: (920) 465-2348|
|Office: Theater Hall 383||Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-12:00; by appointment|
The official course description reads “Study of American prose fiction including examples of novels, short stories and satire.” We have all of that this semester, and I’ve deliberately chosen works that I feel fit the category of “Experimental,” and this experimentation will present itself more obviously in some works than in others. Our goal is to discuss the works on their own terms, in their own historical moments, on your own terms, how they function stylistically/poetically, and what specifically makes them experimental. (Note: we’re cheating by mixing in a Canadian writer and an Irish writer.)
Furthermore, this class will serve as an introduction to “Digital Humanities.” Digital humanities is, in terms of projects, more focused on making and building things as an expression of interpretation and engagement. In other words, you will not write a traditional essay for this class; instead, you will work through an extensive project suite that will involve your making, building, or digitally engaging the course’s material.
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Eimear McBride
House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski
Night Film, Marisha Pessl
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
The Tattooed Map, Barbara Hodgson
A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
The Big Things (Follow the links. They’re important!)
- UWGB Commons for the Digital and Public Humanities: You will all be receiving an email invite to The UWGB Commons for the Digital and Public Humanities. You are to create a username and password that you will use for the remainder of the semester. I will create a private group for this class. In the group, you will be able to collaborate with your group members on documents, have discussions about projects, etc, without having to arrange a series of meetings or communicate through email. The Commons will also serve as the forum for us to post our blogs, projects, etc. I will walk you through this in class. (If you are already a site member, you need to be added to the class group.)
- Course Schedule: This provides our reading schedule and major due dates.
- The Project Suites: A description of the six major projects we will complete during the semester. (One for each novel.) (Listing of Group Members Here)
- A Domain of One’s Own: An exciting pilot project where you will build a new webspace (and subdomain) that are entirely yours.
- Badges: Also a pilot project, this focuses on foregrounding the skills acquired in class, making them more accessible to you and potential employers. Badge #1: Basic WordPress.
Attendance: I strongly believe that if you do not come to class you do not deserve to pass. I recommend you keep track of your attendance. I also recommend “saving” your absences in case you need them later, or if an emergency arises. You are allowed to miss 4 classes without penalty—after that your grade is affected and I recommend dropping the course—there are no excused or unexcused absences. Arriving to class late will also be noted, as will time spent on electronic devices. Further, you are responsible for the hand-outs, notes, etc., if you must miss class. Contact either another student or myself to avoid falling behind. Lastly, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE turn off electronic devices and put them away where you won’t be distracted (Unless, of course, I ask you to use them!). When you sign up for this class I assume that means you are available during this time period and don’t need to be in continual contact with people outside of the room.
Class Activities and Participation. Obviously, this is a literature course, so here is the heartbeat—we read and we talk about what we read. This is a discussion-based course, which means you must come to class prepared. “Prepared” means having the reading and assignments done, having thought about the work, and having something to say in class. The literature is irrelevant unless we discuss it. All students are expected to participate in class, do all reading/writing assignments, and come to class prepared to contribute. Your understanding will not improve unless you put in the work necessary to nurture that improvement. Furthermore, whenever we are discussing a text you are expected to have that text in class with you. (200 points)
Project Suites. These small-group projects, all defined at the start of class, will be completed on a rotating basis during the course of the semester. There are six projects to complete; one for each book. (100 points per project) Due Dates: See course calendar for Project Suite due dates.
Final Reflection on Project Suites as a Vehicle for Interpretation. This piece of reflective writing, posted on your new domain, should critically investigate the following claim: experimental approaches to interpreting literature can provide unique interpretations of that literature, and this is especially true when the literature in question is classified as experimental. (200 points) Due Date: Exam week.
Note: All assignments must be turned in on the due date; any assignments not turned in will be penalized one full letter grade per day.
In any instance where a number grade is recorded, I assign them using the following scale:
|920-1000 A||890-919 A/B||820-889 B|
|790-819 B/C||720-789 C||690-719 C/D|
|600-689 D||F is below 600|
Quizzes: I reserve the right to start giving quizzes if participation is low and it is clear that the reading is not being completed—they will simply be added to the point scale under participation.
A Note on Public Work/FERPA: Of course, you have all of the required privacy you need in this class in terms of grades and feedback from me on projects. None of that will be made public. That being said, my goal for this semester is to have our work in the humanities reach a broader audience than me or your fellow classmates. In order to do this, we will make the finished project suites public, and there is no requirements that your names be affixed to them in any way. Personally, I think it would be great if you claimed authorship and offered your work under a “Creative Commons License,” but we can talk about this later. If you do not want any of your work made public, I have two suggestions: first, I can of course work with you on some alternative arrangement. Second, and more practical, would be to seek out a different upper-level literature class with more traditional assignments.
Assistance: Finally, I must caution you against plagiarism — that is, the willful misrepresentation of another’s work as your own. Be sure to attribute all ideas and language that does not originate in your own brain. Plagiarism is a form of outside assistance that will only harm you and your academic standing. If you plagiarize, you will receive an “F” on the assignment. Additionally, if the case warrants further action the Dean will be notified of academic misconduct. You should also know that recycling work— presenting essays and projects you’ve completed for other classes for a new grade— will result in failure of the assignment. Finally, I am available to you should you need guidance, direction, or insight on any issue in this course. Please stop by during my office hours or make an appointment with me. I will gladly help you with anything, anytime.
Classroom Climate: The rules are pretty basic. Be respectful of others, listen during lectures/activities, do not talk when someone else is talking, and do your best. We will work to maintain an inclusive, respectful, welcoming, and productive learning environment. As I will say often during the semester… “Turn to the people you love and care about deeply.”
Final Words: This class is going to demand a lot of reading and work; therefore, much diligence. Please don’t fall behind and please don’t resort to Spark Notes and the like. Reading and class contributions will lead to your learning, as well as other positive results. I have high expectations for us this semester and make no apologies for it. I hope this constant activity in this course proves exciting and worthwhile. Since our course is project rather than paper based, things are not always going to go as planned, and that means we might fail at times, run into problems that really vex us. Still, if we’re going to fail at something, let’s fail spectacularly and learn the most that we can. Trust me on one point: as long as you work hard you will be rewarded. It is the effort put into the reading and projects that truly matters, not how nice the paint job is.