The timeline for this course is a working outline for the semester. The timeline is provisional, however, as we will likely make adjustments based on your interests, and progress. The coursework is organized into three parts:

  • exploring English as a field of study, thinking about the kinds of reading and writing in literary and cultural studies, and practicing the arts of reading and writing
  • reflecting on, and curating, the writing you have completed in the first part of the course, and refining your writing process and editing skills
  • contributing to a case study of the nineteenth-century American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each of the class meetings on the timeline lists the general topic, due dates for the writing projects, and readings for the following class (“for next time”). In the first part of the course, there will be writing weekly short essays (“second thoughts”). There are seven longer writing projects as well. Each project description will be posted on the course blog ten days before the due date. There will also be and a final essay project on Emerson that you will complete during the final three weeks of the course.

You will want your laptop or tablet for every class session. If you do not have your own machine we will work with the Mason Library to arrange a laptop for our class sessions through the loan program.

Week One

“There is then creative reading as well as creative writing”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar”

Tuesday January 21

Introductions. Introduction to the class. Introduction to the English 215 course site on Word Press. KSCOpen. Your Domain and installing Word Press to create a web log for the course

For next time:

  • Complete and submit the Google Request Form for a domain on KSCopen
  • Read every word on every page of the web site. Take notes. Generate at least three questions to class on Thursday
  • If you have a tablet or laptop and/or smart phone, bookmark the course site

Thursday January 23

KSCopen (continued). Open Education. Discussion of the Learning Management System (LMS) and the history of managing learning in higher education. Web literacy and teaching and learning on the open web. Using the course web site. Using the Tutorial Pages. Building your blog (the book list, the commonplace book, the reading journal). Discussion of visual rhetoric and writing conventions for print and the web.

For next time

  • Send your URL to Mark by email no later than Friday
  • Complete a “second thoughts” essay. Post by end of the day on Friday
  • Visit and browse the web site of Keene State College English Department . Come to class prepared to talk about what you have learned and to share questions about the academic field you have chosen to study in college. Consider the Mission statement, program objectives and learning outcomes, and course requirements in relation to your interests and goals as a student in the program
  • Complete and post your first writing project, a narrative on reading and writing in school. Due Monday January 27
  • Read the essays of your classmates (web sites should be up by the end of the weekend). Come to class ready to talk more about the essay as a form of writing

Week Two

“These are not the dreams of a few poets, here and there, but man is an analogist, and studies relations in all objects.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Due Monday at 12 noon: Project #1, narrative on reading and writing in school (posted on your blog)

Tuesday January 28 What is English? Why English? Writing Workshop: forms of thinking, forms of writing 

Thursday January 30 Discussion of the academic essay: expectations, discipline-based and generic conventions, the essay as a literary form 

For next time

  • Complete a “second thoughts” essay and post on your blog no later than Friday (tomorrow) at 5 PM
  • Do a web search for English departments. Consider the different ways undergraduate majors in English are designed. What do you notice? Consider the mission statements and look again at the course requirements in English majors. What choices and values appear to be determining the English major at different colleges and universities? How do you make sense of the many areas of study that fall under the broader definition of English: linguistics and discourse analysis; rhetoric and composition; creative writing, literature and literary criticism; critical theory and cultural studies; English education, and so on? What might the history of English studies (philology, literary history, literary criticism, close reading, digital humanities) teach us about the current-traditional organization of the field of study? What might the emergence of writing and composition tell us about the past and current state of the field of study? What is literary theory? Where is English as higher education continues to evolve and change?
  • Complete and post your second writing project on English studies by Monday at 5 PM
  • For next week’s discussion: read Italo Calvino, “The Man Who Shouted Theresa” and opening paragraph of Calvino’s novel If on a winter’s night a travelerRead “Daughters of the Moon,” an unpublished text that is part of the Cosmicomics (Salman Rushdie offers a useful commentary on Cosmicomics that will help locate this text in the literary project of which it is a part.)

Week Three

“But every good book should be re-read as soon as it is finished. After the sketchiness of the first reading comes the creative work of reading. We must then know the problem that confronted the author. The second, then the third reading. . .gives us, little by little, the solution of this problem.”

—Gaston Bachelard

Monday February 3 Due: Project #2 (posted on your blog by the end of the day)

Tuesday February 4

Essay debrief: “What is English?” Second-Thoughts essays

Reading as a Writer: blog post and in-class exercise. Poems on Workshop page

Texts as Representation: Forms of Narrative: Anecdotes, parables, short stories. Discussion of Italo Calvino, The Man Who Shouted Theresa and opening paragraph of Calvino’s novel If on a winter’s night a traveler; Daughters of the Moon, an unpublished text that is part of the Cosmicomics (Salman Rushdie offers a useful commentary on Cosmicomics that will help locate this text in the literary project of which it is a part.)

For next time

  • Read Chapter 6, “Narrative,” in Jonathan Culler’s Literary Theory,82-93, William Carlos Williams, “The Use of Force,” and Italo Calvino, “Black Sheep

Thursday February 6 Reading narratives and narrative theory

For next time

  • Complete a “second thoughts” essay. You may want to draw on selections from Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction: Chapters 1–5 (1–81). The first two chapters will make sense to you as we have been asking theoretical questions. Here is Culler on page 20 talking about the question, “What is literature?” One answer is that it is “stories, poems, and plays.” But this kind of answer raises interesting questions. “What sort of object or activity” is literature? What does literature do? What purposes does it serve? “Thus understood, ‘What is literature’ asks not for a definition but for an analysis, even an argument about why one might concern oneself with literature at all” (20)
  • read in Culler Chapters 5-8 (69-120); and have a look at the Appendix “Theoretical Schools and Movements.” Note how succinctly Culler is able to encapsulate modern theoretical movements in literary and cultural studies
  • complete project #3 Ways of Reading (due next Wednesday)

Week Four

“Poetics starts with attested meanings or effects and asks how they are achieved. (What makes this passage in a novel seem ironic? What makes us sympathize with this particular character? Why is the ending of this poem ambiguous?) Hermeneutics, on the other hand, starts with texts and asks what they mean, seeking to discover new and better interpretations.” (61)

—Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory:  A Very Short Introduction

Tuesday February 11 Italo Calvino, “Black Sheep” and The Man Who Shouted Theresa and Culler, the Appendix “Theoretical Schools and Movements” 121–32

For next time:

  • Culler Chapters 5-8 (69-120)

Wednesday February 12 Due: Project #3 (posted on your blog by 5 PM)

Thursday February 13 Poetry as a Field of Action. Poetry as Experience. Texts will be posted and/or print texts will be distributed in class.

For next time

  • complete a “second thoughts” essay. Also, I want to invite you to go back and read and revise your earlier second thoughts if, in reviewing what you said, you have more to say–or perhaps, you might find yourself thinking your thoughts differently
  • Read Selections from Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction: read Chapters 1-4 (1-68); Criticism and Theory. Problems in Literary Criticism and Theory

Week Five

“Our talking about poetry is a part of, an extension, of our experience of it, and a good deal of thinking has gone to the making of poetry, so a good deal may well go to the study of it.”

—T.S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism

Tuesday February 18 Poems and books of poems. Introduction to project #4 and examples for the poetry book project

For next time:

  • Go to the library and find a book of poems that interests you
  • Read the poems. Take notes on what you are reading. No later than Thursday at 8AM, send Mark an email with the author, title of the book, and one of the poems from the book you have chosen

Thursday February 20 Poetry and Poetics: Selected poems from books you have chosen for the poetry book project

For next time

  • Watch the 2013 performance of Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles” (1916) directed by Nancy Greening and filmed by Jasmine Castillo.

Week Six

Monday February 24: Summer Registration Begins

Tuesday February 25 Reading from the script of the play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, actress, director, novelist, biographer, and journalist Susan Keating Glaspell (July 1, 1876 – July 27, 1948),  the founder of the Provincetown Players, the first modern American theater company

Wednesday February 26 Due: Project #4 (posted on your blog by 5 PM) 

Thursday February 27 Writing Workshop. Self-assessment. Preparing for part two of the course. Week 7: individual conferences. Week 8: thinking, reading, (re)writing. Week 9 Spring Break.

Friday February 28: Complete the Self-Evaluation and Submit to Mark by email no later than Friday at 5 PM

Week Seven

There will be no class meetings this week to make time for preparing for and conducting individual conferences. Conferences will be in Mark’s office, 206 Parker Hall. Please make sure that you complete the self-evaluation. You can cut and paste the evaluation that you will find in the drop down menu under Process. Send to Mark no later than the end of the day on Friday.

There is no required second thoughts essay this week–that is, unless you are motivated to write one!

English 215 Conference Schedule

Tuesday March 3

9:00 Meeghan
9:30 Lauren (Simmons)
10:00 Jaime
10:30 Lily
11:00 Julia

Wednesday March 4

12:00 Trent

Thursday March 5

9:00 Jake
9:30 Preston
10:00 Alyssa
10:30 Lauren (Degnan)
11:00 Paige

Week Eight

“Re-vision-the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction-is for us more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves.”

-Adrienne Rich, “When We Dead ReAwaken: Writing as Re-Vision” (1972)

Week 8 is designed to give you the time and space to reflect on your work and to work on your blog and the writing you have completed in the first half of the course. Your work is to see your own reading and thinking and writing with fresh eyes, to enter your own text. That text is you, the reader and thinker and writer, and it is the materials with which your reading and thinking and writing are engaged.

The in-class writing workshops, the self evaluation, and the individual conferences will provide you with the information that you need to make a productive agenda for yourself. The work is

  • Curating your writing: Rereading and Revising
  • Review Design of Blog: (re)consider your theme, consider the blog as a portfolio, consider users who are not enrolled in the class reading your work, make changes accordingly

This interim period in the course is at the same time for taking up the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here is what you will be doing this week (and next week if you choose to work over spring break):

  • Read in Emerson’s Poetry and Prose. I encourage you to get to know Emerson by spending some time with his early sermons, his addresses and lectures, his poems, and the excerpts from his journals, notebooks, and correspondence. When we return we will focus our group conversation on “The American Scholar,” 56–59 (all readings, unless otherwise noted, are in Emerson’s Prose and Poetry)

With no class meetings you should plan on the standard ratio of class time to out-of-class work: for every hour of class time 2-3 hours. So build into your schedule about 9-12 hours of work for the course.

Week Nine

No classes: Spring Break

Week Ten

Tuesday March 24 Ralph Waldo Emerson: Early Writings. Reading “The American Scholar.” Before class, no later than Monday March 23, write marginal comments on the digital copy of the essay. When you have logged in to hypothes.is, in the drop down menu in the upper right, choose the “English 215” Group. In my most recent post on the main page of the course blog I have asked each of you to take responsibility for the marginal comments and annotations. As Emerson says, “Do your own quarrying.”

For next time

  • Read Essays: First Series, Circles, 174–82; from Essays: Second Series, “The Poet,” 183–97, Experience, 198–213; The Method of Nature, 81–93. Please read the essays and annotate. We will discuss our own methods of annotation, and learning how to annotate productively. The texts and the annotations (both your own, and those of your classmates’) will be useful for your weekly writing
  • Read Essays: First Series, “Circles,” 174–82; from Essays: Second Series, “The Poet,” 183–97, “Experience,” 198–213;“The Method of Nature,” 81–93

Thursday March 26 Fall 2016 Course Registration Workshop. Reading Workshop on Creative Reading and Creative Writing

For next time

  • CompleteProject #5 on Emerson’s “The American Scholar.”
  • Read Emerson, Sermons, 3–26; Perry Miller, New England‘s Transcendentalism: Native or Imported?” (1964), 668–78; Barbara Packer, “Ralph Waldo Emerson” (1988), 725–38; Stephen Whicher, “Emerson’s Tragic Sense” (1953), 663–68; Joel Porte, “The Problem of Emerson” (1973), 679–96

Week Eleven 

Monday March 30

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Texts and Contexts. Project #5 on Emerson’s “The American Scholar” (posted on blog by 12 noon) Registration for fall 2016 classes begins!

Tuesday March 31

Workshop on Reading Emerson

For next time

  • read “Quotation and Originality,” 319–30 and come to class with three sentences or passages that you find interesting, effective, productive

Thursday April 2 Writing Workshop on the Art of Quotation

For next time

  • complete Project #6 on Emerson and the Essay
  • read in the Norton responses from the nineteenth-century, 584–656, note especially commentaries by Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Walt Whitman, and Jose Martí

Week Twelve

Monday April 6 Due: Project #6 on Emerson and the Essay (12 noon)

Tuesday April 7 Ralph Waldo Emerson: Texts, Contexts, Criticism. Reading Workshop: Nineteenth-Century Reviews and Impressions

For next time

  • Read George Santayana, William James, John Dewey, D. H. Lawrence, Robert Frost, and A. R. Ammons; Stanley Cavell, from “The Philosopher in American Life” (1988), 738–42; Cornel West, from “The American Prehistory of American Pragmatism” (1989), 742–58

Thursday April 9 Twentieth-Century Reviews and Impressions

For next time

  • Read Essays: Second Series, “Politics,” 213–21, “New England Reformers,” 221–33; from “An Address on the Emancipation of the Negroes in the British West Indies,” 348–59, “Address to the citizens of Concord on the Fugitive Slave Law,” 359–72; Len Gougeon, from Virtue’s Hero: Emerson, Antislavery, and Reform (1990), 758–67
  • Complete project #7 on Emerson

Week Thirteen

Tuesday April 21 Ralph Waldo Emerson: Later Writings: Emerson and Reform

For next time

  • Read from The Conduct of Life, “Power,” 279–89, “Illusions,” 289–96

Thursday April 23 Emerson and The Conduct of Life. Looking Ahead: Final Essay Project discussion

For next time

  • read Letters and Social Aims, “Poetry and Imagination, 297–319; from The Dial, “Thoughts on Modern Literature,” 333–47

Week Fourteen

Tuesday April 28 Ralph Waldo Emerson: Texts, Contexts, Criticism: Emerson and the Literary Arts

Thursday April 30 Writing Workshop on Final Emerson Essay Friday May 1 Last Day of Classes

Finals Week

Monday May 4 Reading Day

Tuesday May 5 Final Examination Block 10:30-12:30 PM. No class. The final essay on Emerson and the portfolio of writing will be completed and posted on your course blog by the end of the final Examination time block