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Contact: Office: Eh 05 Office Phone: 532-0389 Office Hours: 1:30-2:30 MWF and by appointment. You can schedule an appointment with me before or after class or by calling the phone number listed; a voicemail system will allow me to retrieve messages that you leave. Be sure to include your name and a way to get back in contact with you just in case I have conflicts with the time at which you wish an appointment. Perhaps the easiest and most reliable method of contact (since I can check my e-mail from home) is to e-mail me a message at; I check my e-mail much more often than I can check the phone messages.

Attendance: Attendance, participation, and preparation for class are expected for each of you; in my long teaching experience I have found many direct correlations between what students learn (and the grades they get) with their coming to class and participating. Because I think attendance is important, I allot 10% of the entire course grade to attendance. I will hand around an attendance sheet each day at the beginning of class; to get full credit for attending a class, you need to be on time or at least on time enough to sign the attendance sheet as it’s circulating at the beginning of class.

Attendance grading scale: 0-1 absence = A, 2 absences = B, 3 absences = C, four absences = D, five or more absences = F for attendance. Look at attendance this way: attending class is not a punishment but what you paid your tuition for. And in this class you can get 10% towards an A for the course just by showing up everyday.

Responses to Prompts: Participation is expected both in-class and in response to prompts that I will post to the class listserv. If you do not already have access to e-mail, you need to get an e-mail address and set up an account with the university. Even if you do not own a computer, you can still participate by using the public labs on campus. I will get your e-mail address the first day of class; I expect the listserv to be up and running the first day of the second week. I will divide the class into groups of 3-4. We will set up a system of prompts and responses which will replace one of the papers usually required for this course. I will hand out a separate sheet detailing how prompts/responses work.

Weights of Assignments: Tentative List of Assignments and Approximate Percentages of Course Grade: Midterm (part take home and part in class)--15%, Final--15% (part take-home and part in-class), Attendance--10%, Listserv Responses--20%, Term Paper--25%, Class Participation--15% (includes short oral report on your paper to the rest of us in class).

Assumptions and Policies: Though this course is not primarily a writing course, nevertheless it is an English course for English majors which means that you are expected to write and think clearly and precisely. I expect you to produce the best writing you can for every assignment, even those written in class. All aspects of writing are important in this class and those include correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar as well as maturity and precision of thought. Yes, my children, papers which are poorly written and/or proofread will receive lower grades. I tend to write responses to your work in the margins and at the end; if you cannot make sense of my marginal or end comments, you should see me for further explanation--don’t let my bad handwriting or your shyness keep you from getting the most out of my responses. After all, we are in this together to have you learn as much as possible in the time allowed.

Papers and homework are due at the beginning of class on the day assigned. Work that is late will lose one letter grade and lose one letter grade for each additional calendar day late. You must turn in all of the assignments to pass the course. The syllabus below is tentative and may have to be adjusted to reflect the speed at which this particular class works. We might add some additional poems, for example, or find we have to omit a work if we get behind; you are responsible for knowing any changes made orally in class.
Type all of the work done outside of class. Double-space. Use good bond paper--not erasable bond. Leave ample margins left and right so that I have room for comments. Title your paper appropriately to your subject. The title of your paper should not be the title of the work about which you are writing because you did not write that work. Proofread with a passion; even if you find something you want to change two minutes before you turn in an assignment, make those changes--I will gladly accept neat hand corrections in a typed MS. Do not place your work in a folder. Do not staple it. Use a paper clip so that I can separate the pages and refer back and forth while reading. Type your name and page number on each page in the upper right hand corner (so that when I drop the whole bundle on the floor, I can reassemble who wrote what).

You should assume that the audience for your writing is familiar with the work you are discussing but that they probably do not have the work in front of them as they are reading your paper. Therefore, you need not, should not, waste time telling your reader what happens in the work. Rather, you purpose is to help your reader understand something about the work using specific references to it only when needed to help the reader recall details which are relevant to the points you are making. Provide a page number when referring to fiction. Provide a page number and line number when referring to poetry. Provide an act and scene number as well as a page number when referring to drama.

You may use some secondary resources to help you understand a work. These would include a good college dictionary, the OED, a dictionary of literary terms, a mythological dictionary, or history or other texts which help you to identify allusions in the work. You need not consult professional criticism--usually referred to as "secondary" sources as the piece of literature is the primary source--to help you with your papers and tests. Use these secondary materials as needed, but remember that the final product should be your own work and own ideas. Your work should show how well you are able to read and write, and the only way I can help you to improve is for you to turn in honest and accurate examples of what you do yourself.

General Understandings Further Defined: Because this is a 600-level class, you will be made responsible for a great deal of your own learning and will be expected to contribute to each class. Though I will sometimes lecture for part of a class, I intend to ask questions, listen to intelligent discussion, and contribute my own “jewels of wisdom” when appropriate. In other words, we will all be teachers and students together. To that end, the general requirements are as follows:

1) Do the assigned reading by the time it is listed on the syllabus. Though most of the required reading is of primary material, you will be required, from time to time, to read some secondary materials. Close reading and digestion of the poetry is expected; your understanding of these two poets should accrete during the semester.

2) How do you know when you’re prepared for class?--come to class prepared to teach the required reading to the rest of us. In other words, unlike in a lecture class where one reads the material and waits for the teacher to fill in around the edges, I want you to come each time ready to explain to the rest of us the main ideas and significance of the assigned reading.

3) Read as much as you can on your own of the materials housed in my office, the works on the bibliographies I hand out, and any other relevant materials you can get your hands on. Create for yourself as much context and understanding of the cultural milieu of late 19th-century America as you can. I realize you all have other pressing duties, but devote as much time and energy as you can to canvassing resources pertinent to our general study. Feel free to incorporate these supplemental materials into class discussion; share with us the interesting stuff you find. I will occasionally ask questions about assigned secondary reading and you will be expected to have read it. I also expect that you will incorporate when appropriate secondary materials into written answers on your take-home exams and papers.

4) All students must complete a major research project. The choice of topic is yours as long as you somehow use the resources and ideas of the literature of late 19th-century America in your study. The completed project should be an article length study (15-18 typed pages) and at least attain to publishable quality. Use MLA style guidelines. You will be expected to carefully revise and edit your written work. This is a high-level English course, and you are all expected to not only be competent but excellent writers. As early as possible in the semester, consult with me about what you want to do. I will help in all stages of the work; I can probably supply useful resources and aid in honing the scope of your work. I am an experienced writer and editor and will gladly read drafts of your work and supply incisive (?) commentary.

5) Graduate students are also expected to lead (in the formal sense) class discussions. Each grad student will be assigned two class sessions, one of WW and one on ED. In addition, toward semester's end, probably in the last two regularly scheduled class meeting, grad students will present to the class a formal oral report which capsulizes their research.

6) Syllabus: Please note that this is a tentative (target) syllabus since I’m not sure how fast we will be able to go. I will make oral amendments to this schema throughout the term; you are responsible for coming to class and knowing what changes have been made. I’ve only included the first-few weeks reading to see if the pace need be slowed or if we might, indeed, be able to cover more ground. Unless otherwise indicated, page numbers refer to the Norton edition of Leaves of Grass or The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.

Tentative Syllabus: Note that I’ve only sketched in the first few class periods below. I do that to retain flexibility for all of us so we can slow down or speed up depending on how fast this particular class covers the material. So expect the syllabus to be handed out in chunks over the course of the semester; in all cases I expect to provide at least a week’s advance notice of reading assignments.

8/26 Hello; Introduction to Texts, Procedures and Policies, Each Other. Expectations
Arrived At.

8/28 A brief, very brief, contextualization. The goal here is to see why Whitman was seen to be so radical in technique and thought. We’ll discuss handouts.

Introduction, xxviii-lx; Chronology, 757-770; Contemporary Reviews, 779-782;
Whitman on His Art, 763-773; Walt Whitman’s Career, 793-802; Preface 1855--Leaves of Grass, First Edition, 710-732.

8/30 “Inscriptions,” 1-15; Whitman to Emerson, 732-741; Preface 1872, 741-746.

9/2 student holiday; no class

9/4 “Starting from Paumonok,” 15-28.

9/6 intro and begin “Song of Myself,” 28-89.

9/9 through 9/13 Finish “Song of Myself”

9/16 begin “Children of Adam,” 90-111.

9/18 finish “Children of Adam”

9/20 Dean out of town--no class

9/23 through 9/30 “Calamus,” 112-136.

10/2 through 10/9 “Drum Taps” (guest lecturer Greg Eiselein during this time)

10/11 “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” 159-165 “Good-bye My Fancy” 558-9

10/14 Summations of Whitman; discuss midterm; second part of syllabus handed out

10/16 In-class portion of midterm; out-of-class portion of midterm given out

10/18 Student Holiday--no class

10/21 Begin Dickinson

10/23 Out-of-class portion of midterm due.

This page last updated 9/13/02