English 456: C20 Criticism and Theory
Course Goals, Methods, and Policies
Al Drake | Cyber Cafe | Thurs. 6-7 | 714-434-1612
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN: 0393974294.
Beginning Theory. Peter Barry. 2nd ed. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2002. ISBN: 0719062683.
Culler, Jonathan. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. ISBN: 019285383-x.
Course Objectives: This is not a course in practical, applied criticism; it is a course that aims to ground you in the theories behind current critical movements. Most twentieth-century criticism has strong theoretical underpinnings, so it is best to begin by coming to terms with the theories themselves before trying to "practice" modern criticism. On general matters, please read the following handouts: College | Internet.
My Expectations for Students: In difficult endeavors, one learns by "successive approximations." You need not expect to grasp the readings in their entirety the first time your study them, or during this course. Our job as readers is to accommodate our understanding to the texts and thereby learn new ways of thinking. Please attend class regularly, be prepared to discuss the texts, and turn in assigned work on time. I will do my best to lecture well and to respond. As for lectures, strong students treat them as a springboard for their own ideas, not as ominous final interpretations.
Major Study Units: Foundational philosophy texts; the New Criticism; Marxism, structuralism and post-structuralism; post-colonial theory and cultural studies; feminism.
Classroom Strategies: Lecture, class discussion, and web study guides / questions. There will be a strong web presence, so the course will be "paperless" except for very important documents. I will hold office hours.
Methods of Evaluation: Two 5-page papers, a take-home midterm, and an in-class or take-home final. The relevant paper/exam dates will be mentioned on the syllabus page. A likely grade breakdown would be 15% for paper one, 25% for paper two, 25% for the midterm, and 35% for the final exam. Students are encouraged to keep a journal of responses to study questions available on our course web site. You cannot pass this class without completing all requirements. Due dates are subject to change.
Attendance: Regular attendance is expected, and while I understand that many students lead busy lives, I reserve the right to lower the course grade of those who miss more than 3 of our approximately 14 sessions.
Make-up Exams: will be possible at the mutual convenience of instructor and student. Unless there is a compelling reason for missing the exam, I will lower the exam mark 2/3 of a grade -- so a late "B" would be a "C+."
Rough Drafts: I encourage you to provide me with a rough draft in time to comment. Even if you decide not to do that, I require that you turn in an early draft or equivalent together with your final draft; I reserve the right to downgrade or to refuse to accept final papers turned in without this early draft. Simply staple your draft or notes to the back of your final draft.
Final Drafts: Late final drafts of papers will be marked down 2/3 grade for the first three days of lateness, and one full grade thereafter. I reserve the right not to accept papers more than two weeks late. A paper becomes late when one doesn't get it to me (in person or as an email attachment) by midnight on the day the paper is due in class. If you email your paper, I will respond with a verification; it is your responsibility to call me at 714-434-1612 if you do not receive a timely verification message.
Plagiarism: Cheating on papers and tests will result in an "F" for the course and more -- in severe or repeated cases, it can lead to suspension or even expulsion. But since many problems in this area are caused by students not knowing how to deal with sources, please read my guides Proper Citation and Plagiphrasing before writing the first paper.
Source Work: While it is acceptable to consult legitimate sources of information -- scholarly articles and books -- the most important thing for undergraduates is to study the assigned texts patiently. Relying on commercial "Notes" may well hinder this process.
Additional Requirements: Please maintain internet/email access. Refresh the "Guides" page if its date is not very recent; it may have been updated.