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JOURNAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR E222 MW AMERICAN LITERATURE, CSU FULLERTON FALL 2014 (8/25/14)
SCHEDULE FOR COMPLETING THE JOURNAL SETS
CONFIRMATION MESSAGES: Within two days after receipt, I'll email you an initial confirmation letting you know that I received your journal set, and a week or so afterwards I'll email you a more formal message with your grade for that set. If you don't receive a timely initial confirmation, it's your responsibility to let me know very soon (not weeks later!) – if I don't confirm receipt, I may well not have received your message and you will need to resend it.
FORMATTING OF JOURNAL SETS Use a common typeface like Times New Roman, Calibri, etc. and ordinary point size and margin settings. On average, "a page" means approximately 500 words. Don't skip several spaces between individual entries, but please include an initial bolded title line for a given author or text so I know what you're writing about.
JOURNAL SET 1 (Weeks 1-5): Walt Whitman through Kate Chopin.
Whitman (choose any 3 questions) | Dickinson (3 questions) | Twain (3 questions) | James (3 questions) | Chopin (3 questions). Due Date: Email your combined entries in a single MS Word or similar file by the end of MONDAY 09/29. (If you are using an unusual file format – i.e. something other than .doc or .docx, you might want to also paste your entries right into the email body.)
JOURNAL SET 2 (Weeks 6-8: Jack London through Wallace Stevens. London (3 questions) | Frost (3 questions) | Sandburg (1 question) | W.C. Williams (2 questions) | Eliot (3 questions) | Stevens (3 questions). Due Date: Email your combined entries in a single MS Word or similar file by the end of MONDAY 10/20.
JOURNAL SET 3 (Weeks 9-13): E. E. Cummings through Tennessee Williams. Cummings (3 questions) | Hemingway (3 questions) | Faulkner (3 questions) | Hughes (3 questions) | Tenn. Williams (4 questions). Due Date: Email your combined entries in a single MS Word or similar file by the end of MONDAY 11/24.
JOURNAL SET 4 (Weeks 15-16): John Cheever through Sam Shepard. Cheever (3 questions) | O'Connor (3 questions) | Ginsberg (3 questions) | Turner (1 question) | E222_Shepard (3 questions). Due Date: Email your combined entries in a single MS Word or similar file by the end of the day when your paper is due.
ADVICE ON HOW TO DO THE JOURNAL SETS WELL
Word-processed journal sets will be due by email on the dates listed above. (See the syllabus for the journal requirement's value as a percentage of the course grade.) As soon as you begin reading for this course, create a single computer file to hold your running entries for the entire first journal set, naming the file "yourlastname_journal_1." The term "set" refers not just to the entries for a single author but to your entries for all of the authors we are covering within the multi-week time frames specified above.
As you begin to read the first author in the first set, briefly examine the questions page for that author. Check the schedule to see how many questions you're supposed to do, and then determine which questions you want to do to make up the specified amount. Perhaps they will be questions that concern the particular poems or stories or novel chapters you like best for the author -- it's up to you because in most cases I've posed many more questions than you need to respond to.
Now enter your responses into the running file "yourlastname_journal_1." (You'll most likely write your single-author responses over several sittings rather than all at once; you may find yourself adding to or changing a given response after a class session.) To keep the journal easy to follow, make a header in bold type consisting of the author's name and indicate which questions you're responding to. Whether you paste in the entire question or just provide the question number is up to you. The same goes for pasting in the title of the selection to which each question pertains. HERE'S A FORMATTED JOURNAL SET SAMPLE to suggest how your entries might look. So now you've done your "x" amount of responses for the first author. Then it's on to the next author, and the next, until you've completed the entire first journal set over several weeks' time, and are ready to email it to me.
TURNING IN YOUR ENTIRE FIRST JOURNAL SET WHEN IT'S DUE
Now all you need to do is email the resulting "one big file" to me on the day the first journal set is due (the hour doesn't matter). Label the email subject line concisely as follows: "E222 MW Journal 1, Your First and Last Name." Please don't combine a message containing your journal set with a paper draft or other important item -- messages get misplaced that way. EXPECT AN EMAIL CONFIRMATION -- IF YOU DON'T RECEIVE ONE WITHIN 3 DAYS OF THE DUE DATE, I MAY NOT HAVE RECEIVED YOUR JOURNAL. If no confirmation arrives, please resend your set, making sure to address and label the message correctly. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO CHECK WITH ME PROMPTLY IF IT APPEARS THAT I HAVEN'T RECEIVED A DOCUMENT YOU'VE SENT. A note to users of programs other than Microsoft Word XP/Vista: I can open files with Vista's new ".docx" extension and I can handle .wps files, but if you're using a Mac or a PC with some uncommon word-processing program, I may have trouble translating and opening your file. It's best in such cases just to paste your journal set right into an ordinary email.
TURNING IN SUBSEQUENT JOURNAL SETS
Once you've completed your first journal set consisting of the relevant authors and have emailed it to me and received a timely confirmation with grade, it's time to move on to the second journal set. The procedure is the same: start a new file named "yourlastname_journal 2," and begin working through the specified amount of questions for the first author in that set.
A Note on Late Journal Sets. Sets turned in somewhat late are acceptable, but at my discretion will receive a maximum grade of B. Very late sets may receive a maximum grade of C, and I reserve the right not to accept them at all if in my view the student has not made a sufficient effort in other areas. The reason for the latter policy is that turning in long-since-due sets towards the end of the semester defeats the point of keeping a journal.
HOW TO WRITE A GOOD JOURNAL RESPONSE
Perhaps the key thing to note here is that I keep using the word response rather than answer. That is by design -- although no doubt some of my questions can be "answered" straightforwardly, it's always best to base your response on your own interpretation of the question and your own estimation of the value of the material it covers. I like specific, thoughtful responses -- not pat answers or "say anything" vague remarks. The study questions should help you develop ideas for papers, participate in discussions, and learn more from class sessions -- they can only help you in these ways if you make the most of your time in keeping journals. Responses will vary in length to suit the questions, but many responses will require a short paragraph. There's no need to respond exhaustively -- just thoughtfully. Here are some sample responses for various kinds of material:
Response to a question on Shakespeare's King Henry IV Part 1 (E316 at CSUF):
5. In Act 2, Scene 2 of I Henry IV, how do the robbery and mock robbery play out? How does Falstaff treat the people he robs -- what does he say to them, and what do you draw from such comments regarding Falstaff's self-image? How does he behave at the moment when he, in turn, is robbed of his spoils?
Jack Falstaff is full of fake valor during the robbery on Gadshill in 2.2, saying in the travelers' presence, "cut the villains' throats: ah! whoreson caterpillars! bacon-fed knaves! they / hate us youth: down with them: fleece them." Since when is Falstaff a youth? He loves to align himself with the "it" group. Anyhow, Prince Hal swoops down afterwards to rob the robbers, and Falstaff the weekend warrior makes a pathetic show of fighting, then runs away in a panic. A few scenes later (2.4), Falstaff will be outed as a huge coward and liar by Hal. Shakespeare enjoys making fun of certain men's pretensions to courage and martial prowess, and Falstaff the big talker is one of his best vehicles for doing that: his words almost never match his actions, and when they do, the equivalence proves him a knave. Jack is whatever his imagination can make him until reality brings him to ground for a while, but you can be sure the lies will soon start up again.
Response to a question on a Yeats poem, British literature survey (E212 at CSUF):
17. In "Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop," how is Crazy Jane's response an appropriate rebuke to the Bishop, who privileges heavenly things at the expense of the body? How does she drive home her point about the importance of the body? And how does she explain the soul's relation to the body?
The Bishop seems to have been scolding Jane -- she is an old, sinful, isolated woman who has lost her appeal, so it's time to get right with God. But Jane sees all this as a hollow threat based on phony abstractions. The Bishop presents her life to her as a morality play, promises her a mansion in the sky, and thinks we can separate soul from body. Jane disagrees: "nothing can be sole or whole / That has not been rent," she tells him. The way to the soul is through the body, and the saint must embrace the sinner. Spiritual love isn't worth much if it denies the physical dimension of love; or as Jane says, "Love has pitched his mansion in / The place of excrement."
Response to a question on Dr. Johnson's Rasselas, British literature survey (E211 at CSUF):
9. On 2703-05 (Chs. 17-19), Rasselas consorts with the young and carefree, meets a wise philosopher, and then comes upon rustic shepherds while on the way to visit a hermit. What do these encounters teach Rasselas? For example, what does the philosopher's experience suggest about the relationship between philosophy and ordinary life?
Rasselas learns that the young pleasure-seekers aren't interested in their own future -- they're all for aimless folly. The philosopher's wisdom can't help him when his daughter takes sick and dies: he grieves just like everybody else, and loses his certainty that life has a purpose or that it makes sense. And while it's nice to think of shepherds living the ideal life out in the green pastures, here they turn out to be poor and miserable -- they envy the masters whose sheep they tend. The happy youth, the philosopher, the shepherd: all are time-honored ideals of happiness, but Rasselas learns by meeting "the real thing" that one shouldn't pursue them because they are empty fantasies.
Response to a work of criticism by Sir Philip Sidney assigned in a criticism course (E491 at CSUF):
9. At the end of his "Defense of Poesy," what curse does Sidney make against those who are too ignorant to appreciate the virtues of poetry? How does his rhetoric illustrate the virtues such people are supposedly unable to appreciate?
Sidney curses his detractors with the wish "that while you live, you live in love, and never get favor for lacking skill of a Sonnet, and when you die, your memory die from the earth for want of an Epitaph." He's illustrating the quality we discussed in class -- sprezzatura or "easy-seeming grace" in words and manners. But he's also suggesting that in some real-life situations, words are as important as actions: lovers should be able to speak well, and people's words will still "speak for them" after they are gone. The ending also implies that anyone who still doesn't know why poetry is worthwhile isn't worth talking to. Maybe his conclusion sounds harsh, but his whole argument has been a passionate appeal that poetry is an ancient, hallowed craft and that it is a vital part of any culture: to dismiss its charm and authority is to be a barbaric fool.
HOW JOURNALS WILL BE GRADED
In general, I won't offer comments on your journal sets unless you come to an office hour or email me with specific things to discuss stemming from your journal responses, in which case I'd be happy to discuss the authors and texts with you. I will, however, look over your journal sets to assess whether they are well done. It is not hard to do well on the journal sets -- I respect effort and independence, and I'm not approaching journal responses and sets with some kind of "answer key" in mind.
A: all journal sets turned in complete and on time; responses are specific and consistently thoughtful -- neither vague remarks nor simple yes/ no statements or pat answers.
B range: all journal sets turned in (for the most part on time), but incomplete in terms of numbers or quality of response. Or all turned in, but more than one somewhat late.
C-D range: one or more journal sets missing, but some others completed satisfactorily and on time. Alternatively, all sets turned in, but responses show little effort to understand the texts.
F: student has failed to turn in any journal sets. Anyone who does this would probably have to earn an "A" in all other components (presentation/s, final exam, paper/s) just to pass the course. Not a good idea. Another reason for this grade might be that the student has incorporated nontrivial amounts of outside material without attribution: As with any work, if source material is used it must be labeled as such.