Graded Thesis Draft (Feb. 7/8) 20%
Exam Presentations 20%
Thesis Essay 40%
Your honors thesis should make an original argument about a text or set of texts–making a contribution to critical or theoretical conversations. It should be roughly twenty pages in length. See Writing Guidelines for details.
During the spring, each student will lead four brief presentations–three on texts from the exam list and one on a work of theory. All these presentations will focus on helping other study for the Honors Exam. You will collaborate with members of your writing / study group, but a single student will be responsible for leading each presentation. You should divide up the responsibilities among yourselves–and send me an email to let me know who is responsible for what. Consult with me about your plans when the time comes for each presentation. Ideally, we should meet to talk in person. If that’s not possible, we can communicate by email. Presentations should be no longer than 15 minutes. I will use this presentation eval sheet SP17 to evaluate them. I will also time you. You should practice with your group before each presentation–and time yourselves. FYI: I will time the presentations, and you will have to stop at 15 minutes.
During the spring, each student will lead four brief presentations–three on texts from the exam list and one on a work of theory. All these presentations will focus on helping others study for the Honors Exam. You will collaborate with members of your writing / study group, but a single student will be responsible for leading each presentation. You should divide up the responsibilities among yourselves–and send me an email to let me know who is responsible for what. Consult with me about your plans when the time comes for each presentation. Ideally, we should meet to talk in person. If that’s not possible, we can communicate by email. Presentations should be no longer than 15 minutes. I will use this presentation eval sheet SP17 to evaluate them. You should practice with your group before each presentation–and time yourselves. FYI: I will time the presentations, and you will have to stop at 15 minutes.
Presentations on Exam Texts
Three of your presentations will focus on texts from the reading list. Each group is assigned seven texts. We’ll work with one of those texts during our first session. Then, each group will offer presentations on the remaining six.
As a group, you should work together to develop a conceptual understanding of the text and to find materials–for example, articles, book chapters, definitions of terms, biographical statements, historical documents–that may help others write about the text for the exam. Each student will be responsible for making a presentation on two of the group’s assigned texts. The presentation should offer supplementary material that may help others discuss the text on the exam. These supplementary material should do one of three things: 1.) Provide historical context, 2.) Establish interesting questions about a genre or literary tradition, or 3.) Offer an illuminating theoretical perspective.
The presenter’s job has three parts: 1.) To offer a brief critical overview of the exam text, 2.) To introduce the the supplementary material and explain how it can help us understand the text in an interesting way that’s related to the exam, and 3.) To discuss brief passages in each text that offer concrete examples of how a writer might discuss them in an essay for the exam.
You must get my approval on supplementary readings at least five days before your presentation. Send it to me and your group with your thoughts about why it’s useful. We’ll have some dialogue about it.
The groups should work together to develop a presentation on the work of theory assigned to them. Each student will be responsible for one of the following: 1.) Explicating the work–identifying its primary argument(s), interpreting key passages, and as identifying some of Harvey’s “elements” or Gaipa’s “strategies” used by the writer, 2.) Identify the critical contexts for the work–identifying thinkers or texts that help the writer build the argument and/or thinkers or writers influenced by the writer, and 3.) Use the assigned work as a lens for interpreting one of the literary texts on our exam list.
You must get my approval for your plans for theory presentations at least three days before you present. Send your thoughts to me and your group, and we’ll have some collective discussion.
After your presentation, you will post a blog entry, summarizing your ideas and posting relevant materials so other students will have access to them.
Oral Presentation 20%
Proposal for Honors Essay 10%
Annotated Bibliography for Honors Essay 10%
Peer Reviews of Honors Essay Drafts 10%
Class Participation 20%
For the duration of the semester, every student will keep a blog. Each student must post a minimum of one blog entry and two comments on others’ entries per week. Please post more if you have ideas you want to share. (See fall semester calendar below for details.) The blogs are intended to give you a place to write informally, communicate with an audience in mind, and experiment with ideas and styles of writing, digest ideas we explore in the course, and approach the blogs informally and creatively. When I evaluate them, I will be looking for sincere effort and engagement with texts and ideas, not polish, structure, or mechanics. Each blog entry is worth between 1 and 10 points; each comment is worth between 1 and 5 points. Note: It’s always a great idea to make connections between texts, engage other bloggers’ ideas, include links, or embed images or video. Note: I’ve assigned questions or topics for each week’s blog entries, but if you should feel free to stray from these if you have other ideas you want to explore; if you do, just include a note at the beginning to let readers know. Blog entries are due Mondays (by the end of the day). Comments are due before the class meeting for that week.
Every student will make one oral presentation during the fall semester. The presenter will lead the class in a conversation about one of the texts assigned for a particular class session, focusing on how historical context, ideas about genre, or a theoretical argument can help us understand that text in a new way. Presentations should also include some relevant biographical information about the text’s author and details about the text’s cultural or historical context.
Attendance & Participation
Attendance and participation are necessary in order for us to form a productive classroom community, where we all learn from each other. I understand that life will make an occasional absence necessary. Whenever possible, please inform me in advance if you will be absent. In general, plan to attend every class meeting and to arrive on time. Keep in mind also that attendance and participation will comprise a significant portion of your course grade.
We all think, learn, perceive, and feel differently. While we can’t experience each other’s mental lives, we can use language to talk and write them. In this course, we’ll do that primarily through discussion of literary and critical readings by authors who write about neurological difference. Some of these conversations may be challenging, partly because there is no perfect language for talking about difference, partly because some readings are politically charged or emotionally raw. I encourage you to speak your minds and to consider other people’s experience when you do. We will all learn more if we are comfortable asking questions, debating when we disagree, acknowledging what we don’t understand, and changing our minds in response to new ideas.
Our discussions are about people as much as ideas. With that in mind, I have three basic guidelines for discussion: 1.) Use first names when addressing each other, 2.) Use last names when discussing authors we’ve read, and 3). Be specific with your comments, rather than generalizing (i.e., “Longden attributes her voice hearing to childhood trauma” (an accurate statement) rather than “Mental illness is caused by childhood trauma” (a theory, by no means proven or true for all people).
• Late work: You will complete your major project for the course—the research essay required for you to graduate with honors—in a series of stages: proposal, annotated bibliography, essay sketch, draft, revision, etc. I will accept one of these up to one week late without penalty. (This does not include the oral presentation or the final revision of the essay.) After that, you forfeit your opportunity for feedback on that stage of the work. For the final essay (due in the spring), your final grade for the project will lose 1/3 of a grade for every two days the assignment is late. Blog entries must be up-to-date when I evaluate them for credit (four times per semester). Each entry will be worth ten points, so a missing entry will mean ten points deducted. Each comment is worth five points.