COURSE REQUIREMENTS, Subject to Change___________________


Attending class regularly shows respect not only for your professor, but for your peers and for the very mission of the course.  Perhaps more importantly, if you do not attend class regularly, you will not do well.  I will give regular quizzes and writing activities in class, and our class discussions and lectures will contain crucial information to help you succeed on the the midterm and final exams.  Class participation and engagement are also an important part of your grade.

I will take attendance daily.  After three absences–whether unexcused or excused–I will lower your grade by a single increment–from a B to a B-, for example–for each additional absence. Beware the slippery slope: excessive absence both lowers your grade automatically and in almost every case results in poor performance in other areas of the class (missed quizzes, docked participation points, poor test performance, etc.).

Excessive tardiness—the evil twin of absence—is unacceptable.  I will commit to starting class precisely on time–particularly important for a 50-minute session–and I expect you to do the same.  If you walk in during the middle of a quiz, I reserve the right to withhold credit for that day’s portion of participation, quizzes, and in-class writing.  And any pattern of tardiness will translate quickly into an absence.  In short: arrive on time, and be ready to discuss that day’s assigned reading.

Technology in the Classroom: No texting!  Please silence phones.  Laptops are welcome, but if I catch you using social media or engaging in online activities unrelated to class, I will consider you absent on that day.  If you do bring a laptop, please sit towards the front of the class.

Assignments and Grades:

Your grade in this course will reflect your performance in five broad categories as described below.  You can earn a maximum of 1000 points in this course:

  • Presence—200 points: measured, in equal parts by random quizzes and low-stakes in-class writing (100 points), your punctualness (in class one time) and engagement in class discussion (80 points), and your ClassWrap contributions via the website’s commenting feature (20 points).  If you ever have a question about how the “Presence” portion of your grade is shaping up, just ask me and I’ll let you know precisely where you  stand.  If you rarely contribute to class discussion, feel free to offer a few additional comments on ClassWrap to make up for those lost participation points.

  • Auto[BLOG]raphy—200 points: Over the course of the semester, each of you will author 10 blog posts relating, in some way, to our work in this course. I will grade these posts in two groupings: at the mid-term point and at the end of the semester (5 posts will be required in each grouping).  I expect your posts to be polished, free of errors, properly formatted, and they should, at times, incorporate various forms of media and external reference (images, video embeds, links to other sites or posts, and so on.).  Your posts will involve a mixture of responses to prompts and open posts, and you will often have a choice between more creative responses and more critically engaged ones. I will provide prompts in my weekly ClassWrap posts available online on Saturdays.  Your non-autobiographical posts should relate to the reading we’re doing during a given week.  A Tuesday evening post, that is, should reflect on Monday’s lecture and reading, or look forward to Wednesday’s or Friday’s reading.
    • Specs: posts should be 300-400 words (that translates to roughly one page, give or take, double-spaced).  For two of your posts, you can choose to comment on a peer’s post.  In order to count towards your final 10, however, your comments must be 300-400 words and as rigorous and polished as a typical post. But please feel free to comment more informally whenever you want–such participation is the whole point of creating a course blog.
    • Frequency: only one post per week will count.  Translation: if you have 6 posts and it’s the last week of class, you will not be allowed to write multiple posts in a single week in order to catch up.
    • Style: Though blog posts are naturally more informal than the writing you typically do for English courses, I expect them to be intelligent, engaging, and free of grammatical errors.  Indeed, blog posts are often riskier, pithier and more dynamic than standard research-paper writing in my experience.  Remember: this blog will be public and searchable—it can and will be read by people outside the class.  Blog posts are worth 20 points each.
    • Timing: all blog posts will be due on Tuesdays by Midnight–a firm deadline.  But feel free to post earlier–on Sunday or Monday, for example.  Don’t always wait until the last minute!
  • Exams–400 points divided between a mid-term and a final exam (worth 150 and 250 points respectively).  The final exam will be comprehensive.  Both exams will involve a combination of author IDs, short-answer questions, and longer essay questions. I will set aside time in class for review, and I plan to use the weekly ClassWrap entries–including your own contributions–as a study guide for both exams.

  • 20% Project–200 points. This class covers an enormous range–roughly half a millennium. I cannot possibly claim mastery concerning such a swath of material.  In that sense, this course is, for me, an experiment: I’ve never taught anything remotely like it, and many of the texts are new to me.  I want to share the risks and rewards what we might think of as this intellectual entrepreneurship. To that end, I am borrowing a strategy from some of the foremost entrepreneurial minds around–the founders of Google–to inaugurate our own 20% Project.  Thanks to Dr. Sean O’Brien (University of Notre Dame) who talked with me about his own successful attempts at instituting such a project in the classroom.
    • At Google, employees are allowed to spend 20% of their time doing whatever they want as long as it is legal and ethical.  This is time that their manager does not own or overtly direct: the employees themselves own it.  It turns out that when individuals are unbound from very immediate concerns, their vision expands, their mind is free to wander.  Employees sometimes work in teams, sometimes alone.  But regardless of the path they take, the results for the most part speak for themselves.By inaugurating a more academic version of Google’s 20% project, I am giving you time to work within the parameters of this course to make something new. I don’t want you to simply learn something; I want you to make something.  Our emphasis at first will be on various ways you can use digital research tools available on the web to provide new and valuable information and ways of looking at things.  But if you choose to go unplugged, that is your choice.
    • Perhaps the most significant challenge here is also your greatest asset: you are independent.  You choose whether to work individually or join a group, and you choose what your project will entail.  I’m available as a consultant, and I’ll be here to point you towards particular resources, but this is in your hands. Thus, roughly 20% of your course time will be devoted to meeting in groups and/or working individually on your project.  You won’t have any additional assigned reading on those 20% days.  Needless to say, there will be certain signposts along the way to keep you on track, including group brainstorming sessions, presentations on various research tools, and formal project proposals.
Figuring your Grade: I will add up all the points you’ve earned in the course and give grades based on the following table:

  • A-Range: 970-1000 = A+, 930-969 = A, 900-929 = A-
  • B-Range: 870-899 = B+, 830-869 = B, 800-829 = B-
  • C-Range: 770-799 = C+, 730-769 = C, 700-729 = C-
  • D-Range: 670-699 = D+, 630-669 = D, 600-629 = D-
  • <600 = F

COURCE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:___________________________

Dual Submission Policy: The same paper may not be submitted for a grade in more than one class.

Plagiarism and the Honor Code: What follows is quoted verbatim, and reflects official CofC policy:

Lying, cheating, attempted cheating, and plagiarism are violations of our Honor Code that, when identified, are investigated.  Each incident will be examined to determine the degree of deception involved.

Incidents where the instructor determines the student’s actions are related more to a misunderstanding will handled by the instructor.  A written intervention designed to help prevent the student from repeating the error will be given to the student.  The intervention, submitted by form and signed both by the instructor and the student, will be forwarded to the Dean of Students and placed in the student’s file.

Cases of suspected academic dishonesty will be reported directly by the instructor and/or others having knowledge of the incident to the Dean of Students.  A student found responsible by the Honor Board for academic dishonesty will receive a XF in the course, indicating failure of the course due to academic dishonesty.  This grade will appear on the student’s transcript for two years after which the student may petition for the X to be expunged.  The student may also be placed on disciplinary probation, suspended (temporary removal) or expelled (permanent removal) from the College by the Honor Board.

Students should be aware that unauthorized collaboration–working together without permission– is a form of cheating.  Unless the instructor specifies that students can work together on an assignment, quiz and/or test, no collaboration during the completion of the assignment is permitted.   Other forms of cheating include possessing or using an unauthorized study aid (which could include accessing information via a cell phone or computer), copying from others’ exams, fabricating data, and giving unauthorized assistance.

Research conducted and/or papers written for other classes cannot be used in whole or in part for any assignment in this class without obtaining prior permission from the instructor.

Students can find the complete Honor Code and all related processes in the Student Handbook.