English 102S: English Composition II (Speaking Intensive)
Spring 2003: Section 18
Instructor: Dan Albergotti
Office: 334K McIver
Office Hours: T & TH, W • other times by appointment
Course Theme: The Simpsons and America
this class, we will examine the television show The Simpsons as a satire of various
American issues. While we will focus on
the show in particular, our discussions will naturally address the social and
political issues that arise in the episodes as they exist outside of the
series. Therefore, this is not a course
about The Simpsons
alone, but about
You are required to purchase Writing Matters, the handbook for English 101 and 102 produced by the composition program at UNCG. I also recommend that you own a good collegiate dictionary (such as the Merriam-Webster 10th edition) and a college handbook for composition (such as Longman’s). Other than these, I do not ask that you purchase other materials beyond what any student of composition needs (pens, paper, stapler, etc.). However, you may find that you need to spend a little money for this course on photocopying, renting videos, accessing the internet, or other such tasks from time to time. Our central “text” will be the series itself, and I will not require that you buy a secondary text. However, you may find these books interesting and helpful:
The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family by Matt Groening (HarperPerennial)
The Simpsons Forever! A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family . . . Continued by Matt Groening (HarperPerennial)
The Simpsons Beyond Forever! A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family . . . Still Continued by
Matt Groening (HarperPerennial)
The Gospel According to The Simpsons: The Spiritual Life of the World’s Most Animated Family by Mark I. Pinsky (Westminster John Knox)
The Simpsons and
Philosophy: The D’oh of
Homer edited by William Irwin, Mark T. Conrad, and Aeon
J. Skoble (
There is also a wealth of high-quality information about The Simpsons available on the internet. Two sites especially worth mention are: www.The Simpsons.com (the official Fox network site) and www.snpp.com (an excellent site for episode summaries, trivia, and links to other sites). From time to time, I may ask you to read particular material on these sites, and I may also ask you to read articles that I will put on E-Reserve.
should also mention at this point that episodes of The Simpsons are aired in syndication
twice each weeknight ( & ) on the local UPN affiliate (channel 48
on broadcast, channel 14 on
The freshman composition sequence is designed primarily to help you develop your abilities to write, speak, read, and listen. English 102 is particularly focused on developing your skills in argument and analysis. Some of the goals of this course are to help you learn to:
• interpret and evaluate argumentative discourse, both written and spoken
• construct cogent arguments
• communicate those arguments clearly, coherently, and effectively
• locate, synthesize, and evaluate information
• demonstrate an understanding of the aims and methods of intellectual discourse
• weigh evidence and evaluate arguments of differing viewpoints
It is very important that you make a personal commitment to focus on your individual improvement as a writer and speaker throughout the course rather than on your momentary performance on the various assignments throughout it. A significant goal of the course is to help you develop writing, reading, speaking, and listening skills that you will continue to develop throughout the rest of your academic career and your life. For these goals to be accomplished, you need to make a serious personal commitment to your own improvement. You also must be an active participant in this class. Learning simply does not occur if the student is passive.
You must complete two essays, give an individual oral presentation to the class, and participate in a group oral presentation to the class. You will be asked to produce multiple drafts of the essays and to provide feedback to your classmates on some of their essays-in-progress. You will not receive grades on the particular assignments. I will give you specific and detailed response to your essays, and you will have the opportunity to revise them significantly before submitting them for a final evaluation in a portfolio at the end of the course. This portfolio will constitute the vast majority of your grade. The oral presentations will be judged to a large degree as you give them, but other factors, including written and spoken reflection on the presentations, may influence your evaluation. Other factors may influence your final grade as well, such as class participation and work on in-class exercises.
We will discuss the nature of the portfolio at length throughout the course, but you should know from the beginning that the material included in it will be drawn from the various pieces of formal and informal writing that you create throughout the semester as well as writing about the oral presentations you give or participate in. Therefore, it is very important that you save every draft of every piece of writing you do this term; that includes both in-class and out-of-class writing.
This course places a great deal of emphasis on class discussion, in-class work, and collaborative learning. You will greatly hinder your success in the course and the success of your classmates if you miss class meetings. Therefore, I insist on your regular attendance. If you miss more than three class periods, I will penalize your final grade by at least one letter. Any student missing more than six class periods will fail the course. There is no distinction between “excused” and “unexcused” absences; an absence is an absence. Therefore, if you are prone to colds or the flu, I recommend that you do not blow any of your allowed three absences on “cuts.” You should also know that only presence for the entire class period constitutes your being “present” for a class. Anything less constitutes an absence. Be sure that you arrive to class on time; late arrival is unprofessional and, frankly, rude. If you arrive after I have called roll, you are not present and will not be considered present for the class period, even if you remain for the day’s discussion. If you do miss a class, you are responsible for getting the day’s notes from a classmate. You are also responsible for keeping track of your own attendance record. I don’t want to hear the question “How many absences do I have?” Ultimately, this long-winded policy on attendance should be unnecessary. You should be eager to be here every day to claim your education. So be here.
Every student in this class has paid good money for it and deserves an environment conducive to learning. That environment is compromised when a student talks to others while someone else is trying to speak or behaves in any other fashion that disrupts the productive momentum of the class. I ask that you give polite attention to your teacher and your peers when they are speaking, that you wait for your turn to speak rather than interrupting, that you do not wear headphones during class, that you either turn off your cell phone or set it to its mute-ring mode, that you do not read a newspaper or another class’s textbook during the hour, and in general that you show consideration for others throughout the semester. It always has been and always will be a good rule of thumb to “treat others as you wish to be treated.”
No act of academic dishonesty will be tolerated. In English courses, most cases of academic dishonesty involve plagiarism, i.e. representing the words or ideas of others as one’s own (such as copying words and ideas from secondary sources, including internet sources). Penalties for academic misconduct may range from official reprimands and the designated failure of work (or courses) to suspension from the university for definite or indefinite periods of time. But the most important thing to consider here is that the cheater cheats him- or herself far more than any other person. Don’t impede your education by not doing the work yourself.
The Americans with Disabilities Act provides for special considerations for individuals with certain disabilities, including learning disabilities. Students with documentation of special needs should arrange to see me about accommodations as soon as possible.
Week One (Jan 13-17): Introductions; Discussion of satire, analysis, and argument; “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”
Two (Jan 20-24): Discussion of episodes; “Mr. Lisa Goes to
Week Three (Jan 27-31): Discussion of episodes; “Homer Goes to College”
Week Four (Feb 3-7): Analysis of Single Episode due
Week Five (Feb 10-14): Discussion of group presentations; analyzing characters; “The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular”
Week Six (Feb 17-21): The Simpsons and Family; “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”
Week Seven (Feb 24-28): Group Presentations on Characters
Week Eight (Mar 3-7): Group Presentations on Characters
SPRING BREAK: March 8-16
Week Nine (Mar 17-21): The Simpsons and Religion; “In Marge We Trust”
Week Ten (Mar 24-28): The Simpsons and Politics; “Sideshow Bob Roberts”
Week Eleven (Mar 31-Apr 4): The Simpsons and Media/Popular Culture; “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”
Week Twelve (Apr 7-11): Individual Presentations
Week Thirteen (Apr 14-18): Individual Presentations
Week Fourteen (Apr 21-25): Argumentative Essay due; discussion of portfolios
Fifteen (Apr 28-May 2): The Simpsons and
Tuesday, May 6: Last day of classes; university follows Friday schedule
Portfolios due on May 7
NOTE: The policies and schedule described in this syllabus are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.