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FMS 120: Freshman
Seminar in Literature
Education by Poetry
Office hours: M W 1:00-2:30 pm and by appointment
Class meeting times: M W 3:30-4:45
Location: McIver 225
Course Texts: McCarthy and Kraft, Eds. Anna Barbauld's Selected Poetry and Prose
Stillinger, Ed. Wordsworth's Selected Poetry and Prose
Lathem and Thompson, Eds. Robert Frost Poetry & Prose
"Open Door" Policy
I have regular office hours, and would love to discuss your
work, your concerns, and your successes during those hours. I also try my best
to make appointments at other times when students need them, and to be readily
available for questions, comments, and concerns via email and phone. When you
are pleased with the way things are going, I am always delighted to hear it. If
you are frustrated, I NEED to hear it. Don't rely entirely on scheduled
conferences. My door is always "open," and I hope to see you often.
This seminar will focus on poetry (Anna Barbauld, William
Wordsworth, Robert Frost, and others), occasionally
venturing into other literary and non-literary writings. Our aim will be to explore the ideas of these authors who
have questioned western assumptions about knowledge and suggested that poetry--perhaps even more than
science--can be seen and experienced as a valuable discourse of knowing. As we read and compare the ideas
and experiences presented, we will ask and explore the answers to several questions, including:
· What are our assumptions about knowledge and how we know? Where did they come from? How do these assumptions effect our behavior? Our relationships with others? Our relationship with the natural world?
· How do these authors confront and attempt to reshape these assumptions? What models of knowledge, of beauty, of meaningfulness do they develop and embody in their work?
· Can we, as learners in the early 21st century, learn something valuable from these authors? If so, what? If not, why not?
The Learning Community Concept
FMS 120 is not a lecture-centered class which "delivers instruction." Instead, it can be seen as a structured learning environment that creates and sustains a "learning community." While the "learning community" concept is generally applied to interconnected classes, it is a useful concept for reorganizing our approach to learning in individual classes as well.
In a learning community, all members are responsible for the learning of the group. Each member contributes their ideas, energy, and writings for the better understanding of their colleagues. Each member must play the roles of both teacher and learner, leader and follower, speaker and listener, as the needs of the community dictate. Some general "rules of engagement" make it possible for a learning community to grow and develop effectively:
RESPECT other viewpoints and
opinions, both written and spoken.
LISTEN to what others have to say and to write.
SHARE what you have to say and to write.
LEARN from your interaction with people, texts, and contexts in this class.
From these "rules of engagement" come some more particular guidelines that will help you to succeed in this class:
· Remember that none of us have all the "right answers," but all of us have some valuable ones to share with others.
· Ask questions! Repeatedly! A well-considered question is worth a thousand trivial answers.
· Show consistent effort and engagement in all class activities. Attendance and participation are very important! I believe that we only learn by trying things, by DOING. So I expect to see you giving every activity your best effort.
· Read closely and carefully, take notes as you read, and compose thoughtful reactions to share with the class via our discussion board.
· Find one or more issues of genuine interest to you, and pursue better knowledge of that issue or those issues with passion!
Members of a learning community support each other by respecting and listening to each other, by suggesting resources to each other, and by providing positive feedback to each other. But members of a learning community also challenge each other by expecting their colleagues to be responsible, to participate fully, to love learning and to work hard at it, and to deepen and broaden their understanding as the semester progresses. As the facilitator of this learning community, I will model these behaviors.
Course Learning Outcomes
Working together, we will achieve the following learning outcomes:
· Learners will develop reading and interpretation skills. They will practice the work of making inferences about meaning based on a careful reading of the details of a text and testing their inferences against further readings of the text and their growing awareness of cultural, historical, biographical, and other contexts.
· Learners will demonstrate clear understanding of major themes, concerns, and literary techniques of significant authors, to include William Wordsworth, Anna Barbauld, Robert Frost, and others..
· Learners will formulate textual and cultural interpretations that connect literary study to broader contexts such as philosophy, religion, gender relations, and the social and natural sciences.
· Learners will construct and communicate clear, well-considered analyses and interpretations of texts and cultural contexts.
· Learners will demonstrate proficiency in using technology (word processing, Blackboard, Internet, email) effectively for composition and communication.
This class will share UNCG's commitment to the use of learning tools provided by new technology. I don't believe in using computer technologies just because they are trendy, but I believe that your learning experience in this class will be enhanced by the use of several technological tools. We will use the Internet and the online discussion function of Blackboard extensively, and we will use electronic mail (email) as needed.
Blackboard will serve as our communications center, and it will also serve as a source of information and ideas for your writing. On the Announcements page, I will post important notices about changes in the reading or writing assignment schedule, announcements of special events or assignments, and other information vital to your success in the course. Resources for the course, including this course overview, can be found on the External Links page.
Email provides a valuable channel of one-on-one communication for us above and beyond conferences, office hour chats, and class time. Please make use of e-mail to communicate with me and your classmates whenever necessary.
It is your responsibility to use Blackboard and the Internet effectively and to stay informed of class developments via these technologies. You should be comfortable using email as well. I will be glad to provide assistance in the use of these technologies if you are unfamiliar with them. But I expect that you will let me know if you are having difficulties using them!
Reading and Discussion Board Postings
Your success in this class will depend largely on your engagement with the readings and the discussions of those readings we hold in class. We will facilitate these discussions by doing some homework in preparation for them. Before coming to class for each session, you need to read the assigned readings and make an entry on our class discussion board. These entries must be 100 or more words in length, and should offer thoughtful critical reactions to the text. You might offer some analysis that focuses on a particular character, on a theme that you see developing, on a passage that seems significant for the text as a whole, or on a repeated image or symbol that seems to be important in the text. The task here is not to get a "right answer," but to practice the work of interpretation by finding and sharing possible patterns of meaning in the texts.
Then, after each week of discussion and consideration, you will post a reflective entry to the discussion board. This entry will take a broader view, connecting earlier entries and responses, connecting different authors and readings with each other, or connecting authors and readings with the broader contexts we're discussing in class.
We will agree on a deadline for completing these entries--usually by midnight the night before we meet--and you will get full credit for completion by that deadline. Late entries will get 75% credit if they are made before class and 50% credit if they are made before the next class meeting.
These discussion board postings will provide evidence that you are doing close reading and thinking about the texts, and they will contribute to the class's understanding as we proceed. The discussion board can be a place for discussions that we will not have time to hold in the classroom as we hasten through this survey--it can add an exciting and enriching dimension to the class. Let's work together to make it so.
This section of FMS 120 is writing intensive. The discussion board is an extended writing assignment that will help you develop ideas for the essays and exams that you will write in the class. The short analysis assignment is designed to help you reach two important outcomes: developing your critical analysis skills and developing your awareness of the ways social, intellectual, and natural contexts shape the making and understanding of literature.
In addition to the discussion board work and the examination essays, you will work throughout the semester on refining your skills at writing short analysis essays. These brief essays may explicate a short poem or provide a well-focused analysis of a feature of a longer work from our reading list. Ideas for these papers may come from discussion board entries, and you should feel free to develop ideas sketched out there (by yourself or others). Your aim is to identify a significant pattern in the text (of symbols, character issues, events, narrative styles, and so on), to explain why the pattern is significant, and to suggest how it informs the text, serves central themes, and/or makes the text meaningful.
In order to facilitate the development of your interpreting
and writing skills, you will complete and revise (at least once) two short
analysis essays. For each assignment, the initial paper you turn in will be
treated by me as an advanced draft. I will provide you with comments and
guidance on this draft, and you will then revise it into a final
"product" that will receive a grade. You will then have the option to
revise once more, or to rewrite, in order to create your best essay for
grading. By the end of this process, you should understand the work at hand and
be using an effective draft-and-revise approach to writing essays.
Guidelines for Essay Submission
Essays should be word-processed and double-spaced, allowing room for comments and suggestions. Despite the objectivity of the reader, neatness never hurts the presentation of good ideas (hint, hint).
An initial deadline is really a deadline. Unless I make official changes, all papers will be due at the beginning of our scheduled class meeting on the day listed in the course syllabus. If you need an extension for some valid reason, I will try to work with you if you contact me in advance of the deadline. I reserve the right not to assign a grade of "0" to any work that is turned in late without advance notice and agreement.
In the case of personal illness, an emergency, or a death in the family, it is your responsibility to
1. Have a friend deliver your work to me at class or at the English Department Office (McIver 133) before 4:30 pm on the due date
2. Contact me by phone or e-mail to make arrangements to complete and/or deliver the assignment.
Attendance and Participation
Your attendance and involvement in class activities are important not only for you, but for your fellow learners. Many minds are better than one, and if we all contribute we all learn that much more. Absences (class meetings which you do not attend at all, attend late by more than 10 minutes, or leave early) will be reflected in your class participation grade. If you accumulate more than two absences, each absence up to five will reduce your final grade average by 4 points (3 absences = 12 points off, 5 absences = 20 points off, and so on). Six or more absences provide sufficient grounds for failing the course. You are always responsible for making up work missed during absences.
I am willing to make exceptions for legitimate circumstances that require your absence, but to have "excused" absences you must communicate with me in advance of the class or classes missed (unless you face a verifiable emergency).
My evaluation of your work in this class will be based on two complementary areas of judgment: (1) Completion of assignments (on time and with evidence of ongoing effort), and (2) Quality of completed assignments. To receive a C or better in this course, you must satisfactorily complete all course requirements: discussion board postings, writing projects, and examinations.
The class grade will be divided into portions as follows:
25% Discussion board postings
40% Short Analysis Essays (2)
15% Midterm Examination
20% Final Examination (Comprehensive)
A 90% - 100% Excellent
B+ 87% - 89.9%
B 80% - 86.9% Very Good
C+ 77% - 79.9%
C 70% - 76.9% Satisfactory
D 60% - 69.9% Unsatisfactory results, but good effort sustained and progress made
F 0% - 59.9% Failing
(Always subject to revision with advance notice)
M Jan 13 Introduction to the learning
community concept; general discussion of how everyone defines/perceives
W Jan 15 Detailed discussion of course expectations and assignments. Discussion of analysis and interpretation.
Reading (to be completed before class meeting): Course Outline, on-line, and Wordsworth's "Expostulation
and Reply," "The Tables Turned," and "We Are Seven."
Framing the Questions (two weeks)
M Jan 20 No class meeting. Martin Luther
W Jan 22 Questioning the Western Model of Knowledge: Philosophy, Rhetoric, Science, Poetry.
Reading: William Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800).
M Jan 27 Questioning the Western Model of
Knowledge: Philosophy, Rhetoric, Science, Poetry.
Reading: Sullivan, introduction to Wordsworth and the Composition of Knowledge (2000). [click here
W Jan 29 Metaphor, Poetry, and Education.
Reading: Robert Frost, "Education by Poetry" (329-340)
Lakoff and Johnson, selections from Metaphors We Live By [handout]
Three Poets and Their Work (twelve weeks)
M Feb 3 Anna Barbauld. Background and
initial poems. "Introduction," "On the Backwardness of the
"The Mouse's Petitition," "An Inventory of the Furniture in Dr. Priestley's Study."
W Feb 5 Barbauld. Selections from "On the Origin and Progress of Novel-Writing."
M Feb 10 Barbauld. "Life,"
"The First Fire," "The Caterpillar."
1st Short Analysis Essay (first version) Due
W Feb 12 Barbauld. "The Groans of the Tankard," "Verses Written in an Alcove"
M Feb 17 Barbauld. "A Summer
Evening's Meditation," "To Mr. Barbauld."
W Feb 19 Barbauld. "The Rights of Woman," "To the Poor," "Inscription for an Ice-House."
M Feb 24 Barbauld.
"Washing-Day," "To a Little Invisible Being Who is Expected Soon
to Become Visible,"
"To Mr. S.T. Coleridge."
W Feb 26 Barbauld wrap-up.
M Mar 3 Midterm Exam
W Mar 5 William Wordsworth. Introduction and initial poems. "Expostulation and Reply," "The Tables Turned,"
"We Are Seven."
M Mar 10 No Meeting. SPRING BREAK.
W Mar 12 No Meeting. SPRING BREAK.
M Mar 17 Wordsworth. "Lines Written a
Few Miles above Tintern Abbey," "Simon Lee."
W Mar 19 Wordsworth. "The Thorn," "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," "It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free."
1st Short Analysis Essay (Final Version) Due.
M Mar 24 Wordsworth. "Letter to
Charles James Fox," "Michael."
W Mar 26 Wordsworth. "The World is Too Much With Us," "Lines Composed On Westminster Bridge," "Nutting."
M Mar 31 Wordsworth.
"The Solitary Reaper," "The Power of Music," "Stepping
W Apr 2 Wordsworth, Selections from The Prelude.
M Apr 7 Wordsworth. Selections
from The Prelude.
2nd Short Analysis Essay (first version) due.
W Apr 9 Frost. Introduction and initial poems. "The Figure a Poem Makes. . .," "The Oven Bird," "Stopping
by Woods on a Snowy Evening."
M Apr 14 Frost. "Birches,"
"After Apple-Picking," "Mending Wall."
W Apr 16 Frost. "Home Burial," "The Wood-Pile," "The Road Not Taken."
M Apr 21 Frost. "A Servant to
Servants," "The Hill Wife," "Out, Out--."
W Apr 23 Frost. "For Once, Then, Something," "The Need of Being Versed in Country Things," "Two Tramps in
M Apr 28 Frost. "Desert Places,"
"Design," "The Most of It."
W Apr 30 Wrap up Frost. "Directive."
2nd Short Analysis Essay (final version) due.
M May 5 Semester conclusions. Exam Preparation.
M May 12 Final exam, 3:30-6:30 pm