Introduction to Literature: Online Winter Session 2006-7

Required Texts:

Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. (Fourth Compact Edition) X.J. Kennedy and Dan Gioia, editors. (Note that the Alfred State Bookstore has used copies of the 4th Compact Interactive Ed., which has all of the same written material and is fine for this course.)
The Left Hand of Darkness. Ursula K. Le Guin.

Greetings! Get ready to be really busy for the next three weeks. As you know, we are cramming a whole semester's worth of material into three short weeks, so you can expect to read and write several hours a day during this winter session. If you aren't able to do this, then you might want to consider dropping the course. If this hasn't scared you off, then read on!

First of all, an online course is different in many ways from a traditional classroom. Some of those differences are better, and some are worse. But in the end, success in either type of learning environment depends mostly on you.

For this online course,
you must take full responsibility for keeping up with the readings and writing assignments. I will not be seeing you regularly and convincing you to educate yourself. That's your job.

My job: Consider me your literature coach, if you will. I'm not running the laps--you are. I'm not doing the training--you are. I'm not competing--you are. I am here to give you tips, to show you how to train and improve, to answer questions, to share my expertise, and to evaluate your performance. Don't get me wrong: I will be working, but my work will be much different from yours.

Blackboard: Though these pages will be maintained as a reference, this course will be conducted entirely on Blackboard. All of this information is duplicated there.

Why study literature?

This is an introduction to the study of literature. The reason you are being forced to take this course in order to graduate is that educational experts agree that studying literature has a number of essential benefits for a college student. Based on everything I have read and seen with my own eyes, both in the classroom and out, I agree with those experts:
- Literature (hate it or love it) stretches you, forces you to consider your perspectives and compare them with those that are different from yours. This may save your life. It certainly can make your life richer (and I'm not talking about money).
- The study of literature is good practice in critical thinking. This also could save your life. It certainly could save your job.
- Writing about literature is good practice in knowing what you think and articulating it. This can help you later in college, as well as on the job later.
- The study of literature encourages you to know more about
yourself, which is a necessary ingredient for personal growth. This may be the only class you take in college where this is an essential feature of your work. You won't get it in statistics.

How the course works:

Budget several hours a day for this course, like you would any 3-week intensive class. Here's what your days are going to look like:

- Read, read, read (hours a day, most days)
- Post
substantive comments (100+ words) about the reading on the discussion board
- read others' responses, including mine
- respond to at least one other student's post
- respond to any of my comments on your posts
- start thinking about your essay

If you want to get a look at what you'll be reading, check out the

Your grade is based on four elements:

Discussion: Every weekday (15 times), you are required to post to the discussion board at least twice. Specific instructions for postings will be found on that day's discussion board. This discussion is an important part of your education in this course, and as such it counts for 30% of your grade.

For a little perspective, the discussion requirement is equivalent to the classroom time in a regular course, when you have the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the texts and your deepening understanding of literary analysis.
Unlike the classroom, however, you cannot lurk in the corner or daydream about whatever it is you daydream about. If you're interested in learning, this is a good thing.

At the end of each week, I will post your grade (only you will have access to your grades) for that week's discussion. Three weeks=three discussion grades.

A word about the daily requirement: I know from experience that it benefits
you to break the work up into smaller tasks, rather than to let you make 5 postings for the week on Friday. That's a recipe for disaster for almost anyone. Also, your peers must read your comments as well, and trust me: they don't want to read them all in a wad at midnight on Friday. For these reasons, you must post every day.

Essays: You will turn in two essays, essay 1 and essay 2. Follow the links for details. Both essays must be submitted to for an originality check. Essays are worth 40% of your grade. Essay 1 is worth 18%, and essay 2 is worth 22%.

Final Exam: Obviously, this is an open-book exam. It will test your ability to use the literary terms in discussing literature, and expect to take a long time completing it. Expect to run it through Turnitin. The final exam is worth 20% of your grade.

Participation: Just so you know, I can tell what you are reading on Blackboard: what you click on, how long you spend, stuff like that. Part of the discussion requirement is that you read the other students' posts, and so 10% of your grade will be based on how completely you do that.

Attendance: Just kidding. But if you miss one of your daily postings, you will receive a 0 for that day's discussion grade. This will drop your grade in a hurry.

Grade Reports

A final word about plagiarism and academic dishonesty

I don't tolerate academic dishonesty and plagiarism. I expect you to do your own work, and if you find it appropriate and useful to draw on the work of others, I expect you to give them credit for it. Your essays and final exam will be submitted to
Turnitin for an originality check, and I reserve the right to run any posted comments through the service as well. I tell you this up front so that you aren't tempted to present someone else's work as your own. If you plagiarize in any written work in the class, you will receive an F for the course.

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