Dr Ellen Moody. My homepage address: http://www.jimandellen.org/ellen/emhome.htm; for Course Materials, go to http://www.jimandellen.org/gmuhom e/emcourse.htm. My preferred email address is: email@example.com.
This is an advanced writing course. In some ways it may remind you of the introductory college freshmen writing course you took a few semesters ago. We will talk about how to write plainly and clearly, about the ways of constructing arguments, about how to synthesize materials to compose a research paper, about punctuation, documentation -- about, in short, everything we can think of having to do with writing essays; and we will read and discuss full- length books, stories, essays, and watch and write about film adaptations.
The course will, however, differ from the introductory course in that you will be asked to use these skills to write about imaginative literature and film in such a way as to cover some central aspects of the way we experience the arts in our culture: pictures, sculpture, and architectural, books, and films. We will delve into how artists transform their experiences into art and how readers and viewers respond. We will also deal with "high" and serious art and popular wide audience culture. We are looking to see how the books & films that reach are chosen; how they come to be published and disseminated. We will also look at art from a personal vantage point: how our memories of those books, films, music, pictures available to us, the buildings and landscapes we find ourselves in have helped to make us what we are today. Since there is no specific art prerequisite for this course, our perspective and discussions cannot be specialized or narrowly-focused on any art form: you do not have to have taken a film study course to do well here. The background knowledge assumed is that of the typical generally-educated reader who has attained Junior status in a senior college.
You are required to write three essays outside class; to pass an open-book midterm exam and open-book final exam, which will take the form of writing essays in class on the books and films and answering short answer questions outside; and to give one short talk.
The class (see Essay #3) is participating in the Students as Scholars program. Essay #3 has been devised to enable students:
- understand how knowledge is created and transmitted in a field/discipline
- understand key methods and conventions of scholarly research in their fields/disciplines
- articulate and refine their own questions for scholarly inquiry
- situate their investigation in an ongoing context/conversation in their fields
- and design a final project that adds new perspectives and/or data to the conversation
Writing About Art. You asked to go to a museum and describe a painting, sculpture or other artefact defined as art or craft that you see there. You can also describe a building if it's one that has been made by an architect with aesthetic values in mind or if it's a historically preserved building. See online models.
Essay #2: comparing novels and films. The proposal is due 3/21; the paper is due 4/4.
The idea of the assignment is to compare a book and its film adaptation closely, not with a foregone conclusion that the book is better, but to see how a film narrative can supplement, surpass, change or (perhaps) lose something from the literary narrative.
In Search of Lost Time
You are asked to try to remember what you were when you first read this book and the circumstances of your life; then to try to remember why you liked it. When you reread your book, try hard to call to mind how your present reading may differ from the first one. Write an essay about the experience of this rereading. Another way to put this is: write about how the book seems to you now as opposed to the way you now remember it seemed to you when you first read it.
Our short talks will in fact be "little talking practices" of how to analyze literary texts and art. You are (in effect) asked to take what we have learned in class and apply it to your favorite book from later childhood.
I am aware that many students may have a favorite film but would strongly prefer that you choose a book for this assignment -- unless you are very comfortable writing about film analytically. We will study how to write about film this term. The idea is to do research as well as analyze a text and discuss the techniques of literary analysis apart from the techniques of film analysis (which will be covered by the essays in class for the midterm and final). There is a real obstacle in doing research on films as it's hard to find accurate unbiased information about film directors, screenplay writers, producers of films. There just is not the respect accorded to a film that there is to a book. Previous history is on the side of books so it's much easier to do research on books than films. I will permit a favorite film if it is an adaptation of a book; then you are asked to find the original book, read it and and compare it to the film. You can use fairy and folk tales too. Here is a list of typical books to show you the kind and level of book that is most feasible.
Length: 3-5 double-spaced typed pages. For this one you can go well over the limit if you want to (say 7 pages).
This is to be a researched essay and may be regarded as "the term project." I ask you to find four sources beyond your chosen book -- about your book. Again, Bobbie Ann Mason's The Girl Sleuth: In Search of Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton and Cherry Ames, about popular series books for girls, is the sort of book you might read for research into syndicated series and girls' books. There are books on boys' books, genres, books intended to reach specific age groups (youth adult book).
Here is a full bibliography of books on children's literature to help you.
The essay must include:
An Annotated Bibliography: As part of the researched essay, you will be asked to hand in an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography provides short summaries and evaluations of the books and essays used in a research paper. The skill of synopsis will be reviewed. Models will be provided.
An Abstract: You will also be asked to hand in an abstract of your own essay. We will in class learn to and practice the art of writing abstracts, of summarising, paraphrasing, and writing synopses.
Q.E.P. Components: In Essay #3 they will articulate and refine a question about their favorite book which comes out of the reading they on types of books as a preface to Essay #2, and obviously follow ethical practices. The broader context will be the economic forces behind curricula in junior high and high schools as well as issues of sex, gender and race, class, and money. We will discuss how such experiences enter into students' choices and ideas in later life.
Talk is primary and writing secondary. I believe everyone can learn to write more clearly and enjoy writing more if he or she would only learn to talk on paper, to use the real language he or she might use in the classroom or any other natural situation which demands a certain coherence. Much of the advice you will find in John Trimble's Writing With Style is based on this belief. A good writer must learn to think of his material as something he is really communicating to someone else. The success of a communication in whatever media is measured not only by how the reader or listener receives it, but by whether the reader or listener truly understands and can apply to themselves what the artist has to say.
Thus, each student will be asked to prepare a coherent ten minute talk for classroom presentation on the readings from one of our books which is due the day he or she is scheduled to talk upon. The talks will begin the third week of the semester. Fundamentally what you must do is invent a clear instrumental thesis-statement about the topic connected to your text and/or film, and develop it coherently and concretely.
The whole class will listen and try to respond; their response will tell the student whether he or she has made him or herself clear; the ensuing dialogue and the student's own later thoughts about either what happened when he or she or another student talked will (it is hoped) teach everyone something about the basis of writing -- again, clear thinking in clear language which comes naturally to the speaker-writer.
Each student is asked to hand in an outline or cards (hand-written or typed) which he or she used to talk from, and I will return this material with the grade for the talk in the following session.
For the midterm (which comes about 2/3s way through), you will be asked to write essays and answer questios about the texts and films we've covered up to that point: Trimble's Writing with Style, Corrigan's Short Guide to Writing About Film, Carr's A Month in the Country, Lahiri's The Namesake, Mason's The Girl Sleuth For the final you will be again asked to write essays and answer questions about the texts and films we've covered after the midterm: Jackson's Haunting of Hill House, Clark's Ox-Bow Incident, Graham's Ross Poldark, and Levy's Small Island.
Important restriction: You can only write on a text or film once. If you talk on a text or film for your short talk, you cannot use that text or film for your mid-term or final. If you use a text or film for your mid-term, you cannot use it for extra credit essays. You can use the films, and even compare the films to the books for the mid-term and final in writing about books, but you should concentrate on the textual story.
There is a specific format for writing reviews of books and films which we will learn about. We will use literary essay with guidelines format to learn about writing about books and films. The writing in the course is generally intended to provide practice on how to select, elaborate upon and judge books, films, essays and all research sources. They are also intended to make you think about what is the best way to express analytical, evaluative, and appreciate ideas about art. Such essays usually include some or all of the following points:
We will discuss how a film review usually includes some or all of the following points:
Obviously the midterm and final will test whether you have read all the assigned books with care, watched all the assigned films with sophisticated criteria in mind, and to reward those who attended class and listened to the short talks. But they are not "jump-through the hoop" exercises in which I try to catch you in literal mistakes. They are intended to provide opportunities for learning about and doing more kinds of writing in the arts.
Assumptions behind this course : I think that 1) something is to be gained by coming to class, and that we all can learn a great deal from one another; 2) good writing can be discussed in simple words, and exemplified, learned, practiced, and improved through imitation of models; 3) people who write well are often people who read a lot; and 4) the only way to improve one's writing is by much practice over a long period of time; so:
By the end of the term there should be seven grades for each student on my roster. These I will average together to form the final grade. I should have three grades for the three essays, one for the short talk, one for the midterm and one for the final, one for the short talk. All shorter assignments (the proposals I ask for, any in-class writing) will be averaged together to form an eighth grade. Of course all three QEP assignments, in-class writing, and the final metacognitive assignment will be averaged together to form the eighth grade. If you hand your essay in late, the grade will be pulled down one element for every session, it is late. You must give your talk on the day cited on the short talk schedule so as to ensure only one person will talk on a given day. If you do not give your talk, you must take an F and that will be factored into your final grade.
For the final grade for the course I take into account 1) your attendance record; 2) your participation in class; and 3) if you came for help if you needed it in planning the essay, thinking up a perspective; organizing and revising it. A teacher can tell when an essay or short talks is done with care, is something really thought about, something for which a genuine self-educational effort was made. I respect serious hard work and reward it when I see it. I will also reward someone whose work improves.
DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Plagiarism is defined by the GMU English Department as follows:
'"Plagiarism means using words, opinions, or factual information from another person without giving that person credit. Writers give credit through accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or end notes; a simple listing of books and articles consulted is not sufficient."
If I discover that you have plagiarized, I will follow the guidelines of the English department which require that I fail or report you to the Chair of my Department. I am serious about this.
Without an appointment:
Write to me by e-mail. My preferred address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I look at my gmail during the day, and I write back. Be sure to type the e-mail address to which you wish me to send my reply at the end of your message. Please feel free to write me. I will provide thorough commentary on any drafts of essays that you send me through my e-mail addresses.
You can call the phone in the office I use (993-1176) or leave a message in my box in the English Office, which is in Robinson Hall on the fourth floor. I have no voice mail, and there is no way you can fax me. However, remember that I am on campus only on Mondays and Wednesdays; the secretaries will not call me and simply put notes in my box. Also, leaving essays in my box is a chancy business because materials get lost this way: no-one stands guard over the boxes. If you send an essay through an attachment, it doesn't always come through. The securest speediest way to get a late essay to me is still to bring it to the next class and give it to me warm hand to warm hand.
With an appointment Private conferences are available by appointment on Mondays from 3:00 to 4:20 pm, Robinson A455. Sign up on the stenography pad which will be placed on the corner of my desk every time the class meets.
The College of Arts and Sciences runs a University Writing Center where you will find tutors to help you with writing. Their phone number is 703-993-1200. Here is a description of the place and its services:
"The George Mason University Writing Center is a writing resource open to the entire university community, offering free tutoring in a comfortable, supportive atmosphere. During face-to-face and online sessions, trained graduate and undergraduate tutors form a variety of disciplines assist writers at all stage of the writing process. Tutors emphasize positive attitudes and stratgies that help writers at any level learn to evaluate and revise their work in order to be more confident and effective writers."
To find out more and to start to use the services offered, go to http://writingcenter.gmu.edu.
Final for 302H09: 5/14, Mon: at 7:30 - 10:15 am: If you did not hand in Essay #3 on last day, it's due with the Final. Final. open-book in class essays & short answer questions.
Final for 302H26: 5/9, Wed, at 10:30 am - 1:15 pm: If you did not hand in Essay #3 on last day, it's due with the Final. Final. open-book in class essays & short answer questions