Common Syllabus & Section Syllabus

This course has a common syllabus. There are 27 different sections, each with 15 or 16 students enrolled. In total, as of Aug 23, there are 414 people on campus this semester reading, discussing and writing about the same literature selections at the same time.

The common syllabus has detailed, day-to-day information about readings. You are responsible for reading the day's selection well in advance.

In addition to your obligations to the common syllabus, you are responsible for following our detailed section syllabus. The section syllabus will be updated regularly by me.

Get into the habit of consulting both of these documents well in advance of each class.

Learning Goals

These are taken from the published common goals:

  1. To engage in a wide range of influential ideas.

  2. To develop skills of close reading and critical analysis of texts (broadly construed to include those works encountered in academia) which are often complex, multifaceted, and conceptually difficult.

  3. To develop skills necessary to communicate effectively about these texts.

    1. Written communication:

      To develop the skills necessary to write a thesis-driven, evidence-supported essay (and to see writing as a recursive process).

    2. Oral communication:

      To develop students’ abilities to engage in critical, and spirited discussion with one another and their professor, in ways that encourage them to be intellectually ambitious, vulnerable, and open-minded.

  4. To integrate written and oral communication skills in pursuit of a more nuanced understanding of the texts and ideas at issue.

Classroom Community

We learn better when we learn together. In order to achieve our goals, we must foster mutual respect, regardless of background or beliefs. Racism, sexism, or other forms of discrimination have no place in the classroom or at the College. All students are capable of success, and it is imperative that we work under that ethos. Practice empathy and humility.

Assessment: Writing (70%)

There will be frequent, short writing assignments in this class. When I grade your writing, I will be considering the following characteristics:

We will often write in class. We will also engage in peer reading and peer editing of writing.

Late Policy. If your assignment is $d$ days late, then your grade will be docked by $\frac{d(d+1)}{2}$ percentage points.

Participation (20%)

This is really a synonym for engagement. How much of yourself are you putting into the class? It is difficult to quantify this, but I will try. I will let you know, on a weekly basis, with a number between 0 and 100 and perhaps a written comment, how I think you did during the week with respect to engagement.

Reading in advance and writing/noting ideas that resonate with you or the topic at hand can help you when it comes to engaging in class discussions.

There are going to be people that seem to engage more than others. We should all be aware of these dynamics and encourage each other to speak up.

Questions are as good as answers.

Readbacks (10%)

Individual class periods are designed with the assumption that you have read the day's material in advance. A typical class will have us going over some discussion questions, writing a bit, and reviewing some of the more esoteric ideas in the readings. To support this activity most days will have a short pre-class reading or exercise called a "readback".

You can find the link to the readback on the section syllabus on the next to the day it is due. It's just a short google form that you fill out and submit. I'm the only person that sees the responses. They help me to prepare for class so they're due at least one hour before the start of class. (remember the submissions are time stamped)

No late readbacks will be accepted.

Your average score on readbacks is worth 10% of the final grade.

Letter Grades

Letter grades will be assigned according to the following scale:
Grade   Percentage
A - 92-100
A- - 90-91
B+ - 88-89
B - 82-87
B- - 80-81
C+ - 78-79
C - 72-77
C- - 70-71
D+ - 68-69
D - 62-67
D- - 60-61
F - 0-59

Cooperation vs. Cheating