Common Syllabus & Section Syllabus

The spring semester has a common syllabus. 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 (10%)

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 expressing 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.

Side Scholar (10%)

This semester, in addition to your regular commitments to reading and participation, each of you will serve as a side scholar during 4 class periods. The role of the side scholar is to diligently read the day's reading (take notes, read twice) and do some research into side resources about the day's reading and/or author. Historical context, literary reviews, philosophical criticisms about the text are all areas you might explore as the side scholar. During class you'll be asked to share the information you have discovered on your own. We'll use that information to advance our discussions and improve our comprehension.

Please visit this shared spreadsheet and choose your 4 days by placing your name next to each day you will act in this role. To spread things out, there will be no more than 2 names per class period. Additionally, you may not do two days with the same author. Slots can be claimed on a first come, first serve basis. Make a note in your calendar to remind you in advance of your day so that you have ample time to prepare.

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