ASSIGNMENTS


C513 is an intensive and demanding course. We will conduct ourselves as a seminar. In my vocabulary that means that beyond the first evening I will do no lecturing nor will I initiate discussion. Our class meetings will be organized around and animated by your reading, thinking, and writing. Put simply, the responsibility for initiating and sustaining discussion will rest with you. The reading assignments are heavy -- 200-250 pages per week -- and if you are going to be prepared to engage the materials at a critical and intellectually creative level of sophistication it is imperative that you reserve plenty of time throughout the week for studying the readings and reflecting upon them. It is my experience that students who put off doing reading and writing in their reading logs until the last minute systematically meet with narrow and very limited success in this class. The demands and expectations of this seminar are very high because I believe that hard work is essential to success in an increasingly competitive discipline and because seminars that don't push you to your intellectual limits are a detriment to your long term development as scholars. To focus your preparations -- both for this seminar and for what I take to be one of the most exciting and potentially productive academic disciplines -- I have organized your work in seminar in two areas: readings logs and a theoretical review essay.

1. Reading Logs. As I indicate above, the responsibility for initiating and sustaining discussion in class rests with you. The starting point for our discussions each week will be your reading logs. Beginning with the readings assigned for 1/25 I am asking that you keep a log or journal, a notebook used only for keeping track of your "active" and "responsive" reading of assigned materials. Active reading is in my mind characterized by your thinking in response to an author's writing. Each entry in your reading log should consist of a formally correct and complete citation for each reading, a précis of the reading (a précis should include a brief but specific statement of thesis, and a brief statement of how the author goes about developing her/his argument or analysis -- obviously the statement of description will be longer for books than articles and chapters), and your active response to the reading. Please note that while all readings listed on the course calendar are required, only those marked with as key readings "Ý" must be logged in your journals.

Responsive reading disdains repetitious outlining of a piece and avoids formulaic value judgments regarding the quality of research or writing -- we can all read, and there is a problem of fact of interest even in the shallowest and poorest writing. As a rule, responsive reading will do at least one of the following three things: (a) use readings as the basis for formulating interesting research questions or theoretical positions; (b) use a particular reading (or group of readings) as a foil to develop an interesting positive argument about a related topic; or (c) treat an author as an opponent worth refuting and correcting on points of fact, interpretation or theory. In a word, responsive reading is argumentative. It makes, justifies, elaborates, and/or establishes a reasoned claim on the behavior or beliefs of this seminar. I will collect your reading logs twice. The first time will be on 3/1 and the second time on 5/3. The first time I will read them, comment briefly, and grade them "S" or "U." The second time I will read them and assign them a grade from "A" to "F." If you receive a "U" on the first log you may request that I look at it an additional time on 4/12. The reading log will count as 25% of your final grade for the course.

[Note: (A)In the past students have found the "reading logs" to be an excellent preparation for comprehensive examinations, and those who have found them to be most useful note that keeping them on a computer made them easier to access for future usage. (B) When there are more than two readings to be logged for a particular evening (e.g., on 2/8) you may choose to develop your argumentative engagement with them en masse, as if the readings were in dialogue with one another. In such cases you should still include a formally correct citation and précis for each reading ]

 

2. Theoretical Review Essay. One of my primary concerns is that Indiana University graduate students develop skills in creative rhetorical theory building. To that end, your major writing assignment for this semester will be a theoretical review essay (15-20 pp. + however many pages of endnotes are necessary to bolster your case) in which you construct a theory of the relationship between two different authors whose work is relevant to issues and concerns of contemporary rhetorical theory by intertextualizing them with one another in the context of your own research interests and the themes and issues of this seminar. The project will develop in three stages. A detailed outline of the first of your two books -- a key text within contemporary rhetorical theory as practiced over the past fifty years or so -- will be due on 2/15. I will review the outline and where appropriate ask that you make revisions before posting the outline on our course web-site for others to download. A first draft of the essay intertextualizing your two books will be due in class on 3/22. I will read the essay, provide detailed comments on it designed to guide your preparation of the final draft, and return it to you by 4/5. I will not grade the first draft. The final essay will be due no later than 5:00 P.M., on Friday 4/30. I will distribute a more detailed description of this assignment over e-mail, including specific reading assignments for each student, no later than 1/18. The theoretical review essay will count as 75% of your final grade for the course. Assignments turned in late at any stage of the process will result in a one-third grade reduction in the final grade for the assignment.

 

 

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