Weekly Homework Assignments

One of four different assignments will be due almost every class period: composing discussion questions, writing informal responses, doing outside reading, or serving as a respondent for the various students who are presenting.  Examples of assignments from past classes, which you can use as a model for your own, are available in the Electronic Reserves.

The Group Assignments handout specifies the group that you are in (/groups.htm), while the Schedule on the syllabus specifies the assignments that your group will be doing each week (/f08/#schedule).  The Schedule will also clarify which of the texts you will be focusing on while doing your assignment. 

Important Technicalities:

·         Email discussion questions and descriptions of outside reading to acoykenda at comcast.net at least 2 hours before class time so that I can include them in the weekly handouts.  If you cannot email them in time, bring 6 or 10 copies to class, perhaps pasting them on the same page to save paper.

·         Bring responses, whether emailed or handwritten, to class where you will have an opportunity to present the ideas to your peers.  Before turning the response in, you either will summarize it or read it aloud, or do some combination of each, as suits your preference.

·         Each group member needs to focus on different materials (supposing there are multiple ones) to ensure they all receive appropriate attention.  See the number-letter combinations in parentheses next to the texts on the Schedule.  These correspond to the Group Assignments handout (/groups.htm).  That is, “2b” would be Member B of Group 2, while “3ab” would be both Member A and Member B of Group 3.  If you like, you can discuss additional texts so long as you concentrate on the designated ones primarily.


For this assignment, you will be reading one of the optional theorists identified on the Schedule and informally presenting that material to class.  Note down the following to include on the class handout:

  1. A list of 2-4 main concepts concisely expressed in your own words (in brief bulleted points rather than complete paragraphs);
  2. A list of 1 long quote or 2 short quotes for your peers to examine closely—the passages that you find most suggestive, objectionable, or debatable, perhaps, though not necessarily, related to the main concepts listed above.

This assignment is meant to hone your ability to pinpoint, to recollect, and to explicate the gist of complex arguments that may unfold over several pages.  The optional readings do vary in length, however, so you can limit yourself to a section of 10 to 15 pages if that is sufficient to gather a set of key concepts and quotations to discuss in class.

Select these carefully, jotting down only what you need for the sake of memory or clarity and trusting yourself to articulate the rest more fully in class.  Most people will be unfamiliar with the text and thus unable to attend to long passages without context anyway. 

Discussion Questions (DQ)

Essentially, a discussion question is a thesis statement in reverse: a provocative yet pertinent line of inquiry that challenges people to interpret texts in a more nuanced fashion than they might have otherwise when reading the text in isolation or for the first time.  You do not have to answer these questions yourself, so composing them should encourage you to think against the grain, to challenge unexamined assumptions, and to test the boundaries of conventional thought, perhaps even generating unexpected avenues of inquiry for your research paper. 

Once you have a question (or series of related questions) in mind, send it by email it in time for the class handout.  Make sure to put yourself in the shoes of the students who will be contemplating it in class: Will your peers have too little background to answer it?  Does it refer to texts not covered in class and thus unfamiliar to your peers?  Is it too broad or narrow in scope to provoke thought?  Is it too polemic or too little polemic to incite vigorous debate? 


Responses are informal written reactions to one of the literary works read for the week.  Each must be 2 substantial paragraphs in length and engage substantively with at least 1 concept from a theorist also required as reading for that week.  Challenge yourself to find connections between the literature and theory as you read, especially those connections which initially seem far fetched as unforeseen juxtapositions can inspire topics for the research paper, where you can incorporate a revised version of the response. 

Responses can be creative and playful if you like, experimenting with modes of writing or thought which you might refrain from using when composing a formal paper.  Endeavor to introduce a provocative line of argumentation that is unique to yourself, though not necessarily coherent or polished.  No scholarly citations are necessary, nor is proper grammar.  It is important, however, to put quotation marks on either side of citations, while also noting down the page numbers from which they come in case you want to reuse that passage in the paper. 


Being a respondent is like having no homework at all other than to read the materials for the week extra carefully.  You will be serving as the main addressee when your peers describe the responses and outside research described above, posing questions or providing commentary to incite further discussion on the part of the class as a whole. 


List of Course Links:

**  Syllabus                                                                  (http://people.emich.edu/acoykenda/563/f08/)

**  Schedule                                                                (http://people.emich.edu/acoykenda/563/f08/#schedule)

**  Electronic Reserves                                             (http://reserves.emich.edu/eres/coursepage.aspx?cid=1627)

**  Group Assignments                                             (http://people.emich.edu/acoykenda/563/groups.htm)

**  Weekly Homework                                              (http://people.emich.edu/acoykenda/563/hmwk.htm)

**  Guidelines on the Research Essay                   (http://people.emich.edu/acoykenda/563/essay.htm)

**  Researching Literature                                       (http://people.emich.edu/acoykenda/563/demo.htm)

**  Oxford English Dictionary                                   (http://80-dictionary.oed.com.ezproxy.emich.edu/entrance.dtl)

**  Schedule for Conferences                                 (http://people.emich.edu/acoykenda/563/confer.pdf)