College English at Skyline College



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College English
at Skyline College




Instructor: Rachel Bell



Students taking this course online
: unless you prefer
a print version, you are not required to purchase this
reader as it will be provided for you electronically.


Table of Contents


WRITING GUIDELINES:

Top 20 Ways to get an “A” and to Become a Stronger, More Confident Writer.
……….….…….…………4-10

(1) PAPER TOPICS………………………………………………………………………….………..……11-13

(2) CRITICAL THINKING…………………………………………………………………………..…….14-34
Overview of Critical Thinking…………………………………..…….15-17
An Introduction to Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism…...…18-34

(3) CRITICAL READING……………………………………………………….……........………………35-70



5 Effective Reading Strategies:
The PRO Reading Process……………………………………..………36
Annotating Your Text………………………………………….………37-44
KWL+……………………………………………………………..……45
Levels of Reading Comprehension……………………………..….….46
Prefixes, Roots and Suffixes…………………………………….……..47-57

Reading Literature:
Fiction and Drama………………………………….………………….58-61
Poetry…………………………………………………...…….………...62-64

Presentations on the Reading………………………..……………….…...65-70


(4) THE WRITING PROCESS………………………………………………………………………….71-111 Writing as a Process Not a Product……………………...………………..72
Planning…………………………………………………………………73
Freewriting………………………………………………….…………..73-74
Brainstorming…………………………………………………………..75
Journalists’ Questions………………………………………………….76
Clustering……………………………………………………………….77
Listing………………………………………………………….………..78
Outlining………………………………………….………….………….79-85
Drafting…………………………………………….…………..…….….86-89
Revising………………………………………………….………………90-97
Editing/Proofreading………………………………………………........98-102
Final Revision Example…………………………………………………103-107
Essay Checklist (4 copies)………………………………..……….……..108-111

(5) WORKSHOPPING………………………………………….………………………………………112-120


Workshopping Guidelines………………………………………….………..113-114
Peer Workshop Feedback Sheet………………………...……..…..………..115-116
Instructor Feedback Sheet
………………………………………..…..……..117
The Collaborative Paper
…………………………………….....….…….…..118-120

(6) GRADING………………………………………………….………………………………………..121-122

(7) CREATING YOUR OWN ARGUMENT………………………………….……………………...123-135


Creating Your Own Argument Example………………..…….……….124-125
Creating Your Own Argument Template (4 copies)…..………………126-133
Creating Good Questions—Questioning Circles……………..….….…134-135

(8) MLA PAPER FORMATTING……………………………………………………………..………136-138


(9) TITLES AND AUTHORS……………………………………………………………………...……139-143
Creating Your Title………………..………………..…………….….…..140-141
Text Titles and Author Names……..……………..…………….…..…...142-143

(10) RESEARCH, IN-TEXT CITATIONS, AND WORKS CITED……………………………….…144-148




(11) PLAGIARISM………………………………………………………………………….……..……..149-153
Plagiarism Overview……………………………………………….…….150-151
Plagiarism Contracts……………………………………………………..152-153

(12) QUOTING and PARAPHRASING……………………………………….……………………….154-165




(13) THESIS STATEMENTS…………………………………………………………………………....166-174

(14) INTRODUCTIONS……………………………………………………………..…………………..175-179

(15) TOPIC SENTENCES………………………………………………………………………….……180-188

(16) PARAGRAPHS………………………………………………………………………………...……189-199




(17) CONCLUSIONS……………………………………………………………………………….……200-203



(18) TIMED WRITING……………………………………………………...…………………………..204-209
Timed Writing Advice…………………………………….………….….…205-208
Timed Writing Checklist…………………………………………….….….209


(19) STYLE………………………………………………………………………………………….……210-217

(20) GRAMMAR-PUNCTUATION-SPELLING………………………………………………………218-278


Adjectives & Adverbs……………………………………….…………….219-224
Appositives…………………………………………………….…………...225-227
Articles………………………………………………………….…………..228-230
Commas……………………………………………………………....….…231-237
Contractions………………………………………………………….….…238-239
Coordinators……………………………………………………….…..…...240-241
Dangling Modifiers………………………………………………….….…..242-244
Fragments…………………………………………………………..….…....245-249
Identifying Verbs and Subjects………………………………….......…….250-252
Possessives……………………………………………………….….…....…253-256
Run-Together Sentences………………………………………..……….….257-264
Subject-Verb Agreement………………………………………..…….…....265-268
Subordinators……………………………………………….…….…….…..269-272
Verb Tenses…………………………………………………….…..……….273-278

Writing Guidelines:

Top 20 Ways to get an “A” and to Become a Stronger, More Confident Writer


(1) PAPER TOPICS:
All the writing you will be doing in this course is reading-based. This means that every essay you write will be a response to and analysis of the reading arguing a point of view about the reading. If you write an essay that does not mention the reading or directly examine the reading, it will be considered off topic and will receive little to no credit. You will not be writing plot summaries.  You will summarize parts of the reading to support your argument, but summary should not take over your paper.  Each paragraph should serve to prove a clear and specific point and all paragraphs should work together to prove one unifying, thesis (opinion on the reading). For all papers, except the midterm and final exam, you will be creating your own argument about the assigned reading so that you are writing from a place of interest rather than duty. You cannot pass this course if you fail to turn in one of the assigned papers.

(2) CRITICAL THINKING:
A good critical thinker… (from Texas A&M University)
1. considers all sides of an issue. 2. conducts research to challenge initial assumptions.
3. uses convincing and sound evidence. 4. recognizes fallacies and creates arguments using solid logic.
5. is reasonable making concessions, seeing other possible arguments and is sensitive to different views.
(3) CRITICAL READING:
To be a good writer you must also be an active and critical reader:

  • Use reading strategies BEFORE you read: preview your text; determine purpose; draw on previous knowledge; predict what will happen; learn prefixes, roots and suffixes to build vocabulary.

  • Use reading strategies WHILE you read: underline or highlight key points and quotes as you read; take notes in the margins: identify major plot/argument points, add your own views and questions; monitor your comprehension.

  • Use reading strategies AFTER you read: connect new knowledge to previous knowledge; use critical thinking skills to evaluate new knowledge; organize information gathered.

  • Take notes on class presentations which provide context on the reading to aid in comprehension


(4) THE WRITING PROCESS:
The best writing is done, not last minute, but through a process using these stages:

  • Freewriting: writing continuously letting thoughts unselfconsciously flow (often for about 10 to
    20 mins) without regard to spelling, grammar, style etc., and no corrections are made.
    An excellent technique to push through writer’s block and to explore a given topic.

  • Brainstorming: is like freewriting in that you write down what comes to mind, but it is different
    because it is a list of words and phrases and not a string of sentences.

  • Journalist questions: creating questions using: Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, and How?.
    Then, writing out sentences or phrases in answer, as they fit your particular topic.

  • Clustering/listing: methods used to organize ideas. Clustering is an informal map of ideas with the
    main idea at the center surrounded by the supporting ideas and evidence. Listing is an
    informal kind of outline with the main points followed by supporting points and evidence.

  • Outlining: a formalized, logical overview of an essay in “skeletal” form consisting of the thesis, the
    main supporting points, and the specific evidence proving the supporting points.

  • Drafting: using an outline and focusing on proving a main idea, compose the essay and include an
    introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. There will be multiple versions in the
    drafting stage as you get your ideas in the shape you want them to be.

  • Revising: the larger elements of writing generally receive attention first—the focus, organization,
    paragraphing, content, and overall strategy. Deals with chunks of text longer than a
    sentence; whole paragraphs can be dropped or added; changes can be quite dramatic.

  • Editing/Proofreading: checking such things as grammar, mechanics, and spelling. Don't edit your
    writing until the other steps in the writing process are complete.

(5) WORKSHOPPING:
For each paper, you will be giving and receiving written and verbal advice from your peers using
“Peer Workshop Feedback” response sheets with the goal of assisting yourself and others to write strong, focused essays. Also, the written advice will be part of each student’s participation grade. Here are some overall good practices to use in peer response so it is a constructive and positive experience for everyone:

  • When you get advice from your peers, there is no need to feel pressured. You are the author so ultimately if you do not agree with someone’s point, you do not need to incorporate that change.

  • When giving advice, it is difficult hearing criticism from others so be tactful and never insulting.

  • When giving advice, also be honest. It is not helpful to simply tell someone, “Yeah, it was good; I liked it.” Giving students no avenues for revision and letting them think everything is “fine as is” can be more hurtful than the truth.

  • Balance your criticism with praise. Do not forget to tell the author what you liked about the essay as well. Sometimes we get too focused on “fixing” things and forget to tell people what we liked or what they did well. Provide positive comments along with suggestions for improvement.



(6) GRADING:
For each essay, I will complete an “Instructor Feedback” sheet commenting on aspects of the essay by category along with detailed written comments. Here are the Essay Grading Standards:


"A" essay: Excellent. The essay engages the reader in a thoughtful, insightful, and sophisticated response to the assigned topic.
A clear, meaningful central idea is present and supported by specific details, relevant examples, and thought
(90-100) provoking discussion. The ideas in the essay are well organized, coherent, and unified. There are no significant
errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation, and the essay adheres to all the standards in writing, including grammar,
punctuation, spelling, formatting, and documentation.


"B" essay: Good. The essay fully addresses the assigned topic in an insightful and thoughtful manner. The central idea is
supported with clear and relevant examples but may include some information that drifts off point or ideas that may
(80-89) not be fully developed. Competence in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other written standards (as mentioned in
“A” above) is demonstrated, but errors are present enough to be noted.


"C" essay: Acceptable. The essay addresses the assigned topic in a thoughtful but perhaps underdeveloped, disorganized,
and/or incoherent manner. The central idea is apparent but may not be supported by sufficient details, examples,
(70-79) and/or explanations. Errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and/or other written standards occur frequently
enough to distract the reader from writer's ideas.


"D" essay: Unsatisfactory. The essay only minimally addresses the assigned topic and/or may seriously lack in sophistication,
organization, and/or depth in its ideas. The central idea tends to be unfocused, incoherent, and/or may not be
(60-69) supported by detailed examples and developed explanations. Errors in grammar, spelling or punctuation are
excessive and distract the reader from the writer’s ideas.


"F" essay: Not acceptable/failing. All in all, an essay at the "F" level reveals ideas that do not demonstrate a sophisticated,
planned, logical level of thought and appears to be more like a draft or free-written journal that does not follow the
(59 and below) conventions of acceptable, essay writing standards. The "F" essay does not address the assigned topic, has no
clear main idea and/or supporting ideas, and/or is seriously underdeveloped (far short of the required number of
assigned pages), thus not meeting the minimum requirements.

(7) CREATING YOUR OWN ARGUMENT:


For the take home essays, you will be creating your own paper topics based on the reading. To arrive at a good topic and a strong argument try this process:

  • Brainstorm all the issues, ideas, and themes raised in the reading

  • Create complex questions using the journalist questions about the ideas raised in the brainstorm.

  • Answer several of your best questions about the reading with your opinion.

  • Deepen your answer by answering “so what?” So what is the significance? So what can be learned?

  • Gather strong supporting evidence to illustrate and prove your argument.


(8) MLA PAPER FORMATTING:


A well formatted essay sends a positive message to the reader that the writer has invested time and attention into crafting the essay. For each essay, follow these formatting guidelines:


MLA Title Page:


Garcia 1


Romeo Garcia
Rachel Bell
English 110
16 October 2010

Who Goes to the Races?


A favorite pastime of mine is watching
people, and my favorite place to observe is
the horse races. After many encounters with
the racing crowd, I have discovered that
there four distinct groups at the track: the
once-a-year bunch, the professionals, the
clubhouse set and the unemployed.
The largest group at the track consists of
those who show up once a year and who are















(9) TITLES and AUTHORS:



Creating your Own Title:
Titles are the first impression of an essay and first impressions matter. Pull in your reader’s interest:

  • Titles should convey the topic of the paper revealing what the paper is going to be about

  • Many titles reflect the point or argument that is being made about the topic

  • A good title should also be creative, thought-provoking, and make the reader keep reading


Text Titles and Author Names:
When referring to authors and their texts, be sure to use the proper formatting:

  • Put the titles of shorter works in quotes, like poems, chapter titles, web pages or short stories.
    For longer works underline or italicize the title, like plays, films and books.

  • For titles, only quote them, underline them, OR italicize them—never a combination of styles.

  • When first introducing a text, also provide the full name of the author.

  • After introducing authors by full name, refer to them by last name after (never by first name).

  • Don’t misspell an author’s name or text title; it sends a wrong message to your reader.

  • Don’t confuse characters in stories and authors as being the same person as often they are not.

  • In reading-based writing (which is the type of writing we’re doing in this class) introduce the text and the author that is being written about in the introductory paragraph.

(10) MLA FORMAT FOR RESEARCH, IN-TEXT CITATIONS, AND WORKS CITED:

Research:

  • Use credible sources (don’t pull “facts” from sources the general public can alter like “Wikipedia”)

  • Use research to support and strengthen your claims, not to replace your own arguments

  • Use Skyline’s library page for MLA formatting guides, research engines and advice:
    http://www.smccd.edu/accounts/skylib/


In-Text Citations—crediting sources within the paper:
You have two options when you cite your sources within the text of your paper:

  1. Provide the author's name and the page number on which you found the material you are citing:
    Example: Forecasters agree that El Niño has "made for an unusual year" (Sampson 91).


  2. Provide author's name in text of your sentence and include only page number after the sentence.
    Example: Forecasters from across the country agree with John Sampson's statement that El Niño has "made for an unusual year" (91).

Note: Do not use commas, p., pgs., or any other such notation in the citation. The period goes after parenthesis.

  • When no author is given for a source, include the title of the article, web page or book instead of the author. If the title is long, you can shorten it in the parenthetical documentation.



  • When you are citing online sources (from a webpage or an online database), and there are no page numbers, cite the author's name as usual, but don't include page numbers.
    Example: Research shows that "supplementing a woman's diet early in pregnancy with folic acid can prevent up to 70% of neural tube defects" (Moore).




  • When a writer's or a speaker's quoted words appear in a source written by someone else, begin the parenthetical citation with the abbreviation "qtd. in."
    Example: According to Richard Retting, "As the comforts of home and the efficiency of the office creep into the car, it is becoming increasingly attractive as a work space" (qtd. in Johnson 23).

M

Works Cited

Astin, Alexander W. Achieving Educational Excellence. WA:
Jossey-Bass, 1985.

"Money." Compton's Precyclopedia. 1977 ed., X, 80-91.

Mumford, Lewis. The Highway and
the City
. New York: Harcourt
Brace and World, 1963.

Redford, Robert. Personal Interview.


24 Sept. 1996.
LA Works Cited page:













The format of the source information will vary depending on if the source is a book, a website, an article, etc. For the proper format by type, visit: http://www.smccd.edu/accounts/skylib/citing.html

You can use sites like this one to properly format citations for you: http://citationmachine.net/

(11) PLAGIARISM: 
The quickest way to fail the course and lose your instructor as an ally is to plagiarize in your paper.

What is plagiarism?


  • failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas;

  • failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks;

  • failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words;

  • mixing an author's phrases with your own without citation or quotes.


What will happen to you if you plagiarize? ** READ THIS CAREFULLY**

  • There is no sympathy for students in this course who copy the words of others and submit them as their own. If you copy the language and/or ideas of others, you will be caught and receive an F.

  • Your name will also be submitted to the dean and your name will be added to a list of students who have been guilty of plagiarizing and this list can be shared with your current and future instructors.

  • You may be referred to the College Disciplinarian for further sanctions which range from a warning to expulsion from Skyline College.

(12) QUOTING and PARAPHRASING: 


The writing you will be doing in this course is reading-based, so you will want to include quotes and paraphrases from the reading to prove and illustrate your points. Here are some guidelines:

  • Include a mix of paraphrasing (putting the text in your own words and citing the original source) and quotations (direct language enclosed in quotes)

  • Follow quotes and paraphrases with the author’s last name and the page number in parenthesis (Steinbeck 259) or if the author is clear, just the page number in parenthesis (259).

  • Don’t drop quotes—connect all quotes to phrases that introduce them. The phrases could include:

- The speaker and context of the quote: Dee reacts when Sal is wrongfully accused, “quote” (17).
- Lead in with your own idea: Miss Grierson’s house is a reflection of her insanity, “quote” (23).
- The author and a verb: Angelou argues/contends/insists/claims/refutes/asserts, “quote” (128).

  • Follow the quote with analysis that expresses the quote’s significance and why you chose to use it.

  • For quotes longer than 3 lines, separate the quote into a block of text and indent all lines of the quote 10 spaces. No need to put quotation marks around indented quotes.

  • Don’t over-quote—including too many quotes pushes out your voice and analysis and gives the impression you cannot think for yourself.


(13) THESIS STATEMENTS:
The main point (claim) of an essay is often indicated in a single sentence called the thesis statement:


  • A thesis statement is an arguable assertion that can be proven with evidence and opinions.

  • Ask yourself: Can I disagree? You want to be able to answer YES because then you have a reason
    to write the paper in order to prove or defend the thesis.

  • A thesis statement is often (but not always) one sentence and is most often located in the
    introductory paragraph.

  • When writing about reading, the thesis should be an opinion on or interpretation of the text

  • A thesis should be effective. It should be an opinion, not a fact; it should be limited, not too
    broad; and it should be sharply focused, not too vague.

  • A thesis should be creative, original, and interesting

  • A good thesis will have a strong “So what?”. So what is the significance or importance of the
    topic? So what can be learned? So what is the consequence or impact? So why should people
    care or be concerned?

  • Effective thesis formula: Topic + opinion + So what?

(14) INTRODUCTIONS:


Do’s:



  • In your introduction, attract the reader's attention ‑ get him/her interested in reading the paper.

  • Provide necessary or helpful background information about the topic ‑ create a context or "set the
    stage" for the essay so a reader can understand or appreciate your main point. Don’t start the
    essay “mid discussion” with no context.

  • Give the reader a sense of why you're writing about this particular subject.

  • State the core idea (thesis) of the essay.

  • Since all the writing in this course is reading-based, introduce the text and the author that is
    being written about in the introductory paragraph.


Don’ts:




  • Avoid The Generic (an introduction that could be stuck onto any essay about any subject)
    "In this modern, complex world, we all face many daily problems ...."

  • Avoid The Mechanical "In this essay, I am going to discuss..." (Note: This approach is not
    favored in most humanities courses, but may be encouraged in business or science courses)

  • Avoid Clichés: Avoid worn out over-used phrases like “According to the dictionary…” and “Don’t
    judge a book by its cover.” Use language that is fresh, original and engaging.

  • Avoid Dawdling: Get to it. Move confidently into your essay. Don’t slow your essay down with
    too much information that doesn’t lead directly up to your thesis.

Some Possible Approaches for Introductions:




  • Lead in with a related and short, illustrative story or example.

  • Connect your topic to a familiar experience the reader is likely to have had or a cultural reference they are likely to have shared.

  • Pose a provocative question, one that will get your reader thinking.

  • Include a short direct quote that illuminates the topic (be sure to give full names of writers, experts, and text titles when you first reference them).

  • Surprise your reader with striking facts or statistics.

  • Provide background information and/or history on the topic.

  • State a problem that will be analyzed or solved.


(15) TOPIC SENTENCES:

The main point (claim) of a paragraph is often indicated in a single sentence called the topic sentence:





  • A topic sentence is like a thesis in that you can also ask yourself: Can I disagree? You want to be able to answer YES to show that there is an arguable claim that needs to be proven.

  • A strong topic sentence connects back to your overall thesis and connects forward to the specific supporting point you are making in the paragraph to prove and illustrate your thesis.

  • A strong topic sentence focuses each paragraph around one main point.

  • In published writing you’ll sometimes find topic sentences in the middle or even at the end of a paragraph, but placing your topic sentences at the beginning of each of your paragraphs is useful

  • A strong topic sentence helps your reader to see where you are headed with your ideas in a particular paragraph; topics sentences help your reader form a mental map of your essay.

  • A strong topic sentence often contains transitional words and phrases that logically move the reader from one paragraph to the next.

(16) PARAGRAPHS:


In order for body paragraphs to be useful to your reader, they need to be:



  • Relevant: directly related to your thesis.

  • Focused: centered on one main idea

  • Developed: supported with sufficient information and explanatory commentary.

One way to ensure that each of your body paragraphs is clearly focused, convincingly developed, and connects back to thesis is to use the PIE strategy:





  • P = Point: the “P” is the point you are making in your topic sentence: a clear statement of the
    main claim you are addressing in that paragraph which directly supports the thesis.

  • I = Information: the “I” fills out the body of your paragraph with concrete information that
    supports the main point. Provide specific details in the form of examples, quotes,
    paraphrases, facts, personal knowledge, real life examples and experiences, etc.

  • E = Explanation: the “E” is the writer’s explanation of the significance of the provided
    information as it relates to the thesis. “So What?” is important or can be learned?



(17) CONCLUSIONS:

Some Possible Approaches for Conclusions:

  • Set your discussion into a different, perhaps larger, context.

  • Consider the implications or outcomes of your argument (“So what?”).

  • Offer opinions that your reader might or might not have accepted earlier.

  • Propose a course of action.

  • Try to solve a problem you have raised.

  • Link the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word, phrase, reference or idea you used at the beginning.

  • Use a quotation that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective.


(18) TIMED WRITING:
In college and in life there will be occasions where you need to compose essays and written responses quickly and in a limited amount of time. Therefore, we will also be strengthening your timed essay writing abilities through writing the following essays: several 20-30 minute quizzes, a 75 minute midterm, and a 2.5 hour final exam. Here is some advice on how to be successful in timed writing situations:

  • To write a strong essay in a limited amount of time, know the important elements of an essay: Focus: respond directly to writing prompt (circle key words, count parts), stay focused on thesis;
    Organization: points in logical order, paragraph breaks, strong topic sentences, transitions;
    Development: specific detail for each paragraph (examples, facts, quotes, your own analysis);
    Grammar-Punctuation-Spelling: set time aside at end to correct sentence-level errors

  • Have a time management plan for 3 activities: 10-15% of time for prewriting (circling key words, counting parts of prompt, rough outline), 70-80% of time writing, and 10-15% proofreading

  • The best way to prepare is to write several practice timed essays before exams


(19) STYLE

  • When writing, strive for simplicity so there are no unnecessary or confusing words.

  • Combine sentences to be concise, improve flow, and show logical relationships between ideas.

  • To group similar ideas, balance your ideas, and remove repetition, use parallelism.


(20) GRAMMAR-PUNCTUATION-SPELLING:
Do grammar exercises to strengthen sentence level skills where needed:

Adjectives & Adverbs
Appositives
Articles
Commas

Contractions
Coordinators
Dangling Modifiers
Fragments

Identifying Verbs and Subjects
Possessives
Run-Together Sentences
Subject-Verb Agreement

Subordinators
Verb Tenses



Writing
Guideline #1:


PAPER TOPICS

(1) PAPER TOPICS:


OVERVIEW
:

All the writing you will be doing in this course is reading-based. This means that every essay you write will be a response to and analysis of the reading arguing a point of view about the reading. If you write an essay that does not mention the reading or directly examine the reading, it will be considered off topic and will receive little to no credit. You will not be writing plot summaries. You will summarize parts of the reading to support your argument, but summary should not take over your paper.  Each paragraph should serve to prove a clear and specific point and all paragraphs should work together to prove one unifying, thesis (opinion on the reading).  For all papers, except the midterm and final exam, you will be creating your own argument about the assigned reading so that you are writing from a place of interest rather than duty. You cannot pass this course if you fail to turn in one of the assigned papers.

For the specific due dates and page lengths for each paper, see the course syllabus which is linked from my faculty homepage: http://www.smccd.edu/accounts/bellr/




CREATING YOUR OWN ARGUMENT:

For the take home essays, you will be creating your own paper topics based on the reading. To arrive at a good topic and a strong thesis try this process:



  • Brainstorm all the issues, ideas, and themes raised in the reading

  • Create complex questions using the journalist questions about the ideas raised in the brainstorm.

  • Answer several of your best questions about the reading with your opinion.

  • Deepen your answer by answering “so what?” So what is the significance? So what can be learned?

  • Gather strong supporting evidence to illustrate and prove your argument.

Fill out a Creating Your Own Argument process sheet to arrive at a strong and interesting argument on which to focus your paper.




PAPER GUIDELINES
:

(1)  TOPICS:  For all the papers except the midterm and final, you will select your own paper topic.  Write on an aspect of the reading that is interesting to you!  In the reading, what caught your attention?  Shocked or surprised you?  Compelled you?  Made you want to investigate further?  Remember, for every essay that you write in this course, an analysis of the reading should be the focus.  If your paper doesn't really address or analyze the assigned text, revise it so that it does.

(2) WRITING GUIDELINES:


Take a look at the concise writing guide that gives an overview of all the elements to include in a successful essay. This will help you as you select your topic and then as you plan and write your paper:

http://www.smccd.edu/accounts/bellr/ReaderWritingGuidelines.htm

(3)  FORMATTING: For all the papers you submit in this course you want to use MLA formatting for the titles pages, the page numbering and the Works Cited page. Also, all pages should be double-spaced with 1 inch margins at the top, sides and bottom of the paper.  For more details, visit:



http://www.smccd.net/accounts/bellr/ReaderPaperFormatting.htm

(4) DEADLINES:  Deadlines are given well in advance and are very strict.  I will accept no late work.  You do, however, have 2 late tickets. If you’re taking the course online, you can turn in two assignments 48 hours after their due date. If you’re taking the course in the classroom, you can use a late ticket to turn the assignment in the following class. You cannot use late tickets on timed exams.  I don't recommend you use a late ticket for the first due date of a paper as these are days when you workshop the paper.  If you miss the first workshop due date, you will not get feedback for revision on your paper and since students without papers cannot participate in workshopping, you will lose the participation credit you get for responding to your peers' papers.


(5) TWO DUE DATES:  You'll notice that all the papers have two due dates a week a part.  This allows students a week to revise their essays after receiving peer feedback and to perhaps work with a tutor and/or the instructor on a paper.  If students miss the first due date for a paper, they cannot turn in a revised paper a week later for a grade. First drafts are not graded. You cannot pass the course if you fail to submit one of the assigned papers.


(6) PAGE LENGTH:  The page length for papers is also very strict.  I page count all the essays before I read them.  5% (half a grade) is deducted for each half page under and 10% (a full letter grade) is deducted for a full page under.  The page minimums are strict, but you can ignore the page maximums.  If you want to write a long paper, I'll read it.  I encourage students to go above and beyond the assignment.  However, you don't want to turn in a long, rambling paper that isn't concise.  More pages aren’t always better.


(7) TUTORING: I highly recommend that you take advantage of the tutoring services offered in Skyline’s Learning Center.  Getting feedback is one of the most effective ways for you to improve your writing.  Either come visit me in office hours or visit The Writing and Reading Lab in The Learning Center in building 5, room 5-100 (a floor below the library) which offers a full staff of tutors Monday-Thursday 8am-8pm, F 8-4pm: http://www.smccd.edu/accounts/skytlc/index.asp


(8) ESSAY CHECKLIST: To assure that you have all the necessary elements for your paper, download and fill out the Essay Checklist and be sure all of the elements on the checklist are present in your paper. You will submit one of these checklists for each of the take home essays (the ones that are not timed essays).




Writing
Guideline #2:

CRITICAL THINKING


(2) CRITICAL THINKING:

You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees.
An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil.
A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.
  ~ Mahatma Gandhi


The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people
forget that certain other sets of people are human.
   ~ Aldous Huxley


[People] become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe,
but in their readiness to doubt.
   ~ H. L. Mencken




WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?

Critical Thinking as Defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking
by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul (from criticalthinking.org)

“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.”


Another Brief Conceptualization of Critical Thinking by Linda Elder



“Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.  People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically.   They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked.  They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies.  They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking.  They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.  They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest.  They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society.   At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so.  They avoid thinking simplistically about complicated issues and strive to appropriately consider the rights and needs of relevant others.  They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to life-long practice toward self-improvement.  They embody the Socratic principle:  The unexamined life is not worth living, because they realize that many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world.”

WHAT DOES A CRITICAL THINKER DO?

According to Robert H. Ennis, author of The Cornell Critical Thinking Tests (from criticalthinking.com)

1. Is open-minded and mindful of alternatives
2. Tries to be well-informed
3. Judges well the credibility of sources
4. Identifies conclusions, reasons, and assumptions
5. Judges well the quality of an argument, including
the acceptability of its reasons, assumptions, and
evidence

6. Can well develop and defend a reasonable position
7. Asks appropriate clarifying questions
8. Formulates plausible hypotheses; plans
experiments well
9. Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context
10. Draws conclusions when warranted, but with
caution



Understanding Levels of Thinking Using Bloom’s Taxonomy:

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. During the 1990's a new group of cognitive psychologists, lead by Lorin Anderson (a former student of Bloom's), updated the taxonomy reflecting relevance to 21st century work:




Arranged from lower level thinking to higher level




Creating: can you create a new product or point of view?

assemble, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, write

Evaluating: can you justify a stand or decision?

appraise, argue, defend, judge, select, support, value, evaluate

Analyzing: can you distinguish between the different parts?

appraise, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test

Applying: can you use the information in a new way?

choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write

Understanding: can you explain ideas or concepts?

classify, describe, discuss, explain, identify, locate, recognize, report, select, translate, paraphrase

Remembering: can you recall or remember the information?

define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, repeat, reproduce, state







HOW DO I BECOME A CRITICAL THINKER?

From the Texas A&M University Writing Center website (http://writingcenter.tamu.edu)


To make an argument, take a stand, or defend a thesis in a responsible way for an academic or educated reader requires that you consider the following:


All sides of the issue. By considering all sides and showing, whether through a literature review or through discussion, that you understand the issues, you strengthen their own position.
Your own position. You may not even be clear on your position until you begin prewriting. Conducting research and pursuing invention techniques may challenge your initial assumptions. Be ready to alter your thesis as you explore it. 


Convincing and comprehensive evidence. Writing an argument makes you ask what is convincing to an educated reader. How much evidence is enough? What kind of evidence counts and what kind may be persuasive yet not sufficient? 


Awareness of fallacies. A good argument is based on solid logic, without hasty generalizations, faulty causal attributions, misleading statistics, and so on.


Reasonableness. A reasonable writer will make concessions, show awareness of other possible arguments, and be sensitive to different perspectives. A reasonable writer will not play on emotion to excess or expect readers to assent based on his/her personality or reputation.


HOW DO I APPLY CRITICAL THINKING TO LITERATURE?



An Introduction to Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism



Psychoanalytic Criticism (1930s-present)

(http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/04/)

Sigmund Freud

Psychoanalytic criticism builds on Freudian theories of psychology. While we don't have the room here to discuss all of Freud's work, a general overview is necessary to explain psychoanalytic literary criticism.

The Unconscious, the Desires, and the Defenses

Freud began his psychoanalytic work in the 1880s while attempting to treat behavioral disorders in his Viennese patients. He dubbed the disorders 'hysteria' and began treating them by listening to his patients talk through their problems. Based on this work, Freud asserted that people's behavior is affected by their unconscious: "...the notion that human beings are motivated, even driven, by desires, fears, needs, and conflicts of which they are unaware..." (Tyson 14-15).

Freud believed that our unconscious was influenced by childhood events. Freud organized these events into developmental stages involving relationships with parents and drives of desire and pleasure where children focus "...on different parts of the body...starting with the mouth...shifting to the oral, anal, and phallic phases..." (Richter 1015). These stages reflect base levels of desire, but they also involve fear of loss (loss of genitals, loss of affection from parents, loss of life) and repression: "...the expunging from consciousness of these unhappy psychological events" (Tyson 15).

Tyson reminds us, however, that "...repression doesn't eliminate our painful experiences and emotions...we unconsciously behave in ways that will allow us to 'play out'...our conflicted feelings about the painful experiences and emotions we repress" (15). To keep all of this conflict buried in our unconscious, Freud argued that we develop defenses: selective perception, selective memory, denial, displacement, projection, regression, fear of intimacy, and fear of death, among others.



Id, Ego, and Superego

Freud maintained that our desires and our unconscious conflicts give rise to three areas of the mind that wrestle for dominance as we grow from infancy, to childhood, to adulthood:



  • id - "...the location of the drives" or libido

  • ego - "...one of the major defenses against the power of the drives..." and home of the defenses listed above

  • superego - the area of the unconscious that houses judgement (of self and others) and "...which begins to form during childhood as a result of the Oedipus complex" (Richter 1015-1016)


Oedipus Complex

Freud believed that the Oedipus complex was "...one of the most powerfully determinative elements in the growth of the child" (Richter 1016). Essentially, the Oedipus complex involves children's need for their parents and the conflict that arises as children mature and realize they are not the absolute focus of their mother's attention: "the Oedipus complex begins in a late phase of infantile sexuality, between the child's third and sixth year, and it takes a different form in males than it does in females" (Richter 1016).

Freud argued that both boys and girls wish to possess their mothers, but as they grow older "...they begin to sense that their claim to exclusive attention is thwarted by the mother's attention to the father..." (1016). Children, Freud maintained, connect this conflict of attention to the intimate relations between mother and father, relations from which the children are excluded. Freud believed that "the result is a murderous rage against the father...and a desire to possess the mother" (1016).

Freud pointed out, however, that "...the Oedipus complex differs in boys and girls...the functioning of the related castration complex" (1016). In short, Freud thought that "...during the Oedipal rivalry [between boys and their fathers], boys fantasized that punishment for their rage will take the form of..." castration (1016). When boys effectively work through this anxiety, Freud argued, "...the boy learns to identify with the father in the hope of someday possessing a woman like his mother. In girls, the castration complex does not take the form of anxiety...the result is a frustrated rage in which the girl shifts her sexual desire from the mother to the father" (1016).

Freud believed that eventually, the girl's spurned advanced toward the father give way to a desire to possess a man like her father later in life. Freud believed that the impact of the unconscious, id, ego, superego, the defenses, and the Oedipus complexes was inescapable and that these elements of the mind influence all our behavior (and even our dreams) as adults - of course this behavior involves what we write.

Freud and Literature

So what does all of this psychological business have to do with literature and the study of literature? Put simply, some critics believe that we can "...read psychoanalytically...to see which concepts are operating in the text in such a way as to enrich our understanding of the work and, if we plan to write a paper about it, to yield a meaningful, coherent psychoanalytic interpretation" (Tyson 29). Tyson provides some insightful and applicable questions to help guide our understanding of psychoanalytic criticism.



Typical questions:

  • How do the operations of repression structure or inform the work?

  • Are there any oedipal dynamics - or any other family dynamics - are work here?

  • How can characters' behavior, narrative events, and/or images be explained in terms of psychoanalytic concepts of any kind (for example...fear or fascination with death, sexuality - which includes love and romance as well as sexual behavior - as a primary indicator of psychological identity or the operations of ego-id-superego)?

  • What does the work suggest about the psychological being of its author?

  • What might a given interpretation of a literary work suggest about the psychological motives of the reader?

  • Are there prominent words in the piece that could have different or hidden meanings? Could there be a subconscious reason for the author using these "problem words"?

Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:

  • Harold Bloom - A Theory of Poetry, 1973; Poetry and Repression: Revisionism from Blake to Stevens, 1976

  • Peter Brooks

  • Jacque Lacan - The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1988; "The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason Since Freud" (from Écrits: A Selection, 1957)

  • Jane Gallop - Reading Lacan, 1985

  • Julia Kristeva - Revolution in Poetic Language, 1984

  • Marshall Alcorn - Changing the Subject in English Class: Discourse and the Constructions of Desire, 2002

Carl Jung

Jungian criticism attempts to explore the connection between literature and what Carl Jung (a student of Freud) called the “collective unconscious” of the human race: "...racial memory, through which the spirit of the whole human species manifests itself" (Richter 504). Jungian criticism, closely related to Freudian theory because of its connection to psychoanalysis, assumes that all stories and symbols are based on mythic models from mankind’s past.

Based on these commonalities, Jung developed archetypal myths, the Syzygy: "...a quaternion composing a whole, the unified self of which people are in search" (Richter 505). These archetypes are the Shadow, the Anima, the Animus, and the Spirit: "...beneath...[the Shadow] is the Anima, the feminine side of the male Self, and the Animus, the corresponding masculine side of the female Self" (Richter 505).

In literary analysis, a Jungian critic would look for archetypes (also see the discussion of Northrop Frye in the Structuralism section) in creative works: "Jungian criticism is generally involved with a search for the embodiment of these symbols within particular works of art." (Richter 505). When dealing with this sort of criticism, it is often useful to keep and handbook of mythology and a dictionary of symbols on hand.



Typical questions:

  • What connections can we make between elements of the text and the archetypes? (Mask, Shadow, Anima, Animus)

  • How do the characters in the text mirror the archetypal figures? (Great Mother or nurturing Mother, Whore, destroying Crone, Lover, Destroying Angel)

  • How does the text mirror the archetypal narrative patterns? (Quest, Night-Sea-Journey)

  • How symbolic is the imagery in the work?

  • How does the protagonist reflect the hero of myth?

  • Does the “hero” embark on a journey in either a physical or spiritual sense?

  • Is there a journey to an underworld or land of the dead?

  • What trials or ordeals does the protagonist face? What is the reward for overcoming them?

Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:

  • Maud Bodkin - Archetypal Patterns in Poetry, 1934

  • Carl Jung - The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Vol. 9, Part 1 of Collected Works. 2nd ed. Trans. R.F.C. Hull, 1968

  • Bettina Knapp - Music, Archetype and the Writer: A Jungian View, 1988

  • Ricahrd Sugg - Jungian Literary Criticism, 1993





Marxist Criticism (1930s-present)

(http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/05/)

Whom Does it Benefit?



Based on the theories of Karl Marx (and so influenced by philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel), this school concerns itself with class differences, economic and otherwise, as well as the implications and complications of the capitalist system: "Marxism attempts to reveal the ways in which our socioeconomic system is the ultimate source of our experience" (Tyson 277).

Theorists working in the Marxist tradition, therefore, are interested in answering the overarching question, whom does it [the work, the effort, the policy, the road, etc.] benefit? The elite? The middle class? And Marxists critics are also interested in how the lower or working classes are oppressed - in everyday life and in literature.



The Material Dialectic

The Marxist school follows a process of thinking called the material dialectic. This belief system maintains that "...what drives historical change are the material realities of the economic base of society, rather than the ideological superstructure of politics, law, philosophy, religion, and art that is built upon that economic base" (Richter 1088).

Marx asserts that "...stable societies develop sites of resistance: contradictions build into the social system that ultimately lead to social revolution and the development of a new society upon the old" (1088). This cycle of contradiction, tension, and revolution must continue: there will always be conflict between the upper, middle, and lower (working) classes and this conflict will be reflected in literature and other forms of expression - art, music, movies, etc.

The Revolution

The continuing conflict between the classes will lead to upheaval and revolution by oppressed peoples and form the groundwork for a new order of society and economics where capitalism is abolished. According to Marx, the revolution will be led by the working class (others think peasants will lead the uprising) under the guidance of intellectuals. Once the elite and middle class are overthrown, the intellectuals will compose an equal society where everyone owns everything (socialism - not to be confused with Soviet or Maoist Communism).

Though a staggering number of different nuances exist within this school of literary theory, Marxist critics generally work in areas covered by the following questions.

Typical questions:


  • Whom does it benefit if the work or effort is accepted/successful/believed, etc.?

  • What is the social class of the author?

  • Which class does the work claim to represent?

  • What values does it reinforce?

  • What values does it subvert?

  • What conflict can be seen between the values the work champions and those it portrays?

  • What social classes do the characters represent?

  • How do characters from different classes interact or conflict?

Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:



  • Karl Marx - (with Friedrich Engels) The Communist Manifesto, 1848; Das Kapital, 1867; "Consciousness Derived from Material Conditions" from The German Ideology, 1932; "On Greek Art in Its Time" from A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, 1859

  • Leon Trotsky - "Literature and Revolution," 1923

  • Georg Lukács - "The Ideology of Modernism," 1956

  • Walter Benjamin - "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," 1936

  • Theodor W. Adorno

  • Louis Althusser - Reading Capital, 1965

  • Terry Eagleton - Marxism and Literary Criticism, Criticism and Ideology, 1976

  • Frederic Jameson - Marxism and Form, The Political Unconscious, 1971

  • Jürgen Habermas - The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, 1990





Reader-Response Criticism (1960s-present)

(http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/06/)

What Do You Think?

At its most basic level, reader response criticism considers readers' reactions to literature as vital to interpreting the meaning of the text. However, reader-response criticism can take a number of different approaches. A critic deploying reader-response theory can use a psychoanalytic lens, a feminists lens, or even a structuralist lens. What these different lenses have in common when using a reader response approach is they maintain "...that what a text is cannot be separated from what it does" (Tyson 154).

Tyson explains that "...reader-response theorists share two beliefs: 1) that the role of the reader cannot be omitted from our understanding of literature and 2) that readers do not passively consume the meaning presented to them by an objective literary text; rather they actively make the meaning they find in literature" (154). In this way, reader-response theory shares common ground with some of the deconstructionists discussed in the Post-structural area when they talk about "the death of the author," or her displacement as the (author)itarian figure in the text.

Typical questions:


  • How does the interaction of text and reader create meaning?

  • What does a phrase-by-phrase analysis of a short literary text, or a key portion of a longer text, tell us about the reading experience prestructured by (built into) that text?

  • Do the sounds/shapes of the words as they appear on the page or how they are spoken by the reader enhance or change the meaning of the word/work?

  • How might we interpret a literary text to show that the reader's response is, or is analogous to, the topic of the story?

  • What does the body of criticism published about a literary text suggest about the critics who interpreted that text and/or about the reading experience produced by that text? (Tyson 191)

Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:

  • Peter Rabinowitz - Before Reading, 1987

  • Stanley Fish - Is There a Text in This Class?-The Authority of Interpretive Communities, 1980

  • Elizabeth Freund - The Return of the Reader: Reader-Response Criticism, 1987

  • David Bleich

  • Norman Holland - The Dynamics of Literary Response, 1968

  • Louise Rosenblatt

  • Wolfgang Iser - The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett, 1974

  • Hans Rober Jauss



Post-Structuralism, Deconstruction, Postmodernism (1966-present)

(http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/08/)

Note: Structuralism, semiotics, and post-structuralism are some of the most complex literary theories to understand.



The Center Cannot Hold

This approach concerns itself with the ways and places where systems, frameworks, definitions, and certainties break down. Post-structuralism maintains that frameworks and systems, for example the structuralist systems explained in the Structuralist area, are merely fictitious constructs and that they cannot be trusted to develop meaning or to give order. In fact, the very act of seeking order or a singular Truth is absurd because there exists no unified truth.

Post-structuralism holds that there are many truths, that frameworks must bleed, and that structures must become unstable or decentered. Moreover, post-structuralism is also concerned with the power structures or hegemonies and power and how these elements contribute to and/or maintain structures to enforce hierarchy. Therefore, post-structural theory carries implications far beyond literary criticism.



What Does Your Meaning Mean?

By questioning the process of developing meaning, post-structural theory strikes at the very heart of philosophy and reality and throws knowledge making into what Jacques Derrida called "freeplay": "The concept of centered structure...is contradictorily coherent...the concept of centered structure is in fact the concept of a freeplay which is constituted upon a fundamental immobility and a reassuring certitude, which is itself beyond the reach of the freeplay" (qtd. in Richter, 878-879).

Derrida first posited these ideas in 1966 at Johns Hopkins University, when he delivered “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences”: "Perhaps something has occurred in the history of the concept of structure that could be called an 'event,' if this loaded word did not entail a meaning which it is precisely the function of structural-or structuralist-thought to reduce or to suspect. But let me use the term “event” anyway, employing it with caution and as if in quotation marks. In this sense, this event will have the exterior form of a rupture and a redoubling” (qtd. in Richter, 878). In his presentation, Derrida challenged structuralism's most basic ideas.



Can Language Do That?

Post-structural theory can be tied to a move against Modernist/Enlightenment ideas (philosophers: Immanuel Kant, Réne Descartes, John Locke, etc.) and Western religious beliefs (neo-Platonism, Catholicism, etc.). An early pioneer of this resistance was philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In his essay, “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-moral Sense” (1873), Nietzsche rejects even the very basis of our knowledge making, language, as a reliable system of communication: “The various languages, juxtaposed, show that words are never concerned with truth, never with adequate expression...” (248).

Below is an example, adapted from the Tyson text, of some language freeplay and a simple form of deconstruction:

Time (noun) flies (verb) like an arrow (adverb clause) = Time passes quickly.

Time (verb) flies (object) like an arrow (adverb clause) = Get out your stopwatch and time the speed of flies as you would time an arrow's flight.

Time flies (noun) like (verb) an arrow (object) = Time flies are fond of arrows (or at least of one particular arrow).

So, post-structuralists assert that if we cannot trust language systems to convey truth, the very bases of truth are unreliable and the universe - or at least the universe we have constructed - becomes unraveled or de-centered. Nietzsche uses language slip as a base to move into the slip and shift of truth as a whole: “What is truth? …truths are an illusion about which it has been forgotten that they are illusions...” (On Truth and Lies 250).

This returns us to the discussion in the Structuralist area regarding signs, signifiers, and signified. Essentially, post-structuralism holds that we cannot trust the sign = signifier + signified formula, that there is a breakdown of certainty between sign/signifier, which leaves language systems hopelessly inadequate for relaying meaning so that we are (returning to Derrida) in eternal freeplay or instability.

What's Left?

Important to note, however, is that deconstruction is not just about tearing down - this is a common misconception. Derrida, in "Signature Event Context," addressed this limited view of post-structural theory: "Deconstruction cannot limit or proceed immediately to a neutralization: it must…practice an overturning of the classical opposition and a general displacement of the system. It is only on this condition that deconstruction will provide itself the means with which to intervene in the field of oppositions that it criticizes, which is also a field of nondiscursive forces" (328). Derrida reminds us that through deconstruction we can identify the in-betweens and the marginalized to begin interstitial knowledge building.



Modernism vs Postmodernism

With the resistance to traditional forms of knowledge making (science, religion, language), inquiry, communication, and building meaning take on different forms to the post-structuralist. We can look at this difference as a split between Modernism and Postmodernism. The table below, excerpted from theorist Ihab Hassan's The Dismemberment of Orpheus (1998), offers us a way to make sense of some differences between modernism, dominated by Enlightenment ideas, and postmodernism, a space of freeplay and discourse.

Keep in mind that even the author, Hassan, "...is quick to point out how the dichotomies are themselves insecure, equivocal" (Harvey 42). Though post-structuralism is uncomfortable with binaries, Hassan provides us with some interesting contrasts to consider:

Modernism vs Postmodernism

Modernism

Postmodernism

romanticism/symbolism

paraphysics/Dadaism

form (conjunctive, closed)

antiform (disjunctive, open)

purpose

play

design

chance

hierarchy

anarchy

mastery/logos

exhaustion/silence

art object/finished work/logos

process/performance/antithesis

centering

absence

genre/boundary

text/intertext

semantics

rhetoric

metaphor

metonymy

root/depth

rhizome/surface

signified

signifier

narrative/grande histoire

anti-narrative/petite histoire

genital/phallic

polymorphous/androgynous

paranoia

schizophrenia

origin/cause

difference-difference/trace

God the Father

The Holy Ghost

determinacy

interdeterminacy

transcendence

immanence


Post-Structuralism and Literature

If we are questioning/resisting the methods we use to build knowledge (science, religion, language), then traditional literary notions are also thrown into freeplay. These include the narrative and the author:



Narrative

The narrative is a fiction that locks readers into interpreting text in a single, chronological manner that does not reflect our experiences. Postmodern texts may not adhere to traditional notions of narrative. For example, in his seminal work, Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs explodes the traditional narrative structure and critiques almost everything Modern: modern government, modern medicine, modern law-enforcement. Other examples of authors playing with narrative include John Fowles; in the final sections of The French Lieutenant's Woman, Fowles steps outside his narrative to speak with the reader directly.

Moreover, grand narratives are resisted. For example, the belief that through science the human race will improve is questioned. In addition, metaphysics is questioned. Instead, postmodern knowledge building is local, situated, slippery, and self-critical (i.e. it questions itself and its role). Because post-structural work is self-critical, post-structural critics even look for ways texts contradict themselves (see typical questions below).

Author

The author is displaced as absolute author(ity), and the reader plays a role in interpreting the text and developing meaning (as best as possible) from the text. In “The Death of the Author,” Roland Barthes argues that the idea of singular authorship is a recent phenomenon. Barthes explains that the death of the author shatters Modernist notions of authority and knowledge building (145).

Lastly, he states that once the author is dead and the Modernist idea of singular narrative (and thus authority) is overturned, texts become plural, and the interpretation of texts becomes a collaborative process between author and audience: “...a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue...but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader” (148). Barthes ends his essay by empowering the reader: “Classical criticism has never paid any attention to the reader...the writer is the only person in literature…it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (148).

Typical questions:


  • How is language thrown into freeplay or questioned in the work? For example, note how Anthony Burgess plays with language (Russian vs English) in A Clockwork Orange, or how Burroughs plays with names and language in Naked Lunch.

  • How does the work undermine or contradict generally accepted truths?

  • How does the author (or a character) omit, change, or reconstruct memory and identity?

  • How does a work fulfill or move outside the established conventions of its genre?

  • How does the work deal with the separation (or lack thereof) between writer, work, and reader?

  • What ideology does the text seem to promote?

  • What is left out of the text that if included might undermine the goal of the work?

  • If we changed the point of view of the text - say from one character to another, or multiple characters - how would the story change? Whose story is not told in the text? Who is left out and why might the author have omitted this character's tale?

Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:

Theorists


  • Immanuel Kant - "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?", 1784 (as a baseline to understand what Nietzsche was resisting)

  • Friedrich Nietzsche - “On Truth and Lies in an Extra-moral Sense," 1873; The Gay Science, 1882; Thus Spoke Zarathustra, A Book for All and None, 1885

  • Jacques Derrida - "Structure Sign and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences," 1966; Of Grammatology, 1967; "Signature Even Context," 1972

  • Roland Barthes - "The Death of the Author," 1967

  • Deleuze and Guattari - "Rhizome," 1976

  • Jean-François Lyotard - The Postmodern Condition, 1979

  • Michele Foucault - The Foucault Reader, 1984

  • Stephen Toulmin - Cosmopolis, 1990

  • Martin Heidegger - Basic Writings, 1993

  • Paul Cilliers - Complexity and Postmodernity, 1998

  • Ihab Hassan - The Dismemberment of Orpheus, 1998; From Postmodernism to Postmodernity: The Local/Global Context, 2001

Postmodern Literature

  • William S. Burroughs - Naked Lunch, 1959

  • Angela Carter - Burning Your Boats, stories from 1962-1993 (first published as a collection in 1995)

  • Kathy Acker - Blood and Guts in High School, 1978

  • Paul Auster - City of Glass (volume one of the New York City Trilogy), 1985 (as a graphic novel published by Neon Lit, a division of Avon Books, 1994)

  • Lynne Tillman - Haunted Houses, 1987

  • David Wojnarowicz - The Waterfront Journals, 1996




New Historicism, Cultural Studies (1980s-present)

(http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/09/)

It's All Relative...

This school, influenced by structuralist and post-structuralist theories, seeks to reconnect a work with the time period in which it was produced and identify it with the cultural and political movements of the time (Michel Foucault's concept of épistème). New Historicism assumes that every work is a product of the historic moment that created it. Specifically, New Criticism is "...a practice that has developed out of contemporary theory, particularly the structuralist realization that all human systems are symbolic and subject to the rules of language, and the deconstructive realization that there is no way of positioning oneself as an observer outside the closed circle of textuality" (Richter 1205).

A helpful way of considering New Historical theory, Tyson explains, is to think about the retelling of history itself: "...questions asked by traditional historians and by new historicists are quite different...traditional historians ask, 'What happened?' and 'What does the event tell us about history?' In contrast, new historicists ask, 'How has the event been interpreted?' and 'What do the interpretations tell us about the interpreters?'" (278). So New Historicism resists the notion that "...history is a series of events that have a linear, causal relationship: event A caused event B; event B caused event C; and so on" (Tyson 278).

New historicists do not believe that we can look at history objectively, but rather that we interpret events as products of our time and culture and that "...we don't have clear access to any but the most basic facts of history...our understanding of what such facts mean...is...strictly a matter of interpretation, not fact" (279). Moreover, New Historicism holds that we are hopelessly subjective interpreters of what we observe.

Typical questions:


  • What language/characters/events present in the work reflect the current events of the author’s day?

  • Are there words in the text that have changed their meaning from the time of the writing?

  • How are such events interpreted and presented?

  • How are events' interpretation and presentation a product of the culture of the author?

  • Does the work's presentation support or condemn the event?

  • Can it be seen to do both?

  • How does this portrayal criticize the leading political figures or movements of the day?

  • How does the literary text function as part of a continuum with other historical/cultural texts from the same period...?

  • How can we use a literary work to "map" the interplay of both traditional and subversive discourses circulating in the culture in which that work emerged and/or the cultures in which the work has been interpreted?

  • How does the work consider traditionally marginalized populations?

Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:

  • Michel Foucault - The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences, 1970; Language, Counter-memory, Practice, 1977

  • Clifford Geertz - The Interpretation of Cultures, 1973; "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight," 1992

  • Hayden White - Metahistory, 1974; "The Politics of Historical Interpretation: Discipline and De-Sublimation," 1982

  • Stephen Greenblatt - Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare, 1980

  • Pierre Bourdieu - Outline of a Theory of Practice, 1977; Homo Academicus, 1984; The Field of Cultural Production, 1993


Post-Colonial Criticism (1990s-present)

(http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/10/)


History is Written by the Victors

Post-colonial criticism is similar to cultural studies, but it assumes a unique perspective on literature and politics that warrants a separate discussion. Specifically, post-colonial critics are concerned with literature produced by colonial powers and works produced by those who were/are colonized. Post-colonial theory looks at issues of power, economics, politics, religion, and culture and how these elements work in relation to colonial hegemony (western colonizers controlling the colonized).

Therefore, a post-colonial critic might be interested in works such as Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe where colonial "...ideology [is] manifest in Crusoe's colonialist attitude toward the land upon which he's shipwrecked and toward the black man he 'colonizes' and names Friday" (Tyson 377). In addition, post-colonial theory might point out that "...despite Heart of Darkness's (Joseph Conrad) obvious anti-colonist agenda, the novel points to the colonized population as the standard of savagery to which Europeans are contrasted" (Tyson 375). Post-colonial criticism also takes the form of literature composed by authors that critique Euro-centric hegemony.


A Unique Perspective on Empire

Seminal post-colonial writers such as Nigerian author Chinua Achebe and Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o have written a number of stories recounting the suffering of colonized people. For example, in Things Fall Apart, Achebe details the strife and devastation that occurred when British colonists began moving inland from the Nigerian coast.

Rather than glorifying the exploratory nature of European colonists as they expanded their sphere of influence, Achebe narrates the destructive events that led to the death and enslavement of thousands of Nigerians when the British imposed their Imperial government. In turn, Achebe points out the negative effects (and shifting ideas of identity and culture) caused by the imposition of western religion and economics on Nigerians during colonial rule.


Power, Hegemony, and Literature

Post-colonial criticism also questions the role of the western literary canon and western history as dominant forms of knowledge making. The terms "first-world," "second world," "third world" and "fourth world" nations are critiqued by post-colonial critics because they reinforce the dominant positions of western cultures populating first world status. This critique includes the literary canon and histories written from the perspective of first-world cultures. So, for example, a post-colonial critic might question the works included in "the canon" because the canon does not contain works by authors outside western culture.

Moreover, the authors included in the canon often reinforce colonial hegemonic ideology, such as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Western critics might consider Heart of Darkness an effective critique of colonial behavior. But post-colonial theorists and authors might disagree with this perspective: "...as Chinua Achebe observes, the novel's condemnation of European is based on a definition of Africans as savages: beneath their veneer of civilization, the Europeans are, the novel tells us, as barbaric as the Africans. And indeed, Achebe notes, the novel portrays Africans as a pre-historic mass of frenzied, howling, incomprehensible barbarians..." (Tyson 374-375).

Typical questions:



  • How does the literary text, explicitly or allegorically, represent various aspects of colonial oppression?

  • What does the text reveal about the problematics of post-colonial identity, including the relationship between personal and cultural identity and such issues as double consciousness and hybridity?

  • What person(s) or groups does the work identify as "other" or stranger? How are such persons/groups described and treated?

  • What does the text reveal about the politics and/or psychology of anti-colonialist resistance?

  • What does the text reveal about the operations of cultural difference - the ways in which race, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, cultural beliefs, and customs combine to form individual identity - in shaping our perceptions of ourselves, others, and the world in which we live?

  • How does the text respond to or comment upon the characters, themes, or assumptions of a canonized (colonialist) work?

  • Are there meaningful similarities among the literatures of different post-colonial populations?

  • How does a literary text in the Western canon reinforce or undermine colonialist ideology through its representation of colonialization and/or its inappropriate silence about colonized peoples? (Tyson 378-379)

Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:

Criticism



  • Edward Said - Orientalism, 1978; Culture and Imperialism, 1994

  • Kamau Braithwaite - The History of the Voice, 1979

  • Gayatri Spivak - In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics, 1987

  • Dominick LaCapra - The Bounds of Race: Perspectives on Hegemony and Resistance, 1991

  • Homi Bhabha - The Location of Culture, 1994

Literature and non-fiction

  • Chinua Achebe - Things Fall Apart, 1958

  • Ngugi wa Thiong'o - The River Between, 1965

  • Sembene Ousman - God's Bits of Wood, 1962

  • Ruth Prawer Jhabvala - Heat and Dust, 1975

  • Buchi Emecheta - The Joys of Motherhood, 1979

  • Keri Hulme - The Bone People, 1983

  • Robertson Davies - What's Bred in the Bone, 1985

  • Kazuo Ishiguro - The Remains of the Day, 1988

  • Bharati Mukherjee - Jasmine, 1989

  • Jill Ker Conway - The Road from Coorain, 1989

  • Helena Norberg-Hodge - Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, 1991

  • Michael Ondaatje - The English Patient, 1992

  • Gita Mehta - A River Sutra, 1993

  • Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things, 1997

  • Patrick Chamoiseau - Texaco, 1997






Feminist Criticism (1960s-present)

(http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/11/)

S/he


Feminist criticism is concerned with "...the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women" (Tyson). This school of theory looks at how aspects of our culture are inherently patriarchal (male dominated) and "...this critique strives to expose the explicit and implicit misogyny in male writing about women" (Richter 1346). This misogyny, Tyson reminds us, can extend into diverse areas of our culture: "Perhaps the most chilling example...is found in the world of modern medicine, where drugs prescribed for both sexes often have been tested on male subjects only" (83).

Feminist criticism is also concerned with less obvious forms of marginalization such as the exclusion of women writers from the traditional literary canon: "...unless the critical or historical point of view is feminist, there is a tendency to under-represent the contribution of women writers" (Tyson 82-83).



Common Space in Feminist Theories

Though a number of different approaches exist in feminist criticism, there exist some areas of commonality. This list is excerpted from Tyson:



  1. Women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically; patriarchal ideology is the primary means by which they are kept so

  2. In every domain where patriarchy reigns, woman is other: she is marginalized, defined only by her difference from male norms and values

  3. All of western (Anglo-European) civilization is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideology, for example, in the biblical portrayal of Eve as the origin of sin and death in the world

  4. While biology determines our sex (male or female), culture determines our gender (masculine or feminine)

  5. All feminist activity, including feminist theory and literary criticism, has as its ultimate goal to change the world by prompting gender equality

  6. Gender issues play a part in every aspect of human production and experience, including the production and experience of literature, whether we are consciously aware of these issues or not (91).

Feminist criticism has, in many ways, followed what some theorists call the three waves of feminism:

  1. First Wave Feminism - late 1700s-early 1900's: writers like Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792) highlight the inequalities between the sexes. Activists like Susan B. Anthony and Victoria Woodhull contribute to the women's suffrage movement, which leads to National Universal Suffrage in 1920 with the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment

  2. Second Wave Feminism - early 1960s-late 1970s: building on more equal working conditions necessary in America during World War II, movements such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), formed in 1966, cohere feminist political activism. Writers like Simone de Beauvoir (Le deuxième sexe, 1972) and Elaine Showalter established the groundwork for the dissemination of feminist theories dove-tailed with the American Civil Rights movement

  3. Third Wave Feminism - early 1990s-present: resisting the perceived essentialist (over generalized, over simplified) ideologies and a white, heterosexual, middle class focus of second wave feminism, third wave feminism borrows from post-structural and contemporary gender and race theories (see below) to expand on marginalized populations' experiences. Writers like Alice Walker work to "...reconcile it [feminism] with the concerns of the black community...[and] the survival and wholeness of her people, men and women both, and for the promotion of dialog and community as well as for the valorization of women and of all the varieties of work women perform" (Tyson 97).


Typical questions:


  • How is the relationship between men and women portrayed?

  • What are the power relationships between men and women (or characters assuming male/female roles)?

  • How are male and female roles defined?

  • What constitutes masculinity and femininity?

  • How do characters embody these traits?

  • Do characters take on traits from opposite genders? How so? How does this change others’ reactions to them?

  • What does the work reveal about the operations (economically, politically, socially, or psychologically) of patriarchy?

  • What does the work imply about the possibilities of sisterhood as a mode of resisting patriarchy?

  • What does the work say about women's creativity?

  • What does the history of the work's reception by the public and by the critics tell us about the operation of patriarchy?

  • What role the work play in terms of women's literary history and literary tradition? (Tyson)

Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:

  • Mary Wollstonecraft - A Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792

  • Simone de Beauvoir - Le deuxième sexe, 1972

  • Julia Kristeva - About Chinese Women, 1977

  • Elaine Showalter - A Literature of Their Own, 1977; "Toward a Feminist Poetics," 1979

  • Deborah E. McDowell - "New Directions for Black Feminist Criticism," 1980

  • Alice Walker - In Search of Our Mother's Gardens, 1983

  • Lillian S. Robinson - "Treason out Text: Feminist Challenges to the Literary Canon," 1983

  • Camile Paglia - Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art, 1990


Gender Studies and Queer Theory (1970s-present)

(http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/12/)

Gender(s), Power, and Marginalization

Gender studies and queer theory explore issues of sexuality, power, and marginalized populations (woman as other) in literature and culture. Much of the work in gender studies and queer theory, while influenced by feminist criticism, emerges from post-structural interest in fragmented, de-centered knowledge building (Nietzsche, Derrida, Foucault), language (the breakdown of sign-signifier), and psychoanalysis (Lacan).

A primary concern in gender studies and queer theory is the manner in which gender and sexuality is discussed: "Effective as this work [feminism] was in changing what teachers taught and what the students read, there was a sense on the part of some feminist critics that...it was still the old game that was being played, when what it needed was a new game entirely. The argument posed was that in order to counter patriarchy, it was necessary not merely to think about new texts, but to think about them in radically new ways" (Richter 1432).

Therefore, a critic working in gender studies and queer theory might even be uncomfortable with the binary established by many feminist scholars between masculine and feminine: "Cixous (following Derrida in Of Grammatology) sets up a series of binary oppositions (active/passive, sun/moon...father/mother, logos/pathos). Each pair can be analyzed as a hierarchy in which the former term represents the positive and masculine and the latter the negative and feminine principle" (Richter 1433-1434).

In-Betweens

Many critics working with gender and queer theory are interested in the breakdown of binaries such as male and female, the in-betweens (also following Derrida's interstitial knowledge building). For example, gender studies and queer theory maintains that cultural definitions of sexuality and what it means to be male and female are in flux: "...the distinction between "masculine" and "feminine" activities and behavior is constantly changing, so that women who wear baseball caps and fatigues...can be perceived as more piquantly sexy by some heterosexual men than those women who wear white frocks and gloves and look down demurely" (Richter 1437).

Moreover, Richter reminds us that as we learn more about our genetic structure, the biology of male/female becomes increasingly complex and murky: "even the physical dualism of sexual genetic structures and bodily parts breaks down when one considers those instances - XXY syndromes, natural sexual bimorphisms, as well as surgical transsexuals - that defy attempts at binary classification" (1437).



Typical questions:

  • What elements of the text can be perceived as being masculine (active, powerful) and feminine (passive, marginalized) and how do the characters support these traditional roles?

  • What sort of support (if any) is given to elements or characters who question the masculine/feminine binary? What happens to those elements/characters?

  • What elements in the text exist in the middle, between the perceived masculine/feminine binary? In other words, what elements exhibit traits of both (bisexual)?

  • How does the author present the text? Is it a traditional narrative? Is it secure and forceful? Or is it more hesitant or even collaborative?

  • What are the politics (ideological agendas) of specific gay, lesbian, or queer works, and how are those politics revealed in...the work's thematic content or portrayals of its characters?

  • What are the poetics (literary devices and strategies) of a specific lesbian, gay, or queer works?

  • What does the work contribute to our knowledge of queer, gay, or lesbian experience and history, including literary history?

  • How is queer, gay, or lesbian experience coded in texts that are by writers who are apparently homosexual?

  • What does the work reveal about the operations (socially, politically, psychologically) homophobic?

  • How does the literary text illustrate the problematics of sexuality and sexual "identity," that is the ways in which human sexuality does not fall neatly into the separate categories defined by the words homosexual and heterosexual?

Here is a list of scholars we encourage you to explore to further your understanding of this theory:

  • Luce Irigaray - Speculum of the Other Woman, 1974

  • Hélène Cixous - "The Laugh of the Medussa," 1976

  • Laura Mulvey - "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," 1975; "Afterthoughts on Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," 1981

  • Michele Foucault - The History of Sexuality, Volume I, 1980

  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick - Epistemology of the Closet, 1994

  • Lee Edelman - "Homographies," 1989

  • Michael Warner

  • Judith Butler - "Imitation and Gender Insubordination," 1991



Writing
Guideline #3:





READING STRATEGIES

(3) READING STRATEGIES: 5 Methods




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