Eng 500: Introduction to the Profession
Proceed to class reading schedule.
This course will introduce you to the methods and materials of research
used by scholars of English and American literatures. The class will also
survey the interests, issues, and arguments current in the profession of
literary study. Finally, in preparation for English 501, we will investigate
why literary study has been dominated in recent decades by debates about
Outline of Topics and Objectives
Library Research: You will learn how to use the West Chester library, including
its computer catalogue, the various databases and bibliographies which
will be of use in your literary studies, and hopefully a little corner
of the Internet, which is fast becoming a vital source of information,
as well as a forum for the scholarly exchange of ideas.
Scholarly Writing: You will learn how to use MLA style bibliographic entries
for books, journals, and other scholarly references. Time permitting, there
may be an introduction to other documentation systems as well. The class
will acquaint you with a number of the scholarly journals, and we will
outline the process of submitting manuscripts to those journals for publication.
Textual Criticism: You will spend some time learning how early texts were
produced and how bibliographical description serves as a tool for scholarship
and interpretation. The class will study the influence of the book trade
on literary production. Finally, you will be introduced to the tasks of
the textual editor, the need for authoritative and standard editions, and
the current debates surrounding the implications of literary theory and
computer technology for editorial practices.
Debates in the Profession: You will become familiar with the tenor of academic
discourse, as well as how its inquiries are represented and contested in
American culture. You will begin your own inquiry as a graduate student
into the "ways of reading" currently being theorized, tested, and debated
by scholars and critics in academic journals. We will investigate the questions
and controversies pertaining to the organization and institutionalization
of the teaching of literature, especially issues of canon formation.
The Concept of Theory: The final section of the course will consist of
a general introduction to theories of language and semiotics and theories
of interpretation, in an effort to convey why the scholar-critic's acknowledgement
of some theoretical orientation has become a requisite part of literary
study. This segment of the course is intended to provide a bridge to LIT
501, where you will study particular theories in some detail.
There will be 5 formal evaluations:
In addition, there will be several informal evaluations:
(these exercises will be worth a total of 25%)
Achtert, Walter S., and Joseph Gibaldi. The MLA Style Manual. 2nd
edition. New York: MLA, 1998.
Byatt, A. S. Possession: A Romance. New York: Vintage, 1990.
Gibaldi, Joseph, ed. Introduction to Scholarship. New York: MLA,
Harner, James. Literary Research Guide. 2nd ed. New York: MLA, 1993.
There will also be xeroxes distributed occasionally and a number of e-texts
to be read on the WWW.
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