Eng 500: Introduction to the Profession

Fall 1999
W 4:15-7 p.m.
Anderson 201

Dr. Robert Fletcher

Proceed to class reading schedule.
Course Description
Topics and Objectives

Course Description

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 "theory."

Outline of Topics and Objectives

  1. 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.

  3. 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.

  5. 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.

  7. 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.

  9. 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.

Course Requirements

There will be 5 formal evaluations: In addition, there will be several informal evaluations:  (these exercises will be worth a total of 25%)

Required Texts

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