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 studies. The class will also survey the interests,
issues, and arguments current in the profession. Finally, in preparation
for English 501, we will investigate why English studies has been dominated
in recent decades by debates about "theory."
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 English studies, and a bit 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. 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 discuss the developing field of book
history. 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 English studies, 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 English
studies. 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 3 formal evaluations:
In addition, there will be several informal evaluations:
Analytical essay (approx. 7 pages) on the history and current state of
English Studies. (25%)
Annotated bibliography and survey of research
(approx. 5 pages) on an English Studies topic of student's choice. (25%)
Final research essay (7 pages), prepared according to MLA format, on A.
S. Byatt's Possession and some aspect of English studies. This is
to be presented during our class colloquium on the novel, during which
you will also produce two 1-page responses to other students' papers. (25%)
(these exercises and participation will be worth a total of 25%)
Weekly participation in our Blackboard discussion
board devoted to debates in the profession
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. 4th ed. New York: MLA, 2002.
Scholes, Robert. The Rise and Fall of English. Yale
There will also be xeroxes distributed occasionally and a number of e-texts
to be read on the WWW.
Assignments: Papers or other assignments submitted late will have 1/3
of a grade deducted for each day (not class period) that passes after the
due date. I will not accept any assignment more than 1 week late.
Dishonesty or Fraud: "Plagiarism is using another's words or ideas
without appropriate acknowledgement" (MLA Style Manual 4). In formal essays,
"acknowledgement" means using conventions of citation such as the quotation
marks and parenthetical note in the previous sentence. Even if you paraphrase
someone's words, you must provide a note showing your debt. When in doubt
about how to use sources in your writing, come to me with your questions.
NOTE: If you plagiarize in your formal essays, you will receive an irrevocable
"F" grade on the assignment and possibly for the course.
with Disabilities: We at West Chester University wish to make
accommodations for persons with disabilities. Please make your needs
known by contacting me and/or the Office of Services for Students with
Disabilities at ext. 3217.Sufficient notice is needed in order to make
the accommodations possible. The University desires to comply with
the ADA of 1990.
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