The course is a study of non-fiction prose using superlative published prose on a balance of manifold topics, with special attention to essays from life occasions. The majority are modern, supplemented by selections from the peerless classic essayists.
The Course is designed on the principle that information and means of analysis are provided in lecture, and which are then discussed and practiced in small breakout tutorials. Accordingly, 100% of the Final Exam will be based 100% on what is said and what is meant in Lecture, and Lecture only. If it is not in the Lecture, it will not be on the Final Exam. If it is given in lecture, then there is a reasonable chance that it will be on the Final Exam, with no tricks or twists
The Final Exam is designed so that it will be hard to Fail for a student who comes to lecture on time and attentively. Conversely, the Final Exam is explicitly designed such that it will be extremely hard to Pass for a student absent or inattentive or tardy in lecture.Tutorials are your best opportunity to ensure that you understand and have made clear, through questioning and discussion, what is presented in lecture, and thereby to succeed on the Final Exam. It is the student's responsibility to engage during seminar time to make perfectly clear the material given in lecture, and to solicit direction and help from your Course TA.
Schedule of Readings
Note that this is not a schedule of lecture, but a schedule of course reading, that, if followed, will ensure that you are always on top of material. Lecture will proceed organically and responsively to an inevitably tidy and effective conclusion.
Readings with hotlinks are online essays. Our course text, The Norton Reader, contains all the rest of the readings for our course.
Regarding the Norton Reader, you need only read the essays listed in this reading list. You are free -- encouraged, in fact -- to utterly ignore the introductions, notations, commentaries, and the rest of the bumph cluttering up the the book, absolutely none of which will be any part of the course. Naturally, should you feel a need to give your time to these textual impedimentia then be my guest! But the essays themselves, as listed here, are all that are important.
September 2nd & 4th:
- Francis Bacon: Of Youth & Age.
- John Donne: Meditation 17.
- Samuel Johnson: The Pyramids.
September 9th & 11th:
- Elizabeth Gaskell: The Last Generation in England.
- Joseph Addison: On the Essay Form.
- Richard Steele: Love Letters.
- Jennifer Britz: The Dean's Daughter Gets Thin Envelope.
- David Brooks: The Gender Gap at School.
- John Holt: How Teachers Make Children Hate Reading.
- Caroline Bird: College is a Waste of Time & Money.
September 16th & 18th:
- George Orwell: Shooting an Elephant.
- Margaret Atwood: True North.
- Jonathan Swift: A Modest Proposal.
September 23rd & 25th:
- Niccolo Machiavelli: The Morals of the Prince.
- Martin Luther Kind Jr.: Letter from Birmingham Jail.
September 30th & October 2nd:
- David Guterson: Enclosed. Encyclopedic. Endured: The Mall of America.
- Anthony Burgess: Is America Falling Apart?
- Jessica Mitford: Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain.
- Maxine Hong Kingston: Tongue-Tied.
- [Online Essay]: qi-cheng-zhuan-he.
October 7th & 9th:
- George Orwell: Politics & the English Language.
- Chief Seattle: Letter to President Pierce, 1855.
- Edward O. Wilson: Intelligent Evolution.
October 14th & 16th:
- G.K. Chesterton: On the Creature Called Man.
- Neil Postman: Virtual Students, Digital Classroom.
October 21st & 23rd:
- Virginia Woolf: In Search of a Room of One's Own.
- Scott McLoud: Understanding Comics.
October 28th & 30th:
- Virginia Woolf: The Death of the Moth.
- Plato: The Allegory of the Cave.
- Zen Parables: Muddy Road, A Parable. Learning to be Silent.
November 4th & 6th:
- Jean-Paul Sartre: Existentialism.
- P.J. O'Rourke: On God.
November 11th & 13th:
- Francis Fukuyama: The End of History?
November 18th & 20th:
- Samuel Huntingdon: The Clash of Civilizations.
November 25th & 27th:
Five Short Occasional Essays
500 words each, worth 5% of total course grade, for a total assignment grade of 25%. Each essay will be a reflection upon some occasion -- vital or ephemeral -- in your life, constructed according to models given in lecture. The deadlines for these essays will be set in tutorial.
Individual Essay Presentation
A revision assignment, worth 10% of the total course grade, comprising a 500 word essay, modelled after one of the Assigned Readings, accompanied by an additional 500 words that justify the manner of the writing of the essay according to principles of prose writing from lecture. You will present this in written form to your TA on a due date set in tutorial.
Your TA will analyse and critique your justification section and return the written presentation, ungraded, for your revision. You will then revise the essay section according to the TA's comments. Hand in a revised 500-word essay, along with both the original, unrevised essay, and the justification section including the TA's comments, for grading on a date scheduled in tutorial.
Your final grade will be based on the quality of the revision according to the specific comments that the TA made on your original justification. Note that if the original unrevised essay and TA's comments are not handed in with the revision, the assignment will receive a grade no higher than a "D" at 50%.
Group Writing Project
A creative research assignment on techniques for improved writing, worth 20% of the total course grade.
- In groups of five tutorial members, create a project on the general subject of "How to Write Well," using research from Library Reserved texts, or discussions with SLC staff, Library books, or web-based research from the Library home page, or equivalent
- The project will grade quality over quantity, and encourages engagement with topics such as "How to Write E-Mail Well," or "How to Write a Final Exam Essay-Answer Well," "How to Write a Grovelling apology," or "How to Write A Newspaper Article Better Than Do Those God-Forsaken Free Tabloids like 24 or Metro or The Georgia Straight."
- The form of the project can be a pamphlet, a blog, a journal, or any acceptable form of writing.
- The amount of effort required for the project (not the volume of the project) is assumed to be 20% of the course per member: 2000 words or creative equivalent.
- Creative criteria are online at this hotlink which also includes information on writing assignment proposals. Your TA will discuss the benefits of assignment proposals in tutorial.
- The project is due course week eleven, November 13th, in lecture.
Monday December 8th, 8:30 - 11:30, Final Examination, location TBA.
There is a five percent per day late penalty for all assignments. An assignment is late if it is not handed in in class on the due date.
The late penalty may be waived only in cases of documented bereavement or illness and incapacity, and only by written appeal to the Course Instructor. TAs can not waive lateness penalties.
Documentation for a bereavement exemption requires a published notification and verifiable proof of relation. To document a claim for medical exemption, provide a formal letter on a Physician's or Surgeon's letterhead in which he or she declares his or her medical judgement that illness or injury prevented work on the assignment. The letter must cover the entire period over which the assignment was scheduled, and may be verified by telephone.
10% of the course grade is for "productive participation" in tutorial. Productive participation assumes full attendance and full punctuality.
Do not e-mail your TA or the Course Instructor to explain or announce absences. The attendance requirement may be waived only in cases of documented bereavement or illness and incapacity, and only by written appeal to the Course Instructor.
Documentation for a bereavement exemption for attendance requires a published notification and verifiable proof of relation. To document a claim for medical exemption, provide a formal letter on a Physician's or Surgeon's letterhead in which he or she declares his or her medical judgement that illness or injury prevented attendance. The letter must cover the entire period over which the assignment was scheduled, and may be verified by telephone.
Support material available on Library Reserve.
Nb: Participation requires both attendance and punctuality.
Office: AQ 6094, 778-782-5820, e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Casual, drop-in chat: look for me at Renaissance Coffee at the AQ Concourse (3rd floor) Level, North-East corner, Monday to Thursday, two thirty to three o'clock. Regular Office Hours on Monday two-thirty to four-thirty, Wednesday ten o'clock to noon, and Friday nine thirty to eleven o'clock. Also, on Tuesday & Thursday I am available from ten-thirty to three o'clock by appointment.