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Dr. Laura L. Runge
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ENG 6018
Criticism and Theory I


Class 1: What is the purpose of theory or criticism?


Class Objectives:

    Face-to-face introductions
    Review course objectives, texts, schedule, assignments
    Form groups
    Establish online environment guidelines
    Begin discussion of the "Crisis in the Humanities"

In-class Reading Assignment:

    Stanley Fish "Will the Humanities Save Us?" (available in Course Documents on Blackboard)


Notes and Discussion Questions:

    Introductions

    In-class writing (5 min.): What is the purpose of theory or criticism?

    Share answers with a neighbor. After five minutes, we will go around the class and introduce ourselves and share ideas on what the purpose of theory and criticism is.

    Review Syllabus

    Review Blackboard Features

    Students should sign into their Blackboard accounts at individual computers. Some sharing will be necessary. We will examine the following features of Blackboard:

      Syllabus
      Course Documents
      Discussion Boards
      WIKI
      Groups
      Blog
      Virtual Classroom / Office hours
      Safe Assignment
      Grades

    Discussion of Online Environment for Class

    What rules or conventions do we need to establish to encourage the best possible learning environment?

    How do we question each other's opinion? How do we answer such questions?

    What does supportive, constructive, critical feedback look like?

    How do we avoid condescension? How do we avoid defensiveness?

    How do we respond to a posting that strikes us as condescending or defensive, or otherwise inappropriate?

    Should we develop a system for helping with or alerting posters to potential online hotspots or problems?

    Please review grading scales for these online exchanges and help develop them.

    Before Break

    Divide students into a PhD group and an MA group.

    Ask for volunteers to form pairs. For the remaining, count off and pair up for groups.

    Have students read Fish's column during break.

    Discussion Exercise: Crisis in the Humanities

    Part one -- 5-10 minutes
    Have each student write in response to the article. Do you agree or disagree with Fish and why? What does this have to do with the study of the history of criticism and theory?

    Part two -- 5-10 minutes
    Have students share their responses in their new groups.

    After ten minutes, have students open discussion of the topic to the group at large.


For next week:

    Reading: Introduction to NATC, Perloff article, and readings in English Studies edited by Bruce McComiskey (see syllabus link).

    Online communications: Your first weekly post to the discussion board on Blackboard is due Thursday by 6:00 PM, but I hope that discussion will begin much earlier than that; a mentoring unit discussion is due before the post. We will begin reports and responses to the WIKI the following week. I will post my summary blog by Friday at noon.


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