ENGLISH 4 (003) / Writing in the Discipline of English

  FALL 2005 (first half-semester course: Sept. 7 -- Oct. 17)


Professor: Sandra Jamieson                          Website http://www.depts.drew.edu/engl/sjamieso/

Contact:  (email): sjamieso@drew.edu             Phone(office): 973.408.3499          (home): 908.757.1051 

Class meetings:   Mon & Wed 2:30-3:45 p.m.   Class room:  EMB 206

Office: S.W. Bowne 118,                               Office Hours: Mon & Tues., 4:00-6:30; Thurs. 12:00-2:00; and by appointment

IM  screen name:  "ProfJamieson"            Virtual  Office Hours:  TBA.  


This course is linked to one of the four courses in the sequence "Mapping the Anglo-American Tradition" (21A, 21B, 20A, 20B) and the suggested research topics are drawn from the material in the linked module. For this reason, all students registered for ENGL 4 must also be co-registered for the relevant module.

Texts Course Description
Intellectual outcomes
Writing assignments
Onlines resources
Daily Syllabus

The Texts


Anson, Chris, Robert Schwegler, and Marcia Muth. The Longman Writer's Companion. Longman, 2006

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th ed). Modern Language Association of America, 2003

Strunk, William and E.B. White The Elements of Style. Allyn & Bacon, 2000

Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Gotham, 2004.

Williams, Joseph. Style: The basics of Clarity and Grace. Pearson Longman, 2006

The Class


ENGL 4 is NOT more first year composition! ENGL 4 is designed to introduce students to the writing and research skills specific to the discipline of English. The course is an introduction to the kinds of writing expected of English majors and those who continue the study of literature to graduate school and beyond. Most of that writing will involve research, so this course includes an extensive research component, but the materials you will consult will be those used specifically in the discipline of English: academic journals, books, essays, and additional literary works, along with the databases and search strategies used to find them. In addition to helping majors and minors strengthen their overall writing and research skills, this course will also allow them to extend the material covered in the corresponding section of ÒMapping the Anglo-American Tradition.Ó Because the courses are linked in this way, ENGL 4 will help students imagine research topics and the ways they develop from lectures and classroom discussion and invite them to build on that discussion as they develop and execute research plans.


Intellectual Outcomes


If you do the work in this class, ENGL 4 will:

1)    Challenge you to think about stylistic choices and thereby extend the clarity and accuracy of your writing;

2)   Expand your library research skills and expertise using the journals, documents, and databases central to the discipline of English;

3)   Familarize you with, and give you brief opportunities to explore, some of the different kinds of projects that literary critics undertake (using biography, reading contemporaneous texts and images, using primary documents from the culture in relation to a literary text);

4)   Increase the flexibility and precision of your thoughts about literature by helping you to use primary and secondary resources to develop and support theories about a work or author;

5)   Build on your ability to imagine topics and questions for further research as you read and consider material is different classes;

6)   Deepen your knowledge and understanding of a literary topic and author introduced in ENGL 20 or 21.


We will measure these outcomes in your formal and informal writing, class participation and presentations, and the final portfolio, and your grade for the course will be based upon them.

The Work & the Grades


You will write something for every class, but there are two major papers. The first asks you to compare four guides to writing and advance a thesis about the different treatments of style. The second asks you to use primary and secondary sources in an exploration of a text, author, genre, theme, or issue raised in ENGL 20 or 21. Each assignment includes several components, all of which will be handed in together in a portfolio at the end of the class.

Grade breakdown:

Paper 1 (comparative project):           25% of the final grade

Paper 2 (research project):               60% of the final grade

Participation and presentation:           15% of the final grade (don't just speak for the sake of it, though)


The Rules


Like any community, the classroom community requires work to create and maintain, and there are consequences for those who in any way undermine this community or fail to do their share of the work necessary to maintain it. These consequences will be felt by all because the classroom community will not work if students do not make it work. They will also be felt by the individual responsible. Students must attend class, be prepared for class, be willing to share their ideas, and be respectful of the ideas of others. Lack of respect for classmates will not be tolerated in this class.

The larger academic community depends on the generation of and willingness to share and discuss ideas in dialog and in written texts. For this reason, plagiarism will not be tolerated in those seeking to remain in the academic community.  (Please see Drew's Academic Integrity Policy if you are unsure what it means to use sources correctly, and The Writer's Companion
or the MLA Handbook to correctly create works cited lists.)

This is college, so I should not have to post classroom management rules you should have learned in elementary school. If you are unsure how we expect college students to behave, it is your responsibility to ask. If I find I have accidentally strayed into an elementary class, I will be happy to post the most draconian of rules. Don't make me do that!


 Online resources


There are many resources you can use as you work on the papers for this class. The following are recommended:

* General resources for Writers: http://www.users.drew.edu/sjamieso/Webresources.html

* For papers that use comparison: http://www.users.drew.edu/sjamieso/resources/Comparison.html

* For research proposals: http://www.users.drew.edu/sjamieso/research_proposal.html

* For annotated bibliographies: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_annotatedbib.html

* For revision and editing: http://www.users.drew.edu/sjamieso/12stepediting.htm

* The writing center for personalized guidance in your writing: http://www.therichco.com/wconline/drew/schedule/

* More information for English majors and minors:  http://www.depts.drew.edu/engl/test/majors.html



The Writing in this Course


 Project 1: Comparison of Style manuals


In this paper you will compare the way style and advice about how to write effective prose are presented in The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White; Style: The basics of Clarity and Grace, by Joseph Williams; and The Longman Writer's Companion, by Chris Anson, Robert Schwegler, and Marcia Muth, with added support from Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers by Joseph Gibaldi. The objective of each of these three texts is to help readers become more effective writers, but each seems to develop from a very different definition of "effective," and each adopts a very different tone. While some topics are covered in all three texts, most are not and those that are receive different attention and space. Each text emphasizes different aspects of writing while appearing to have the same goal.  Your task in this paper is to explore the differences and similarities between these texts and write a comparison that helps us to make sense of those differences and similarities.

Begin this comparison by browsing through the table of contents, layout, and chapters before you read the preface and introduction. You may want to consider whether the front matter adequately and accurately represents and introduces the text in question.


To help you get started, consider the following questions:

- How does each text define style?

- What assumptions drive the notion of style presented in each text?

- What assumptions does each book seem to make about our reasons for writing?

- What assumptions does each book seem to make about our reasons for consulting a book on style?

- What tone do the authors of each text adopt?

- What attitudes do they seem to have about their readers?

- Who seems to be the audience for each book?

- What do we learn about style from this discussion?

- Which book seems to speak to you (i.e. seems to match your assumptions, purposes, etc.?)

- What examples can you give of differences between the three texts?

- What examples of similarities can you give?

- What is the biggest different?

- What is the most obvious similarity?

- How does each text make you feel as a writer?


Once you have answered these questions and any others that occur to you as you read, draw some larger conclusions about the differences between these three texts and develop a thesis from that.


Due Dates:

September 12:    Basic comparison (you do not need to have a thesis yet, but the comparison should be point-by point);

September 14:    Thesis that considers the three texts and the material by Lynn Truss;

September 19:    Final comparison paper, all drafts, and one page comparison grid.


 Project 2: Researching Literature


In this assignment you will explore an issue, topic, text, or author presented in ENGL 21A, conduct initial research and develop a research proposal, conduct more research and write an annotated bibliography, and then write up a thesis-driven paper. Below are some examples of the kind of research questions you might ask and topics you might explore. These topcis were suggested by the professor of ENGL 21A with the hope that they would pick up on themes from the course and give you a sense of the kinds of topics that might be researched when one studies this period. You may also develop your own topic, either as a modification of one of these or following a different line of questioning (but please talk to me and get my approval before you start the research).

Due Dates:

October 3:         Working bibliography and annotations of five essential sources;

October 9:         Final annotated bibliography due (10-15 sources);

October 12:       Very rough draft of paper due;

October 17:       Very good draft of paper due;

October 24:       Final paper with annotated bibliography and EVERYTHING ELSE YOU HAVE WRITTEN IN THIS COURSE THIS SEMESTER due in a folder outside my office by 5:00 PM.

Possible Research topics

Papers focusing on the exploration of a genre

1.     Poetry of the period--an author: If you are interested in the travels of Chaucer, you might ask who he met in Italy and think about how that might have influenced his work. [There have been a number of debates about this topic, so there is rich research material to be studied. You might focus in particular on the debate about whether he met Boccaccio.]

2.   Poetry of the period--an author: What happens to Chaucer's reputation in the 15th C.?

3.   Poetry of the Period--a text: If you are interested in the intersection between orality and literacy and the intermingling or development of manuscripts, you might look at what has been written on the question of just how Christian Beowulf is.  Is the Christian matter material that was added on to the story by scribes guilty at writing down a pagan epic, or is it crafted into the very guts of the poem itself? [An investigation of the history of the Beowulf (Cotton Vitellius A.XV) should yield lots of material, including an awareness of the vicissitudes of dealing with old manuscripts.]

4.  Poetry of the Period--Troubaritz and Troubadors: For this assignment you might  investigate the troubaritz and who they were. You could also research the life and work of troubadour Bernard de Ventadorn or minnesinger Walter von der Vogelweide. And don't forget female religious poet and musician Hildegard of Bingen. Who were these people and what did they do?

Exploring the cultural context of the period

5.   Chaucer's contemporaries: We know a lot about Chaucer and his travels [see the timeline in the PowerPoint in the 21A k:drive] and we have talked about Chaucer's innovations. If you are interested in this aspect of his work, you could explore the question of who Chaucer's literary contemporaries were, what they wrote, and how was it different from what Chaucer wrote.

6.   Monastic life: This period saw the production of several manuals or guides to behavior for the cloistered religious. In the Norton, there is the excerpt from The Ancrene Riwle, a guide for nuns written by a male. There is also a short text called A Wooing of Our Lord. One possible research topic for these texts involves finding discussion of how the language of romantic and/or Courtly Love is deployed in them, and exploring what vision of women is created by them. What about the rise of the cult of the Virgin? Is this a positive or a negative development for women in a patriarchal, feudal culture? [You might come across Maria Warner's  Alone of All Her Sex, but there's a lot out there on this].

               Another line of inquiry would be to review St Benedict's Rule. What does it say about monastic culture? About living in the early Middle Ages? About the ideal society?

        7.  Courtley Love: Was it a game or was it serious? Just how serious was it? How does it intersect the idea of the Virgin as the "perfect woman"?

8.   The role of audience and the change from passive to active listening: A question always asked of late medieval mss [manuscripts] is "Who was the audience and under what conditions was the poem performed (like, were men and women present)?" So, who was the audience of SGGK or Chaucer (and in the latter case, how did it change--but that's trickier)?

9.  The court of Henry II: The life of Henry and/or Eleanor is easily researched if you are interested in a more straightforward historical research topic. You might ask what role the court played in the development of the arts at the time. You could also ask about how their story of marriage; adultery; mistresses and lovers, and their sons; reflects the feudal concerns outlined in class.

Exploring themes, images, and representations

10. Themes--orality (1): Another possible research topic is to look at material on story-telling in other oral cultures and compare the description of those story-telling events to Beowulf. You could also consider the only other version of the Finnsburg episode from Beowulf (ll. 1069ff), which is on the "Ruthwell Cross," a stone monument, and consider the differences between the fixed story and the oral versionÑand therein orality itself.

11.  Themes--orality (2): An alternative Beowulf project would be to look at what has been written on the question of just how Christian the poem is. Is the Christian matter material that was added on to the story by scribes guilty at writing down a pagan epic, or is it crafted into the very guts of the poem itself? An investigation of the history of the Beowulf (Cotton Vitellius A.XV) should yield lots of material, including an awareness of the vicissitudes of dealing with old manuscripts.

12.  The role of women in this period: Are the Lais of Marie de France subtly feminist? Even subversive? [Anyone looking at that has to read again "Lanval" and should find "Equitan"]

13. Musical instruments: There is material on how the lyre was constructed and how it was tuned or played, but it's pretty musically technical. Students with that degree of technical understanding might research this (incorporating images from contemporary art if they like). More accessible would be a consideration of the motet in its religious and secular versions. This is important because it is a kind of musical allegory, with one line of lyrics commenting on or in the secular, even disputing the other line (or lines). Students interested in music might research this, and, perhaps think about it in relation to the material we have read for the class.

14. Cross-cultural influences: Those interested in cross-cultural issues, might research the Arabic/Muslim influence on medieval literature.

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