English 287: Great Books (Fall 2003)
There will be 500 points possible to be earned in the course, distributed as follows:
Ten quizzes, worth a total of 200 points.
Credit for continuous participation in discussions on the class Message Board, 100 points.
Two short out-of-class writing assignments, worth a total of 100 points (i.e., 50 points each).
Final exam, worth 100 points
[The Final Exam will take place in our regular classroom in accordance with the official KSU Fall 2003 Final Exam Schedule. Students enrolled in Lyman Baker's sections (Sections D or E) may attend either of the final exam sessions scheduled for courses taught by him. These are: Monday, 15 December, 11:50-1:40, and Tuesday, 16 December, 11:50-1:40.]
Final course grades will be assigned according to the following scale, which indicates the lower cut-off score for grades A through D:
A = 450 points (90% of the total points possible)
B = 400 points (80% of the total points possible)
C = 3000 points (60% of the total points possible)
D = 250 points (50% the total points possible)
F = below 250 points (under 50% of the total possible points)
Let's look at each of the point categories more closely.
40% of your grade will be determined by your performance on 10 quizzes.
We are reading 8 works, but a couple of them are a good bit more lengthy than the others. For each of these there will be two quizzes. So there will be 10 quizzes in all. Each quiz will be worth 10 points.
There will be only one opportunity for making up missed quizzes, and this will be at the very end of the course, during the second 50 minutes of the scheduled Final Exam period..
One fifth of your grade will be determined by the final examination.
Format of the final exam. In each answer, whether shorter or longer, you will be expected to show familiarity with certain critical concepts and, of course, with the work under discussion. (The critical concepts I expect familiarity with will have been covered in the course, and will be referred to in the course schedule.) I will be looking to see whether you can undertake an appropriate sequence of moves in answering a specific question I pose about the work. In at least one question, I will be looking to see whether you can formulate for yourself an appropriate agenda of curiosity, and carry it through in an appropriate way. What I mean here by an "agenda of curiosity" and "appropriate sequence of readerly moves" is something it is the business of the course to communicate.
For the final, you will be provided a prep sheet, which will be posted approximately a week before the exam is scheduled. Here you will find more specific information about how the exam will satisfy the description you have just read. There is, meanwhile, a succinct and a detailed statement of the criteria that will be used to evaluate answers on exams (as well as essays).
In addition, to the required examinations, each student will submit a pair of short essays, each worth 50 points. Together they amount to one-fifth of the basis of your final course grade.
You should aim for around 500 words, which is roughly equivalent to a single-spaced page with 1-inch margins in 12-point font. More is welcome, of course, provided that it is non-repetitive and on-point. This greater length is supposed to be in the service of greater detail and depth of analysis. Accordingly, you will have several days to reflect on the issues involved and to compose your analysis.
Deadlines for these assignments are noted the Course Schedule. There, too, you will find links to the topic options available.
- Note that one of these essays requires your attendance at the performance in McCain Auditorium on the evening of October 22 of Shakespeare's Othello. You will want to put this date on your calendar now, and acquire a ticket as soon as possible. (Take your student ID along with you, and you will be able to buy your ticket at a considerable discount.) The Box Office is located in the first floor of McCain Auditorium. Using the west entrance, it is directly ahead from the entrance way. For more details, see the McCain Auditorium page on this production.
These two essays will be devoted to a detailed but specifically focused analysis of a work or pair of works, on a specific topic chosen from among several I will pose. The important points to stress are that you will not be writing either a plot summary or an explication, nor will you be writing a research paper;. Rather you will be writing either an analysis or a comparison-contrast. In the second paper, you may expect to deal with at least one work that we have not discussed in class.
You will want to review the memo on criteria for evaluating examination answers. What is said here applies both to short essays written in-class and to longer essays written out of class.
In this connection, too, Kansas State University Faculty Senate Regulations require me to bring to your attention the University's provisions regarding Academic Honesty. (I will do my part by trying to frame a question for which you will probably not find any canned answer on the Web. In any case, do keep in mind that I can use a search engine as well as you.)
Another one-fifth of the points possible in the course will be assigned on the basis of your continuing and regular participation in discussions conducted over the Web. The way in which you can earn credit in this category is by taking a thoughtful and active role in the discussions conducted over our class Threaded Discussion Boards (aka "Message Boards").
You should aim to contribute, in the course of the semester, at least 20 comments (follow-up questions are also welcome) in response to one of the questions I will pose there, or in response to another class member's comment or question in connection with this "Question of the Day." Of course, you can at any time open a line of discussion on our class message board on any topic you choose concerning the stories we read or the critical concepts we are working with. This, too, is a good way to demonstrate your on-going intellectual engagement in the issues generated by the course.
Please note that this on-going intellectual engagement in the issues pertinent to the course is so important that the credit allotted to it is quite substantial. Looked at one way, you have the potential here for an easy 100 points -- the equivalent of perfect scores on both of the out-of-class essays! Looked at another way, you have the potential for a quite unhappy outcome. Do the math and you'll see.
There are 15 weeks in the course, not counting the first week of class and final exam week. I will accord 5 points for each eligible contribution to the discussion board ("message board"), up to a total of 100. So if you post 20 eligible contributions during those 15 weeks, you will come away with 100% on this element of the course. The page on message board discussions defines what counts as an eligible contribution.
Here, though, I will mention one factor in determining this, having to do with "regularity." I do not expect everyone to make at least one contribution each week. (That would, of course, be quite welcome: 1 per week, plus an extra one in each of 5 of those weeks, for example, would certainly do the trick.) But it will not be acceptable to pack all of your otherwise eligible contributions into the last couple of weeks. So one of the criteria for a contribution's being eligible for credit is that not more than 10 submitted in the last two weeks will count, and that not more than 4 submitted in the last week will count. (This means, for example, that up to 6 that came in during the next-to-last week along with up to 4 in the last week would count for credit. So would 10 submitted in the next-to-last week, if none were submitted during dead week.)
And independently of the impact just outlined, you should act on the assumption that regular practice in trying to articulate your ideas and puzzlements to others will in fact help make your performances on the essays and exams better than they otherwise would have been, especially in the later stretches of the course.
Participation in classroom discussions is also important. Here, however, I do not employ a formal scheme for assigning points. Rather, when I am faced, at the end of the course, with a case in which a student's total score is just barely beneath the cutoff for a higher course grade, I consult my overall impression of whether and to what degree that student has participated actively and consistently in classroom discussions. If the answer is "definitely a lot," I am inclined to give the student the benefit of a percentage-point or so of extra credit. Otherwise, I leave the grade as it is. This of course is a matter of my subjective impression, but what that impression will turn out to be is importantly within the control of the individual student, in the course of the semester.
A final note on the writing you do for this course: what you write is your own property, but whatever you submit in response to the requirements of the course may be reproduced and distributed for discussion and/or reflection by other members of the class. Written work that I decide to use this way will not be identified with the person who submitted it, unless I am holding it up as an example particularly worthy of emulation.
If I think there is merit in using beyond our course something you have written during our course, I will use it this way only after I have sought and obtained your permission to do so. If you allow me to make such use of your work, you may specify (for instance) whether it is attributed to you or whether it is presented as the work of an anonymous student.
Suggestions are welcome. Please send your comments to email@example.com .
Contents copyright © 2003 by Lyman A. Baker.
Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.
This page last updated 20 August 2003.