When they finally did dare it, at first with stolen glances and then candid ones, they had to smile. They were uncommonly proud. For the first time they had done something out of love.
Patrick Suskind, novelist, Perfume
Reading Journal (5%+ 5% + 5% of Final Grade): “A Book of Reading Analyses”
This assignment will be collected three times during the course by your TA before each exam. The entries may be submitted in two forms both using on-line submission through Canvas: 1) as a word-processing document with the extension .doc; 2) as a .pdf scan of a hand-written document. Students are responsible for ensuring that the assignments are correctly submitted via Canvas on time.
Your first entry will be about the first half of Medea.
In order to integrate these varied literary texts drawn from around the world and over six thousand years more fully into your lives, you will be asked to create a “Book of Reading Analyses.” The assignment has three goals:
1. You will demonstrate with your “Book of Reading Analyses” that you have done all of the assigned readings and have thought about the material while you read. This book replaces quizzes which will not be given as long as people keep up with their reading and their entries.
2. You will have a place where you can express your views about the reading and the issues raised by the reading in a format other than an examination. I greatly value your comments about the texts in this less formal setting and format.
3. You will practice (in an informal environment) the type of analysis and careful use of textual details which will be evaluated on the midterm examinations. Completing these journals, and incorporating the feedback from your TA/instructor, should assist you in preparing for, and preforming more successfully on, the examinations.
Beyond the goals of this class, being able to present data, offer analysis, argue for a conclusion and explain its importance to a reasonable person who will respect your point of view in a compact format is a useful professional skill.
What Must You Do?
Concretely, the “Book” will consist of one entry for each day for which a reading is assigned. If a text is assigned for more than one day, you will make an entry for each section of the text. The “Book” will contain your impressions of the text assigned for that day (you do not need to make entries for Gilgamesh or for the days when there is an examination). Each entry should be about 100-words long and be composed in complete sentences so as to form a paragraph. The TAs and I will not be impressed by longer entries. The point of the assignment is to be brief but substantial. More detail, charm and thought will result in a better grade, but length alone would not improve the grade.
You should complete the entry before coming to lecture. Merely repeating the content of the lecture does not fulfill the assignment. This assignment should include your own opinions and reactions to the text, so as to practice for the exams. For each of the entries, you may choose any details or themes from the text, any images which you found powerful, and events or characters which you found memorable. Please be prepared to submit through Canvas a complete set of entries to your TA with 24-hours notice. The TA may ask for the “Book” at any time (and will do so at least three times in the course of the semester). You will be evaluated based on what you turn in at the time. Late entries will be evaluated, but will be marked down for tardiness. This assignment is quick and even entertaining if you make your entries consistently and keep the “Book” current. It is a real nuisance to complete in a rush.
Finally, there is no correct answer to this assignment, no need to agree with the introductions given in the .pdfs or with me about what the texts mean or suggest, no single format which you must use for the entries. What matters is that you: 1) offer your opinions about the texts, 2) explain (using details from the text and your own analysis) why you think as you do, and 3) suggest why your insights are important. The entire book may be informal and conversational, although I would appreciate your typing it or writing very neatly. Each time you sit down to do the reading just open the “Book” document on your desktop, or a page in your notebook, and add a new entry.
If you have any doubts about your entries please do email or show one or two to your TA for your section. They will be read them and give you advice and comments.
Please enjoy finding passages and issues in the text which excite and intrigue you. I thank you in advance for spending a few minutes sharing your ideas thoughtfully.