Attendance and Participation: As our work here will revolve around discussion, your participation and preparedness are indispensable, and will be graded. You will be permitted one unexcused absence; each additional unexcused absence lowers your final grade one step. Moreover, chronic late arrivals will not be tolerated; for every three late arrivals, one unexcused absence will accrue. Finally, be aware that presence without preparedness does not count. Do the reading. (10%)
Group Work: During the second week of classes, I will divide the class into groups of 4 students. These working groups will serve multiple purposes during the semester: you will do some in-class discussion in these groups, you will share the burden of reading assignments within the groups, and you will work on group projects together. Among these projects will be an in-class presentation requirement; on one occasion this semester, your group will be called upon to lead our class discussion by giving a brief presentation and directing the ensuing conversation. This presentation and facilitation will be peer evaluated. Your overall work in the group will be evaluated by the group’s other members. More information to follow. (15%)
MarxWiki: During the course of the semester, we will collaboratively build an online encyclopedia of Marxism and Cultural Studies; each student is expected to participate fully in the project. In order to receive a passing grade for this part of the course, each of you must create a minimum of 10 new entries for the wiki, and you must be an active editor of already-existing pages. That’s in order to pass: in order to get an A for this project, you must demonstrate a generous commitment to the wiki, writing entries that are not merely factually correct but also interesting and helpful, you must actively seek out ways to improve and expand upon the information contained here, and you must do all of this with an attention to quality. That attention to quality includes the quality of your prose: accuracy of grammar, spelling, and other formal writing issues count. As always, more information to come. (15%)
Brief Essays: Frequently throughout the semester (as indicated on the schedule), you will turn in a 1-page, single-spaced essay that responds to a particular issue raised by that week’s readings. These essays should be carefully written, should have a particular point to make, and should support that point through a close reading of the text in question. Papers that are overly vague or general, that don’t interact closely with the text, or that are plagued by typographical, grammatical, or usage errors will be penalized. These papers will not be graded individually, but will be assigned an overall grade at the end of the semester. You can skip one of these papers without penalty; absolutely no late papers will be accepted. If you must miss class on the day a paper is due, bring it early, or send it with a friend. No e-mailed papers, please. (20% total)
Term paper: Your primary semester-long project will be a term paper of 20 pages, which will involve substantial research, and will make a complex, well-defined argument in which you seek to apply the theoretical material we have covered to the cultural object or phenomenon of your choosing. There will be multiple stages in your work on this paper, aimed at helping you focus your research, draft the paper, and thoroughly revise it before turning it in. Basic deadlines are indicated on the schedule, but more details will follow. (40%)
N.B.: There are currently no exams scheduled for this class. I reserve the right to change my mind about this, however, if I feel an insufficient number of people are completing the readings each week. Do your friends a favor: do the reading, talk in class, and avoid a nasty final exam.
MarxWikiOur collaborative project for the semester is the MarxWiki; please visit us there.