This course will be conducted as a reading seminar, one of many you will encounter as a graduate student. So you must first be here and then also be prepared to participate in the class discussion. Lack of preparation is reflected in your participation, and in my book, lack of preparation is nearly the same as being absent from class and will be graded in the same way. It is essential that you complete all the assigned readings and blog assignments for each class meeting. We may not discuss every reading in class, but you will be responsible for all the readings.
Discussion in this class has a goal. It is a way of coming at knowledge, especially in a class that deals with some very subjective, vague and disputable issues. For example, answer this question: How is literary journalism defined? Or: What genres does literary journalism include? Are literary memoirs a kind of literary journalism?
One way we will approach our discussions is through questions posed at the beginning of class. These may have already been raised in some form in your blog assignments. Or you may have already been asked to pose a question or two based on the readings. You will have about 10 minutes or so at the beginning of our discussion to formulate your thoughts in writing. The questions may be comparative -- of theories, authors, research studies. Or they could be connective -- that is asking you to link material or concepts that might not appear to be related.
Discussion Problematics & Etiquette
Of course one of the problems with group discussion is those participants who either don't participate like a dead appendage or who those who over-participate by attempting to dominate the discussion. Those are issues we will deal with if they arise.
I sometimes will ask you to evaluate how your thinking or knowledge base might have changed following our discussions, and then post brief evals on your blog. And you can always feel free to e-mail me or leave me an anonymous note about the discussions, especially if you feel I am over-dominating them, or if you have problems with other students who are not participating fully, are ill-prepared, are dominating discussion, or are disrespectful of others.
Finally, please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you have a countervailing opinion, be sure you support your position with as much evidence as you can muster.