UCOR 102: Imaginative Literature and Critical Thinking (Spring 2017)
Section 90: T/TR 8:00-9:15; College Hall 553
Section 85: T/TR 9:25-10:40; Fisher Hall 335
Section 50: T/TR 12:15-1:30; Fisher Hall 716
Section 55: T/TR 1:40-2:55; Fisher Hall 552
Instructor Contact Information
Instructor: Gregory D. Specter
Office: College Hall 632
Office Hours: T/TH 11:00-12 and by appointment
Required Texts and Recommended Texts
Senier, Siobhan, editor. Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England. U of Nebraska P, 2014.
Note on Dawnland Voices: The above text is hyperlinked to a stable JSTOR link that takes you to the table of contents for Dawnland Voices. You’ll be able to find all course readings there. You can read them as a web version or download them as a PDF. If you are on campus and using the Duquesne internet, then you can access the direct link without issue. If you are off-campus, then you’ll need to use your user name and password to access this database. I strongly recommend obtaining a hardcopy of Dawnland Voices for use in our class.
Yellow Robe, William S. Where the Pavement Ends: Five Native American Plays. U of Oklahoma P, 2000.
Note on Harbison: The above link will take you to a digitize version of the text hosted by the Pitt Library System. An easy to access version of the Narrative is available on our course Blackboard site.
UCOR 102 is an introduction to imaginative literature and to critical techniques for interpreting imaginative literature. In this course students apply the academic-writing and critical- thinking skills they developed in UCOR 101 to the analysis of literature. Reading and analyzing texts from the three primary genres of literature (poetry, fiction, and drama), students will write 16 pages of literary analysis resulting from a serious engagement with the writing process as initially introduced in 101. In 102, moreover, students will be asked to use scholarly sources in a public-facing collaborative digital project on A Narrative of the Sufferings of Massy Harbison. The assignments and projects this semester will provide students with ample opportunity to hone their writing, research, and documentation skills.
Our readings for this class will focus on nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and drama that provide a way to understand the Native American experience. Over the course of our readings we will address issues related to race, genocide, gender, art and culture, and the contemporary issues facing Native Americans. However, let us not think of what we read as raw material that we shape into a final grade for this course. It is my hope that over the course of this semester that we enjoy what we read, revel in the ability of literature to bring forward significant issues, and come to appreciate the significant intellectual work of the authors that we read this semester.
Guiding Questions for the Course Readings
We will encounter a variety of themes as we complete our course readings this semester. While the course introduction highlights some of those themes and larger ideas, it is useful to keep in mind some questions as you read each work over the course of the semester.
- We will frequently encounter the idea of memory in our readings. We might encounter memory in the context of a larger historical role- or the memories might be more recent and related to the author, narrator, or images used. As your read consider what role does memory play in our readings?
- Additionally, we will frequently encounter history. Many of the pieces we will read will grapple with history in the largest sense of the word- or in relationship to one’s personal history. How do the authors we read depict or connect the reader to history? How does history relate to memory?
- What is the relationship between history and memory? How do the authors we read make sure of the connection between the two?
- The above questions are focused on the distant and recent past. However, it is worth considering the role of the present and the future. What is the present moment like for the authors we are reading, especially the contemporary writers? What do the authors envision for the future?
UCOR 102 Course Goals and Common Syllabus Statements
Further information about Course Goals and University and College policies can be found here.
Heinz History Center
In working on our digital edition of A Narrative of the Sufferings of Massy Harbison, our class is partnering with the Heinz History Center, which also includes the Fort Pitt Museum, in order to work with archival collections from local organizations, meet with guest speakers, and tour the Heinz History Center and the Fort Pitt Museum. We will work together with our community partners to develop a research project and complete a public-facing piece of writing. The opportunity of working with these primary source collections will provide the opportunity to share what you learn with a larger audience. Throughout our time together we will explore the intricacies of conducting original research with primary sources. Our Digital Massy Harbison Edition will represent the significant focus of our time together. We will work on the related steps of these assignments together in approaching this assignment and focus on developing the writing and analytical tools and skills needed to complete this assignment successfully. This assignment will potentially require visiting an offsite archive and will provide experience in developing and implementing a long-term research project over the course of a semester.
Our course will have its own Library Guide created. This resource will be useful in completing the assignments. This section will be updated when the Library Guide is live.
In Class Work and Major Assignments
Quizzes / In Class Writing / Participation / Attendance: 10 Points
A variety of in-class assignments & activities meant to measure student engagement. This will include a total of 6 quizzes over the course of the semester. The lowest quiz grade will be dropped.
Reflection Paper 1: 15 Points
Reflection Paper 2: 15 Points
Massy Harbison Digital Edition: A Collaborative Transcription and Annotation Project
- Transcription of 1 page of Massy Harbison’s Narrative: 10 Points
- Crowdsourced Bibliography on Harbison’s Narrative and related topics: 10 Points
- Transcription Annotations: 10 Points
- Group Paper on a topic related to an important aspect of Harbison’s Narrative: 20 Points
Final Essay Exam: 10 Points
An in-class essay where students will reflect on course themes, a primary text of their choice, and their time in the class.
A 93-100%; A- 90-92%; B+ 88-89%; B 83-87%; B-; 80-82%; C+ 78-79%; C 70-77%; D 60-69%; F 0-59%
Late Work Policy and Making Up In Class Work
The assignments included in this course are interconnected and build off of each other throughout the course of the semester. Due to the interconnected nature of our assignments, late work will not be accepted except in extenuating circumstances, and only at my discretion. In class assignments are a measure of engagement, participation, and attendance and cannot be made up in any circumstances. Students with university sanctioned absences or accommodations should speak with me individually within the first two weeks of class.
Students may miss no more than 6 TTH classes and pass the class. There are no excused or unexcused absences. The only exception to this rule—that is, the only absences that do not count as absences—are absences incurred as a result of participation in a varsity sport or university-sanctioned activity. However, students who will miss a significant number of classes because of such activity are not entitled to any special consideration and must turn in work on time. Attendance will be taken every class period. While there is no penalty for the allotted absences described above, class participants will be held to the standard of automatic failure if they exceed the number of absences. Class participants are expected to arrive on time. Please contact me if there is a major issue affecting your attendance or your ability to do well in our class.
Our time together will consist of significant discussion and interaction with each other. Participation is an important part of ensuring success as a learner, thinker, and writer. We will model best practices for writing and thinking through discussion. During the middle point of the semester a midterm participation grade will be assigned. This will serve as a way of checking in on your progress and provide an opportunity to make changes in your participation for the remainder of the semester. Participation will be assessed based on the following scale:
A Level: This level of participation means that you are mentally present in class and contribute to class each day through thoughtful and significant observations or the contribution of questions that further our consideration of the day’s topic.
B Level: This level of participation means that you meet the A Level participation goals most of the time, but not every day.
C Level: This level of participation means that you occasionally meet the A Level participation goals.
D Level: This level of participation means that you rarely meet the A Level participation goals and are often not mentally present in class.
Participation will be assessed out of 100 points twice over the course of the semester, once during the midterm period and at the end of the semester.
Technology can be a powerful tool for learning, thinking, and creation. Technology will also be an important tool in the creation of our Massy Harbison Digital Edition. Together we will do our best to make the most of technology’s power in constructive ways for the classroom. We will use these tools to facilitate our thinking, writing, and learning. If we have questions we will use these tools to find answers. Please be aware that technology can be a distraction to our own work and the work of others. Make sure that your devices are running muted or turned to silent.
Statement on Technology and Public Facing Student Work
A main component of this course will be using online tools to create a public facing project. However, it is important to be aware of issues of privacy and your rights as a student. It is your right to request accommodations related to the completion of the web-published work this semester. Please contact me to make an appointment to meet during office hours to discuss alternative options and assignments.
Schedule of Readings and Assignments
Please note I reserve the right to change the syllabus, assignments, and schedule at any time based on the needs of our class. It is your responsibility to make sure you know about any changes in the syllabus if you miss class. Click “agenda” to see readings and assignments in an easy to access list that can be printed out for hardcopy reference.