This seminar is intended as an introductory seminar to literary and cultural studies. The course will help students become familiar with basic literary terms and approaches, and it will also assist them in acquiring the terms and skills needed for the analysis of literary works as well as cultural phenomena. First, we are going to read concise and accessible summaries of the most current theoretical approaches (like cultural studies, gender studies, film studies) and basic literary terms (narration, narrator, character, etc.) and then analyse cultural materials (short stories, advertisements, films) which will help students understand the main principles and the critical use of these theories. The aim of the course is to help students acquire a critical and academic approach to culture and literature that is academically valid, productive and joyful.
Attending classes (grade cannot be given after 3 missed classes)
Passing vocabulary tests
Grading The final grade for the course will consist in the following:
End-term test: 40%
In-class essay 40 %
Vocabulary tests: 10%
Students have to reach 50% in order to get a grade for the course.
The endterm test is not strictly speaking a test: it will consist in short essay questions that students will have to answer in 5-6 sentences. These questions will be based on the readings, advertisements, film, etc. discussed in class.
Vocabulary tests are short tests that students will write randomly. These tests will be based on the required readings assigned for the classes; if there are several short stories assigned, students will have to learn the vocabulary of only one of these (see below). It will take approximately 5 minutes to write these tests; late comers will not be allowed to write them, nor those who are absent from the class. It is required to pass 60 % of vocabulary tests in order to get a grade for the course! In case of failure, there will be one more chance to pass them on week 14, 8th December, together with the end-term test. This test will consist in words based on every single reading that was assigned for vocabulary test during the semester. Also, vocabulary tests count 10 % of the final grade.
The in-class essay is a 300-400 words long essay written in class on a topic provided by the instructor. Students will be able to choose from three different topics (obviously, they will only have to write on one.
Assessment of in-class essays: The essays must have a clear statement of thesis, and all the further statements must be related to this central topic or question. The text (arguments, agreements and disagreements) must be organised coherently so that the point you make and your flow of thoughts must be clear for the reader. The essays must, naturally, be finished with a well articulated conclusion which is supposed to be the culmination of your proposed arguments.
The essays will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:
The essays will not be evaluated on the basis of what your tutor’s position is in a certain issue, so feel free to elaborate your own ideas—but do it in a sophisticated way.
Neither in-class essays, nor endterm tests can be rewritten. If the essay is two short, or too badly written, and receives a very low percentage, the student will have to write a very good endterm test in order to get a grade for the course. Unlike exams, both the essay and the endterm assess how students have been studying during the entire semester. If the mark for the essay and the endterm does not add up to 50 %, the final grade for the course will be 1. Only vocabulary tests can be rewritten, as it is described above.
Absences: no more than three absences are allowed. In the case of a longer absence (either due to illness, or official leave), the tutor and the student will come to an agreement of how to solve the problem.
Grading Policy (N.B. NO GRADE CAN BE OBTAINED UNLESS ALL THE COURSE COMPONENTS ARE FULFILLED)
Introduction to visual studies. Reading: Jeremy Hawthorn, “Theories of the Gaze.” (vocabulary test).
Introduction to literature and gender studies (2): Reading: Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “The yellow wallpaper.” [http://www.online-literature.com/charlotte-perkins-gilman/2086/] (vocabulary test)
Introduction to media studies: advertising. Reading: Gloria Steinem. “Sex, Lies and Advertising.” (vocabulary test) (During the seminar the advertising strategies of three different magazines are compared.)
Introduction to literature (2): Narrative voice, point of view: Reading: E. A. Poe: “The Purloined Letter.” (vocabulary test)
Consultation Week (No class)
Introduction to literature (3): Figures of speech Reading: Alice Munro: “Wild Swans,” (vocabulary test)
Introduction to film studies. Reading: Karen Gocsik, “Writing about film.” Viewing: Matrix (Wachowski bros.)
Introduction to the study of video games. (Presentations and discussion.)
The assigned readings for the classes will be available either in the “Kennedy book” (Part: Fiction), or distributed in electronic format. (These critical essays are from Patricia Waugh (ed.) Literary Theory and Criticism.Oxford UP, 2006) and Dines and Humez (ed.), Gender, Race and Class in Media. Sage, 2003. Both books are available at the institute library.)