The Back Story
This is a course with multiple goals. The goal of the ID1 Program, writ large, is prepare you to participate fully in the intellectual community of the college. That makes it sound as though this is a warm-up course, but in fact the only way to prepare to participate in intellectual life and community is by, well, doing it. To that end, this course treats you as apprentice scholars. Over the course of the semester, youâ€™ll engage and contend with published scholars about ideas and texts; youâ€™ll do independent research; youâ€™ll present your ideas in formal discussion; and youâ€™ll respond critically and substantively to the works-in-progress of your peers. Youâ€™ll get more help (from me and from Bennett) with all of this than you will in most other courses at Pomona. Thatâ€™s where the â€œpreparatoryâ€ component comes in: we have the same high expectations, but weâ€™ll talk about the process of meeting those expectations a bit more, and you will drown in feedback about how youâ€™re doing.
Another goal for this course is to demystify â€“ and perhaps ruin â€“ fairy tales for you all. Rather than thinking about how different versions of various fairy tales all â€œtell the same story,â€ weâ€™ll think about how and why the various versions differ and about the cultural, historical, and aesthetic significances of those differences. To that end, weâ€™ll also learn about nation-building in Germany and the cultural obsessions and secrets of Victorian Britain. While most of your writing will be for a â€œscholarlyâ€ audience, weâ€™ll also think about what it means to communicate scholarly ideas more broadly. And, following the emphasis on community in both the ID1 program and the history of fairy tales as folk tales â€“ told and retold orally, building communities and histories through that process â€“ weâ€™ll share ideas and drafts, giving one another feedback as both unfold.
Opportunities and Expectations
ID moves fast. Thereâ€™s no way around it. This is the only â€œwriting-intensiveâ€ course youâ€™ll take at Pomona â€“ although youâ€™ll find that many courses, in fact, require you to write quite intensively â€“ which means a number of things. First, it means that youâ€™ll write a total of four graded essays this semester, which will total 20-25 pages of writing. Second, it means that for each of those graded essays, youâ€™ll do a lot of additional writing: youâ€™ll turn in (and get feedback on) a complete draft, and youâ€™ll do outlines, brainstorming activities, blog posts, and the like as you develop the draft and then develop it further through revision. Third, it means that youâ€™ll be writing to one another a lot â€“ in the aforementioned blog posts, of course, but also in response to one anotherâ€™s drafts and other works-in-progress.
Youâ€™ll probably feel as though you never stop writing. The good news is that youâ€™ll get feedback from me, Bennett, and your classmates at most steps along the way.
Participation in the written community of the course â€“ like participation in the embodied community of the course â€“ is required. That is, you must contribute to the class blog, you must write your papers (and drafts, and so on), you must respond to one anotherâ€™s writing; similarly, you must come to class; you must participate thoughtfully, substantively, and even humorously in class discussions; you must do the assigned reading. None of these requirements are arbitrary or petty; every single aspect of this course is designed to help you become a better critical writer, reader, and thinker.
For this reason youâ€™ll get lots of feedback. After all, how do we learn without it?
This break-down of your final grade may help:
Essay #1 (4-5 pages): 10%
Essay #2 (6-8 pages): 20%
Essay #3 (10 pages): 30%
Essay #4 (4-5 pages): 15%
Blog posts and comments
(1.5 of each per week),
incidental writing, draft
Good citizenship (attendance,
timeliness, etc.): 5%
Below are the general standards to which I hold written work. Iâ€™ll give you (and weâ€™ll discuss) a much more specific version of this early in the semester. Generally speaking, there is a line between work that achieves my minimum goals for papers in this class and work that does not. This is the line between a B and a B-. Essays that have an arguable thesis and a progressive, logical structure fall above that line (unless other problems are so egregious that they seriously damage the paperâ€™s quality), and typically receive grades of B or higher. Essays that do not have both an arguable thesis and a progressive structure fall below that line, and typically receive grades of B- or lower.
An A-range essay is both ambitious and successful. It presents a strong, interesting argument with grace and confidence.
A B-range essay is one that is ambitious but only partially successful, or one that achieves modest aims well.
A C-range essay has significant problems in articulating and presenting its argument, or seems to lack a central argument entirely.
A D-range essay fails to grapple seriously with either ideas or texts, or fails to address the expectations of the assignment.
The expectations for your oral presentations (on the research youâ€™ll do on Victorian fairy tales, for the third unit of the course) are similar to those for your essays. Details will follow in October.
The class blog is a place for you to experiment with ideas and responses to the readings, to complain about writerâ€™s block, to celebrate with one another about the fact that you get to read fairy tales for class while your friends are reading, well, really boring stuff. The blog is yours; bring in things that you find that you think might interest a community of fairy tale-readers.
You should plan to post to the blog once or twice per week, and you should comment on other peopleâ€™s posts one or twice per week. (Hence the average of 1.5.) The blog is yours, collectively; I will never mandate topics for blog posts, although I periodically may not in class if something strikes me as a particularly good one. In â€œgradingâ€ the blog â€“ as in grading your incidental writing and your responses to one anotherâ€™s works-in-progress â€“ Iâ€™ll be looking for evidence of engagement, sympathy, good listening, and (in general) thought. Not posting or commenting (or doing so cursorily and superficially) is a sure way to kill this 15% of your final grade. The same is true for your written responses to one anotherâ€™s drafts and for the intellectual seriousness with which you take the incidental writing assignments.
Attendance, obviously, is necessary. You can miss up to two class meetings during the semester without question or excuse, although youâ€™ll be responsible for any work we do, any announcements or changes that are made, and the like. If youâ€™re going to need to miss more than two classes, youâ€™ll need to provide a compelling, institutionally-sanctioned reason: long-term illness, documented by the Student Health Service; family emergency, documented by the Dean of Studentsâ€™ Office; etc. (Note the future tense: such situations can typically be anticipated.) Itâ€™s always courteous to let the professor know if you have to miss class.
Because the pace of the course is so quick, we canâ€™t accept late work. Incidental writing — drafts, blog posts and comments, draft responses, etc. — becomes irrelevant if it doesnâ€™t happen in the moment of the conversation.
You will be penalized one grade step for every 24-hour period a revision is late.
Internal Support Systems
The expectations in this course are high, so you have an extensive support system in place to help you meet those expectations by the end of the semester. In addition to me and your classmates, that includes our ID1 Intern, Bennett Sims. After you turn in a draft of your paper, youâ€™ll get written feedback from either me or Bennett and then youâ€™ll meet with one of us for a 30-minute conference to brainstorm your revision plan.
In addition to that, youâ€™ll be in a writing group for almost every essay â€“ these writing groups will become ever more important over the course of the semester â€“ so that you can get another round of feedback during the revision process. (E.g., â€œBennett and I realized that I really needed to try doing Y with my essay; Iâ€™ve tried that, but Iâ€™m not sure that itâ€™s clear. What do you think?â€ and so on.)
Weâ€™ll also spend considerable class time talking about writing and how to use it to develop your ideas more clearly and substantively. In particular, after every draft is due, weâ€™ll have a Draft Workshop where weâ€™ll look at two peopleâ€™s drafts together. By the end of the semester, everyone will have had an essay or a part of an essay workshopped at least once.
External Support Systems
ITS can help with technical issues surrounding Sakai, the blog, e-reserves, printing, word processing, email and the like. Itâ€™s easy: just email the help desk at email@example.com.
The Writing Center (SCC 216, above the Coop Fountain) offers students free, one-on-one consultations at any stage of the writing process â€” from generating a thesis and structuring an argument to fine-tuning a draft. The Writing Fellows â€” Pomona students majoring in subjects including Molecular Biology, History, Politics, and Religious Studies â€” will work with you on an assignment from any discipline. Consultations are available by appointment, which you can make online.
Deans Feldblum and Holmes in the Dean of Students Office can help with general issues of time management or adjusting to college life. Dean Holmes is the general academic advisor for all students, and can be reached at extension 72147. Monsour Counseling Center also offers confidential appointments.
If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible.