The Stories We Tell Ourselves
English 367.01 (07620-1): The American Experience
Winter 1999, M/W: 9:30-11:18, Ramseyer Hall 322
Though commencing from a tongue-in-cheek point of departure, this course will
explore a most serious issue: the nature of the self in a highly mediated and
mediating society, America. It seeks to answer the question at the back of all
of our minds, "What can I believe?" by analyzing various aspects of "rhetoric"
in American popular culture through the lens of texts that are weary of the
ideology that produces them. Don't worry, we'll investigate the credibility
of those visions as well, as this opens the door for our own writing. As we
analyze and evaluate texts that analyze and evaluate rhetorical practices in
our society, we'll engage in critical writing that takes an argumentative stand
in what it's analyzing (we'll create ourselves by composing papers that assimilate
and master the other's discourse). We'll write response/report papers for selected
readings. Groups of three or four or will develop and demonstrate (both orally
for the class, and in a group paper) a debate or, more loosely, a multi-perspective
reading of an assigned text or group of texts. The first paper, of four pages,
will be a more developed reading of a class text (an explanatory annotation);
the second, an annotated bibliography of ten relevant, scholarly sources should
prepare for the final paper, of eight pages, that will research a class topic
Anderson, Walter Truett: Reality Isn't What It
Used to Be (available at SBX)
Huxley, Aldous: Brave New World Revisited (available at SBX)
a course packet (available at Bricker Hall COP-EZ)
an active email account (you'll be subscribed to
the course listserv)
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (Main Library or any textbook store, $13.50)
Assignments and Grade Distribution
3 response papers (250 words each at 5% each), 15%
You must sign up to write 3 papers which respond
to particular reading assignments. These semi-formal papers should 1) report
theses, issues, and, contexts of the work as well as define key terms, 2) respond
critically to the work, and 3) ask two questions or identify two issues for
class discussion. Because your peers and I need time to check our email, papers
on Monday's reading assignments must be submitted to the course listserv (email@example.com) by Friday afternoon, those for Wednesday's by Monday afternoon.
a collaborative oral presentation (15 minutes), 10%
Particular groups of readings merit more attention
and debate than one or two individual responses can give. Consequently, students
will sign up to work in groups in order to present to the class the multiple
perspectives, interpretations, contexts, and correlations of those readings.
Also, groups are responsible for compiling and distributing a bibliography of
related and somewhat relevant primary and/or secondary sources (15-20) that
inform the group's assigned readings. As noted above, this assignment is used
in conjunction with one response paper; however, the paper will be graded individually
while the presentation collectively. Either each group member can submit an
individual response to the listserv by the Friday or Monday before the presentation,
or the entire group can submit a response. (The length would increase accordinglyif
three members, then 750 words; if four then 1000.) Groups must work together in interpreting and determining connections and differences among the texts.
Individual responses must not only reference but engage the other texts in the
a four-page paper (typed, double-spaced, 1000 words), 20%
This explanatory annotation paper should either 1)
explain an assigned reading's most significant passage, 2) compare/contrast
two assigned readings's most significant passages, or 3) explain the most significant
passage of a different text by the author of an assigned reading. More instructions
a preliminary bibliography (20 sources), ungraded
This is due a week and a half before the annotated
bibliography in order that you can determine if you have a researchable topic.
If your search strategy does not locate approximately 20 sources, your
topic needs to be rethought and you should confer with me.
an annotated bibliography (10 sources, 50 words per annotation), 10%
As preparation for the final research paper, the
purpose of this assignment is to compile and evaluate sources for a research
topic or author. Annotations should summarize theses or controlling ideas and
discuss the validity of the text's argument. More instructions to come.
an eight-page final research paper (typed, double-spaced, 2000 words),
The paper should either 1) extend a conversation
regarding an assigned reading by researching others' interpretations of the
work and/or comparing it with selections of the author's other work or 2) researching
a topic or issue initiated in class conversation. I'll provide a list of possible
topics and authors by the third week of class. The paper must incorporate and
quote at least 4-5 sources. More instructions to come.
peer response and class participation (quizzes), 15%
This grade is determined by both class participation
and the peer responses for first drafts of the explanatory annotation paper
and the research paper. Peer responses, of approximately 150 words, should be
critical yet sensitive in their evaluation of the form (thesis, support, style,
voice, organization) and content (thesis, argument, use of evidence) of their
peers' first drafts. Class participation is vital in illuminating the multiple
perspectives of the controversial issues and the divergent interpretations of
the assigned readings that we'll be discussing. In order to participate in class,
you must have read the assignments. To get the conversation started, approximately
every other class we'll have a brief quiz and two or three students will be
selected at random to read their quiz, to which the class is expected to respond.
Composing a 250-word listserv response for an additional
reading will elevate your response paper grades and/or your class participation
grade, depending on the quality of the response.
The Course Listservice
The list service serves three main functions: 1)
to save paper for homework assignments, 2) to provide a space for relevant discussion
outside of class, i.e., share thoughts and research materials, and 3) to make
course announcements and reminders. I encourage all to read these informative
messages, not to mention share your perspective with the rest of the class;
but, obviously, anything above and beyond the three pre-assigned responses is
There will be a one letter grade deduction per day
for any and all assignments that are turned in late. Thus, I suggest that
you contact me if you're having difficulty completing an assignment. An extension may be given if absolutely necessary and warranted.
Drafting and Revision
First drafts of the explanatory annotation paper
and the research paper will undergo peer response, and my response if you so
desire, from which you are encouraged to revise a second draft which will be
turned in for a grade. Though I will not grade first drafts, I do require (and
check) that they meet at least three-fourth (¾) of the page limitthree
(3) pages for the first paper, six (6) for the research paper. Failure to meet
this minimum will result in a one-third () letter deduction from the paper's
final grade (an "A" will become an "A-"). If you provide your peers no draft
at all, you will earn a one (1) letter grade deduction on the final grade. The
explanatory annotation paper and the group presentation paper, but not individual
responses or the research paper, may be revised once after receiving
a grade with my comments for a new grade assessment.
After the first paper, but before the annotated bibliography,
you must sign up for an individual conference in order that we can talk about
your first paper and research paper topics. Though no more conferences are required,
I encourage you to see me during my office hours (or by appointment) to talk
about any course concerns you have.
Don't do it. Using someone else's words, ideas, or
work without proper citation and representing it as your own is the most serious
of academic offenses. All cases of suspected plagiarism will be reported to
the Committee on Academic Misconduct.
Unexcused absences will not be tolerated. Family
emergences, illness/injury with doctor's note, jury duty, athletic or other
collegiate competition, religious holidays, and so forth constitute excused
absences. Bring notes within one (1) week of your return to class or I will
not accept the excuse. Two-thirds () of a letter grade will be deducted from
your final grade for every unexcused absence beyond two (2) (An "A"will become
a "B+"). Five (5) unexcused absences will result in your failure of the course.
I do not tolerate tardiness either. Two (2) unexcused tardies equals one (1)
unexcused absence. Note, therefore, that tardies will affect your grade. I strongly
suggest not being late because quizzes will be given in the first five minutes
of class. If you snooze, you loose. If you know in advance that you have to
miss or arrive late to a class, please notify me beforehand in order that we
can make arrangements regarding missed work.
On the Monday after finals week, I will make available
any work not yet returned to you. Contact me to make an appointment to pick
up your work. Otherwise, I will keep your work for two quarters, during which
time you can pick it up. If you do not retrieve it, I will discard it.
The staff of the Writing Center serve as readers
and responders to writing for English 110, English 367 and other university
disciplines. Besides giving feedback, these English graduate students can help
with other writing issues such as topic development, organization, coherence,
clarity, and self-editing. To make an appointment, call 292-5607 or stop by
338 Denney Hall M/W 8:30-5:30, T/R 8:30-7:30, and F 8:30-1:30.
The Ombud is a resource for students and teachers
of English 110 and 367. If you have any concerns about the course but feel you
cannot speak with me, please feel free to consult with the Ombud. All conversations
|Ombud: Wade Kreuger
||Office: Denney Hall 363
|Office Hours: MW: 11:30-5:30;
||Office Phone: 292-5778
| TR: 11:30-1:30
Office of Disability Services
If you have any specific needs or concerns, please
feel free to discuss the issue with me during office hours. Students with disabilities
who need accommodations should be registered at the Office for Disability Services
This schedule is subject to change, so listen in class and check online for possible revisions.
H is Handout; P is Course Packet (ordered alphabetically by author's
| Week 1
Atwood: "Fiction: Happy Endings" (H 275-9)
Plato: "The Allegory of the Cave" (H 186-91)
Doctorow: "Ultimate Discourse" (H 472-5)
Lunsford: "On Reading . . . Critically" (H 1-8)
| Week 2
Anderson: Reality, Preface and "The Collapse of Belief" (ix-xii,
Lunsford: "From Reading to Writing" (H 9-34)
Anderson: Reality, "Postmodern Visions" (55-102)
Miller: "Our Legal System" (P 11-16)
Ramage: "Reading . . . Essays." (H 639-45)
Paper 1 Prompt: Explanation or Comparison Paper
||No Class: Martin Luther King Day
Bacon: "Idols of the Mind" (P 518-29)
Thomas: "Humanities and Science" (P 775-82)
Harding: Introduction (P 1-16)
Barnet: "Critical Thinking Writing" (H 57, 73-86)
Group Presentation #1: The Objectivity of Science
Anderson: Reality, "The Theatre of Reality" (105-83)
(1/3 of class responsible for Ch5, for 6, for 7)
Due: Paper 1, Draft 1
Boorstin: "From News Gathering to News Making"
(H 7-44, selected sections)
Sontag: "Notes on Camp" (P 105-19)
(½ of class read Boorstin, ½
Group Presentation #2: Psuedo-Events and Camp Culture
Due: Paper 1, Draft 1 Peer Responses
Anderson: Reality, "Faith and Freedom" (187-227)
Thoreau: "Why I Went to the Woods" (P 897-902)
Ferlinghetti: [History is made], "History of the World"
(P 11-12, 300-4)
Rich: "Diving," "Translations, "Living" (P 22-4, 40-2)
Research Paper Prompt: Finding a Topic
Due: Paper 1, Draft 2
Anderson: Reality, "Worldview" (231-69)
Guest Speaker on Library Research: Fred Roecker
Baudrillard: "Simulacra and Simulations" (P 166-84)
Boorstin: "American Dream/American Illusions" (H 239-61)
Klugman: "Reality Revisited" (P 12-33)
(1/3 read Baudrillard, read Boorstin, read
Group Presentation #3: Reality and Disneyland
Barnet: "Critical Writing: Using Sources" (H 156-173)
Annotated Bibliography Prompt: Finding Sources
Lapham: "Democracy in America" (P 701-13)
Moore, Michael: "Don't Vote," et al (P 22-5, 43-56, 183-9, 221-9)
Group Presentation #4: American Politics: Apathy or Ideology?
Annotated Bibliography: Evaluating Sources
Ballard: "The Secret History of World War 3" (P 119-127)
(Extra Credit Response: Atrocity Exhibition)
Hammill: "Crack and the Box" (P 373-377)
Rapping: "Local News: Reality as Soap Opera" (P 616-33) (total: 74)
Group Presentation #5: Television and Culture/Society
Movie: The X-Files: "Jose Chung's From Outer Space"
Graham: "Conspiracy Theory and The X-Files" (P 52-62)
Lavery, et al: "Introduction" (P 13-20)
Group Presentation #6: The X-Files and Social Order
Due: Preliminary Bibliography (20 sources)
Huxley: Brave New World Revisited, Ch1-6 (3-57)
(1/3 of class read Chs1-2, read 3-4, read 5-6)
Huxley: Brave New World Revisited, Ch6-12 (58-118)
(1/3 read Chs7-8, read 9-10, for 11-12)
Due: Annotated Bibliography
Movie: The Truman Show
(Extra Credit Response: out-of-class movie)
Herzog: "The Death of Lies," et al (P 15-27, 207-218)
(Extra Credit Response: excerpts from The B.S. Factor)
Due: Research Paper, Draft 1
Due: Research Paper, Draft 1 Peer Responses
||Due: Research Paper, Draft 2 by 5:00 P.M.
I. Course Packet
- Bacon, Francis. "Idols of the Mind." The New Organum. 1620. Rpt.
in The Conscious Reader. 7th Ed. Eds. Caroline Shrodes, et al. Boston:
Allyn, 1998. 518-29.
- Ballard, J. G. "The Secret History of World War 3." The Atrocity Exhibition.
San Francisco: V/Search, 1990. 119-127.
- Baudrillard, Jean. from "Simulacra and Simulations." Selected Writings.
Ed. Mark Poster. Cambridge: Polity, 1988. 166-84.
- Ferlinghetti, Lawrence. ['History is made]. A Far Rockaway of the Heart.
New York: New Directions, 1997. 11-2.
- ——-. "The History of the World: A T.V. Docudrama." European Poems and
Transitions. New York: New Directions, 1984. Rpt. in These Are My Rivers:
New & Selected Poems, 1955-1993. New York: New Directions, 1993. 300-4.
- Graham, Allison: "Conspiracy Theory and The X-Files." "Deny All
Knowledge": Reading The X-Files. Eds. David Lavery, Angela Hague, and
Marla Cartwright. Syracuse: Syrcacuse UP, 1996. 52-62.
- Hammill, Pete. "Crack and the Box." Esquire May 1990. Rpt. in The
Conscious Reader. 7th Ed. Eds. Caroline Shrodes, et al. Boston: Allyn,
- Harding, Sandra. Introduction. Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking
from Women's Lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1991. 1-16.
- Herzog, Arthur. "The Death of Lies" and "Skeptics of the World, Unite!" The B.S. Factor: The Theory and Technique of Faking It in America.
Baltimore: Penguin, 1973. 15-27, 207-218.
- Klugman, Karen. "Reality Revisited." Inside the Mouse: The Project on
Disney. Eds. Karen Klugman, et al. Durham: Duke UP, 1995. 12-33.
- Lapham, Lewis H. "Democracy in America." Harper's. Nov. 1990. Rpt
in Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing.
2nd Ed. Eds. Gary Colombo, et al. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1992. 701-13.
- Lavery, David, Angela Hague and Marla Cartwright. "Introduction: Generation
X, The X-Files, and the Cultural Moment." "Deny All Knowledge":
Reading The X-Files. Eds. David Lavery, Angela Hague and Marla Cartwright.
Syracuse: Syrcacuse UP, 1996. 13-21.
- Miller, Dennis. "Our Legal System." The Rants. New York: Doubleday,
- Moore, Michael. "Don't VoteIt Only Encourages Them," "Big Welfare Mamas,"
"What America Needs is a Makeover." "Skip the CandidatesVote for the Lobbyists!" Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American. New York: Crown/Random,
1996. 22-5, 43-56, 183-9, 221-9.
- Rapping, Elayne. "Local News: Reality as Soap Opera." from Looking Glass
World of Nonfiction TV. Boston: South End, 1987. Rpt in Rereading America:
Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing. 2nd Ed. Eds. Gary
Colombo, et al. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1992. 616-33.
- Rich, Adrienne. "Diving into the Wreck," "Translations," "Living in the
Cave." Diving into the Wreck. New York: Norton, 1973. 22-4, 40-1, 42.
- Sontag, Susan. "Notes on Camp" Against Interpretation. New York:
Farrar, 1966. Rpt. in A Susan Sontag Reader. New York: Farrar, 1982.
- Thomas, Lewis. "Humanities and Science." Late Night Thoughts on Listening
to Mahler's Ninth. 1981. New York: Viking/Penguin, 1981. Rpt. in The
Conscious Reader. 7th Ed. Eds. Caroline Shrodes, et al. Boston: Allyn,
- Thoreau, Henry David. "Why I Went to the Woods." Walden, or Life in the
Woods. 1854. Rpt. in The Conscious Reader. 7th Ed. Eds. Caroline
Shrodes, et al. Boston: Allyn, 1998. 897-902.
- Atwood, Margaret. "Fiction: Happy Endings." Good Bones and Symple Murders.
New York: Bantam/Doubleday, 1983, 1994. Rpt. in The Conscious Reader.
7th Ed. Eds. Caroline Shrodes, et al. Boston: Allyn, 1998. 275-9.
- Barnet, Sylvan and Hugo Bedau, eds. "Critical Writing," "Critical Writing:
Using Sources." Current Issues and Enduring Questions: A Guide to Critical
Thinking and Argument, with Readings. 4th Ed. Boston: Bedford, 1996. 57,
- Boorstin, Daniel J. "From News Gathering to News Making: A Flood of Pseudo-Events"
and "From the American Dream to American Illusions? The Self-Deceiving Magic
of Prestige." The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. New York:
Atheneum, 1971. 7-44, 239-262.
- Doctorow, E. L. "Ultimate Discourse." Esquire Aug. 1986. Rpt. in The Conscious Reader. 7th Ed. Ed. Caroline Shrodes et al. Boston:
Allyn, 1998. 472-5.
- Lunsford, Andrea A. and John J. Ruszkiewicz, eds. "From Reading to Writing." The Presence of Others: Voices that Call for Response. 2nd Ed. New
York: St. Martin's, 1997. 9-34.
- ——-."On Reading and Thinking Critically." The Presence of Others: Voices
that Call for Response. 2nd Ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1997. 1-8.
- Plato. "The Allegory of the Cave." Republic. c. 380 B.C. Trans. G.
M. A. Grube. Rev. by C. D. C. Reeve. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1992. 186-191.
- Ramage, John D. and John C. Bean. Appendix A: Reading (and Writing about)
Essays. Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings. Brief 4th Ed.
Boston: Allyn, 1998. 639-45.