We run on regular cycle two courses that directly involve theory: the 500 Theory of Literary Criticism course required of each student, and the optional 510 Theory and Practice of Expository Writing course that can work to complete either the Writing and Literary Forms requirement or an elective. Dr. Dugan, the professor running 510 this summer, knows from experience that many students aren’t quite sure, even from reading the catalog description of it, what the 510 course will be about. As such he has provided the following write-up to help those considering the class this summer. He writes:
I have had the pleasure of teaching this course several times in past summer semesters, and I have enjoyed it more each time. I hope that you will enjoy it as well, but I do want to provide you with an overview for you to decide if this course will meet your expectations and academic and professional goals.
First, the main text, and the only required one, is Concepts in Composition: Theory and Practice in the Teaching of Writing by Irene Clark, 2nd edition, published by Routledge, 2012 (ISBN 978-0-415-88516-4). It is available from the Mercy Bookstore, which will sell or rent you the text, or from other outlets. There is also an eBook version. This book has eleven chapters, so it fits nicely into our ten-week summer semester [director’s note: summer semesters run on compressed 10-week schedules but require more work each week in order to be equivalent to the regular fall and spring semesters]. The chapters focus on processes, revisions, audience, assessment, and other topics. We will discuss one unit each week.
Second, a recommended text for those interested in literary theory is Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson, 3rd edition, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415506755. It is available to rent or to buy-new or used- from several sources, and there is an eBook as well.
Thirdly, I a firm believer that learning about theory, composition or literary, is made more valuable when one has a source to write about. Therefore, I will provide weekly non-fiction pieces for you to read. But, if your interests lean more to literature, I am (strongly) recommending that you have a copy of The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald. And, I recommend, less strongly, that you have a copy of The Bluest Eye or Beloved by Toni Morrison. Any edition is fine.
By now, you may be asking yourself: how does this course really play out online? Allow me to explain.
Each week, you will be assigned a chapter from Concepts in Composition, which we will discuss as a class. Then, you have a choice to apply the teaching of writing concepts to either the non-fiction or one of the novels or the play in the framework of composition theory.
However, if you wish to focus on literary criticism, a chapter from the Tyson book will be assigned and a discussion thread provided. Tyson analyzes Gatsby from different theoretical perspectives, but she also brings up Morrison, among other authors. If this interests you, the discussion questions will be on the theory and then how to teach the literary theory in conjunction with the composition theory.
If all this sounds complicated, it is not. (At least, I hope it isn’t!) It is planned to allow you to pursue your own interests and your professional need, and to give you choices. As a final note: there will be three short (2-3 pages) essays assigned and one longer (4-6 pages) final paper. Discussions are graded weekly.