Searching for Contentment the Pursuit of the American D

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    Searching for Contentment: the Pursuit of the American Dream

    To be content with what one has is the greatest and truest of riches. Cicero

Susan Crisafulli MWF 1:10-2:00 Wilson Hall 121

    Office: Stevenson Center 6728 Office phone: 343-7836

    Office Hours: Monday 2:15-3:15pm in office Home phone: 315-5693

     Monday 10:00-11:00pm online until 10:00pm

    When you can think of yesterday without regret and tomorrow without fear, you are near contentment.

    Author Unknown

     Required Texts:

    Ragged Dick, Horatio Alger

    Bartleby, Herman Melville

    Ecotopia, Ernest Callenbach

    Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

    The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

    Caucasia, Danzy Senna

    Other Requirements:

    The Bedford Handbook for Writers

    Writing Folder

    Daily check of Vanderbilt email account

    One reads well only when one reads with some personal goal in mind. It may be to acquire some power. It

    may be out of hatred for the author. Paul Valery

Course Description:

    This is a course designed to pull from deep within you the ability to think and write critically and effectively about literature. With that goal in mind, we will examine visions of utopia and dystopia in literature, discussing the philosophical, cultural, and political ideas behind each and scrutinizing the rhetorical ways in which the ideas are presented. Focusing on the concept of the American Dream as a utopic vision, we will be particularly interested in such questions as:

    ; How do we define the American Dream?

    ; Where did the concept come from?

    ; How is it perpetuated?

    ; Who is it for?

    ; How does it influence our lives?

    Since this is a writing course, we’ll be talking about a lot more than just what that these authors have written about; we’ll spend a lot of time focusing on your writing, too. Most of your grade in

    this course will be determined by your written masterpieces, as you can see below:


    Assignments: Percent of Final Grade:

    Paper 1 10

    Paper 2 15

    Paper 3 20

    Paper 4 20

    Final exam 5

    Class Participation 15

    Written Responses 15



    The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their

    companions slept, were toiling upwards in the night. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


    You will have the exciting opportunity to write 4 papers this semester, and you even get to revise 2 of them, the first and second ones. Please note that a first version of a paper is not to be considered a draft but is a well-thought-out, articulate, and proofread paper. My impression of your first draft will figure into the grade on your revision. Before you begin to revise a paper, you must meet with me for a paper conference to discuss your ideas for the revision. Paper revision is a requirement, not an option: no matter how good a writer you are, or how good a writer you become, there is always room for improvement.

    All papers are due by 5:00pm on the dates specified on the syllabus. You are welcome to turn in your papers late, but in exchange for the fact that you would have more time on your paper than your classmates, I will take one letter grade off your paper for every 24-hour period or part thereof that it is late (beginning at 5:01pm on the day the paper is due). Within the first day it is late, the highest grade you can receive is a B+; two days late, C+; three days late, failing. I will not accept papers by email attachment or by computer disk.

    All papers should be a minimum of 5 pages (turning in fewer than 5 full pages will result in automatic failure), typed in Modern Language Association (MLA) format. For this class, all papers must be in 12-point type in Times New Roman font. Each paper should be turned in in your writing folder with all accompanying documents. For each essay assignment, I will pass out an instruction sheet detailing the specifics of the assignment and the various components that you should have in your folder when you turn your paper in. Failure to provide the appropriate components or to follow MLA formatting will be reflected in your grade.

    If you feel that a grade you receive on a paper is unfair, you are welcome to come talk to me about your concerns. However, I require that you wait at least 24 hours after you receive your grade to discuss it with me and that you bring a typed paragraph articulating the reasons you feel that the grade was unjust. All grade complaints must be made within 2 weeks after receiving the grade.

    We do not write in order to be understood, we write in order to understand. Cecil Day Lewis


Class Participation:

    It is the responsibility of every student to participate in class discussion at every class meeting. You are encouraged to voice opinions, to offer interpretations, to ask questionsto engage with

    the text at hand. Please note that simply showing up to class is part of attendance, not class participation; similarly, simply having done the reading is minimal preparation, not class participation. Participation involves interacting with your classmates on a regular basis in a way that expresses your interest and intelligence.

    At 15%, your class participation grade is a considerable part of your final average in this course. To encourage you to participate, please note my Class Participation Policy: each class member’s participation grade will start as a “C” and can go higher or lower depending on your level of participation. If you never show up for class, your participation grade will obviously be an “F” by the end of the semester! Being a silent warm body in the classroom will probably lower your grade to a “D.” However, if you regularly participate in class and contribute intelligently to discussion, your participation grade can easily go up to a “B” or an “A.” To judge

    your participation fairly, I will keep track of who contributes to the discussion each day.

    Chance favors the prepared mind. Louis Pasteur

Written Responses:

You will periodically get to write a short, evaluative paper responding to that day’s reading. Your

    response should be typed and double-spaced and should be at least a page in length. Responses are intended to help you prepare for class discussion, improve your writing, and come up with ideas for your longer papers. As with your papers, your responses should not simply summarize the reading but should respond to it critically. Please note that I may ask you to share your response with the class and that you cannot turn in a written response late for an unexcused absence.

    Each response will be worth up to 3 points, with a 3 being a response that is thoughtful and insightful; a 2 being average; a 1 being not worth the time you put into writing the response; and a 0 being an uncompleted assignment. Your total number of points on the 11 responses will be

    tripled at the end of the semester to yield your response grade.



    Students are expected to attend all classes. Unexcused and unexplained absences will be interpreted as indicating indifference and may be weighed in determining a borderline grade at the end of the semester. If you must miss class for an unavoidable reason, you must let me know before that class. I will excuse absences for which you bring me a doctor’s excuse or a sports / school activity excuse in writing (choosing to stay in bed because you don’t feel well doesn’t qualify as an excused absence). *Perfect attendance will award you an extra point added onto your final average at the end of the semester.*

    In terms of consequences, I will lower your final average by half a letter grade for each unexcused absence after 3; more than six unexcused absences will result in automatic failure. An absence is not an excuse for not knowing about an assignment or about material covered in class that day. Contact either a classmate or me to find out what you missed.

I consider tardiness to be disruptive and disrespectful and ask that you do not enter class if you

    are more than five minutes late. Tardiness will be noted and should be explained to me after class. Two tardies will equal one absence (see above for how absences affect your final average).


    Plagiarism is completely unacceptable in my course. Plagiarism cases will be handed over the Honor Council and may result in an automatic “F” for the course and possibly suspension or expulsion from the University. Plagiarism does not just consist of paying for papers off the Internet but can also include the failure to cite a work properly or any attempt to represent someone else’s work (or any part of it) as your own. Always acknowledge your source for any idea that is not your own. If you are unsure about whether something qualifies as plagiarism or not, please ASK me.

To be nobody-but-yourselfin a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody elsemeans to fight the hardest battle which

    any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

    e. e. cummings



    If you have a learning or physical disability, or if you learn best utilizing a particular method, please discuss with me how I can best accommodate your learning needs. I am committed to making educational opportunities available to all students. In order for me to address the needs of students who have disabilities properly, though, it is necessary that such students approach me as soon as the semester starts, preferably on the first day of class. If you need specific accommodations, you should bring an official letter from the Opportunity Development Center (2-4705) explaining your specific need.

One More Note:

    No cell phones or pagers are allowed. Please turn these devices off while class is in session. If your cell phone rings because you neglected to turn it off, I will stop class and answer your phone for you.

Open Door Policy:

    I encourage you to see me at any time about anything pertaining to this course and your performance in it. If you are having a problem with the work, or even if you want to talk about something totally unrelated to the class, feel free to see me during my office hours or to arrange a mutually convenient meeting time. If I don’t hear from you, I can only assume that you’re satisfied with your progress in the class and the grades you are getting. I will make every effort to accommodate your interests and needs, but your success in this class, as in the whole of your education, will largely be a product of your own efforts.

    Learning without thought is labor lost; thought

    without learning is dangerous. Confucius


    September 2003

    Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

    1 Early American 2 3 Ragged Dick 3-92 4 5 Ragged Dick 93-186 6

    selections I “The Story of the Bad

     Little Boy” (on


    Labor Day

    7 8 Plagiarism Workshop 9 10 On Brainstorming 11 12 Thesis Workshop 13

    Read handout 285-89 Read Grammar handout Read Guidelines

    Take Plagiarism Quiz Read MLA handout Read Trimble 13-24, 25-

    Evaluate examples 29

    Meet in Garland 119 Bring typed thesis

    14 15 On Grading 16 17 The Disillusionment 18 19 No class 20

     of the American Dream Paper 1 Due

    Read Grading Criteria

    Grade sample papers Bring Early American

    Fill out Peer Review for selections I with you to

    the first paper class.

    21 22 Early American 23 24 On Re-Visioning 25 26 Read all of “Bartley 27

    selections II the Scrivener”

    Written Response Due

    Fill out Conference Prep.

    Conferences Rosh Hashanah

    28 29 “Bartleby the 30 Post draft to

    Scrivener” Prometheus by 6pm

    Written Response Due


    October 2003

    Sunday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday


    3 Ecotopia 1-54 4 Freshman Family 1 Peer Review 2

     Weekend Paper 1 Revision


    Meet in Garland 119 5 6 Ecotopia 55-109 7 8 Ecotopia 109-67 9 10 Organization 11 Homecoming


     Written Response Due Read Essays 2 and 3

     from Sample Papers

     Yom Kippur Packet 12 13 Brave New World 14 15 Brave New World 16 17 No class 18 Fall Break

     3-71 72-139 Paper 2 Due

     Written Response Due

    19 Fall Break 20 Fall Break 21 Fall Break 22 Brave New World 23 24 Brave New World 25

     140-97 198-259

    Meet in Garland 119 26 27 Reading Movies 28 29 American Beauty 30 31 American Beauty

     Fill out Scene Dissection

     Read 4 Movie Reviews Fill out Conference Prep.

    Written Response Due via Prometheus Conferences

     Showing of American Meet in Garland 119

    Ramadan Beauty, 7pm Halloween


    November 2003

    Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday 2 3 American Beauty 4 Post draft to 5 Peer Review 7 Introductions and 8 6

     Prometheus by 6pm Conclusions Workshop Paper 2 Revision

     Evaluate examples Due Written Response Due Bring 2 sample intros. Read Ballenger 134-48

    Read Trim. 30-36, 55-58 Election Day

    9 10 The Handmaid’s Tale 11 12 The Handmaid’s Tale 13 14 The Handmaid’s Tale 15

    3-66 69-147 151-228

     Written Response Due

    Veterans Day Meet in Garland 119 16 17 The Handmaid’s Tale 18 19 Style Workshop I 20 21 Style Workshop II 22 Thanksgiving Break

    229-311 Paper 3 Due

    Bring Paper 3 drafts Read Trimble 59-68

    Read Trimble 101-06,


    23 Thanksgiving Break 24 Thanksgiving Break 25 Thanksgiving Break 26 Thanksgiving Break 27 Thanksgiving Break 28 Thanksgiving Break 29 Thanksgiving Break

    Thanksgiving Day

    30 Thanksgiving Break


    December 2003

    Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

    1 Caucasia 1-82 2 3 Caucasia 83-165 4 5 Caucasia 166-238 6

    Written Response Due

    7 8 Caucasia 239-337 9 10 Caucasia 338-413 11 12 13

     Course conclusion

     Written Response Due

    Meet in Garland 119 Last Day of Classes

    14 15 16 17 18 19 20

     Paper 4 Due 3:00

    Hanukkah begins 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

    Christmas Day Kwanzaa 28 29 30 31

    New Year’s Eve


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