For our next class
For Monday 10/18, take a look at some sonnets by Shakespeare. Here's a link to some study questions. And here are the texts of the poems themselves.
It sometimes seems as if reading is a lost art. As you may know, the National Endowment for the Arts recently surveyed 17,000 American adults to find out about their reading habits. Less than half of the people surveyed had read a literary work—a novel, short story, play, or poem—in the last year. That’s a sharp decline from 1982, when 56.9 percent of people surveyed had done some literary reading.
My ultimate goal for this course is to keep the art of reading alive. I really hope that you’ll become one of those people who loves reading and wants to go on reading forever. If that sounds lofty, I don’t mind. Why not aim high?
Speaking more pragmatically, I’d say that the aim of ENG 150 is to sharpen your skills as a reader and a writer. Instead of simply trying to pin down the meaning of a poem or story, we’ll be asking ourselves about shape and structure and form. How does this work begin? What has changed by the end? And how have the changes come about? Those are the questions that you’ll be learning to ask, and those are the habits of mind I’m hoping you’ll take with you into your later experiences as readers.
Writing in ENG 150
This class will give you plenty of chances to work on your writing. To help you in thinking about the writing process, I’ll be asking you to do your work in stages. You’ll submit each of your papers to a few of your classmates and get detailed comments from them. You’ll also revise those papers, responding to comments from readers and generally improving your work. This is how professional writers go about their business, by the way. They turn out a draft, shop it around, get comments, and then respond to those comments in a thorough revision. Since most of you will be doing some sort of writing later in life, it makes sense for you to get a sense of that rhythm now.
All of the papers you’ll write for this course will focus on a particular text, adding in some way to your reader’s understanding and appreciation of that text. You’ll want to remember that all of your papers are supposed to be of use and value to the reader—not just an empty summary of the plot or pointless run-down of literary devices.
As those comments may suggest, our focus here will be on argument and argumentation. What makes an argument seem interesting or compelling? What does a good argument promise to do for its reader; and how do good arguments manage to deliver on such promises? By the end of the term, if things go as planned, you’ll have developed a better sense of how to think about those questions—and practical skills that will help you in presenting and refining your own ideas.
From here, you can review course policies and keep track of assignments and deadlines.
mail to Mr. Spurgin
last modified 10-15-04