Poesia/Theoria — Assignments

Presentation = 10%

Mid-Term Paper (3000 wds) = 20%

Term Paper Proposal (500 wds) = 10%

Draft Term Paper = 0%

Peer Critique (500 wds) = 10%

Term Paper (6000 wds) = 30%

Take-Home Final Exam (4500 wds) = 20%


Presentation: 10%

For this assignment you will need to select a cultural object or phenomenon and relate it to the week’s readings and the course’s themes. Your presentation should run to 20-30 minutes. It should

a) present the object or phenomenon to the class, using images, audio, video, or whatever media are necessary

b) explicitly connect it to the week’s readings, whether theoretical or literary

c) raise questions and provoke discussion amongst the class

 You will be assessed on the professionalism of your delivery, your familiarity with the week’s texts, your ability to shed unexpected light on the object or phenomenon you have selected, your ability to relate it to the week’s readings, and your presentation’s ability to provoke lively discussion amongst the rest of the class.

Mid-term Paper (3000 wds): 20%

In this assignment, you will need to pursue one of the secondary suggested readings for the course, linking it to one of the required readings. You may use a text not listed by us on the syllabus, but you must get our approval before you do so. Please keep in mind that this paper should develop the course’s themes, and should ultimately be cast in an argumentative frame. Papers that simply outline similarities or differences, or map one text onto another, will not be sufficient — you must make an argument.

You will be assessed on the clarity of your argument, the quality of your writing, your use of the class materials in forging your argument, and the effectiveness with which you bring in the suggested reading. We are looking for evidence of creative, sophisticated thinking in these papers, and for a capacity to forge unexpected connections amongst the materials.

Term Paper Proposal (500 wds): 10%

This proposal should lay out with extreme clarity four key elements of your proposed term paper:

  1. what you will argue (not what you will “explore” or “consider” or “investigate,” etc.)
  2. that it is new or how it contributes to the scholarly conversation on the topic
  3. why it matters; what is at stake in your intervention into that conversation
  4. how you will do it: what moves will you make in your argument, what sort of approach will you take, what sorts of theoretical commitments are you undertaking, etc.?

The first paragraph should have one sentence on each of these elements. The remaining paragraphs should each elaborate upon one of them (for element 4 you may need more than one paragraph). You will be assessed on the clarity of your proposal, the nature of its contribution, and the appropriateness of the proposed approach.

Term Paper (6000 wds): 30%

Your term paper should tie the course content into your own research interests, however they are configured. This means that there is considerable latitude in how you approach this topic: come and speak to us about your plans. The aim here is for you to work towards a theoretically sophisticated paper that engages with both the aesthetic and the theoretical — indeed, with the aesthetic as theoretical and the theoretical as aesthetic. The field is in fact wide open, so be creative. But also, remember that your paper should be making some sort of argument. It will not be enough simply to do something neat or provocative if you are not also advancing a rigorous argument in the process.

You will have to prepare a full draft of your Term Paper well before the paper is ultimately due, for the purposes of making it as strong as possible, and to enable the next assignment. The draft of your Term Paper will have a due date, and we will check to see that it is complete, though it earns no marks per se. However, if you do not hand in the draft term paper, we will not accept your subsequent assignments, and you will therefore not be able to pass the course. Ye be warned.


Critique (500 wds): 10%

Each of you will receive a Draft Term Paper from at least one other member of the class. Your task in this assignment is to read it critically and carefully. Do NOT focus on spelling and writing tics, though these are of course also important. Instead, focus on the argument, the use of evidence, the sophistication of the thinking presented, the comprehension of the texts used (both theoretical and aesthetic), and the clarity of expression (jumbled, arcane, or otherwise impenetrable prose is not a good thing!). You will have one week to do this work, sending a copy of the critique to the person whose paper you’ve critiqued and a copy to us for grading. We do not need marked up copies of the Draft Term Papers handed to us, though they may be of use to their authors.

Finally, remember that though this is a critique, you should keep it professional and positive. You are critiquing the paper, not the writer. That said, it does no one any good at all simply to be told that the paper is “Neat! :)”


Take-Home Final (4500 wds): 20%

This assignment will require you to survey all the required readings from the term. You will need to

  1. devise three rubrics into which you can organize all the material from the term
  2. write three essays, one on each rubric, outlining
    1. your logic of inclusion/exclusion
    2. the continuities and discontinuities among the material
    3. the theoretical/aesthetic strain you see uniting the material you have grouped under each rubric

Each essay should be no longer than 1500 words.

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