This is the blog for ENGL 3840, Adolescent Literature, a course taught in Spring 2014 at Western Michigan University. The updated syllabus, including a finalized text list, and the assignment sheet are below:
In class today, many of you gave your paper presentations, and I must say that I was really impressed by the work that you have done this semester. We'll finish up the presentations on Thursday.
Over the next 6 days, I'll be grading your essays. It's my hope to have them back to you by Tuesday morning. Your final exam will take place on Wednesday, April 23rd from 8:00-10:00 am. in our regular classroom. Although I have placed a study guide in an earlier post, I've copied it here, for easy access:
Final Exam Study Guide
You will have two hours to write your final examination. You may bring your copy of Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost to class for use on the exam; otherwise, all books and notes should be left at home. Please purchase a “Green Book” to use for your exam; these books are available at either University Bookstore location. You must write your exam in PEN – preferably in blue or black ink.
The exam will cover the following primary texts: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian; Anya’s Ghost; The Hunger Games (book and film); The Fault in Our Stars.
The exam will have three parts: a significance paragraph section; a graphic novel interpretation section; and an essay section.
Significance Paragraphs (25 points each, for a total of 100 points):
You will be given 6 excerpts, and you’ll be asked to write a significance paragraph for 4 of the excerpts. Your answers should include author, title, speakers (if necessary) and significance of the passage to the text as a whole. Typical answers should be no longer than 1 paragraph. If you are writing more than 1 paragraph, you need to stop yourself. If you have trouble being concise, you should practice this at home before taking the exam.
Graphic Novel Interpretation (100 points):
You’ll be given 2 questions that refer to Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost, and you’ll be asked to select 1 and write a 3-5 page response, making reference, as necessary to the text.
Essay Answer (100 points):
You’ll be given 2 questions that concern the primary texts listed above. You should choose 1 and write a 3-5 page response.
In class today, I went over the final exam study guide, and then, we discusssed the key passages from Green's The Fault in Our Stars - if you were not in class, you should plan to read through those pages and consider their significance.
You have three general areas of concentration as the semester winds to its conclusion:
First, you will need to work on your semester essay, which is due on Monday, April 14th by 5:00 pm in the eLearning dropbox for ENGL 3840.
Second, you will need to prepare a 3-4 slide PowerPoint that focuses on your semester essay and that you will use for your 5-minute presentation on either Tuesday or Thursday. Regardless of which day you are presenting, your PowerPoint is due on Tuesday, April 15 by 8am in the eLearning dropbox for ENGL 3840.
If you wish to turn in either of these assignments early, all I can say is "YAY!"
Third, you will need to be studying for the final exam. All of the information that you require regarding these three assignments has been set out in the course blogs from the last 2 weeks. The assignment sheet and syllabus are on the Welcome! post.
To expedite our discussion tomorrow, please come to class ready to discuss the passages that appear on these pages of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars: 3, 32, 44, 59, 73, 99, 111, 123, 144, 246, and 311. Also, be ready to discuss these three questions:
1. If we were to apply Trites' ideas about YA literature to Green's A Fault in Our Stars, how might we respond to these two claims: first, the idea that YA literature encourages "potentially out-of-control adolescents" to conform to the institutions that surround them; and second, the idea that most YA literature portrays sex as an activity that comes with consequences - it is often seen as being the prelude to emotional pain or physical discomfort.
2. In what ways does Green's A Fault in Our Stars conform to the traditions of YA sick-lit as defined in my lecture of 8 April 2014?
3. Are there ways in which Hazel Lancaster's behavior could be equated to the sort of heroic behavior expressed by Katniss Everdeen in Collins' The Hunger Games?
As you prepare for the final exam, please use this study guide as a reference:
At the beginning of class, I gave a brief presentation of my own work, designed to serve as a model for you 5-minute presentations. But then I thought about it this afternoon, and I decided that the talk I gave was too detailed and too long. So, here's a better suggestion:
Each of you should come up with 3-4 slides that cover the following points:
1. Your thesis
2. A quote or two from the critical source(s) you have used, if applicable
3. A summary of what you learned - major conclusions or insights or ideas that you found fascinating
4. Any images or quotes from the text that you think would be good to share.
Then, you can either talk extemporaneoously (off the cuff) or read a prepared statement or use index cards - whatever way you choose, you will need to time yourself and be sure that you are keeping it to 5 minutes.
Here is the order in which you will be presenting:
Tuesday, April 15: Peri A; Bryan A; Katy A; Erin B; Darci B; Mary D; Jess F.; Blake F; Kelli H; Katlyn H; Jenny J; Kathryn K; Meghan K.; Bailey L.
Thursday, April 17: Amanda L; Karlie M; Sharna M; Alexa N; Brittany N; Kaileigh O; Chelsea P; Rick P; Dan R; Danielle R; Kalani R; Sara S; Cady S
Please deposit your PowerPoint in elearning for me by Tuesday, April 15 at 8 am so that I can upload it to my laptop; this will save us time in class. Everyone needs to meet that deadline, regardless of when they present.
After we discussed the paper presentations, I gave this talk on Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Included in the PowerPoint is a link to a video of Green discussing his text. For a link to it, click here. I'd urge you to reread the PowerPoint AND watch the entire video before our next class.
For the majority of class, we finished watching the film version of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. I won't be going over the study guide for the final exam until next Thursday, but I will say that one of the options will be to write about the film and the book as a pair. If you think that you would like to take on this question, then you will probably want to stream the film once more on your own, using the questions that I provided you as a guide.
In class on Tuesday, I will be explaining how the paper presentations will work, and I'll be showing you an example. If this assignment seems new to you, be sure to head on up to the Assignment Sheet that is located in the Welcome! post of this blog. You can review the basic requirements for the paper presentations and be ready to listen to my explanation in class.
Then, we will conclude our discussion of The Hunger Games and begin our discussion of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Please be sure to bring both books to class with you.
Finally, you should be working on your semester essay which will be due on April 14. Have a good weekend! Oh, and I just learned that there are only 6 seats left in my Summer I online ENGL 5830, Multicultural Adolescent Literature course, so if you are interested, you might want to consider registering soon!
For the last two class periods, we've been watching the film version of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. Here are PDF copies of the two handouts that I asked you to consult and fill out as we watched the movie. If you were absent from class, please endeavor to watch the movie on your own and complete the note-taking:
For homework, you should be reading through John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. You should also be using this time to work on your semester essay which is due on Monday, April 14 by 5 pm, and on your 5 minute PowerPoint presentation that you'll be doing in class on either Tuesday April 15 or Thursday April 17. For information on the PowerPoint, you should look at the course assignment sheet (located in the Welcome Post of this blog). In class on Thursday, I will demonstrate what a typical 5-minute presentation should look like.
Agenda for Class on Thursday, April 3
In class next time, we will be discussing both the novel and film versions of The Hunger Games. Please be sure to bring your book and your notes.
Additional Office Hours in April
As you work on your semester essays, you may wish to consult with me. I've listed additional office hours below, so please feel free to drop by my office, 911 Sprau Tower to go over your work.
At the beginning of class, I distributed a handout on film adaptation that includes over 20 questions that you will be working through as we watch The Hunger Games movie on Thursday. If you were absent from class today, please print out a copy and review it before our next class.
Towards the end of class, I showed you the trailer for a 2007 reality TV show entitled Kid Nation. The short-lived series put 40 children out into the desert in a ghost town, where they were supposedly going to compete for college scholarships and cash prizes, all while joining to run a town without adult assistance. This program caused a great deal of controversy when it first appeared. As you watch this link to the trailer, consider how closely some of the concepts from this TV show parallel those from The Hunger Games.
At the beginning of class, I asked students to practice writing a one-paragraph summary of a work of literature. I would like you to use this skill as you write the introductory section of your essay: remember that you need to give your reader enough background information so that they will understand your analysis -- but not so much information that your paper turns into plot summary.
Next, I gave a refresher on looking up scholarly books and articles on your topics. Given that many of you are writing on texts that have not received a great deal of critical attention, you may need to expand your search to include essays that focus on your general topic. For instance, when if you were writing on M.T. Anderson's Feed, you might broaden your research by looking for articles on "children's literature" and dystopia. Please be sure to reference the Project Muse database, as well as the ERIC database and open access journals such as The ALAN Review (which is linked on the sidebar to your left).
In addition the advice that I've given you on the assignment sheet and in class, let me share a few other relevant points:
1. If you are looking for author interviews, you should use the Something About the Author database or the First Search database (available off of the Library homepage - click on the Database Tab, click on "F," and then select First Search or click on "S," and then select Something About the Author). The First Search database contains articles from general interest periodicals and newspapers, both excellent sources for author interviews.
2. Sometimes, a topic you select may not have been written upon extensively by children's and adolescent literature scholars, but it may have been covered in journals that focus on mainstream, adult literature. When you are doing your research, run one search that includes "children's literature" or "YA literature" as a keyword, and then run another search where you use "American literature" or "fiction" as your keyword. That way, you can be assured of finding relevant approaches and ideas in articles that may not directly focus on children's and YA literature, but could be applied to that type of literature.
During the second half of class, we began our discussion of Vera Brosgol's Anya's Ghost, focusing specifically on the technical aspects of interpreting comics. If you were not in class, be sure to get caught up by filling out the following worksheet, and if you were in class, please remember that finishing up question 3 and question 4 is your homework .
In addition to completeing your Anya's Ghost worksheet, you should be reading Collins' The Hunger Games. We'll be discussing the text as an example of dystopian fiction on Tuesday, and then we'll work through the film in class. The reason I am having you watch the film in class rather than having you rent it and watch it at home is that I plan to have you stop at various points to discuss how the film works - in fact, you will have a worksheet to fill out as you watch. One student suggested that you might want to bring treats on the film viewing days, and I'm leaving that up to you to organize, should you wish. My only caveat is that someone bring a trash bag and be in charge of making sure that we leave the classroom in its typically pristine condition (haha).
Hi everyone. I'm glad to be back in Kalamazoo and back to work full time. I thought it might be a good idea to go over some general information on the paper proposals and on our agenda for Tuesday.
Receiving My Comments on Your Paper Proposals
This weekend, I will be grading your paper proposals and uploading my comments onto the Dropbox feature in eLearning. I should be done with the proposals for your class by Sunday morning, and at that time, I'll ask that you read my comments as a preparation for our conference. To access my comments, log in to eLearning, click on ENGL 3840, and select "Dropbox" from the Assessments menu, which is located in the upper right corner of the screen. Here's a screen capture of that.
On the next screen, you will see the Paper Proposal Dropbox and if you look to the right, you will see an icon with the word VIEW on it. Click on VIEW, and scroll down on the page to where you will see a link to the graded version of your file. If you do no see the VIEW icon, that means that I have not yet graded your proposal, so be sure to check back.
Agenda for Class on 18 March 2014
At the beginning of class, I'm going to go over the use of the Project Muse database, as I think many of you would benefit from using it in your research.
Next, we will work through a series of panels from Brosgol's Anya's Ghost so that you can get used to talking and writing about comics. Please be sure to bring your text to class.