Seminar in Research and
The Divine Comedy
|LIT 499 06
1 course unit (4 credits)
Term: Fall 2011
Time: 4:00-5:20 p.m. MR
Place: Bliss 153
Prof. G. Steinberg
Office: Bliss 216
Office Phone: 771-2106
Office Hours: 2:00-3:20 p.m. TF
and by appointment
- Dante, The Divine Comedy Vol. I: Inferno, trans. Mark Musa (Penguin, 1984), ISBN 0142437220
- Dante, The Divine Comedy Vol. II: Purgatory, trans. Mark Musa (Penguin, 1985), ISBN 0140444424
- Dante, The Divine Comedy Vol. III: Paradise, trans. Mark Musa (Penguin, 1986), ISBN 0140444432
COURSE DESCRIPTION. In this course, we read the entire Divine Comedy and examine the ways in which Dante scholars have approached the poem in recent years. Among themes explored in the course are Dante’s innovation (in relation to his contemporaries and the literary traditions of his time), Dante’s perspective on gender and sexuality, Dante’s psychology of human failure and success, and Dante’s reception since his death. The new video game based on the Inferno indicates that, while Dante’s reputation is still strong and his fictional world still fascinates today, game developers have little understanding of the real Dante.
GOALS. In terms of my goals for this course, I want you to
REQUIREMENTS. This course has the following graded assignments:
- 9 two-page response papers (worth 15% of your final grade total together),
- a midterm exam (30% of your final grade),
- participation in a writing group (5%),
- several small assignments leading up to the seminar paper (5%), and
- a seminar paper of suitable length and research (45%).
Your final grade will be based on the following cutoffs: A = 93-100%, A- = 90-92%, B+ = 87-89%, B = 83-86%, B- = 80-82%, C+ = 77-79%, C = 73-76%, C- = 70-72%, D+ = 67-69%, D = 60-66%, and F = below 60%. Be forewarned: because response papers are a form of easy credit in this class, not unlike extra credit, I generally do not offer other forms of extra credit or round borderline student grades up at all at the end of the semester.
ATTENDANCE. Regular attendance is a virtual necessity for successful completion of this class. Class discussion constitutes important, useful preparation for your graded work. If you miss a class, you will essentially lose out on that day’s contribution to your preparation, since it is never really possible to reproduce or recapture the dynamics and flow of information for a missed class meeting (even if you get notes from someone). If, however, you positively must miss a class, I expect you to find out what you missed and to come fully prepared – without excuses – to the next class meeting. And please, don’t ask, “Did I miss anything?” Check out Tom Wayman’s poem about that question. For more on the College’s attendance policy, please go to http://www.tcnj.edu/~recreg/policies/attendance.html.
Academic Integrity. Academic dishonesty is any
attempt by a student to gain academic advantage through dishonest means, to
submit, as his or her own, work which has not been done by him/her or to give
improper aid to another student in the completion of an assignment. Such
dishonesty would include, but is not limited to: submitting as his/her own a
project, paper, report, test, or speech copied from, partially copied, or
paraphrased from the work of another (whether the source is printed, under
copyright, or in manuscript form). Credit must be given for words quoted or
paraphrased. The rules apply to any academic dishonesty, whether the work is
graded or ungraded, group or individual, written or oral.
OFFICE HOURS and EMAIL. My office is Bliss Hall 216, and my office hours this term are 2:00-3:20pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. If you cannot see me during these office hours, feel free as needed to call my office (771-2106) or to talk to me before or after class to arrange an appointment at another time. You may also contact me by email (email@example.com), or you may leave a message for me in my box at the English department offices in Bliss 124. Email is generally the fastest way to contact me in an emergency.
I may, on occasion, want to e-mail everyone in class. I generally only have access to your TCNJ e-mail addresses, however. As a result, if you regularly use an e-mail address other than your TCNJ address, I recommend that you have mail from your TCNJ address forwarded to the address you use more regularly. That way, if I e-mail your TCNJ address, my message will be forwarded to your other address automatically.
If you would like to send an e-mail message to one or more of your classmates, you can do so through SOCS. To access SOCS, go to http://socs.tcnj.edu and, after you have logged in with your TCNJ e-mail username and password, choose this class from the list of your courses this semester. Then, when our course page comes up, click the “Email” button. From there, you can select individual e-mail addresses or the entire class and send a message to the address(es) you’ve selected.
Accommodations. The College of New Jersey prohibits discrimination against any student on the basis of physical or mental disability or perceived disability. The College will also provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations to enable students with disabilities to participate in the life of the campus community. Individuals with disabilities are responsible for reporting and supplying documentation verifying their disability, and requests for accommodations must be initiated through the Office of Differing Abilities Services (Eickhoff Hall 159). If you require special assistance, I will make every reasonable effort to accommodate your needs and to create an environment where your special abilities will be respected. For more information, please go to http://www.tcnj.edu/~affirm/ada.html.
LANGUAGES ACROSS THE CURRICULUM. A quarter-unit (one-credit) Languages Across the Curriculum independent study may be added to this course for those students who have intermediate level proficiency in Latin, Italian, or French and who wish to complement the work in this course by utilizing their language skills. Please visit the LAC website at http://internationalstudies.intrasun.tcnj.edu/grant/lac.html or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Students must meet with Dr. Compte to enroll in the LAC independent study right away.
RESPONSE PAPERS. You are required to write 9 short, informal papers (about 2 pages each) on the Dante readings for class (and only on the Dante readings – not on any of the other reading assigments of the semester). You may choose which Dante readings you want to respond to, as long as you have completed 9 response papers by the time we finish discussing The Divine Comedy (i.e., before the mid-term exam). For each response paper, choose one of the theorists that we are reading at the beginning of the semester (Freud, Bloom, Butler, Foucault, Fetterley, Jauss, or Althusser) and analyze the Dante assignment in relation to the theories of that theorist. You will submit the response paper at the beginning of class on the day that the Dante reading is assigned (before we have discussed the Dante reading in class).
Response papers will be graded “Pass/Fail.” I ask you to type and double-space them (so that they are easier for me to read), but they need not be a perfect, polished product. Rather, response papers should be just what their name says – a response. Think about one of the theorists; read the Dante assignment; then, write a response that brings the theorist and the Dante reading together. Don’t worry about typos or comma splices or organization. Focus on the one question or idea that seems most interesting to you, and be as specific as you can, getting down as much as you can, as quickly as you can. Treat response papers more like a journal entry than like a formal paper. I don’t want a five-paragraph theme. Rather, I want an exploration – as detailed and specific as possible – of the reading assignment for the day.
Normally, as long as you submit a response paper of suitable length, detail, and thoughtfulness (and as long as you turn it in in class on the assigned day), you will receive all the points that the response paper is worth. The purpose of the response papers is
- to help you in your preparation for class discussion,
- to help me see where you’re struggling with the theories and readings in class,
- to help you develop your intellectual independence,
- to help you develop your confidence as a reader of Dante and literary theory, and
- to help you generate ideas for your seminar paper.
You may submit more than 9 response papers in the course of the semester (to make up for any response papers that do not receive a grade of “Pass”), but no matter how many extra response papers you turn in, you will not receive credit for more than 9. You may not submit more than one response paper on a single day, nor may you submit a response paper for a day that you are absent from class – absolutely no exceptions.
SEMINAR PAPER. In a seminar paper of 15-20 pages, argue a clear, specific, original thesis on a Dante topic of your choice, approved by me. I expect you to show sophistication in terms of your theoretical thinking and to enter into the critical conversation going on in scholarly articles and books on your topic, saying something new while responding to what others have said before you.
Your seminar paper will be evaluated according to the following criteria (in order, more or less, of importance and weight):
You will submit several small assignments leading up to your seminar paper (e.g., a statement of your topic). These assignments will be graded “Pass/Fail.” To get a “Pass,” you need not submit a perfect, complete, polished product, but you must make a reasonable attempt to fulfill the assignment – mostly complete, as detailed as possible, informative, and thoughtful. If you make a reasonable attempt, you will receive full credit (100%) for the assignment. I may (or may not) allow you to submit a revised assignment for one that fails; if the revision is completed satisfactorily, you may receive partial or, at my discretion, full credit for that assignment as a result. These assignments must be submitted in person in class on the dates noted in the course schedule below.
WRITING GROUPS. You should form writing groups by the time of the midterm exam at the latest. You may form these groups yourselves, as long as you include no fewer than three and no more than five people in your group. Just let me know via email who the members of your group are going to be. The groups should meet at least five times during the semester (although I encourage groups to meet even more often than that). At least five times, each group must submit via email a brief report of what the group has been doing. I will determine a writing group grade for you individually based on these reports. If a group would like me to come to one (or more) of its meetings, I will graciously accept any invitations. I would recommend that you meet at least once before the mid-term exam to brainstorm possible paper topics, that you meet once or twice while doing your research for your paper, that you meet once or twice while you’re writing the paper, and that you meet at least once for a peer review session (reading each other’s completed drafts and commenting on them) before the final version of the seminar paper is due at the end of the semester. Do not wait until too late to begin meeting. Use these groups as a way to jumpstart your work on your seminar paper. Essentially, from the beginning of November on, your writing group should be meeting once a week or so.
COURSE SCHEDULE. The schedule below is subject to revision at the discretion of the professor. I recommend that you check this online syllabus regularly over the course of the term. Changes and updates will be indicated in red after the first week of classes.
|R Sep 1||Introductions||––––––––––––|
|M Sep 5||NO CLASS||Labor Day|
|T Sep 6||Psychoanalysis||Freud and Bloom (both available in SOCS under “Resources”); Inferno, Canto I. This is the FIRST DAY that you may submit a RESPONSE PAPER.|
|R Sep 8||Gender and Sexuality||Butler, Foucault, and Fetterley (all available in SOCS under “Resources”); Inferno, Canto II|
|M Sep 12||History, Reception, and Ideology||Jauss (pp. 18-45 only), Althusser, and Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid (all available in SOCS under “Resources”); Inferno, Canto III|
|R Sep 15||Lies||1 John (the first Epistle of John from the Bible, not the Gospel of John); Marie de France, Lanval (available in SOCS under “Resources”); Inferno, Cantos IV-VII|
|M Sep 19||Violence||the opening to Il Tesoretto; Inferno, Cantos VIII-XV|
|R Sep 22||Feces and Farts||Inferno, Cantos XVI-XXIII|
|M Sep 26||Fraud||Bertran de Born, “In Praise of War” (available in Goldin under “Resources” in SOCS); Inferno, Cantos XXIV-XXX|
|R Sep 29||Evil Incarnate?||Inferno, Cantos XXXI-XXXIV|
|M Oct 3||Distractions and Surprises||“Amor che ne la mente mi ragiona”; Purgatorio, Cantos I-V|
|R Oct 6||Politics and Art||Sordello, “Planher vuelh en Blacatz en aquest leugler so” (available in Goldin under “Resources” in SOCS); Purgatorio, Cantos VI-XII|
|M Oct 10||Mushy Middle||Purgatorio, Cantos XIII-XX|
|R Oct 13||Poets and Poetry||“Donne ch’avete intelletto d’amore”; Purgatorio, Cantos XXI-XXVII|
|M Oct 17||NO CLASS||Fall Break|
|R Oct 20||Earthly Paradise and Beatrice||Book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid (available in SOCS under “Resources”); Purgatorio, Cantos XXVIII-XXXIII|
|M Oct 24||Preliminaries and Philosophy||Paradiso, Cantos I-VIII|
|R Oct 27||Blessed Poetry vs. Blessed Theology||Folquet de Marseilles, “Vers Dieus, el vostre nom et de sancta Maria” (available in Goldin under “Resources” in SOCS); Paradiso, Cantos IX-XIII|
|M Oct 31||Poetic Pyrotechnics (Zeal, Justice, and Perspective)||Paradiso, Cantos XIV-XXII|
|R Nov 3||Catechism and Religious Hegemony||Paradiso, Cantos XXIII-XXIX|
|M Nov 7||Expressing the Inexpressible||Paradiso, Cantos XXX-XXXIII. This is the LAST DAY that you may submit a RESPONSE PAPER.|
|R Nov 10||MID-TERM EXAM||This exam will cover the entire Divine Comedy, as well as the theorists from the beginning of the semester.|
|M Nov 14||Re-Searching and Evaluating Sources||SEMINAR PAPER TOPIC PARAGRAPHS DUE in class|
|R Nov 17||Critical Conversation I||Barolini and Carranza on Francesca (both available in SOCS under “Resources”)|
|M Nov 21||Critical Conversation II||Stowell and Stone on Brunetto Latini (both available in SOCS under “Resources”)|
|R Nov 24||NO CLASS||Thanksgiving|
|M Nov 28||Developing Your Argument and Your Expertise||DRAFT SEMINAR PAPER THESIS AND “CRITICAL CONVERSATION” DUE in class (bring printed copies of the two or three sources that you focus on most as well) the dropbox of SOCS|
|R Dec 1||NO CLASS||I will be available during our regular class time in my office (Bliss Hall 216) for questions from writing groups and/or individuals. I will email you comments on your “critical conversation” and thesis.|
|M Dec 5||Expert Tone NO CLASS||DRAFT OUTLINE OF YOUR SEMINAR PAPER ARGUMENT DUE in class the dropbox of SOCS|
|R Dec 8||NO CLASS||I will be available during our regular class time in my office (Bliss Hall 216) for questions from writing groups and/or individuals. I will email you comments on your outline.|
|Finals Week||NO CLASS||Final draft of SEMINAR PAPER DUE in the dropbox of SOCS|
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