Faulkner, William. Go Down, Moses. New York, NY: Vintage, 1991. ISBN: 9780679732174.
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Mitcham, Judson. The Sweet Everlasting. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780820327822.
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Skins. Directed by Chris Eyre.
Crash. Directed by Paul Haggis.
Lone Star. Directed by John Sayles.
To become an accomplished writer you must read, not only for pleasure but also to learn about the range and texture and scope of literary writing that is engaged with the social world, to see what writers have done with that kind of writing, and, I hope, to be inspired with possibilities for your own writing. Part of your work for the semester, then, will be to read a great deal and to respond to what you read in writing.
I will expect roughly a page or so (a little less, a little more) of typewritten response to each short piece you read (essays, short stories), and multiple entries, or a couple of significantly longer entries, for the novels and films. Keep your notebook in a folder of some sort (no loose pages, please!), separate from class notes, handouts, and the other writing you'll be doing. Keeping your responses on a disk also is a good way to make sure a lost notebook doesn't present serious problems at the end of the semester. I expect your responses to be informal, speculative, reflective of careful reading, and written in a spirit of critical questioning and exploration, and that they will indicate your grasp of the material and the depth of your engagement with it.
Your responses should begin with a full bibliographic citation, MLA style, at the top of the page (for the novels and films, the bibliographic citation is necessary only for the first entry; title alone will suffice for subsequent entries). Then you should begin with a concise summary of what you've read (just a few sentences), then note or quote any passages that you found particularly striking or memorable (with parenthetical page citations), say what you learned from the reading, how it resonates (or doesn't) with other things we've read together. Of course I'm interested to know whether you enjoyed the reading or not, and why. You are also welcome and encouraged to refer to other things you've read or seen or thought about by way of comparing or contrasting the piece you are writing about with other elements of your experience
I will collect notebooks for a quick review regularly but randomly; please bring your notebook with you to each class meeting.
My hope is that keeping the notebook will deepen and enrich both the reading and writing you'll do in the weeks ahead and our classroom conversation, and I look forward to reading what you write.
For the Silent Reading Session, you are to bring a revision of one of the essays you've written this semester to which you would like response from readers, and you will all spend the class period reading and responding in writing to each other's work.
For the Silent Reading Session, bring with you two copies of your revised essay. Be sure your name is on your submission, and that it is typed and double-spaced, and stapled or paper-clipped together, with a couple of sheets of blank paper attached to the back of each copy so readers have room to write their responses. You should feel free to include a cover sheet if you want, saying what particular questions you have about the writing you have submitted and in what particular ways readers can help you in their response.
The procedure for the class period will be this: when you come into class, you will place your two copies of your submission on the table, pick up a copy of another person's writing, read it and respond with comments on the blank pages at the back, then return that piece and pick up another. You'll continue this until the class period is over.
As a reader, your responses, as always, should be friendly and constructive and should take the form of a brief letter. Begin by addressing your comments to the writer by name. Your response should conform roughly to the process of our class workshops: you should first comment on the strengths of what you've read—what the writer has done well, what you learned from reading the piece, what aspects of it especially interested or pleased you, particular insights you gained from it, etc. Then you can, if you are so moved (and especially if the writer has asked for suggestions), make some suggestions for how the writer might add to or revise the piece to improve it—ideas for further elaboration, things that might be included or left out, what you wanted to know more about, where you were confused or needed to know more.
As always, I'm happy to answer any questions you may have as you prepare for the session. I'll have something of my own out on the table also, for you to read if you choose.
Enjoy this occasion to share with each other some of the fruits of all your labors this semester!