21L.488 | Spring 2003 | Undergraduate

Contemporary Literature


Written Work and Other Such Minutiae

You will be expected to submit two shorter essays (The due dates indicated on the syllabus) and a final longer project, to be offered orally during one of the last few class sessions. There are links below which offer the best advice I have to give about the writing of effective critical-analytical essays, which is our business here. The shorter essays are intended to compell you to be exploratory, to read outside the menu of items identified on the syllabus, and select texts which strike your interest, for whatever reason. You need not waste time proving their excellence - whatever quality they possess will be demonstrated by the richness of analysis they can withstand or prompt.

In addition, I will set up a schedule of lead-off and “wrap-up” assignments. The lead-off person will do just that - either select the text we will focus on initially, or raise a central issue/question/concern that arises from the assigned text(s) for that day. The “lead-off person” will not be expected to offer a fully-rounded and richly-developed “interpretation” of the day’s assignments - that’s the work the rest of us will undertake. The wrap-up person will try to draw together and articulate the major points raised on a given day. I would like this wrap-up in the form of an e-mail, too. If you miss a class, contact the wrap-up person first.

Finally, I will be setting up a web-exchange site for the use of the class. Details will follow in due course. I will labor mightily to restrain my e-mail habits, and send out messages to the class mailing list I will shortly set up only to present important messages.

But then again, it is expected that you will be present. Perfection is, especially given the madness of the usual schedule of lives here at MIT, an “impossible dream.” But if you achieve it, you will be rewarded, come grade time. And if you are sadly derelict, you will pay the price.

As for deadlines, be warned that I am somewhat less forgiving than Atilla the Hun. “On time - Just fine. Late ooooh, that I hate.” Make that your mantra. An incomplete and unsatisfactory (to you or to me) piece of work that is on time is always preferable to something offered late. In most cases, late work will simply be labelled with an F.

Writing Assignments

First paper due on Lecture 13

Second paper due on Lecture 21

  • Each essay should be roughly five pages or 1250 words long.

  • You may do them in any order you wish.

  • One essay should undertake a close analysis of a poem in The White Page. Professor Hildebidle will discuss in-class how this assignment might change with book availability.

  • One essay should undertake a similar analysis of one of the stories (not one designated for class discussion) in the Somer/Daly anthology, or a play (not Carr’s) from the McGuinness collection.

Final Presentation

Consider any two texts in our readings. They need not both be the same genre (that is, you may chose a poem and a story, or a story and a play). They should, however, be connected by some fundamental issue/concern/“problem.” Your presentation will lay out economically the nature of that problem and point to the specific ways in which each text confronts/presents/complicates that issue.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2003
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments
Presentation Assignments