English 413 Senior Research and Writing. A collaborative group research and writing project for senior majors, conducted in supervising faculty members' area of expertise, with directed independent study culminating in a substantial final project. Serves as capstone for the major. Curricular Objective: English 413 fulfills Capstone Graduation Requirement

Studying Literature in Action
Professor Suzanne Keen
Arranged hours:
Wednesda evenings, 6-8 pm, 200 McDowell Street, 464-5022
Office hours:
M-Th 10-11 am
Payne Hall 32A 458-8759 skeen@wlu.edu

Explores the impact of reading literature and expressive writing using empirical methods, introspection, and traditional literary analysis. Shared theoretical readings will augment individual directed readings in poetry, narrative fiction, drama, or children's literature, depending on the student's area of interest and expertise. A service learning experience, involving work with young readers through community schools or libraries, is a possibility. More traditional literary critical options will also be discussed. Students will also assist Professor Keen in her research on emotional responses to reading.

Departmental Curricular Objectives:

Students in English will learn how to

1. write clear, persuasive analytical essays driven by arguments about texts;
2. read closely, recognizing subtle and complex differences in language use;
3. seek out further knowledge about literary works, authors, and contexts, and document research appropriately, adhering to the highest standards of intellectual honesty;
4. broaden the range of literary texts and performances from which they can derive pleasure and edification

Required Books

Louise DeSalvo, Writing as a Way of Healing. Beacon. ISBN-13: 978-0807072431
Stephen D. Krashen, The Power of Reading, 2nd ed.: Insights from the Research. Heinemann. ISBN-13: 978-1591581697. Literacy Narrative website: http://daln.osu.edu.
James Pennebaker, Writing to Heal. New Harbinger Publications. ISBN-13: 978-1572243651
Jean Trounstine and Robert P. Waxler, Finding a Voice: The Practice of Changing Lives through Literature. Michigan. ISBN-13: 978-0-472-03040-8
articles will be distributed through Sakai site.

You will supply your own primary texts and I’ll read them as we go along.

Some Possibilities for Further Reading (this list will grow as we gain a sense of one another’s interests)

Rafael Campo, The Desire to Heal
Rita Charon, Narrative Medicine
Mark Edmundson, Why Read?
Suzanne Keen, Empathy and the Novel
Larry Nucci, Education in the Moral Domain
Nel Noddings, Educating Moral People
Martha Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity
James Pennebaker, Opening Up

Course requirements:

20% faithful attendance and participation, including tutorial presentations and literacy memoir
5% draft of capstone essay
75% final capstone essay

Preparing for a tutorial presentation

Read the assigned material and take notes, responding to any specific prompts or questions that I have posed. These may require outside research.

You typically have 10 minutes maximum for your presentation. I will keep time. 10 minutes goes a lot faster than you think! If you plan to type out a text that you will read, you should know that a normal typed, 300 word page, takes about 2-2 1/2 minutes to read at a pace that your listeners will be able to comprehend. If you plan to use this strategy, you should write with oral delivery in mind: that is, sentences should not be overly long with lots of dependent clauses. Another option is to create a one-page handout with an outline of your comments, about which you will speak from memory. The advantage of this method is freshness and naturalness; the disadvantage is that you may run over without realizing it. I will stop you when you have used your quarter hour. You should rehearse your presentation at least once before you give it! I will collect your text or outline after the presentation.

Presentations could be on four different kinds of topics: literary theory; primary literary texts; literary criticism; empirical research on reading.

When responding to theory, your main job (other than attending to prompts I've given you) will be to recap the ideas and vocabulary briefly (not more than a paragraph) and explain their significance to your classmates. You should be able to explain the basic claims and perspectives of the theory, identify the kinds of texts or circumstances to which it applies, identify and define any keywords, and apply it to a relevant text and/or context.

When responding to a primary literary text, your choices should be guided by the major themes and questions of the course. You should respond to specific prompts, but other than that you have some freedom. Your presentation should be analytical, not a summary. It should employ close reading, motif tracing, or elucidation of difficult passages at its center. You may consult secondary sources (that is, literary critics) to answer questions. Your presentation should not consist simply of recap of critics' views, however; you need to add some original observations and interpretation of your own.

When responding to literary criticism (that is, a secondary source), you need to establish what kind of work it is: scholarly (adding knowledge), genre criticism (identifying type and tradition), interpretation (offering a "reading" of a text), review (evaluation of the merits and demerits of a contribution) or something else entirely. To assess the argument it makes, you need to summarize the work's thesis. Thus you first report on what it says, and then you evaluate its persuasiveness, turning some of your primary literary-analytical skills onto the secondary text. This is good practice for integrating secondary sources into your own arguments in longer essays.

When responding to empirical research, you will probably move into a neighboring field: linguistics, psychology, education, discourse processing, or cognitive neuroscience. Describing the experimental design of the research and evaluating how we in literary studies might apply the results to our questions will be your main responsibilities.

The Fine Print

No incompletes or extensions.

All assigned work must be submitted on time. Late work, if accepted, will be penalized a grade a day. That is, an A paper one day late becomes a B.

Attendance is mandatory. In case of documented illness, family tragedy, or urgent senior job-search related travel, you may miss an evening discussion, but you will be responsible for submitting a written response to that week’s reading.