Assignments

Participation (30%)

Since this course is a seminar, general attentiveness and active contribution to discussion will be particularly important, and more than one unexcused absences will significantly and adversely affect your final grade.  Please read the assigned material before class and come prepared with questions and issues you would like to address (at times I will give you more specific instructions for this).

–!> There are two concrete assignments for class participation:  a week-long log of your information consumption and blog posting.

Log of information consumption (Week 4)

In the spirit of the UCSD studies of information consumption (we will discuss), I would like you to keep a rough log of the same for one week, beginning January 24. The mode of documentation and reporting is up to you. Results will be presented and discussed in class when the experiment is over. This is the week in which we generate our own quantitative data about our reading practices.

Blog posts

As part of your participation grade, a small number of blog posts will be required throughout the term. Apart from posting your close reading of House of Leaves (see assignment below), you will be asked to do the following:

(1) Contribute one post of substance about the course reading or lectures. “Of substance” means that you will be writing more than one-two sentences. You might also find an article or cultural object (art, film, novel) that would be of interest to the class and post about that, including external links. Again, you would need to do more than provide a link; your blog post should contextualize your find and relate it to the class.

(2) Contribute one post of substance on the specific topic of “the future of literary reading.” This is grandiose so your comments can and should be speculative, if not visionary. You may want to be more modest in your approach, however, and comment on an experimental print text or one of the works of electronic literature on our syllabus.

(3) Respond to another blog post; that is, participate in a dialogue with other members of the class.

Position paper (25%)
Questions and topics for the midterm papers will be assigned. Papers will be 4-5 pages in length. Papers are due Thursday, February 3, in class. Hard copies only.

Close reading assignment for House of Leaves (15%)

“Close reading” means you should give an explication, exegesis, or exposition of a part of the text as a way of gesturing toward a reading of the whole.  The easiest way to achieve this narrow telescopic focus is to pick a passage, or a set of passages, and tell the reader what you see; what the passage, word, or phrase means on its own; and what it means in the context of the overall narrative.  From this close reading or exegesis, you will generate the thesis of your short paper.

Exegesis \Ex`e*ge”sis\, n.; pl. Exegeses. [NL., fr.Gr. ?,fr. ? to explain, interpret; ? out + ? to guide, lead, akin, to ? to lead.]
1. Exposition; explanation; especially, a critical explanation of a text or portion of Scripture.

Exposition \Ex`po*si”tion\, n. [L. expositio, fr. exponere, expositum: cf. F. exposition.]
1. The act of exposing or laying open; a setting out or displaying to public view.
2. The act of expounding or of laying open the sense or meaning of an author, or a passage; explanation; interpretation; the sense put upon a passage; a law, or the like, by an interpreter; hence, a work containing explanations or interpretations; a commentary.

–!> 500 words minimum; submitted in the form of a blog post.
–!> Ideally you would post before the discussion begins but you should finish this assignment by February 20 at the latest.

Final project: Machine reading (30%)

For your final projects, you will use one of a set of tools (e.g. Many Eyes, TAPoR, PieSpy) to perform a computer-assisted or “distant reading” of Henry James, In the Cage, which you can download from Project Gutenberg. For more information about the tools available for this assignment, see Alan Liu’s Toy Chest. More details will be provided in class.

Final projects, along with a critical statement about your research, should be posted online by Thursday, March 17.

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