(This online handbook may be supplemented by a paper handbook from Custom Copies.
I will notify you in advance if such is the case.)
Survey of American Literature
»»Writing Help Resources
I strongly encourage you to avail yourself of on-campus resources to help
you with your writing. You have already paid for these services through your
student fees, so put those dollars to work!
The Writing Centre in Broward Hall can help
with specific writing difficulties. Ask for help with specific
items, such as activee voice, punctuation, etc. Do not walk in, flop
your paper down, and demand general help. They will not proofread your work
-- that's your job, not theirs. Neither will they help you generate ideas. They
will help you polish your work, however.
Also available is the UF Online
Writing Help Site, which has a FAQs section, and which will field general
writing questions. Caveat: I have not evaluated this site, and have
not heard from students who have used it, so I cannot speak to its quality.
Of these two resources, I recommend the Writing Centre in Broward Hall. There's no substitute for face-to-face help.
There are also a number of tutors and proofreaders who advertise around
campus. Charges, and results, vary drastically -- caveat emptor. (Athletes have
tutoring services available through Academic Administration. Why isn't this
service available to non-athletes? Your guess is as good as mine.)
Remember that I have office hours, and that I will schedule conferences before each paper. Remember also that neither am I a proofreader; that's your job.
Whatever the case, remember that plagiarism will result in your
failure from the course. Don't let someone else write your paper; don't
pay someone else to write your paper; don't get papers online.
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»»Reading Actively & Taking Notes
Reading is an activity -- emphasis on active. No mere sitting like a lump, running one's eyes over the page passively here. Reading's also a skill which must be practiced and honed like any other.
Thereby, reading actively comprises
- never reading empty-handed, but always reading with a pen or pencil and notepaper nearby (highlighters don't count)
- not waiting until the night before or right before class to read an assignment, but reading as soon as possible to allow plenty of time to absorb, take notes, and reflect
- not "skimming" or, fates forfend, "speed-reading" or uselessly running your eyes across the inky page, but reading slowly, carefully, and attentively
- does not mean ignoring introductions, footnotes, endnotes, or unfamiliar words; rather, read introductions for helpful contextual or biographical material, consult footnotes or endnotes and go back to reread the original passages, and consult dictionaries for unfamiliar terms and then reread those passages
- does not mean reading once, but rereading for detail, nuance, and note-taking
- does not mean trusting your memory, but taking notes (see section below)
- does not mean operating in an intellectual vacuum, but discussing your reading and understanding with others, either in class, online, or in other venues
Taking effective reading notes thereby entails
- marking the text (not highlighting) -- signalling significant passages for quick reference with your notes
- summarizing paragraphs or sections in your notes as you go
- making lists of characters and their names, traits, often-used phrases, etc.
- noting unfamiliar or unusually used words, phrases, or images and the pages on which they occured
- asking the text questions, and recording questions inspired or provoked by the text
- actually getting up and consulting dictionaries, encyclopaedias, the internet
- learning a little history and a few languages
- recording cross-references, echoes, or connections to other works
- writing in response to what you read, and not waiting until you're assigned to do so.
Keep notes in the text itself (unless a library book), on a separate note sheet for that text only, and in a reading journal.
never write in library materials
"speed-reading" courses are instruments of the Devil and you will go to Hell for using them (Think I'm kidding? Go ask Dante.)
"Cliffs Notes" and such ilk are crap unworthy even of high-school students. Just read the book and be done with it.
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