ENGL 386 sections 001 & 002
American Women Writers of Color

Fall 2004 / section 001 MWF 12-12:50 p.m./section 002 MWF 1-1:50 p.m./Devilbiss 211
Dr. Nick Melczarek Office phone: 410-546-6203
Office: HH 344 e-mail anmelczarek@salisbury.edu
(send no attachments!)
Office hours: MW 2-3 p.m., T 9-10 a.m. & by appt.

This website and the schedule updates linked to it for ENGL 386.001/.002 supercede and overrule the paper syllabus. You must have an e-mail account and web access to participate in this course. If you don't have both of these yet, obtain them immediately.

Take-home (handout in class), due to my office December 15 by 3 p.m.
(I'll leave a box outside my office door to receive your exam)
Contents on this site
(click to jump to the following sections below)
Course Decsription/Overview Course Objectives and Goals
Required Texts and Materials Assignments & Grade Distribution
Papers Mid-term and Final Exams
Quizzes, etc. Attendance & Tardiness
Participation Class Conduct
Cell phones, etc. Academic Dishonesty & Plagiarism
Students with Disabilities

Related ENGL 386.001/.002 pages (click to jump to the following additional sites)
Paper 1 assignment site Paper 2 assignment site
Terms & Concepts site WoC links of interest
Paper Writing Tips Site

Updated Schedules (highlighted as available); these sites overrule the paper syllabus schedule:
This syllabus remains deliberately brief to allow flexibility to the unpredictable needs of students. Once updates are posted online, you are responsible for tracking due dates. To ensure that you do not miss class notes, familiarize yourself with at least two other students -- trade 'phone numbers or e-dresses so that you have two people to contact. I should be the last person you contact for any such information. Always consult the online syllabus and schedule updates before asking me any questions about assignments or the class.
»»Course Decsription and Rationale
ENGL 386, as the SU catalogue states, studies "Native American, African-American, U.S., Latina and Asian-American women's writing, emphasizing 19th and 20th-Century issues which influenced their writing." Thus, we'll read a mixture of historical and literary material. More specifically, though, this course introduces issues of sex(uality), race/ethnicity, class, and culture explored in fiction by contemporary "women of color" in the U.S. We will investigate constructions of subjecthood and objecthood for women, treating the U.S. itself as a multilayered experience. Our readings will immerse us in not only contemporary defining tropes of/for women, but also in critical methodology and praxis, encouraging us to challenge our knowledge, thinking, and social environment through experiment with literary and cultural critique.

Our readings and writing will intersect a few concepts out of various cultural theories -- such as otherness, transculturation, hegemony, etc. (see the terms/concepts site) -- and we will define and explore these concepts as we go along. Each of these approaches will help us interrogate and destabalize each element in the course title: "American," "women," "writers," "of color." Each section in the course will constellate a series of questions -- beginning with "what's a white male doing teaching this course?" To evaluate your comprehension of, and involvement with, the course material you will complete two long papers, and two exams, as well as numerous possible unannounced quizzes. I also encourage you all to participate through e-mail, as a convenient extension of classroom space.
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»»Course Objectives and Goals
This course will not enable you to point to a text and say "this is obviously by a woman from X group" -- as if it were an animal behind a sign in a zoo. Rather, this course emphasizes the individuality of each of the authors who speaks from within a particular experience labeled as "X-American." None of the authors we'll read is representative of a group, but rather is one of many possible voices to speak from the experience described by that group. So, this course seek to help you develop a critical reading practice, vocabulary, and analysis/critique through reading and writing about the experiences described in the stories, poems, drama, essays and novels we'll read during the semester.
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»»Required Texts and Materials
Available at the bookstore in the SU Commons: Additional handouts, online sources (perhaps a small course packet?)
A working e-mail account and reliable access to the internet
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»»Assignments & Grade Distribution (elements described below)
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»»Papers 60% of your grade comes from two long papers (5-9 pp.) that you will compose during the semester; I will issue detailed instructions on the website in plenty of time. We will derive topics for these papers from our readings and classroom discussion. Given the ubiquity of papers for sale, on the internet, etc., however, I will set the paper topics to discourage plagiarism (see below). We will workshop paper topics and drafts, so it will be more work for you to plagiarize than to actually write the thing on your own. Papers are due on the date/time that they are listed as due. Late papers will be penalized one letter grade for each day late, including weekends. Failure to turn in either of the major essays will fail you from the course. (back to Contents)
»»Mid-term and Final Exams 30% of your grade comes from two exams, one at mid-term and a final, that include terms and concepts covered to each respective point in the course. We will discuss the specifics of the exam as we draw closer to each date -- I compose each exam based on the flow of the class during the semester.
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»»Quizzes, etc. Expect unannounced quizzes on reading comprehension. I may also ask you to write brief, informal responses to class readings to supplement classroom discussion; I will announce due dates/times for these assignments upon issuance.
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»»Attendance & Tardiness Since most of this class comprises class discussion and some lecture, class attendance remains crucial. This counts for unannounced quizzes and in-class assignments as well. Nevertheless, I allow you 3 absences (equivalent to a week of class) before I begin to penalize you. If you anticipate an absence, notify me in person or by e-mail; e-mail must be time/date-stamped at least 24 hours before your absence. Tardiness disrupts class flow. Arrive to class on time -- not five or ten minutes later. Travel difficulties are immaterial. Three late arrivals will count as an absence. Check with me at the end of class to be counted on that day's roll; unless you check with me, you will stay marked absent.
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»»Participation Simply attending class is not enough. Have assigned texts read before you come to class. I also expect you to actively participate, in class in general but particularly in discussion. Ask questions and offer ideas based in the texts. I do not give you participation points just for showing up. You may contribute to the course discussion through e-mail as well. I also welcome individual student conferences.
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»»Class Conduct This course will discuss diverse perspectives and ideas, many of which may be unfamiliar to you. Whether you agree with ideas and perspectives from the reading material, peer groups, or class discussion, you will show respect for those ideas, perspectives, and the people who hold them. This counts in class, on paper, and in e-mail. You will participate in class discussion in a polite, responsible, adult manner. ANY name-calling, derogatory or belittling comments, disparaging attitude or the like, directed toward either myself or another student, will NOT be tolerated One instance will receive a verbal reprimand; another will lose you all class participation points. After the first instance, it remains at my discretion to expel you from class and seek disciplinary measures from SU authorities.
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»»Pagers, cell phones, beepers, PDAs, electronic alarm watches, etc. All such electronic devices must remain switched off during class time and in individual conferences -- turn them off before class. If any of these in your possession goes off during class or conferences, you will automatically be counted absent for that session. This counts especially for exams: your pager, etc., going off during an exam will automatically fail you from the exam. Repeated incidents of interruption by such devices and your checking/responding to them will result in your expulsion from the class.
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»»Academic Dishonesty & Plagiarism You're here to learn and to prove yourself, not simply to accrue empty grades like a scavenger hunt. I will therefore pursue and prosecute any instance of cheating, plagiarism, or other academic dishonesty in my class with the utmost vigor, in accordance with SU policies. "Plagiarism" constitutes any of the following
Any form of dishonesty will result in automatic failure from the course; will be reported to SU authorities; and could result in expulsion from the university.
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»»Students with disabilities Please discuss with me during the first week of the semester any special accommodations you will require due to a verifiable disability.
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Students remain responsible for knowing when assigned readings and essays are due. I advise you to collect 'phone numbers from at least two peers in class, so that you have someone to contact for assignments in case of absence. After I have announced the website's launch, check the website regularly for schedule updates. Avail yourself of my office hours as well -- instructor availability remains one of the key advantages of a small university. (back to Contents)