The entire emphasis in this course will be on day-by-day reading, preparation and discussion. I’m asking that you read the assignments for each class meeting as listed below, do some sharp thinking about them, and attend class consistently ready to write and talk about them.
For each day’s reading assignment, I have provided a set of study questions. You are responsible for giving good close thought to each of these questions before attending class. You should have something to say about each of the questions for the day; you should be prepared to write a short paper on one of them.
Between five and ten times during the quarter, without announcing it in advance, I will ask that you spend about twenty-five minutes of the class period in writing a brief essay in answer to one of the questions provided for that day. You’ll need to have done some purposeful thinking before attending class; twenty-five minutes is enough time to write down an argument you’ve already got in mind, but probably not enough to think one up and then write it. These are open-book assignments; you may use texts, notes, outlines, rough drafts, whatever you find useful in writing these essays. (Note: if you miss class or are unprepared on a day when I call for a paper, check with me and we’ll agree on a topic you can use as a make-up. But no more than two of the papers can be made up that way, and make-up papers should be turned in within two class-meetings of the day the class writes that paper.) These papers will be the only written work required in this class. There will be no mid-term or final exams, no term paper, no extra-credit projects.
On days when no paper is called for, we will discuss the readings; I will do very little lecturing. Your participation in our discussions is an important part of your performance for the class. I will be calling on everybody, those who volunteer to speak and those who don’t.
This is my first time conducting class by Zoom; it’s going to take some getting used to. But if we all do the reading and think about the proposed topics—and other topics that occur to you while doing the reading—and attend class with a will to contribute, we can make this work.