English 311: Honors Seminar


Michael Gamer

Class Meets: Wednesdays, 2-5

Office: 203 Bennett Hall, ph: (215) 898-7346

Course Homepage: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Teaching/311


Course Description:

This seminar is the first of the new Honors program, and will be provide us with a venue to discuss your own research work while you prepare your Honors essays. For this reason the course will have a dual function. First, it will serve as a venue for discussing issues that arise with larger projects. As a result, we will spend some time working with library and computing staff, as well as discussing five common texts during the semester. Second, it will act as a workshop for your works-in-progress--where we will read and help one another as we move toward finishing our projects. Our aim will be to understand the fundamentals of real literary research, and to produce an essay of substantial length on a literary or linguistic topic, written under the supervision of an outside faculty adviser.


Coursepack: Available at Wharton Reprographics, basement of the Wharton School.


Books: Available at Penn Book Center, 34th and Sansom. Phone: 222-7600.


Course Calendar:


Jan 17:       Introduction to Course, and trip to the Library. You should make an appointment to meet with your outside advisor during the week of January 22-26.

Jan 24:       Intellectual Circle Assignment due. Web basics: what you can do with acronyms like OED, MLA, RLIN, and ESTC.

Jan 31:       Annotated Bibliography due. No class. Meet instead with me one-on-one to discuss your essay projects.

Feb 7:      First reading: Read Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (1688) and the article and book chapter on Behn in the coursepack. Please read the articles as closely as you do Behn's text, since we'll be discussing both closely. For this class, please prepare a statement--a very short written response--explaining which aspect of which article you found most useful to the writing of your own essay and why.

Feb 14:      Second reading: Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland; or the Transformation: An American Tale (1798) and the articles on Brown in the coursepack. For this class, please write up a short response suggesting an approach to reading this novel that is not discussed--or treated only in passing--in the critical articles. What approach or focus strikes you as most fruitful and why?

Feb 21:      Third reading: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Christabel, Kubla Khan, and the Pains of Sleep (1816). This is a short collection Coleridge published separately from his collected works, Syballine Leaves (1817); evidently he did not consider--at least he claims this--these poems to be anything more than psychological curiosities. For this session, I've selected three articles on Christabel, two by Karen Swann and one by Chris Koenig-Woodward; I'd like us, though, to feel free to discuss all three poems, and how they interact with one another within this curious volume. Please write up a very short response simply isolating a particular passage and problem within one of the texts that you'd like us to focus on; it would help if you also indicated what questions you think we'd be able to discuss and answer by focusing the discussion in the way that you do.

Feb 28:      Fourth reading: Bram Stoker, Dracula. Read beyond the first half.

Mar 7:       No class. Meet with me and your outside advisor individually.

Mar 10-19: Spring Break.

Mar 21:       Finish Dracula. For this class, we'll primarily be discussing the two articles in the coursepack. By this date, please give me a part of your draft to read.

Mar 28:      Works-in-progress workshops: Pam Kuklinski, Meghan Bilton, Rumela Mitra, Elysa Voshell.

Apr 4:      Works-in-progress workshops: Kristen Webster, Jasmine Park, Claire Nguyen, Susannah Goldfinger.

Apr 11:      Works-in-progress workshops: Melissa Duclos, Liz Radin, Robin Rolewicz, Jack Guinn.

Apr 18:      Works-in-progress workshops: Katie Ambrogi, Rachel Burton, Katie Alex, Greg Steirer.

Apr 25:      Final workshops, if necessary. A sort of celebration.