Instructor: Daniel Traister
Office: Special Collections, Van Pelt Library Phone: 215 898 7088 (work)
Occupants of the "real" world often distinguish it from the "academic" world. People with "real life" experiences may discount or be actively contemptuous of those whose views are based merely upon "academic" expertise (people who "never met a pay- roll"). Students may think (or have been told) that their student years are "the best years of their lives"; yet they are also often barely able to wait for graduation when they finally get out of school and encounter "reality." Faculty, no matter what their stature or status within the academic subculture, may feel marginalized by the larger society in which they live, anxious to be heard by it yet frustrated and, in their own turn, contemptuous of it, when they are not.
These and related constructions (academic vs. real life; "the best years of our lives"; how we envisage academics in society) are the subject of this course. We will read a number of texts that are traditionally "literary," as well as autobiographies of academics. These texts are written from different points of view and concern different aspects of academic life. All that unites them is that, in this course, all are the products of American writers.
This course meets on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6.00 to 9:00. The room to which we are assigned is Bennett Hall 219. If possible, we may move to the Lea Library (sixth floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library).
The instructor's office is in the Department of Special Collections, sixth floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library. You can reach him by telephone (215 898 7088) or in person at that location. Call before showing up. You can also reach him by e-mail as email@example.com.
Members of the class must submit two "response" papers to readings, each 1 to 2 pages in length AND NO MORE. The syllabus for the second week calls for a response from every member of the class (it is due at the Wednesday session). The syllabus for some other weeks suggests other response topics. Choose ANY ONE of the additional topics OR ONE OF YOUR OWN and submit it at the class for which it is relevant. (Responses will not be accepted after the week when materials are discussed.) Responses are NOT graded, although they must be turned in.
In addition, every member of the class must write and submit
In general, the instructor appreciates good writing and looks with disfavor upon essays -- whether brief responses or full-fig final papers -- that are poorly written. Sloppy writing normally means sloppy thinking.
This class will work through discussion rather than lectures. Your attendance will make a difference in its success, and your attendance and participation will therefore also make a difference in your grade. Ground rules: talk; interrupt; open your mouths. Be polite, yes; but do not let politeness get in the way of making your points.
NOTE: This class has a very long list of readings for a short course.
Most of these books, however, are both short and easy to read. Dare one
add that they are even (at least now and again) fun to read?
NOTE: Some material will be distributed in photocopy ("bulkpack"). Books are available at the Pennsylvania Book Center, 3726 Walnut Street.
Week 1 -- Introduction
Monday, May 22 / Wednesday, May 24
Week 2 -- Bright College Days
Monday, May 29 / Wednesday, May 31
Week 3 -- Less Bright College Days
Monday, June 5 / Wednesday, June 7
Five-page (MAXIMUM) paper due (on Wednesday):
Week 4 -- Target: American Higher Education
Monday, June 12 / Wednesday, June 14
Week 5 -- Duking It Out
Monday, June 19 [Wednesday, June 21 class will NOT meet]
Week 6 -- Academia as "Real World": Politics and the Classroom
Monday, June 26 / Wednesday, June 28
send Traister e-mail concerning this page at
You can send Traister e-mail concerning this page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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