The Issues course is a pre-professional. That is, there is an opportunity to hone research and writing skills appropriate to professional dissemination, through scholarly conferences and monographic publication. The theme changes each year. This year it will be on "The Survival of the Text." Once not so long ago, folklore, literary study, and most of the other humanistic disciplines had canonical texts which everyone in a discipline could be presumed to have read. This course will read and discuss the historical, sociological, rhetorical, and aesthetic history of forms collected from "the folk." Included will be a concern with Renaissance and Enlightenment concerns with taxonomies, how they were adapted to the development of vernacular literatures. Thus, romantic nationalism and cosmopolitanism will be investigated in two or three centers of learning, not necessarily British or American. Text analysis in China, Japan, India, Ghana, and Mexico City are possible examples. The choice will depend in good part on the professional interests of those enrolled in the course. We will look closely at some of the simple forms commonly assigned to folk performance and transmission: epic, ballad, Marchen, set dances, and the various theatrical presentational forms.
There will be one short paper, eight to ten pages, designed to be read aloud to others in the same field: professional conferences, job interviews, or scholarly communities. A one or two page grant proposal, possibly related to the paper topic, will also be required. Optional: an article length essay, to be judged in terms of finding a publishable subject, and presenting it in the form acceptable to a specific publication.
The readings will include one or two monographic studies, an on-line web search, and quite a few studies of committees of correspondence within a Republic of Letters.