the Big Picture

As far as possible, everything in this course will work on a weekly cycle.

  • paper drafts are due on Tuesdays (before midnight)
  • paper revision conferences are scheduled for Wednesdays and Thursdays
  • final revised papers are due on Sundays (before midnight)

After the first week of class, a 3-week cycle is devoted to each of our three “protagonists”; in each cycle, we will work with three types of text:

  •  biographical (texts that represent that protagonist’s career)
  •  ”primary” texts (authored by that protagonist),
  •  ”secondary” texts (text that analyze individual figures, sketch larger contexts, make synthetic arguments, etc….

The final week of the class will be devoted to completing a research paper. Your final research paper will involve working with a number of these secondary texts–as well as with texts you find yourself.

Ongoing discussion, then, is intended to feed into your papers; what you write informally may end up, in revised form, as part of a formal essay.

More generally, the readings are all there for a purpose: they help make you an informed participant in the particular conversation this course is about.  Moreover, becoming an informed participant in the conversations of one’s culture is an important reason to attend university. At the same time, the skills of reading, organizing material, and writing argumentatively about that material will almost certainly help you in more immediately practical ways!