SU%20LogoETS 142 – Narratives of Culture:
Introduction to Issues in Critical Reading
Spring 2013 Course Credits: 3

Instructor: Ms. D’Amato                                 Classroom/Time: per 6 in Room 154
Office Hours: M-F 7:45-8:10 and by appointment      Email:

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”-T.S. Eliot

I am part of all I have seen.” -Alfred Lord Tennyson

Course Overview
As with other 100-level ETS courses, ETS 142 introduces students to the discipline of English and Textual Studies, stressing not what is read but how we read it.  The goal is not only to show how meanings are created through acts of critical reading, but also to demonstrate the consequences of pursuing one way of reading over another. ETS 142 takes up a number of several major issues of concern to contemporary literary and cultural studies.  These issues include authorship, language, reading, subjectivity, ideology, space/time, history, agency, and difference.  As we explore each area, you will be introduced to the issues at stake and then examine those issues as they arise in a wide range of cultural texts.  You will also be invited to explore these issues in cultural texts you locate outside the class that you will bring in to share in discussion or in your formal papers. 

Think of this course as a writing-intensive reading and interpretation workshop.  The issues and texts can be challenging when encountered for the first time, and the language in some of the readings may be difficult.  But through this course, offered in a workshop approach, you will gain skill at critical reading and effective academic writing.  The workshop approach means you will prepare “drafts” (careful reading and annotation, thinking papers).  These will be brought to the class, shared, critiqued, and expanded in the community of fellow reader-interpreters (discussion, collaborative work, peer review and presentations).  By moving back and forth from the individual to the communal level, difficult abstract concepts will become clearer to everyone in the class. 

Course Goals


Required Course Materials
 - Pens or pencils, a notebook for class notes, highlighters, stickies, and whatever else you use when you write and read.
 - A 3-ring binder to act as a course portfolio
 - Flash drive
The Theory Toolbox by Jeffrey Nealon and Susan Searls Giroux
Ways of Reading, 9th edition by David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky

Critical Terms for Literary Studies 2nd Editon by Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin

Other Core Texts

Literary Texts


Formal Papers 
During the course of the semester, you will write two formal papers.  Each paper will demonstrate your ability to meet the interpretive challenges of applying critical concepts to a reading of a literary or cultural text.  The best papers will create new knowledge about particular texts and present that new knowledge in an engaging and reader-friendly manner. Close attention to the particularities of the text and deep analysis using complex critical concepts are required.  Papers must follow current MLA guidelines for documentation and format unless the student has received instructor permission to do otherwise. 

Thinking Papers 
You will also write 7 thinking papers (out of which, pick the best 6 for the response paper grade) during the semester.  These are informal responses to some of the course readings.  You might consider them as trial runs for the longer formal papers.  Basically, they give you an opportunity to test your hand at using critical theory to read texts. Unless otherwise stated, each response paper will either directly engage the ideas of the article, or in the case of literature or film, the response papers will employ the theoretical concepts of the unit to a reading of the particular literary text.  You must use the language of the theory and demonstrate a developing understanding of the concepts.  Response papers must be one page in length, single-spaced, and typed in a 12 point Times New Roman font.  They are graded on a 10-point scale and make up 30% of the final course grade. 

Final Agency Unit Project/Portfolio 
The final assessment for the third unit is a complex, theory-enriched reading of a cultural text.  The project will incorporate several media outlets and have and develop a theory-based claim.  Along with this, the project will also involve a concluding implication of the readings and will include a presentation.

A =          96-100
A- =        92-95
B+ =        88-91
B =          84-87
B- =         80-83
C+ =        76-79
C =          72-75
C- =         68-71
D =          60-67
F =          59 or lower


6 Response(Thinking) Papers                         30% (5% each)
Subjectivity Unit Essay                                  20%
Ideology Unit Essay                                     20%
Agency Unit Project & Culminating Portfolio  20%
Participation and Informal Writing                 10% 

 Participation and Preparation 
Attendance and preparation are very important.  Students should not miss more than 6 absences.  Completing the readings is essential for success in this course.  You must complete all assigned readings before they appear on the course calendar.  The expectation is that all students will arrive in class having completed carefully and thoughtfully annotated readings of each assigned text.  Students who have not completed the reading will be excluded from participation in classroom discussion.  Typically, you will have a written assignment related to the reading due each class meeting. 

Participation includes active engagement in each course activity, both in and out of the classroom.  This is a very demanding course, but it is also a very rewarding course for students who challenge themselves and work with intellectual curiosity, interest, and energy.  Students who do not accept the challenges of this course will be frustrated often and likely disappointed in their work and the grades they receive on their work.  This is particularly relevant to class discussion.  You must participate actively and thoughtfully in the daily discussion of texts.  This means that you not only offer your own views, but that you also listen closely to your classmates and add to the conversation in a valuable way.  Participation and preparation constitute 10% of the final course grade.   

Because of the detailed daily course calendar you have no excuse for being unprepared for class, even if you have been absent.  In the event of an absence, it is your responsibility to contact a classmate as soon as possible to discover what was missed.  Missing Monday's class does not excuse you from completing the homework due on Tuesday.  It is best to contact the instructor prior to an absence so assignments can either be given early or rescheduled at a later date.   

All assignments must be submitted on or before the specified due date (unless previous arrangements have been made through consultation with and permission by the instructor).  Late work will lose one grade (one full letter for formal papers and one point on 10-point scale for think-pieces) per weekday.  If you are unable to give the late work to the instructor directly, you must arrange for another student to turn it to the instructor directly or leave it in the appropriate box in the front office clearly labeled and bound in an envelope or folder.  Absence does not exclude students from this policy except in the direst circumstances. 

Punctuality is important.  It shows respect for others and confidence in oneself; moreover, it is essential for establishing one's credibility.  Lateness is simply unacceptable and will reflect in your final grade.  

Miscellaneous Concerns 
Students who need special consideration because of any sort of disability should make an appointment to see the instructor in the first week of classes. 

Syracuse University maintains a high standard of expectation for academic integrity.  Intellectual honesty requires the writer to acknowledge indebtedness for ideas and words.  Writers use quotation, direct reference, or documentation to acknowledge this indebtedness.  Not to do so represents a violation of the honor code that intellectual honesty requires, and carries severe penalties from failure on the paper to University disciplinary action.  Students in this class must be scrupulous in giving credit to the ideas that make up their writing, acknowledging indebtedness to their sources.  The Modern Language Association's (MLA) format for documentation will be used in this course. 

Students are responsible for reading Syracuse University’s Student Manual for ETS 142 and should know that they will have their work reviewed by Syracuse University. It reserves the right to exercise its policy that allows “work in all media produced by students as part of their course participation at Syracuse University [to] be used for educational purposes.” In short, students in enrolling in the course agree to make all work available for copying and distribution for the class and for the University.