Students will have a combination of writing assignments in this course in addition to the final project. Students will be able to choose between the following relative to the text: microthemes, explication de texte, and difficulty papers. In the end, however, students must have at least 2 difficulty papers, 2 explications, and 2 microthemes. In other words, students cannot write 6 papers as just microthemes or explications. Microthemes (3-4 Pages Each): The purpose of a microtheme is to help students learn and synthesize important concepts relative to the selected text. The paper is a formal, thesis-driven essay that asks students to respond to an instructor-created prompt. Students will peer review papers before turning in their final drafts. All microthemes follow RAFT format (i.e. Role, Audience, Format, and Task). Explication de Texte (3-4 pages each): The purpose of this assignment is to help students elaborate on a key passage (or even a single sentence) in a given text. Students will be able to choose their own passages or sentences for explication. Students will assess how their selection relates to the text as a whole and/or to a specific theme in the text or the sequence. Students will peer review papers before turning in their final drafts to the instructor. Difficulty Papers (3-4 pages each): Difficulty papers are the opposite of typical academic composition. Instead of focusing on things the student does understand, a difficulty paper asks the student to focus on what he or she does NOT understand. Given the challenging nature of the majority of the texts in this class, this option allows the student to informally discuss his or her difficulties and attempt several possible resolutions. The difficulty papers are informal, but follow a paragraph-format: Identify impressions, ask questions of those impressions or the text, then attempt resolutions. Typically, a student will have a number of different impressions on which to elaborate. To me, difficulty papers represent the epitome of writing-to-learn pedagogy. Given the informal nature and the need to protect a student's sensitivity toward difficult texts, these assignments will not be peer reviewed. Final Project (8-10 page synthesis, or other form of writing): The purpose of the final project is to help students synthesize all of the texts read during the semester. The project is necessarily vague, giving the student the ability to pursue any number of creative expressions. Some students may choose to write a typical final paper that synthesizes the semester's themes. Other students, however, may wish to "write" through art, poetry, music, presentation/performance, or any other form of expression. I will leave this to the student. In order to ensure the student does the required work, each student will conference with me to discuss the final project. Final projects will be revised after instructor feedback. All projects will be the work-equivalent to an 8-10 page paper. Students will also write a number of online responses via Blackboard discussions. These responses will be informal and only graded for participation and thoughtful response.
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