Expectations of You

Formal Essays. There will be two formal essays. The first will involve close reading; the second, about a kind of character or about the concept of character itself–using at least two of the texts we have read this semester and at least one secondary source.

Creative projects.  You will write one story in which you add a character of your own–or one that you know of–to a scene or resembling that of one of the texts we have read.  You will write a second story in which you incorporate a character, or character type, from one of these texts into a scene, story, or setting of your own.

Active and Informed Participation. You are expected to attend all classes, unless you have officially recognized reasons for absences. And you are expected to contribute thoughtfully, respectfully, and in an informed way to discussions. Part of your participation will be your comment postings. If you participate in class, I will generally be able to tell and how carefully you are doing the reading, and how diligently you are thinking about it. Occasionally, I may also give quizzes.   If you miss quizzes, even for an excused absence, you may not make them up; however, no single quiz counts a great deal (quizzes are considered in your “Responsibility Grade”—as described in the “Course Policies” section below).  You should also keep in mind that discourteous or disruptive conduct or language may lower your responsibility grade.  If you come by my office, either in a group or by yourself, and start an engaging conversation or two with me about your paper, or about a text, or about the topic of character, I will consider this in your responsibility grade.


Grades. You must complete all major work—essays and final exam—in order to pass the course. You must also have a passing responsibility grade. Assuming you do those things, the work will be weighted APPROXIMATELY as follows:

  • Essays—15%, 25%, respectively
  • Creative Projects, 15%, 20%
  • Responsibility—25%: this includes class participation, quizzes, and conferences.

Attendance. Your presence at all classes is expected, and you should be on time. We have only twelve weeks for a very ambitious agenda. Hence, our semester is all too short as it is. Missing even one class means missing a dangerously large proportion of your total class time and causing potential problems in the conduct of the classes from which you are absent.

If you are absent more than three times for reasons other than religious holidays, documented medical problems, or events designated explained by official college policy, I may contact your Dean and you may receive a warning. After that, your responsibility grade may be lowered a full grade for every unexcused absence. Hence, because you must have a passing responsibility grade to pass the course, you are in real danger of not passing if you have five or six unexcused abences, and you will certainly not pass if you have seven.   Also, if you are significantly late to class, the portions you miss may be counted as portions of absences (e.g., if you miss half a class without excuse, you may accumulate half of an absence).

It is your responsibility to let me know if you have missed or will miss a class (whether or not the absence is excused). Please note that I will not make special appointments to rehearse classes you have missed without good excuse, nor will I do this in office hours.

Lateness on Assignments.  If you are late with a short, ungraded assignment (e.g. a response paper or a quiz), don’t bother turning it in.  I will consider it in your participation grade, but it will not have great weight.  However, if you do find yourself in the unpleasant position of being tardy with a major written assignment–one of the creative projects or one of the essays, under no circumstances should you talk yourself out of completing it.  A late paper may receive a low grade, but the absence of a paper means a failing grade for the course.  Unless I have granted an extension, papers may be reduced by half a grade if turned in after the due date or time but within twenty-four hours of that due date and time.  Another half of a grade may be deducted for every subsequent twenty-four hour period by which the paper is late—to a maximum of five deductions.  Hence, an “A” paper over half an hour late may receive an “A‑”  An “A” paper five or more days late may receive a C+.” If, for some compelling reason, you feel that you must request an extension, you should do so, by e-mail, well in advance of the due date; otherwise I may not have time to respond before the paper is due.

Plagiarism and Cheating. When it comes to your work on this course, the College Honor Code applies.  If you submit work as your own to which another writer has a legitimate and provable claim, you are guilty of plagiarism.  Any ideas or expressions of ideas taken from another source must be cited.  Any quotation must be put in quotation marks and properly documented.  You must not allow others to write any part of your assignments for you, or use materials or assistance on assignments or exams that are not designated as proper by your professor. If you are in doubt as to whether you might be accused of plagiarism of failing to cite a source, or of accepting improper assistance with your work, or even of using your own work improperly, be safe.  Cite the source in doubt, or ask me whether you should cite it.  Ask me if the help you have been offered, or are thinking of seeking, is proper.  The penalties for plagiarism and other ethical violations in the completion of assignments are severe.  If you are in doubt about whether what you are doing is ethical in this regard, please ask.

Extra Assistance in Writing, Presentations, or Reading and Study Habits and Skills. If you need extra assistance from someone other than me (either because you would rather consult someone else or because my schedule doesn’t match yours, you may consult the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research in Library Suite 225 (ground level, all the way at the back of the library). Their phone is x3131. Do not be shy about asking for assistance. You can benefit from intelligent readings of your drafts and help with your thinking, whatever your writing level, and whatever your experience with literature.


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