Popular Reading

Low to Middling Genres, 1890–1945


10% Participation

Attendance and active, thoughtful participation in discussion are required. The purpose of a seminar is for us to learn by addressing difficult questions together. This requires every student to take the intellectual risk of offering observations, ideas, and arguments in class in response to one another and to the professor. Lateness, lack of preparation, or disruptive behavior during seminar will affect the participation mark.

One absence is allowed without penalty. If you fall ill or miss class for a family emergency, please contact me as soon as possible; you can make up for an excused absence (by meeting with me or by writing a short response paper). Any unexcused absences after the first will significantly affect the participation mark. Missing more than four classes without excuse will normally result in a failing grade for the course. Students can do work to make up for unexcused absences only at my discretion.

20% Exercises

Short written exercises will be assigned roughly every other week. They will have a status similar to problem sets in science and engineering classes: their aim is to develop skills of analysis for the research paper. They will be graded (generously).

20% Research presentation

Over the course of the final class three sessions, each student will give a short talk (10 minutes) on their research for the final paper. The talk should focus on the additional reading the student has done for the paper, presenting and interpreting textual evidence within a coherent argumentative frame. The presentation need not be as formal or detailed as the final paper.

50% Final paper

12–15 pages. Each student will select and read at least one substantial additional fictional text in one of the genres we have studied. On the basis of this reading, the paper will make an argument, using that text together with the assigned readings, about some aspect of a particular fictional genre in the first half of the twentieth century. The paper must also address several relevant secondary sources.

Grading standards

N.B. You cannot pass the course unless you complete the presentation and the paper.

Grades will be given on the four-point scale as specified in the Undergraduate Catalog. For the purpose of converting the final numerical mark to a letter, the equivalents specified in the Catalog will be considered to be the maxima of intervals open on the left and closed on the right. Thus A corresponds to scores strictly greater than 3.5 and less than or equal to 4.0, B+ to scores greater than 3.0 and less than or equal to 3.5, B to scores greater than 2.5 and less than or equal to 3.0, and so on. Final grades will not be normalized to fit any particular distribution or “curve.” The general standards for grades are as follows; numerical equivalents use the mathematical notation for an interval which does not include its lower end but does include its upper end:

A range (3.5, 4.0]: Outstanding. The student’s work demonstrates thorough mastery of course materials and skills.

B range (2.5, 3.5]: Good. The student’s work demonstrates serious engagement with all aspects of the course but incomplete mastery of course materials and skills.

C range (1.5, 2.5]: Satisfactory. The student’s work satisfies requirements but shows significant problems or major gaps in mastery of course material.

D (0.5, 1.5]: Poor or minimal pass. The student completes the basic course requirements, but the student’s work is frequently unsatisfactory in several major areas.

F [0, 0.5]: Failure. Student has not completed all course requirements or turns in consistently unsatisfactory work.

Academic integrity

The students and the professor have a duty to each other and to our community to abide by norms of academic honesty and responsibility. To present something as your own original writing when it is not is plagiarism. Plagiarism and other forms of cheating are serious violations of trust. Academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, will have severe consequences, in accordance with the University Policy on Academic Integrity and the Code of Student Conduct. For details about the University’s academic integrity policies, please see academicintegrity.rutgers.edu.

Students with disabilities

All reasonable accommodation will be given to students with disabilities. Students who may require accommodation should speak with the professor at the start of the semester. For more information, please consult the Office of Disability Services on the web at disabilityservices.rutgers.edu or by phone at 848-445-6800.