INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY SCHOLARSHIP
English 600. Introduction to Literary Scholarship
Three hours lecture (3).
Examination of tools and techniques essential to advanced literary study and scholarship. Strongly recommended during the first semester of graduate study.
Detailed Description of Content of Course
I. Students are introduced to the mindset and investigative habits requisite to the conduct of literary scholarship, employing such texts as Joseph Gibaldi's collection, Introduction to Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literature.
II. Students explore various types of literary scholarship, including the major critical schools operative in modern scholarship, used to make up the discipline of English language and literature studies.
III. Students learn how to use research and reference sources pertinent to literary study.
IV. Students are introduced to the use of computers as an aid in the conduct of literary scholarship, computerized storage and retrieval databases pertinent to literary scholarship, and the latest developments in technological aids to literary research.
V. Students learn how to manage the research task, to collect data, and to store it in a responsible, efficient manner. Technological tools for research data management are explored in this connection.
VI. Students learn what constitutes graduate level work in English studies, and what further scholarly measures are necessary to make a work publishable. Close study of the current MLA Style Manual aids in this endeavor.
VII. Students survey the current status of the profession, learning about organizations, publishing and career opportunities available to the literary scholar.
Detailed Description of Conduct of Course
I. Students read relevant selected texts in order to put into perspective the development of literary scholarship and criticism. The instructor may supplement the reading with lectures and questions pertinent to the reading, and may provide additional examples of published scholarship to infer methodologies employed, develop appreciation for sound scholarship, and develop the ability to discriminate between careful and careless scholarship.
II. Format: Combination of the following:
- Lecture and discussion led by instructor
- Written exercises at the beginning of class periods meant to stimulate questions about the reading before the discussion begins
- Oral reports from students about research methods and literary search findings
- Group discussion about questions of literary scholarship
- Teacher-student conferences to aid in the development of a formal paper to publishable level
III. Writing Requirements
1. Informal & Exploratory
a. Periodically, students write, at the beginning of class meetings, responses to exploratory questions about the readings. They also have the opportunity to ask questions about the readings through this method.
b. Each student conducts a literature search on a question provided by the instructor, keeping an informal research log that may be orally presented to the class and/or turned in to the instructor.
c. Each student also writes an informal study identifying three journals that might publish his finished scholarly paper (see below) and giving justification for his choice.
2. Formal Papers
a. Students do a critical review of a scholarly book pertinent to their own research topic.
b. Students do carefully supervised drafts of a research paper on a topic of their own choosing and with a view toward its publication.
3. Essay Examination
Students write a final take-home essay examination that allows them to express their learning and thoughts at the end of the course.
Goals and Objectives of the Course
The primary goals of this course are to make graduate students knowledgeable about the type of research and writing expected of graduate students in the discipline of English literature and language and to provide them with the requisite skills to become good scholarly readers and writers. To that end, students are expected to become familiar with the various research sources (print and technological) available to those who work in the discipline; they should come to understand what is expected of writing on the graduate level and beyond; and they should know how the publication of scholarly papers proceeds.
Students' growth in knowledge of the material may be assessed through a number of measures. Students complete informal writing exercises related directly to the readings and the problems these pose; these result in extensive class discussion. Students also put research techniques learned into practice in the library, pursuing both group and individual projects and reporting the results to the class. These projects are designed to give students hands-on experience with many resources of literary study. Students may demonstrate the growth of critical vocabulary and knowledge by doing a critical review of a scholarly book. One or more formal papers may be assigned to allow the student to learn the differences between the typical undergraduate English-major paper (which most already write well) and the more rigorous expectations of the graduate-level professor and the editor of a professional journal. An additional task related to the development of such papers is the mastering of MLA documentation style. At the end of the course, a final written examination may be given as an instrument of synthesis as well as a vehicle of expression.
Other Course Information
Students are strongly encouraged to take this course at the beginning of their graduate program to lay the foundation for scholarly styles and discipline that can then be used in subsequent courses, in completing the thesis requirement, and ultimately in their professional careers.
Review and Approval
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