*Download a PDF of the Syllabus (Professor Belli, ENG 3402, Spring 2021)
English 3402: Topics in Literature (OL80, 57437) Spring 2021
Tuesday/Thursday 10:00am-11:15am Classroom: ONLINE
New York City College of Technology, CUNY
Professor: Dr. Jill Belli
Office Hours: Tuesday 11:30am-12:30pm & by appointment
OpenLab Course Site: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/belli-sp2021-eng3402/
OpenLab Course Profile: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/groups/belli-sp2021-eng3402/
Zoom Link (synchronous class meetings): https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83090005859
Zoom link (office hours): https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82758775194
Do you dream of having more happiness, success, or love? Of getting better grades, jobs, relationships, or sleep? If so, you are not alone! Countless people want more from their lives and from others, and they turn to self-help to make their dreams reality. Some doctors even prescribe self-help books for their patients! What is this obsession with self-help? What does it offer us? Why do we keep reading it?
This course is an introduction to “the American love affair with self-help” through its literature, industry, benefits, and critiques. Though self-help is often dismissed as providing low-brow, quack remedies for the masses, this course considers it in earnest, exploring what makes the genre so compelling, and why and how self-help matters, to individuals and societies. Students will read self-help texts; try their techniques; reflect on their methods, effectiveness, promises, and problems; and create their own self-help texts for others.
Course Description (3 hours, 3 credits; Prerequisites: ENG 1121 or a 2000-level literature course)
This course explores a specific idea or theme in English-language literature. Discussion and analysis of texts related to the course topic. Topics change each semester and have included humor, vampires and zombies, transnationalism and homesickness, utopias and dystopias, culture and identity, and graphic novels.
*Writing-Intensive Course; Fulfills “Creative Expression” Category for Pathways
See Topics in Literature – ENG 3402 Learning Outcomes document for General Education and English Department Course Learning Outcomes
- Most texts will be provided in-class on our OpenLab course site. It is your responsibility to access, read, annotate, save (and print, if you’d like) these texts—the specific versions listed on the Schedule—and bring them to class. In the before-times, you could print up to 30 pages per day in the City Tech computer labs, but if you do not have a printer at home, you may want to invest in one (remember: you have minimal costs for texts for this class, and a laser printer is a good, long-term investment for your college and professional career).
- All attempts will be made to keep the cost of cost materials for the semester to a minimum. At times, you may be required to purchase an inexpensive text, or to attend local, relevant events and exhibitions for this course (most likely online, given the ongoing pandemic), so please factor transportation/admission into your budget for course materials (though some are free). You will also be asked to view various films (and other media) outside of class; some may be available freely online, while others may need to be purchased, borrowed, rented, or watched as part of a subscription service (such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or Kanopy—free to City Tech students). Please factor these costs into your budget for our course materials.
Your final course grade is calculated as follows:
- Participation: 15%
- Exams / Essays / Presentations / Projects: 55%
- Blogging / OpenLab Composing: 30%
Participation counts as 15% of your final course grade and includes:
- consistent and punctual attendance
- timely completion and thoughtful engagement with of all reading (reading blog posts, comments, and materials posted on OpenLab is part of course reading/viewing)
- having the assigned text(s) in class with you on the dates they are to be discussed (if you have access to a printer you may want to print online texts): these texts must be read/annotated
- active participation in-class (our synchronous Zoom meetings)
- taking class notes (at least once during the semester, but perhaps more, as needed) & posting them on OpenLab in a timely fashion (by the night of that class)
- miscellaneous homework assignments
- announced & unannounced in-class quizzes and writing exercises based on prompts, activities, and readings
- collaborative group work; pre-drafts; peer review
- conferences with the instructor outside of class (in my office hours, held via Zoom); additional work (and tutoring) at the Writing Center, as necessary
- respectful attitude toward your instructor, peers, and coursework
- engagement and improvement throughout the semester
OpenLab Composing counts as 30% of your final course grade and includes:
- blogging (creating your own posts)
- reading/commenting on each other’s blog posts
- active participation in our digital (OpenLab) “class discussions”
Our OpenLab course site is where you can find everything you need this semester (all announcements, updates to the schedule, posted readings, reading responses, and online discussions will take place here). However, this is not just a place where you will come to find information and read what I have already written. Instead, you are expected to consistently and actively participate in creating content on our Course Site, such as posting responses to the readings/films, discussing ideas with me and your classmates, reading and commenting on what others have posted, and linking to interesting/relevant material you have found through everyday experience as well as outside research. This material, which is your writing, will become part of the required reading for the course and of our class meetings. We will discuss excerpts from student posts (both to facilitate writing workshops and to use as a jumping-off point for the day’s reading/discussion). In addition, everyone in the course will be reading your writing (and our course blog and all of its content is become public to the larger college community and anyone on the Web), so you should spend time and take pride in composing your posts and comments there. Please see the Blogging Grading Rubric and Guidelines/Expectations on our OpenLab Course Site (under Assignments, “OpenLab Composing (Blogging)”).
- Our class is fully online but designated in CUNYfirst as “synchronous.” According to the college, “Synchronous classes meetings resemble traditional on-campus In-Person classes in that students must be (virtually) present at the same time. Though they are conducted virtually, synchronous classes meet in real- time. Students must commit to scheduled class times and sign onto their virtual learning platform on schedule. During these classes, students will engage with the instruction during online lessons and presentations and even have virtual class discussions.”
- You are responsible for having a working, accessible City Tech e-mail and for checking this account daily (all announcements, notifications, and emails from me and from the OpenLab—including those related to our course site—will go to your City Tech email).
- If you don’t already have one, you must sign up for an OpenLab account and join our ENG 3402 Courseand check our course site.
- Consistent absence/lateness will lower your participation grade significantly, and potentially result in failure of the course. If you must miss a class, it is courteous to let me know ahead of time. It is also your responsibility to contact a classmate and to find out/complete missed assignments &/or to see me during my office hours; however, in-class work (including quizzes, freewriting, discussions, peer review, and in-class essays and exams) cannot be made-up.
- All assignments are due on the dates/times specified. Late assignments will not be accepted.
- Unless otherwise noted, final drafts of assignments are just that: final drafts. Drafting/revision is expected to occur prior to submitting your final drafts, so no further revisions will be offered after the fact. I am always happy to discuss your drafts/revisions with you at any point throughout the semester.
- You should always come to class prepared with a writing device of some type, all relevant assigned texts for that day, dictionary (it can be one on your phone, tablet, or laptop), and writing utensils (pens, pencils, and highlighters). All course materials (including in-class freewriting, quizzes, handouts, readings, essays, peer review, exams) must be kept in a folder (physical and/or digital), and brought to each class session.
- All assigned texts should be accessed, read, saved, brought to class, and annotated (marked up with highlighting, questions, comments, notes, definitions of words you don’t know). If you do not have your annotated readings with you on the day they are being discussed, you will lose participation points for that day.
- Disagreement and (constructive) criticism are encouraged in our class and on our OpenLab course site. However, you must always be respectful of the work/opinions of others, and conduct yourselves (in person and online) in mature, respectful, and generous ways. Our class is a community, and all of your contributions to it should reflect that ethos.
- You are not allowed to record, in any manner (audio, video, image, screenshot) class sessions, office hours, or conversations, without the explicit knowledge of me (and your classmates, where relevant). Please be respectful of everyone’s privacy and safety.
- A consistent display of organizational, logical, syntactical, and grammatical errors in your work disrupts your writing and will lower your grade. Students are encouraged (and may be required) to take advantage of online resources (linked through our OpenLab course site) and available services at City Tech.
- I strongly encourage you to visit me during my office hours throughout the semester to discuss your work in the course. If you ever would like more individualized feedback on your work in the course (including blog posts, freewriting, quizzes, exams, projects, and reading/analysis texts), you should come see me to discuss your work.
Attendance and Lateness Policy
Your attendance is recorded and reported to the college according to City Tech’s policy. Being in class, on time, is important for all graded aspects of this course, not just for your participation grade: your exams will be given in-class, and we will work together during class time on the various writing assignments (blogging, essays, projects) throughout the semester. Consistently being late or absent will lower your final course grade, as you will not get credit for missed work.
*If you stop attending class and don’t return for the rest of the semester, you will receive a grade of WU.
“City Tech is committed to supporting the educational goals of enrolled students with disabilities in the areas of enrollment, academic advisement, tutoring, assistive technologies and testing accommodations. If you have or think you may have a disability, you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments as provided under applicable federal, state and city laws. You may also request services for temporary conditions or medical issues under certain circumstances. If you have questions about your eligibility or would like to seek accommodation services or academic adjustments, you can leave a voicemail at 718 260 5143, send an email to Accessibility@citytech.cuny.edu or visit the Center’s website at http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/accessibility/ for more information.”
College Policy on Academic Integrity
“Students who work with information, ideas, and texts owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in CUNY and at New York City College of Technology, and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.”
*According to City Tech policy, all instances of plagiarism must be formally reported by the faculty member to the college.
- All reading and writing assignments are due on the days listed. Unless otherwise stated, all blogs (and comments) are due by the start of class, 10:00am, on the day they are due.
- Most texts will be provided in-class or on our OpenLab course site (including readings on writing process/strategies to accompany our in-class writing workshops and help you with your assignments). It is your responsibility to access, read, annotate, save (and print, if you choose) these texts and bring them to class with you (you can print for free at the college’s computer labs). It is mandatory, for your participation grade, to have the assigned texts read, annotated, and accessible in class when we are discussing them.
- Additional texts/assignments may be added throughout the semester to supplement the texts listed here.
- Some weeks are lighter in workload while others require a heavy amount of reading and/or writing, so I encourage you to plan ahead.
- Always consult the dynamic Schedule on our OpenLab course site for the most up-to-date version of the schedule, access to readings, and more detail about assignments.
 Salerno, Steve. Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless. Three Rivers Press, 2005. 7.
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