Dr. Roberta Seelinger Trites                                                   
Office: STV 409B
Office hours: MW 3-4
(309) 438-3651

ENG 401: Introduction to Graduate Studies

 Fall 2006


Course description:


This course has three goals: to teach students bibliographic and research methods, to introduce them to critical theory, and to introduce the English Studies model as a series of epistemologies.  The first third of the course will involve research and bibliographic instruction.  The second will be a discussion of the ways that various literary theories work together to form a field that allows for multiple interpretations.  The final third will be a discussion of how the three areas of English Studies (writing, linguistics, and literature) intersect in the study of one text, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


Required texts:             


            Joseph Gibaldi, ed.  Introduction to Scholarship in Modern Languages and

            Jonathan Culler,   Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction

            Mark Twain,  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (U of California P, 2002

            On-line readings and Milner e-Reserves, identified below by author


Course requirements:  


Each student will conduct a series of short writing assignments, as well as researching and writing one longer seminar paper.  The short assignments will be given throughout the semester, but the topic of the seminar paper will be determined by each individual student, based on her or his own interests.


            Seminar paper:                                                 25%

            Critical review of journals:                               15%

            Book review:                                                       15%

            Annotated bibliography and abstract:             15%

            Mock comprehensive exam                              15%

            Class participation:                                            15%



Students are expected to attend class.  It is impossible to imagine how students who have missed more than three classes will be able to complete all of the expectations for this course or any graduate course.


Any assignment that is late will be penalized one letter grade per day that it is late.


I expect you to have read the assignments listed on the syllabus before you come to class.  Having thoroughly read all materials prior to class is a standard expectation of all graduate classes.  (All novels and articles need to be read entirely before class begins on Thursday.)


Proofread everything you turn in, because grammar, organization, MLA style, and mechanics are a substantial part of every grade you receive in graduate school.


I will not discuss any evaluation I have given your work until at least twenty-four hours after you have received the evaluation.


You earn your grade by performance, not by negotiation.  Unless I have made an error of computation, please do not ask me to raise your grade.


Any student needing to arrange a reasonable accommodation for a documented disability should contact Disability Concerns at 350 Fell Hall, 438-5853 (voice), 438-8620 (TTY).



            I consider communication between the student and the instructor a key factor in maximizing students’ learning.  Please feel free to email me at the address above; I find email exchanges with students very fruitful.

            I also encourage you to drop by my office during office hours or to contact me to set up an appointment.  Students are my top priority; don’t be afraid to contact me!  Alternatively, Diane Smith, the graduate secretary, will be happy to help you schedule an appointment with me: dlsmith@ilstu.edu; 438-3651.

            I expect students to treat each other respectfully at all times both in class and outside of class.  Sometimes, discussions will touch on controversial topics.  When we treat each other with as much civility and professionalism as possible, our discussions will generate the best possible learning environment for all students.


Webpage: http://www.cas.ilstu.edu/english/trites/index.htm





Library assignment/Critical review of journals:


            I would like each of you to review the major academic journals in the subdiscipline of your choice.  (Examples would include technical writing or rhetoric or African-American literature or children’s literature or TESOL or women’s literature, etc.)  To conduct your review, you should look at multiple issues of each volume and determine what its major purpose is and how you believe it connects with its discipline.  Additionally, please include information about the current editor and how submissions are handled.  Typical student papers will review between six and ten journals and will be approximately 10 pages.


Book review:


            Book reviewing is a major academic skill.  Since knowing how to read book reviews is as important as knowing how to write them, I suggest that you read several book reviews of academic books in major scholarly journals in preparation to writing your own review.

            Each student will select one academic book within the field of English Studies from a list that I will circulate.  Your review should be approximately 5 pages long, and it should include the following elements: bibliographic information about the book; a brief summary of the book’s argument; your analysis of how this book has contributed to the field; and any criticisms that you find in the book’s logic or research.  Typically, book reviews are 4-6 pages.


Annotated bibliography and abstract:


            In preparation for your seminar paper, I would like you to write an annotated bibliography and present me with a preliminary abstract of your paper.  An abstract is a succinct 100-250 word description of your project that includes your thesis statement and how you will support your argument.  An annotated bibliography includes two features: a bibliography of the research materials you will use in developing your paper and, following each bibliographic citation, a one or two sentence summary of the book or article that you have cited.  ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHIES MUST ADHERE STRICTLY TO MLA STYLE.


Mock comprehensive examination:                         


            Master’s and Ph.D. students alike take comprehensive examinations in the English Department at ISU.  To prepare you for these examinations, I will ask you to take a 75-minute examination assessing one text (samples will include prose, poetry, technical writing, and children’s literature) using one of the theoretical approaches that we have discussed during the course of the semester.


Seminar paper:


            A seminar paper is a sustained work of original scholarship.  Generally speaking, seminar papers are approximately 20 pages long, and they reflect both the student’s research on the topic and the student’s original scholarly argument.  In most seminars, the seminar paper covers some aspect of the course that is being taught.  In this course, students may choose a topic of their own interest, although I expect each student to confer with me before finalizing the topic.  STUDENTS WHO DO NOT DISCUSS THEIR PAPER TOPIC WITH ME IN ADVANCE WILL FAIL THE ASSIGNMENT.




August 24: Defining English Studies


August 31: Defining the academy: scholarship and pedagogy


Introduction to Scholarship, Graff, pages 343-360


James Berlin “Where Do English Departments Come From” http://www.english.ilstu.edu/strickland/rsvtxt/berlin.htm [login = “reserve”; password = “text”]


Robert Scholes, “A Flock of Cultures” (from his book The Rise and Fall of English) [on e-reserve at Milner Library, under “Trites,”  http://library.ilcso.illinois.edu/isu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=rbSearch ]


September 7: Defining library research




September 14: Language, Linguistics, and TESOL


Introduction to Scholarship, Finegan (3-27)


Introduction to Scholarship, Baron (28-52),


Introduction to Scholarship, Kramsch (53-77)


Faigly, Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition, Chapter 3,  http://www.english.ilstu.edu/strickland/rsvtxt/faigley3.htm [login = “reserve”; password = “text”]


September 21: Writing and rhetoric as academic discipline(s)


Introduction to Scholarship, Lunsford (77-100)


Susan Kates, “Elocution and African American Culture,” http://www.english.ilstu.edu/strickland/rsvtxt/kates3.htm, [login = “reserve”; password = “text”]


Keywords in Creative Writing (excerpts to be distributed)


Tech writing reading (to be distributed)


Library project/critical review of journals due


September 28: Literature and Theory


Culler, Literary Theory, pages 1-54 (Chapters 1-3)


Other readings TBA


October 5: Rhetoric, Poetics, and Narrative


Culler, Literary Theory, pages 55-93 (Chapters 4-6)


Other readings TBA


October 12: Performance and Subjectivity


Culler, Literary Theory, pages 94-132, (Chapters 7, 8, and Appendix)


Other readings TBA


Book review due


October 19: History, biography, and publishing


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (including notes 373-451)


Clark, Kiddie Lit, Chapter 4 “The Case of the Boys Book” (Milner e-Reserve)


October 26:  Writing and revising


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 459-509


 Annotated bibliography and preliminary paper abstract due


November 2: Literary studies


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Smiley, “Say It Ain’t So, Huck” [Milner e-Reserve]


Morrison, “This Amazing, Troubling Book” [Milner e-Reserve]


Wallace, “The Case Against Huck Finn” [Milner e-Reserve]


Smith, “Huck, Jim, and American Racial Discourse” [Milner e-Reserve]


November 9: Linguistics and dialect


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


David Carkeet, “The Dialects in Huckleberry Finn” [Milner e-Reserve]


Shelly Fisher Fishkin, Chapter 1 of Was Huck Black?, “Been a listening all the night long,” (13-49, notes153-69) [Milner e-Reserve]


McKay, “‘An Art So High’” [Milner e-Reserve]


Mark Twain, “Sociable Jimmy” (to be distributed)


November 16: Mock comprehensive exam


November 30: Paper writing and writing workshop


December 7: SEMINAR PAPERS DUE; review and wrap-up