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newtFire {fantaRom}
Maintained by: Elisa E. Beshero-Bondar (ebb8 at pitt.edu) Creative Commons License Last modified: Monday, 29-Aug-2016 15:34:51 EDT. Powered by firebellies.

Link to the Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Autumn 2016: Classes meet M W 4:00 - 5:15 PM, 118 Powers Hall

Course Enrollment and Electives Info:

  • Englit 1572: course registration number: 29088
  • Satisfies the LT General Elective Requirement at Pitt-Greensburg and an R (Research) requirement for the Digital Studies Certificate.

Instructor:

Elisa Beshero-Bondar

Office Hours (in FOB 204)

  • Wed. 11:30 AM -12:30 PM
  • Tues. 2-4 PM
  • and by appointment.
Tolkien's drawing of the Doors of Durin, the West-gate of Moria

Course Description

In its age-old context, the term romance refers to narratives that explore the unfamiliar, the wonderful, strange, and otherworldly. Romance takes us beyond the apparent limits of “reality” as we know it from our “home” culture, and can return us back to familiar ground in a way that helps us to perceive the world in a new way. Such narratives are the focus of this course. Our readings include centuries-old poetry and prose in translation from Europe and the Middle East, as well as twentieth-century and contemporary literature in the “fantasy” genre that draw upon centuries-old resources to build alternate realities for readers in our time. Our texts will show how ancient mythologies transform and take on new dimensions as they are shared and translated across cultures over centuries.

We will study how fantasy literature in our time builds on a worldly literary heritage to develop complex multicultural and pointedly unreal realms shared between writers and readers. We will consider how Faerie lands and alternate worlds develop with precise rules of their own to give believable life to the bizarre, the magical, the supernatural. In fantasy’s escapes from the familiar we may recognize our powerful abilities to invent new realities, made real by sharing with communities through text, image, film, game, and wired network. Through our shared alternate realities of fantasy and romance, we may gain perspective on our fears of death and change as well as our desires to escape and travel out of ourselves.

Objectives:

Texts to Purchase:

  1. Seamus Heaney, trans. Beowulf: A Verse Translation, ed. Daniel Donoghue (Norton Critical Edition, 2002) ISBN-13: 978-0393-975802.
  2. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Tolkien Reader (Random House, 1989) ISBN: 978-0-345-34506-6.
  3. J. R. R. Tolkien, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo, (Random House, 1975) ISBN: 978-0345277602.
  4. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 50th Anniversary, One Vol. Edition (Houghton Mifflin, 2005) ISBN: 978-0618640157.
  5. Jesse Byock, trans. The Saga of the Volsungs (Penguin, 2000) ISBN: 978-0140-44738-5.
  6. Ursula K. Le Guin, Tehanu (Simon Pulse, 2001) ISBN: 978-0689845338.
  7. Catherynne M. Valente, The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden (Bantam, 2006) ISBN: 978-0553384031.
  8. Linda Nagata, Memory (Mythic Island Press LLC, 2013) ISBN: 9781937197124.
Other course readings and important information will be posted online on CourseWeb.

Grading:

Your grade will be based on Class Participation and In-Class Exercises (15%), Short Assignments (total: 25%), one Creative or Analytical Research Project (total: 20%), one Midterm Exam (total: 20%) and one Final Exam (20%). At least 90% of the work for the course must be completed in order to receive a passing grade (C or above).

Class Participation and In-Class Exercises: (15%)

This portion of your grade reflects the extent to which you attend class regularly and take an active role in class discussion, contributing thoughtful questions and observations based on the readings, as well as responding to my questions. It will also include your performance on any announced and unannounced quizzes and group exercises I may give in class. If you keep up with the readings listed on the schedule, and come to class each day prepared to discuss them, you will certainly do well with this component.

** Note: Your attendance is vital to this course and your achievement in it. You may miss three classes for any reason without penalty, but your participation grade will be reduced for additional unexcused absences. You’ll also be missing information and perspective on the readings that will almost certainly affect your performance on assignments and exams. If you miss class, try to keep in touch with other members of the class to find out what you’ve missed and consult with me to help you catch up and to be sure you understand the material. Please note that quizzes and in-class activities are time-sensitive and cannot be made up outside of the classes you missed.

Short Assignments: (25%)

Periodically throughout the semester, I will assign informal 2-3 page short response papers and/or other exercises, including exploring and writing about virtual environments based on literary texts. These exercises and short papers are designed to help you grapple with some challenging dimensions of our course readings, and should help you to strengthen your comprehension. They may also give you topic ideas for the major paper. Short papers should follow MLA formatting and citation guidelines (as needed). At the beginning or end of your paper, provide a relevant quote or two from the reading you’re discussing, a quote that helps to capture an idea you’re commenting on in your response. Short writing assignments lose points for lateness.

Creative or Analytical Research Project: (20%)

One longer piece of writing, developed either as a paper or a digital project, applying fantasy criticism and theory, will be due in the second half of the course. Detailed project guidelines will be distributed in class. You will have an option to develop a fantasy narrative of your own working with (and reflecting on) materials from our course, or you may develop a research project investigating significant cultural, historical, or thematic issues in one or two of our course texts. This paper will be about 6-8 double-spaced pages, and must be your own, independent work (see the section on Academic Dishonesty below). Follow MLA formatting and citation guidelines. Note: Late projects will drop one grade notch (from B to B-) for each day late.

Midterm Exam: (20%) and Final Exam: (20%)

The exams may consist of essay questions, identifications of passages, and brief responses regarding significant events, terms, and concepts we have discussed in class. The Midterm will cover material from the first half of the course. The Final Exam, given during Finals Week, will have a comprehensive section, but will focus on material from the second half of the course.

Grading Scale:

Grades are posted on Courseweb, and follow this standard scale: A: 93-100%, A-: 90-92%, B+: 87-89%, B: 83-86%, B-: 80-82%, C+: 77-79%, C: 73-76%, C-: 70-72%, D+: 67-69%, D: 60-66%, F: 59% and below. In taking the course on a S / NC (pass-fail) basis, students must earn a C to receive Satisfactory credit. G grades (incomplete) may be given only in conformity with the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg’s Bulletin: http://www.bulletins.pitt.edu/greensburg/upg-academicpolicies.htm.

Classes and Readings:

This class is fast paced with very challenging reading. To do well in this course it is vital that you attend class regularly and keep up with the readings! Read all the material assigned before class on the day it is scheduled so that you can discuss the material in class, raise questions about it, and intelligently respond to my questions and comments. Stay alert for any changes to the class schedule, which I will announce in class and online on Courseweb and e-mail.

Classroom Courtesy:

Our class is fast paced, and requires that we all be making the best use we can of our in-person class sessions. Arriving late and leaving early disrupts the important collective mental activity of class. So does in-class texting and checking your cell phone. While class is in progress, talking disruptively, leaving the classroom, texting or using a cell phone or computer, reading a newspaper, or other distracting behavior will be actively discouraged, and will result in a deduction in your Participation grade. Please respect what we do in the classroom: attend class regularly, and come prepared to contribute your questions and ideas.

When an assignment is due, I expect that you will carefully edit and proofread your documents, and that you will turn in your assignments on time at the beginning of class or by the posted deadline for Courseweb assignments. If you need an extension, ask me courteously at least a day ahead of time. Do not ask for an extension on or after the day the paper is due.

Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism:

Plagiarism falsely represents another source’s words or ideas as your own, and, if you commit plagiarism in this course, you will receive a final course grade of F and be reported to the Vice President of Academic Affairs. Representing the voice of another individual as your own voice constitutes plagiarism, however generous that person may be in "helping" you with an assignment. To avoid plagiarism, cite your sources whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarize material, or use digital images from any outside source (including websites, articles, books, course readings, Courseweb postings, or someone else’s notes). Turning in an assignment generated collectively under the name of a single individual is considered plagiarism. When instructed to collaborate on a project, project collaborators share collective authorship and should identify themselves directly as a team. When using the "copy" and "paste" features as you read and research, be sure that you are carefully marking that these passages are unprocessed from their source, so that you know to process it later. Forgetting to do so not only produces sloppy work but (whether you intended it or not) results in a false representation. As long as you make a good faith and clear effort to cite your sources, you will not be faulted for plagiarism, but your work will be penalized if citations are inaccurate, unclear, or lack important information. Cheating on exams or exercises will also receive a final course grade of F and be reported to the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Online Policies:

Courseweb (or Blackboard):

My announcements, changes to the course schedule, assignments + online assignment submissions, some course readings, powerpoint notes, and review guides for this class will be regularly posted to Courseweb. Login to Courseweb using your Pitt userid and password (the same one you use for your e-mail). All courses you’re enrolled in that have Courseweb materials should be listed. Courseweb link: https://courseweb.pitt.edu

Turning in Assignments: Courseweb Upload

Turn in your papers by electronic upload through Courseweb. We will be using the SafeAssign feature built into Courseweb as a stable, time-stamped electronic archive for your papers. Note: In a crisis situation, you may send your paper to me by e-mail as an attachment, but you must follow up with me to be sure I received it, if you have not received a response from me in 24 hours!

E-mail Correspondence:

Send e-mail to me when you have questions or want to meet with me, but please identify yourself by name (first and last), and provide a Subject Line when you do so. I prefer you do not submit your papers to me by e-mail; see directions above for submitting assignments online.

Each student is issued a University email address (username@pitt.edu) upon admission. This email address may be used by the University for official communication with students. Students are expected to read email sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to University communications in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications. The University provides an email forwarding service that allows students to read their email via other service providers (e.g., Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo). Students who choose to forward their email from their pitt.edu address to another address do so at their own risk. If email is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from responding to official communications sent to their University email address. To forward email sent to your University account, go to http://accounts.pitt.edu, log into your account, click on Edit Forwarding Addresses, and follow the instructions on the page. Be sure to log out of your account when you have finished. (For the full Email Communication Policy, go to http://www.bc.pitt.edu/policies/policy/09/09-10-01.html.)

Disability Services:

If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the Director of the Learning Resources Center, Dr. Lou Ann Sears, Room 240 Millstein Library Building (724) 836-7098 (voice) or los3 at pitt.edu as early as possible in the term. Learning Resources Center will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Online Policies:

Courseweb (or Blackboard):

My announcements, changes to the course schedule, assignments + online assignment submissions, some course readings, powerpoint notes, and review guides for this class will be regularly posted to Courseweb. Login to Courseweb using your Pitt userid and password (the same one you use for your e-mail). All courses you’re enrolled in that have Courseweb materials should be listed. Courseweb link: https://courseweb.pitt.edu

Turning in Assignments: Courseweb Upload

Turn in your papers by electronic upload through Courseweb. We will be using the SafeAssign feature built into Courseweb as a stable, time-stamped electronic archive for your papers. Note: In a crisis situation, you may send your paper to me by e-mail as an attachment, but you must follow up with me to be sure I received it, if you have not received a response from me in 24 hours!

E-mail Correspondence:

Send e-mail to me when you have questions or want to meet with me, but please identify yourself by name (first and last), and provide a Subject Line when you do so. I prefer you do not submit your papers to me by e-mail; see directions above for submitting assignments online.

Each student is issued a University email address (username@pitt.edu) upon admission. This email address may be used by the University for official communication with students. Students are expected to read email sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to University communications in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications. The University provides an email forwarding service that allows students to read their email via other service providers (e.g., Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo). Students who choose to forward their email from their pitt.edu address to another address do so at their own risk. If email is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from responding to official communications sent to their University email address. To forward email sent to your University account, go to http://accounts.pitt.edu, log into your account, click on Edit Forwarding Addresses, and follow the instructions on the page. Be sure to log out of your account when you have finished. (For the full Email Communication Policy, go to http://www.bc.pitt.edu/policies/policy/09/09-10-01.html.)

Tolkien's drawing of a dragon