E 469: ORIGINS OF READING
syllabus is subject to change. The latest version on this website
is the binding syllabus.
Office Hours: By appointment.
545-6598 | email@example.com
This course explores the shifting definition of readers and reading effected
by the artifacts of textual culture. The written word is not a record
of speech, but a dialect with its own interpretative demands. We will
be examining ways in which scrolls, codices, books, and other artifacts
of textual culture shape the idea of a reader. From papyrus to vellum
to the computer screen, presenting the written word often delimits possibilities
of interpretation, setting the limits of reading and defining who can
and who cannot be a good reader. We will discuss paleography, bookmaking,
illumination, orality and literacy, rhetorical handbooks, and much more.
This course introduces you not only to theories of reading, but also to
physical aspects of manuscripts, books, and publication.
You should note that this
is not a history of the book course. Much of our effort will
be expended on medieval and classical methods of interpreting books.
of Reading, by
Alberto Manguel (Penguin, 1997)
Selected Stories and Other Writings, by Jorge Luis Borges
(New Directions Paperbook, 1964)
by St. Augustine
(Oxford World's Classics; Oxford University Press, 1999)
Romances of Chretien De Troyes, by David Staines (Indiana
University Press [Reprint edition], 1993)
: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, by
(Princeton University Press, 2003)
Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham
(Bantam Classics, 1991)
by Sherwood Anderson
(Bantam Classics, 1995)
Land and Other Poems,
by T. S. Eliot
(Dover Publications, 1998)
Archive, by Flann O'Brien
(Dalkey Archive Press; 2nd edition; 1997)
They are all available at Atticus Book in
Amherst (8 Main St). They are not expensive, so I encourage you to buy
all of them.
STRUCTURE AND OBJECTIVES:
The general objectives of this course are to have you engage with secondary
material, attempt informed cultural criticism, and articulate as best
you can some of the basic premises of the habits of reading in the early
As budding theoreticians
of reading, you are also expected to complete your own readings
to each class--the readings average about 50 pages per class. This
should take you about two to three hours. If you're not going to do the
reading, then this class will be a waste of your time, and your success
Attendance is very strongly encouraged, and university guidelines for
absence will be strictly enforced. Check your handbook. My lectures are
copyrighted material. Any use of my lectures in written, electronic, or
recorded form without my prior consent is strictly illegal.
There are three (3) papers
of 1500 words each, and four (4) papers of 500 words each due throughout
the term. Topics will be suggested. There are no exams or quizzes.
There is also a project
summary due sometime during the middle of the semester. This constitutes
a brief, one- to two-page essay which describes some of the assumptions
and issues behind your various papers.
- YOUR PAPER
MUST BE HANDED IN AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS ON THE DATE DUE. LATE PAPERS
WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.
- ALL MISSED ASSIGNMENTS
GET AN "F." If you foresee being absent, please let me know well beforehand.
- PLAGIARISM GETS
AN "F." This may be for the paper or for the course, at my discretion.
The penalties for plagiarism are quite strict. Please check your student
handbook and university guidelines for more on plagiarism. If you have
any questions whatsoever about whether you are citing sources correctly,
- ALL PAPERS MUST
BE TYPED OR WORD-PROCESSED. Not doing so reduces your grade by one letter-value
(e.g., "C" down to "D").
GRADING: The breakdown
of your grade is as follows:
- Long-paper Writing 70%
(paper 1, 15%; paper 2, 25%; paper 3, 30%);
- Short-paper Writing 24%
(6% each x 4)
- Project summary 6%
For my requirements with
respect to A, AB, C, etc., see the Resources section of this site,
and follow the link to Papers
and to Policies.
CONFERENCES: Each student
is encouraged to meet with me at least once during the semester (it's
a good idea to check your grades with me to ensure my gradebook and your
grades match up). Please let me know beforehand if you want to meet during
my office hours. Otherwise, please make an appointment to meet with me
at a time convenient to you and I will try to oblige.
ACADEMIC HONESTY: For
more information, consult your handbook or the pages in this site devoted
to plagiarism (see "Resources").
1: Please make and keep a copy of all your
assignments. That copy may be a disc copy. In case any difficulties
arise with respect to misplaced assignments or with respect to discrepancies
between your records and my own, I will accept the evidence of your
computer system's dating function. For your own peace of mind, I suggest
that you lock any document on the day it is due. That will prevent your
computer's operating system from associating your document with a later
The course schedule is subject to change. It is not to be construed
as a substitute for your attendance or as a catalogue of all the information
for which you are responsible. All changes will be announced with a
reasonable lead time. This syllabus constitutes a binding contract between
the student and the professor. If you do not agree with any of the provisions
set herein or if you foresee disagreeing with any of the provisions
which may be reasonably added during the course of the term, then you
are free to drop this class within the time allotted by the university.
material pertaining to this course--namely handouts, quizzes, exams,
tests, maps, graphs, charts, printed matter, recorded matter, electronic
matter including but not limited to this syllabus and associated electronic
documents, films, video clips, conversations, office consultations,
classroom responses, lectures, asides, answers to classroom queries,
and related utterances--is copyrighted material and is subject to international
and US laws of copyright. Enrollment in this course constitutes tacit
acceptance of this agreement and of the copyright claims made therein.
Any breach of this agreement or use of copyrighted material by any member
of the university or the public without prior consent will be met with