Week One Welcome Back
I am never sure how to handle a first day back to classes. I am never sure what to say, or if we should spend a little time talking about how things went for you all during the summer. I am not very good at small talk, so my general tendency is to avoid any kind of focus on people’s vacations and just get into class materials. Everyone already knows each other and if you want to share details about your summer vacation with myself or your classmates, I think you probably would have done that already. On top of that, we only have ELEVEN weeks in class this term which does not give us much time to cover all of the wonderful topics I am hoping to get to. So, I think it is best if we are mindful of the very short time we have left together and jump right back into our studies.
I do want to avoid the feeling that our classes this semester are only a continuation of last semester’s courses of the same course codes. They are technically the same courses however I want to make the experience for each course distinctly focused on one set of ideas or themes.
1. Dystopian Literature and Human Questions
That said, I am very excited to explore the topics of ethics, justice, freedom, and determinism in our literature class. These large topic areas will serve as lenses through which we view the literature we are reading this semester. In the same way, the literature and films chosen for class will make the importance of understanding each of these areas clear to you all as participants in the course, but also as participants in the world as a whole. These questions are fundamental to our understanding of what it means to be human beings, and they will be useful resources for understanding ideas encountered in future studies and career fields.
1 a. Brave New World
Readings for this course will come from parts 4, 5, and 7 of the text. A unique addition to this semester is the novel written by philosopher, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World. Written nearly a century ago as a critique of American society by Huxley after a visit stateside from his home country of England. Huxley was sad to see that the “convenience” brought about by the industrial revolution in the form of heavy machinery, mass production, and assembly lines did little to contribute to the freedom or creativity of the society. Even though America was considered to be a wealthy country during the beginning of the 20th century, Huxley believed that Americans squandered the majority of their leisure time on dull entertainments that contributed little to the experience of a life well lived.
I know that many of you will dread the idea of reading an entire book in 11 weeks, but if you schedule time for reading about 15-20 pages a week, you should have no problem digesting the text. In previous years, this book and the ideas explored within has been one of the great loves of graduating classes!
1 b. Fahrenheit 451
Another text we will be exploring this semester is the bleak future presented in Ray Bradbury’s seminal novel Fahrenheit 451. We will not do an extended reading of this text however, we will simply use it in order to set the stage for our course and to develop a preliminary understanding of a dystopia.
Text book Chapter 5 Literary Introduction: What is Just? 349-352
Preview Plato’s Republic pages 373-383 (Or read about it on sparknotes/wikipedia)
- Lecture on Plato’s concept of a just society followed with a discussion of justice in our age
- Reviewing Plato: Understand the past to imagine the future
Plato According to “The School of Life”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDiyQub6vpw
ENGLISH 10: Writing your way to meaning
- The issue of primary importance in this course will be the establishment of a firm understanding of APA writing style, citations, and reference lists. This will be carried out through the conduct of several small research projects and a final expository paper on a topic of your choice written in APA style.
2 a. Enjoy Yourself!
Writing is an area that fills many students with fear, especially students who are writing in a second or third language. First of all, remember that you are not alone! Even students writing in their primary language are often uncomfortable with the idea of writing in depth for a course grade. I myself cannot count the number of times that I have stalled out while sitting in front of a white screen considering what string of words would make a good start to a brilliant essay.
We often hope for brilliance, and it is that desire in the first place that causes a fearful hesitancy when beginning a writing project. So the key of this course is to focus on a topic that you are interested in and treat it like a final “love letter” to your final days and weeks in this school. It is my sincere hope that this course will not will you with fear, but rather with feelings of pride, resilience, and excitement!
2 b. There will be no assigned readings from the textbook during the first week of class. Instead, we will use this time to prepare a brief research project on either a potential career field, major, or college. Time in class will be spent delving into the main elements of academic writing style mentioned above. These are perhaps the most important thing taught in any college course though because they will most likely be used in every course you will have from here on out. So be prepared to be present, take notes, and ask questions as needed!
3 a. This week we will begin by considering the development of a 5-year life plan.
The activities we use in this prezi will give you the opportunity to practice APA skills while exploring a topic that will (hopefully!) be of interest to everyone!
Choosing a Career
At the end of each weekly update, I will post extra links to resources that students may find interesting for further self study.
- This site is another teacher’s philosophy and literature course. You may find some useful links related to our course topics, or perhaps even find things that you are interested on your own. https://sites.google.com/a/wsps.org/english-department/philosophy-literature
- Rilke’s “Letters to a young poet”