GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS
Does a film tell the same story as a
novel or a play? How are meanings on screen different from
meanings on the page? Is print literacy different from film
literacy? In this course we’ll study three novels and a play
by Shakespeare that approach storytelling in different ways.
Each of these works raises questions about symbolism, myth,
narrative structure, point of view, genre, and realism. Film
adaptations of these works will then be studied as a means
of understanding what, if anything, cinema and written
literature have in common. We’ll begin with a look at Orson
Welles's masterpiece Citizen Kane (1941); our
introduction to this classic will provide us with a
vocabulary for the discussion of subsequent films.
1. Participation and attendance (10%).
Students are expected to attend every class and actively
contribute to discussion. There are no unexcused absences,
and I should be notified in advance if an absence is
unavoidable. Call my office or let me know by e-mail if you
cannot attend a class.
Class contribution takes several forms.
Students may ask questions at any point during a class;
students and teacher may engage in question-and-answer
dialogue; the class as a whole may engage in open
discussion, sharing ideas and attempting as a group to
deepen its understanding of the material. Students should
work at participating effectively in all these formats.
Class participation will be evaluated on the basis of
evidence of preparation and thoughtfulness about the
material. The most important criterion, in my view, is
whether one’s contribution to class discussion contributes
to the learning of others, including myself. I encourage
students who are willing to disagree, to share their
opinions, and to back them up. I like vigorous and civilized
From time to time out-of-class
screenings will be scheduled as needed. Advance notice will
be given, and attendance will be required.
2. Quizzes and exams (30%). Quizzes and
exams on the reading assignments will be given on the class
day on which reading assignments are to be completed. These
quizzes and exams will be factual, not interpretive, and
will be considered indications of preparation for class.
There will be quizzes on Giannetti (chapters 1-5) and the
fiction and drama readings. Note also that the use of
Giannetti will be required as a basis for a film-literate
vocabulary on all papers. Students in this course are
expected to read Giannetti (as assigned) in conjunction with
3. Written work (60%). Two critical
papers involving research will be assigned on themes and
topics to be discussed; the length of the first paper will
be approximately five pages, the length of the second paper
between eight and ten pages. Both papers will involve
research (the use of at least two off-line sources other
than the primary works discussed). The due date of the final
paper will be the final exam date of the course. These
papers are to be well organized and thoroughly proofread.
In these papers the format of the first
sample student paper in The Little, Brown Handbook in
the chapter entitled “Two Research Papers in the MLA Style,”
is to be followed; bibliographic and “Works Cited” formats
are to be found in the chapter entitled “Using MLA
Documentation and Format.” Any paper that has not been
spell-checked or does not follow the assigned formats will
receive an automatic “F.” No exceptions. All corrections and
editorial changes indicated by the instructor must be made
before the next paper is submitted, otherwise the grade on
the following paper will be "F." I call this the “Magic
Check” process. Again, no exceptions.
When the second paper is submitted, it
must be accompanied in a plain tab folder by the first
paper. A third, optional paper may also be done. I will
discuss the dates for this with the class. When the optional
paper is submitted, it, too, must be accompanied in the
folder by previous work. All papers are due at the start of
class from the author on the specified due date; papers not
handed in on time will be penalized one letter grade per
4. Overall grading philosophy. Grades
on papers, quizzes, and participation will not be strictly
averaged; much weight will be given to improvement. Each
student's work will be assessed on an individual basis, with
emphasis on consistency and the ability to achieve higher
standards as the course proceeds. This is called “outcome
grading.” I regard it as a truer measure of student learning
than the averaging method. It isn’t as tidy, but it’s more
individual and more closely reflects the learning curve in a
course. In my experience, this method achieves more accurate
results than the traditional averaging method.
In addition to the assigned work, each
student may do extra assignments based on the course
reading, campus events (films, plays, etc.), as well as
outside reading. This work will be read and graded and
included in the above-mentioned folder. Thus, much work in
this class may well be individually generated. I call this
process making the case for the “A.”
Note: the averaging method may be
elected by a student if that student so chooses; this must
be done at the start of the course. Notify me within a week
of the start of the semester. After one week, there can be
no changes in the grading system.
Further note: it is course policy that
all assigned work (papers, quizzes, exams, etc.) must be
completed in order for a student to pass the course.
One more note: An optional final exam
is available for those who select it. In my opinion, only
those students who feel they are between grades should
select this option. The grade on this exam will be used to
determine which of two grades (higher or lower) the student
5. The Mercer Honor Code is in effect
at all times in this course. The consequences of violating
this code are serious, and all students should be aware of
6. The course schedule is attached. See
Students with a documented
disability should inform the instructor at the close of the
first class meeting or as soon as possible. If you are not
registered with Disability Services, the instructor will
refer you to the Student Support Services office for
consultation regarding documentation of your disability and
eligibility for accommodations under the ADA/504. In order
to receive accommodations, eligible students must provide
each instructor with a Faculty Accommodation Form from
Disability Services. Students must return the completed and
signed form to the
Disability Services office on the
3rd floor of the Connell Student Center. Students with a
documented disability who do not wish to use accommodations
are strongly encouraged to register with Disability Services
and complete a Faculty Accommodation Form each semester.
For further information please contact Disability Services
at 301-2778 or visit the web site at http://www.mercer.edu/stu_support/swd.htm.
ENGLISH 237 COURSE SCHEDULE
Note that this schedule is intended as
a flexible plan, not a rigid sequence. I am willing to
expand discussion times if that seems appropriate. After
long experience, I have found that the best way to teach a
film and literature course is to keep an open mind about the
schedule. I have therefore included a number of “buffer
classes” at the end.
Tues. 19 Aug. Course Intro. Reading
assignment Giannetti, chapter 1.
Thurs. 21 Aug. Start Welles, Citizen
Tues. 26 Aug. Discussion. Continue
Citizen Kane. Giannetti Quiz 1. Giannetti assignment, ch.
Screening: A Journey through Film
with Martin Scorsese. 7 p.m., Stetson 158.
Thurs. 28 Aug. Citizen Kane.
Tues. 2 Sept. Citizen Kane.
Reading assignment Walkabout. Giannetti Quiz 2.
Thurs. 4 Sept. Citizen Kane.
Tues. 9 Sept. Start Walkabout.
Quiz on Walkabout. Continue A Journey through Film
with Martin Scorsese.7 p.m., Stetson 158.
Thurs. 11 Sept. Walkabout.
Tues. 16 Sept. Walkabout. Reading assignment The
Thurs. 18 Sept. Walkabout.
Tues. 23 Sept. Walkabout.
Reading assignment Giannetti, ch. 3.
Thurs. 25 Sept. Start The Maltese
Falcon. Quiz on The Maltese Falcon.
Tues. 30 Sept. The Maltese Falcon.
Thurs. 2 Oct. The Maltese Falcon.
Giannetti Quiz 3. Reading assignment Hamlet.
Tues. 7 Oct. The Maltese Falcon.
Paper assignment. Reading assignment Giannetti, ch 4.
Thurs. 9 Oct. No class.
Tues. 14 Oct. Discussion Hamlet.
Quiz on Hamlet.
Thurs 16 Oct. Let the Devil Wear
Black. Giannetti Quiz 4.
Tues. 21 Oct. Let the Devil Wear
Black. Paper due. Reading assignment A Clockwork
Thurs. 23 Oct. Let the Devil Wear
Tues. 28 Oct. Let the Devil Wear
Thurs. 30 Oct. Start A Clockwork
Orange. Quiz on A Clockwork Orange.
Tues.4 Nov. A Clockwork Orange.
Reading assignment Giannetti, ch 5.
Thurs. 6 Nov. A Clockwork Orange.
Tues. 11 Nov. A Clockwork Orange.
Giannetti Quiz 5.
Thurs. 13 Nov. A Clockwork Orange.
Tues. 18 Nov. A Clockwork Orange.
Final paper assignment. Discussion.
Thurs. 20 Nov. Discussion. Last date
for optional paper.
Tues. 25 Nov. Discussion
Thurs. 27 Nov. No class.
Tues. 2 Dec. Discussion.
Thurs. 4 Dec. Last class day.