Preston Hall 101
100B Carlisle Hall
Office Hours: TR
Office Phone: 817-272-3112
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (best way to reach me outside of office hours)
If you are reading this sentence, you are engaged in an act of interpretation, the goal of which is, presumably, understanding. But what does it mean to “understand” a text? Is there an instant in time in which a reader shifts from not understanding a text to understanding it? Is there a single, precise standard by which a person may (or should) judge (or be judged regarding) how well she has understood a text? Is understanding a cognitive state that results from culling information from a text, or is it a particular mode of being-in-relation to a text? Or is it something else entirely (perhaps even not an “it”)?
In this course, we will examine contemporary theories of the interpretation of literary and non-literary texts. Our goals for the course are fourfold: (1) to learn basic theoretical concepts related to various methodologies of interpretation (i.e., “hermeneutics”); (2) to gain a broad perspective on the history of the emergence, interanimation, and collision of hermeneutic theories; (3) to contrast various concepts of the “author” and the “reader” of texts; and (4) to investigate what consequences follow for English Studies from the adoption of particular hermeneutic theories by researchers and teachers in the field.
Student Learning Outcomes
Students should be able to:
• employ proper
grammar, punctuation, spelling in writing.
• employ standard MLA or APA guidelines for formatting assignments and citation.
• write with clarity to communicate effectively with scholars interested in critical theory.
• respond critically to course material, using synthesis and analysis.
• assimilate existing information to formulate new ideas.
• express ideas or arguments in oral form.
• develop active listening skills including paraphrasing and synthesizing ideas expressed in class.
• develop methods and strategies for analyzing and interpreting texts.
• evaluate an oral, visual, or written argument for sound or faulty (fallacious) reasoning.
• compare and contrast major themes, issues, or topics in more than one text.
• respond critically to the writing of others in primary and secondary sources.
• create and edit documents using word processing or other computer programs.
• explain the major concepts from Gerald Bruns, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, and Reed Way Dasenbrock.
• analyze critically the notions of “understanding” and “meaning,” especially their relation to language.
• Bruns, Gerald L. Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern.
• Smith, Barbara Herrnstein. Contingencies of Value: Alternative Perspectives for Critical Theory.
ISBN numbers are provided for those students who wish to purchase their textbooks somewhere other than the university bookstore.
The major writing assignments for the course are reading cards (a brief summary of and one question about the assigned reading); two essays (6-10 pages); and a cumulative take-home final examination.
Essay 1 25%
Essay 2 30%
Final Exam 25%
Not completing any of these assignments constitutes grounds for failing the course.
This is a senior-level course; consequently, attendance is mandatory, and active participation is expected. Attendance will be taken in the following way. At the start of each class, you must submit a 4x6 index card that contains the following: your name, the date, a 1-2 sentence summary of the scheduled reading (if multiple readings are assigned, summarize only one), and 1 question that I may announce—anonymously, of course—for general discussion. Cards that do not include a question will receive only ˝ credit. Cards cannot be turned in late, emailed to me in lieu of attending class, etc.; without a card, you will receive no credit for attending class. Excluding the first day of class, we have 26 scheduled meetings that involve newly assigned readings. Each card is worth 1 point, which amounts to 1% of your course grade. However, since it is not always possible to attend class, I will expect from you a maximum of 20 cards, which means that you are allowed six absences. Additional cards will count as .5 % extra credit; so, if you have perfect attendance and turn in the required cards, you will raise your final grade by 3%.
UTA instructors cannot drop students for
any reason. You may choose to drop the course with an automatic “W” by November
2nd. According to the University’s new drop policy,
students who are dropping an English class may no longer go to the English
department to do so—unless they are English majors; instead, students must
first bring their instructors a form that they will sign indicating that they
have discussed the reason(s) for dropping. The students then bring this form to
their major advisors. Students who are undeclared must go to the
Schedule of Assignments (revised 9-27-07)
I reserve the right to modify, as necessary, the readings and other assignments listed on this syllabus.
T 10/9 Open period: Class canceled
Essay 1 assigned
T 10/30 Bruns, Conclusion
Essay 1 due
Essay 2 assigned
T 11/20 Open period: Class canceled
R 11/22 Thanksgiving holiday: Class canceled
Prompt for final exam distributed
Essay 2 and the final exam are due by on Monday, December 10th. I assume that they will be sent to me via email attachment; if this is impossible for you, please make alternative arrangements with me ASAP. No late work will be accepted.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The University of Texas at
As a faculty member, I am required by law to provide "reasonable accommodations" to students with disabilities, so as not to discriminate on the basis of that disability. Student responsibility primarily rests with informing faculty of their need for accommodation and in providing authorized documentation through designated administrative channels. Information regarding specific diagnostic criteria and policies for obtaining academic accommodations can be found at www.uta.edu/disability. Also, you may visit the Office for Students with Disabilities in room 102 of University Hall or call them at (817) 272-3364.
It is the philosophy of The University of Texas at
"Scholastic dishonesty includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the submission for credit of any work or materials that are attributable in whole or in part to another person, taking an examination for another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or the attempt to commit such acts." (Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Series 50101, Section 2.2)
Student Support Services Available
All students are assigned an email account and information about activating and using it is available at www.uta.edu/email. New students (first semester at UTA) are able to activate their email account 24 hours after registering for courses. There is no additional charge to students for using this account, and it remains active as long as a student is enrolled at UT-Arlington. Students are responsible for checking their email regularly.