Blogs – 30%
Paper 1 – 20%
Paper 2 – 25%
*(Grad students write 1 paper worth 45%)
Participation – 15%
Presentations – 5%
Amazon Book Review – 5%
(Approximately 200 points total)
A: Demonstration of superior work (written and oral) in fulfillment of course requirements; improvement during the semester will be weighed in evaluation.
B: Excellent work (written and oral) in fulfillment of course requirements; improvement during the semester will be weighed in evaluation.
C: Satisfactory work (written and oral) in fulfillment of course requirements
D: Assigned work is not satisfactory or not completed and/or student fails to meet minimum attendance requirements.
F: Failure to meet minimum course goals.
Breakdown of Assignments:
Blogs: Students will be asked to keep a weekly blog (around 300 words, or 1-pg double spaced) in which they will write about any aspect of any of the readings that are due that week. (Grad students must incorporate additional readings into weekly posts). Blogs will be due at 10pm on the Wednesday nights before our discussions when the syllabus indicates, and students will be expected to have read most of their classmates’ posts before class. I realize that it might not be practical for everyone to read the posts that come in at the last minute, but you should try to read as many as you can. There are two types of blogs that students may write. The first type is analytical. Here, you may brainstorm about important themes, motifs, problems, questions, etc. in the text, or you may relate the reading to other discussions we’ve had throughout the semester. The majority of your blogs should be of this kind. However, you may also choose to write up to three of the second type of blog: the research post. Here, you can provide any type of historical, political, or cultural background that you find might help your classmates understand an aspect of the text or texts we have read. In all cases though, avoid posts that are centered on your likes or dislikes – this isn’t a book review. Blogs may be informal, but they should be grammatically correct and articulate. I want to emphasize that blogs are places for you to think through problems and issues and pose questions or concerns. I am not looking for a developed mini-essay and I therefore will not provide individual grades or feedback for each post: blogs are meant to provoke discussion and thought and therefore are, by definition, incomplete and not fully developed. (Think of blog posts you read on the internet that are meant to get out information in an efficient manner so that the public may respond to them and view them in a timely fashion. Your blog posts for the class serve the same purpose). Each post will be worth 6 points and students will receive all 6 points as long as they write a satisfactory post. If a post is not satisfactory, I will contact the student individually over email to offer suggestions for improvement. In order to encourage students to put the full amount of effort into their posts, I will assign up to 4 points extra credit at the end of the semester to students who have consistently written exceptionally thought-provoking or thorough posts throughout the semester. Also, throughout the semester each student is entitled to 1 free pass where they skip a post for the week. Use your pass wisely. (Note: Grad students may NOT use their pass on a week in which have an alternative blog assignment. Sorry.) Furthermore, you will not receive extra credit if you decide to pass on your pass. Mid-way through the semester, I will assign provisional blog grades; however, if you blog regularly and put thought and effort into your posts, you should have no trouble achieving a high grade. I encourage students to include images, links, videos, etc. and to be creative. PLEASE REMEMBER TO TAG YOUR POSTS WITH AN APPROPRIATE KEYWORD!
Papers: For undergraduates, there will be two papers due throughout the semester. Essay topics will be handed out for both papers; however, students are also encouraged to develop and propose their own topics if they desire. You are strongly advised to start the writing process as early as possible and to bring drafts to my office hours. I will not, however, comment on drafts over email. Graduate students write one longer (15-20 page) seminar paper on a topic of their choice.
Presentations: For many of our sessions (these are marked with an * below) we will have groups of 2-3 students present on the reading material. When it is your turn to present, you and your group will be in charge of guiding our discussion for the day. You should construct a presentation that will take up approximately 45 minutes of class time, though much of this will be filled with your classmates responding to your questions. Your presentations should contain three elements: 1.) They should provide us with some background and context for the text. This does not need to be in the form of the author’s biographical information. Rather, you can, and in fact will, find it more useful to talk about relevant historical and cultural topics. 2.) You should bring us to several important passages in the text, so that we may engage in close readings. And 3.) you should pose discussion questions related to the text and/or to topics related to the themes of the class as a whole. You are strongly encouraged to incorporate blog posts into your discussion if applicable. Keep in mind that you do not need to know everything about a text (in fact, it is quite acceptable and often helpful to point the discussion towards something that you find confusing). However, at the same time, you are going to be the experts for that day. You may therefore find it useful to read up on some of the criticism or relevant background material related to the text. In addition to presenting to the class, you will also each be responsible for responding to two of your classmates’ blog posts. PLEASE USE THE COMMENT FEATURE ON THE BLOG. Responses can take many different forms. They can be additions to the comments, disagreements, or side notes (i.e. something that the post inspires but is not directly related to it.) Responses should be at least 100 words and should be posted within 1 week of your presentations. P.S. You do not have to write a Thursday blog on the week you present!
Amazon Book Review: This may be completed at any time during the semester, but will be accepted no later than the 14th week. Here, students are required to select a book that is not on the syllabus and to write a book review of about 600 words on Amazon.com. (Undergraduates will be asked to select a Nigerian novel, and graduate students will be asked to select a work of recent postcolonial theory. I will provide a list of suggestions, but students will not be limited to that list.) The book review should tell readers your opinion of the book and should also endeavor to situate it in a larger context (i.e. of Nigerian writing, Nigerian history, postcolonial theory, etc.) In other words, show off your expertise. Your assignment is to post the review on Amazon, but I also ask that you post it to our website (and link to your Amazon review) so that we can all see it.
Participation: This grade will be determined by the quality (not quantity) of your contributions to the course in general. The participation grade will be a factor of the following three elements: your level of engagement during class discussions; your demonstrated effort throughout the semester; and your improvement and progress throughout the semester. For students who are less comfortable with speaking in large groups, I encourage you to email me with questions and comments about the readings and to attend office hours. Students who are particularly active on our website will also be rewarded for their participation in our virtual classroom space.