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English 324 AutumnQuarter ’06
Assignments and Updates


To read the final I posted as an example of a successful exam, click here.




(Check Due-dates Carefully: Assignments are posted in reverse chronological order)

NOTE: I've updated the reading schedule--click here to view changes.

Note: responding to my midterm comments. Once again you can get up to 5 points extra credit by responding to my comments on your midterm. Click here for details.

November 30: Reading: The Winter's Tale, Acts 4-5.

Writing: This WAS a Reader's Theatre night, but the weather has messed that up big time. So that's off. We'll do something else fun instead. The writing will stay the same except for one thing: there will be no restriction on where you take your passage. So:

Select up to a 30 to 40 line passage from The Winter's Tale that you think would make a good selection for the final (which will solely be on WT). Then, write an explanation of why the passage you select would make a good choice. In this paper (the last response paper of the quarter!) you will be writing, in effect, a first draft of an answer.

November 28: Reading: The Winter's Tale, Acts 1-3.

Writing: I have posted on the Blackboard a short essay about The Winter's Tale. It is called "Bridging the Gap," and it's about what I take to be the thematic center of the play--an extended conversation about "great Creating Nature" and the large scale patterns within which human lives and politics are imagined to be inscribed. Your writing for the 28th? Having read the essay, find a sonnet-sized chunk in the play's first three acts which you think is doing something to further this conversation about the "gap" and any of its consequences, and explain how you see it doing so.

November 21: Second mid-term. This is an in-class exam. I'll give you a choice between two different passages drawn from either King Lear or Troilus and Cressida, suggested by the papers you gave me tonight. You will have the entire two hours to write an exam that I think you should be able to do within an hour. Please bring Examination booklets. (The exam will be closed book.)

November 16: The preliminary schedule for the class shows a Mid-term for this date. But because we slowed down just a bit last week, that's not going to work--we have more to do with TC. So the Midterm is NOW scheduled for November 21.

Writing: Nominations for Midterm passages. Review KL and TC looking for a passage of 25-40 lines that you a) can see doing something significant in terms of the overall project of the play, and b) you would like to write about on the Midterm.

Either xerox or type out (or download from the internet) the passage, and then write an explanation of why this passage would make a good selection for the midterm. In your response paper you will be writing, in effect, a first draft of an answer. (The better you do on this, the more chance you will have of having your passage selected--those two or three whose passages are selected will thus get a measure of reward for their good work.)

We will discuss your passages in class, and we will as a class select a set of finalists. I will then adjust that set (reserving the right to add a passage of my own).

NOTE: On November 9 I handed back papers. In doing so I offered you 5 points extra credit for a substanative (but not more than 2-page) response to my comments, and to your having reread your paper with those comments in mind.

The response can take different forms. One would be to define in as specific a way as you can what you would do to revise the paper again, were that an option. A second would be to extend my comments, focusing on the positive at least as much as the negative. So if I praised your ability to locate appropriate language choices on Shakespeare's part, one part of a response might be describe where you thought you had done that well, as well as where you might have done it better.

Yet a third strategy would be to explain where you think I may have misunderstood or misread. Reading 30 complex and varied papers takes a great deal of concentration--and although I really do think I'm pretty good at, I don't always get it right--and maybe I didn't in your case. If that's true, then tell me about it. But just as you'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, you'll write a better response if you realize that whatever I actually wrote, at some level I'm very likely responding to a paper that isn't being as clear as you wanted it to be. So even if I'm getting it wrong, you'll need to explain better than you have so far just what I'm missing.

Finally, in preparing your response you might be helped by reading one or more of the student essays posted to the Blackboard Paper Page.

The extra credit response is due no later than next Thursday, November 16.

(For Background on the Trojan War:

November 14: Reading: Troilus and Cressida, Acts 4-5.

Writing: From your assigned act, pick a sonnet-sized excerpt and explain its function in as many ways as you can in two pages. We'll be doing a readers' theatre production tonight.

November 9: Reading: Troilus and Cressida, Acts 1-3. (Yes, this is a repeat of November 7's assignment--see note above!)

Writing: Pick a scene to talk about--in the way we've been talking in class about KL. For your chosen scene, first, very briefly sketch the plot--what happens in your scene. Then second, give me a function statement, followed by specific support.

November 7: Reading: Troilus and Cressida, Acts 1-3.

Writing: Pick a scene to talk about--in the way we've been talking in class about KL. For your chosen scene, first, very briefly sketch the plot--what happens in your scene. Then second, give me a function statement, followed by specific support.

November 2: OK. We will be working with King Lear, Acts 4 and 5. And instead of a wholly new response paper, I want you to go back to the paper due on Oct. 26. There you selected a sonnet-sized segment of verse from your assigned act and wrote about what you thought it was doing in the play--what its function was. For Thursday night, reread your segment, and reread your paper. Then ADD a paragraph responding to what you wrote earlier--being your own best critic. You can extend what you said, correct what you said, attack what you said--whatever, upon rereading, makes most sense to you.

October 31: Reading: NONE! We will be carrying on with King Lear. We will be getting serious, too!

Writing: Rewrite of your sonnet paper due. See the email I sent out to you; I also have posted the rewrite instructions on the Blackboard.

October 26: Reading: re-read your assigned act of King Lear (if you don't have an assigned act, email me NOW and get one!), and pick from it a sonnet sized segment of verse you see as doing particularly effective work towards one or more of the play’s “projects.” We will work with these passages, beginning by reading them aloud—a reader’s theatre of the play.

Writing: write out your sonnet-sized passage and explain as fully as you can what work you see it doing, and how you think it is doing it. (See the Blackboard for a summary of our classroom example from Oct 19th's class.)

October 24: Sonnet paper due. TWO COPIES!!!! The full assignment is available on the Blackboard. There is no response paper due this night.

October 19: Reading: King Lear--acts 3-5, and RWS, pp. 20-26, and 29-36.

Writing: Point of Maximum Disorder. You will have read about the Order, Disorder, Re-order structure that most narratives and plays share in RWS, p. 20. In your reading of KL, you will notice several places where the plot and its characters are seriously "disordered." For this assignment, locate what seems to you the point of MAXIMUM disorder. Explain why you think this point is the maximum disorder point. Why, specifically, would you defend this point as opposed to any other point someone else might choose?

SMALL ADDITION: For Tuesday you read and commented on two papers for class. We discussed the first, but not the second. For Thursday, re-read the second paper, and review the criteria scores you gave it. Where on the scale of 1-5 does this paper rate on the four criteria we worked with Tuesday night? (I'm also posting to the Blackboard the handout I gave you last night summarizing the skills that underlie critical reading.)

October 17: Reading: King Lear Act 2, but also the two papers handed out in class, along with RWS pp. 51-2; 57-8.

Writing: Having read the two papers, rate each on a scale of 1-5 for each of the 3 criteria defined in RWS, and then add a 1-5 rating for its general Presentation (organizational and surface structure mechanics). (Use 5 as high, 1 as low.) In your writing defend your ratings. Explain as precisely as you can why you give the rating you do. (Don't worry if you aren't real good at this to start with. Before we're done you will get better at it.) The work you do on these papers will form the basis for our inclass criteria workshop.

October 12: Reading: King Lear, Act 1.

Writing: having read the whole of act 1, pick a sonnet sized chunk of text (10-15 lines) that seems to you to be doing something worth noticing for the play to come. What does it do (i.e., what function does it have with respect to the play as a whole), and how does it do it?

October 10: Reading, Sonnets 90, 94, 97, 116, 129, 138, 141, 144.

Writing: Pick one of the eight assigned sonnets and give me a sentence or two that defines what you think the speaker is trying to do here. Then go on in the rest of your two pages to explain how he manages his task.

October 5: Reading, Sonnets 33, 34, 35, 60, 68, 69, 73, 87, and “The Metrics of Poetry” in RWS: pp. 43ff.

Writing: Having read the eight sonnets for this evening, pick one and give three "whats" that you think particularly important, and then go on to explain "why" for each. (Review "Thumbplunging" in RWS for more on Whats and Whys.) Addition as of Tuesday night's class: ONE of the What's must be about your poem's metrics (for more on metrics, you have the RWS reading for Thursday night!

October 3: Reading, Sonnets 1, 2, 3, 12, 18, 20, 29, 30. RWS (Reading and Writing Shakespeare) pp. 3-20. (Quiz on RWS pages).

Writing: Having read the eight sonnets carefully, pick the one you find most interesting and write a response paper explaining as fully as you can WHY you like it. What catches your eye or ear, and why do you find it interesting?



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