There are 5 assignments in the course. These assignments are of varying shapes, sizes, textures, and tastes. Many of these tasks are straight-forward, but never simple because they require critical engagement with fiction, film and culture. They are designed to build to a final “essay” project that will demonstrate your understanding of the materials and your skills in analysis. They will be due according to a submission timeline documented in our calendar and submitted to sakai’s dropbox.

I expect responses to be polished yet sincere, or, as Kurt Vonnegut once wrote in an assignment for his “Form of Fiction” class at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop,

I should like them to be both cynical and religious. I want you to adore the Universe, to be easily delighted, but to be prompt as well with impatience with those artists who offend your own deep notions of what the Universe is or should be.

Or something along those lines.

I use the term, “essay,” loosely, leaning toward the word’s French origins, meaning any attempt or effort at communicating ideas through language or the arts. I expect most of these attempts to be in the written form (from word to blurb to brief to final essay project) but I do not discourage other means of engaging with the texts that we read and talk about throughout the semester. If you chose to produce an alternative or non-traditional “essay,” please do so knowing you will be held to the highest production values whether filmed or recorded, or digitally produced. And you must seek instructor approval before choosing an alternative means. Whether “essays” be written, recorded, produced, or filmed, they must be able to be uploadable to the sakai dropbox.

Please see my rubric (under course policies) for grading expectations.


Essay Sequence

  1. Keyword: This keyword or phrase is essential to your text. It may be in the text itself or related to it by theme or topic. It may be ordinary but it has extraordinary significance to understanding the text.
  2. Sentence: This sentence can be a question or a thesis statement about the text itself. It will further expound upon the keyword and its significance or frame the essential concerns of the text.
  3. Prospectus: A complete fleshing out of your ideas you outline in your paragraph. A prospectus is a bit more formal, however, and will have a full description of your topic and research question/statement (revised accordingly) but will also include background research (a literature review) that summarizes the scholarly commentary on the topic and/or work(s) in questions, an outline of where you see the paper going at this stage, and finally a full bibliography of all works cited and works to be cited (if you have further research you plan to conduct).
  4. Final “Essay” Project: of substantial length (~8-12 pages).


Identification, short answer, and essay questions over the lecture, as well as the primary and secondary texts on the syllabus.