Innocence and Experience

Innocence and Experience

(Residential College Core 100 First Year Seminar; Fall 2014 Version)

Course Description

We find images, myths, stories, and symbols of innocence and experience across many centuries, throughout many different human civilizations, and in many forms of art and culture. We may associate the terms variously with childhood, purity, abundance, trial, isolation struggle, labor, freedom, nostalgia, sexuality, knowledge, spontaneity, self-awareness, naivete, wisdom, maturity, and guilt, among other things.   Why are these terms so richly resonant? What do we find so captivating about this pair of terms and the conditions or states they name? How do they relate to one another? If innocence is good, is experience bad? If experience is good, is innocence bad? Can you be innocent and experienced? What does innocence look and feel like? What are its thoughts, words, and actions? What about experience: what does it look and feel like and what does it think, say, and do? In this seminar, we will pursue these questions by critically exploring with self-awareness myths, images, stories, and symbols of innocence and experience in literary texts, film and television. Evaluation will emphasize preparation and active participation in seminar discussions and the development of expository writing skills through journaling and drafting and repeated revision of short papers.

Course Objectives

✔ To familiarize students with critical and literary interpretations of the Genesis myth of Adam and Eve (the myth of the Fall).

✔ To foster in students awareness and critical reflection upon the psychological, moral, philosophical, and political implications of the myth.

✔To challenge students to develop self-awareness about the meaning and application of the myth of the Fall in their own lives and to explore alternative, even contradictory, possible meanings and applications

✔ To exercise and develop students’ abilities to read, comprehend, interpret, reflect critically upon and discuss literary texts and concepts

✔ To provide students with the opportunity to practice and improve their writing skills in a variety of genres of academic writing (as described in the “First-Year Writing Requirement Course Goals” below).

✔ To introduce students to some key texts in the canon of modern Western literature

Course Schedule

UNIT 1: THE BACK STORY – THE MYTH OF THE FALL AND EARLY INTERPRETATIONS

Date What to read or watch at home:
W 9.3 Nothing: Course introduction
F 9.5 Genesis Ch. 1-4 [CTools]
M 9.8 Kieran Egan, “Mythic Understanding” from The Educated Mind, pp. 33-70
W 9.10 Elaine Pagels, “The Politics of Paradise” and “The Nature of Nature” both from Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, pp. 98-150 [CTools]
F. 9.12 1.   Elaine Pagels, “The Social History of Satan: From the Hebrew Bible to the Gospels” from The Origin of Satan, pp. 35-62 [CTools]2.   Elaine Pagels, “Satan’s Earthly Kingdom: Christians Against Pagans” and “The Enemy Within: Demonizing the Heretics” from The Origin of Satan, pp. 112-178 [CTools]

UNIT 2: A ROMANTIC ENLIGHTENMENT

Date What to read or watch at home
M 9.15 Kieran Egan, “Romantic Understanding” from The Educated Mind, pp. 71-104
W 9.17 William Blake, selections from Songs of Innocence and Experience (1789)1.   “The Chimney Sweeper,” from Songs of Innocence

2.   “The Chimney Sweeper,” from Songs of Experience

3.   “The Divine Image,” from Songs of Innocence

4.   “The Human Abstract,” from Songs of Experience

5.   “Holy Thursday,” from Songs of Innocence

6.   “Holy Thursday,” from Songs of Experience

F 9.19 William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)
M 9.22 William Blake, The Book of Urizen (1794)
W 9.24 Lord Byron, Cain (1821)
F 9.26 Continue discussion of Cain

UNIT 3: CHILDHOOD’S END

Date What to read or watch at home
M 9.29 Kieran Egan, “Philosophic Understanding,” from The Educated Mind, pp 104-136
W 10.1 Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (1898)
F 10.3 Continue discussion of The Turn of the Screw
M 10.6 William Golding, The Lord of the Flies (1954)
W 10.8 Continue discussion of The Lord of the Flies
F 10.10 Continue discussion of The Lord of the Flies

UNIT IV: CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 10.13 NO CLASS – Fall Study Period
W 10.15 Kieran Egan, “Ironic Understanding” pp. 137-162 from The Educated Mind
F 10.17 Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899)
M 10.20 Continue discussion of Heart of Darkness
W 10.22 Herman Hesse, Demian (1919)
F 10.24 Continue discussion of Demian
M 10.27 Albert Camus, The Fall (1956)
W 10.29 Continue discussion of The Fall
F 10.31 Julio Cortázar, “The Southern Thruway” (1964) [CTools]

UNIT V: THE FALL IN FILM

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 11.3 Kieran Egan, “Somatic Understanding” from The Educated Mind, pp. 162-171
W 11.5 Toy Story (1995)
F 11.7 I’m Not Scared (2004)

UNIT VI: RUNNING THE RISK OF GROWING UP

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 11.10 Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass (1995)
W 11.12 Continue discussion of The Golden Compass
F 11.14 Continue discussion of The Golden Compass
M 11.17 Movie: The Golden Compass (2007)
W 11.19 Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife (1997)
F 11.21 Continue discussion of The Subtle Knife
M 11.24 Continue discussion of The Subtle Knife
W 11.26 NO CLASS Thanksgiving Break
F 11.26 NO CLASS Thanksgiving Break
M 12.1 Phillip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass (2000)
W 12.3 Continue discussion of The Amber Spyglass
F 12.5 Continue discussion of The Amber Spyglass
M 12.8 Continue discussion The Amber Spyglass
W 12.10 Last Class – Conclusion

COURSE WRITING POLICIES

First Year Writing Requirement

The First-Year Writing Requirement (FYWR) is one of the requirements for graduation from the University of Michigan. It may be fulfilled by taking and passing any one of the many courses approved by the Sweetland Writing Center as providing the instruction and practice in writing necessary to fulfill the requirement. Our course fulfills the FYWR. The Sweetland Writing Center has developed a description and list of the goals of a FYWR course such as ours. They read as follows:

“The goal of the First-Year Writing Requirement is to prepare students to write in diverse academic contexts. As a broad preparation for the range of writing tasks students will encounter at the University of Michigan and beyond, FYWR courses emphasize evidenced, academic writing in a variety of genres and rhetorical situations. This course is foundational for students to master the kind of analysis and argumentation found in sophisticated academic writing.

First-Year Writing Requirement courses assign writing tasks designed to help:

  • produce complex, analytic, well-supported arguments that matter in academic contexts;
  • read, summarize, analyze, and synthesize complex texts purposefully in order to generate and support writing;
  • demonstrate an awareness of the strategies that writers use in different rhetorical situations;
  • develop flexible strategies for organizing, revising, editing, and proofreading writing of varying lengths to improve development of ideas and appropriateness of expression;
  • collaborate with peers and the instructor to define revision strategies for particular pieces of writing, to set goals for improving writing, and to devise effective plans for achieving those goals.”

In formulating the following writing assignments, I have tried to think about the specific texts and themes of our course, while also honoring the goals of the FYWR. I trust that the assignments I’ve come up with will be interesting, challenging and perhaps even enjoyable, and that they will expose you to most of the kinds of writing you’ll be expected to do in other courses during your career at Michigan.

A Note on Plagiarism

I don’t expect this to be an issue. But I want to emphasize that in an intellectual community like a university, plagiarism is a form of stealing. If you are in doubt as to whether or not you should cite a source for a quotation or idea you are including your written work, my suggestion is that you cite the reference. You will never be penalized for “over-citation.” If you are caught plagiarizing, you will be asked to meet with me to discuss the issue and to determine what consequences and further procedures may be required.

For more on plagiarism, please consult the following website which contains links to excellent explanations of plagiarism and why it is so harmful to a university community as well as tips to help you avoid it:

http://www.lib.umich.edu/shapiro-undergraduate-library/understanding-plagiarism-and-academic-integrity

Deadlines and Communication

I expect all writing assignments to be submitted to me electronically in the form of PDF files attached to e-mails sent to me at scolas@umich.edu by midnight on the due dates listed below. The PDF filename must include your last name.

That said, it is very important to me that the lines of communication between us concerning these assignments remain open. The first semester of college is an extremely challenging one, certainly intellectually, but also emotionally, socially, and even physically. There may come times when a particular assignment proves especially challenging because of its content, length, or due date, or for some other reason unrelated to the course. I need you to communicate with me (via e-mail or during my office hours) as soon as you realize that you are in this situation. I’m certain that we will be able to find a way to address the problem in a way that accommodates your needs while allowing you to meet the requirements of the course. The worst way to handle difficulties you are having in completing an assignment is to pretend you are not having them or to keep them to yourself.

I expect you to be honest and communicative and in return I promise to be helpful, responsive, and flexible.

COURSE WRITING ASSIGNMENTS

Assignment 1: Emotional Response Paper

The Assignment:

Briefly summarize your emotional response to Genesis and then, using a personal narrative, explain that response, making references to the text that show its connection to your narrative.

The Basics:

☐no less than 3 pages, typed, double-spaced,

First Draft Due: Monday, September 8th by midnight as a PDF file attached to an e-mail addressed to scolas@umich.edu. Don’t forget to include your last name in the PDF filename. 5 % of overall course grade.

Revised, second Draft Due: Monday, September 22nd by midnight as a PDF file attached to an e-mail addressed to scolas@umich.edu. Don’t forget to include your last name in the PDF filename. 10 % of overall course grade.

What is a response paper?

A response paper can take many different directions, but remember that part of the point of the paper is to help those who read it understand the connections you have made and the feelings that arose for you. Why did this particular poem, short story, play, or essay evoke a sad memory or recall a triumph? What details affected you strongly? You need to show your audience exactly what you felt as you were reading the work. Avoid simply announcing that you liked or didn’t like what you read. Showing means finding examples that will make sense to your readers. For this reason, you should reread the work or key passages carefully several times to find telling examples. To write a strong response paper, you need to make clear and frequent references to the work that evoked the thoughts and feelings you’ll be discussing.

Step by step checklist:

☐Read the work or key passages from it several times, making marginal notes and writing journal entries to explore your responses.

☐Focus on one response that seems particularly strong.

☐Explain that response, using examples from your own experience, but also make certain to refer to the work so that the connections between your experience and the work are clear.

☐ Make sure the structure serves, and evolves along with, your argument. No single structure works for every argument.

☐Remember that a response asks for your own ideas and feelings, not simply a summary of the ideas and feelings in the work.

Assignment 2: Comparative Paper

The Assignment:

Explore the similarities and differences you see between Genesis and any two of the following texts: Blake, The Book of Urizen, Byron, Cain, James, The Turn of the Screw, Golding, Lord of the Flies. Then write a paper explaining what you discovered and what significance you find in these similarities and differences.

The Basics

☐No less than 5 pages, double-spaced, typed,

First Draft due Friday October 10th by midnight as a PDF file attached to an e-mail addressed to scolas@umich.edu. Don’t forget to include your last name in the PDF filename. 5 % of overall course grade.

Revised second draft due Friday, October 24th by midnight as a PDF file attached to an e-mail addressed to scolas@umich.edu. Don’t forget to include your last name in the PDF filename. 10 % of overall course grade.

What is a Comparative Paper?

A comparison paper can also take many different directions, but the main point of the paper is to help those who read it understand the relationship between two or more different works. Subject, style, setting, plot, character, themes, ideas, metaphors, and symbols are among the elements of works that might be compared in your paper. Remember that part of your task is to argue for what you believe is the significance of the similarities and differences you have identified. For this reason, and given the length of this assignment, it may be better to focus on a smaller number of similarities or differences.

Step by step checklist:

☐As you plan the paper by doing preliminary reading, writing, and thinking, use lists and outlines to organize your ideas.

☐Remember that a comparison should be made for a purpose. A comparison should not simply list the similarities and differences discovered during your reading.

☐Note which similarities or differences seem most significant or compelling and decide which you will emphasize.

☐Decide how you will organize your paper – for example “whole work – individual subject” approach, the “point-by-point” approach, or a combination of these approaches.

☐ Make sure the structure serves, and evolves along with, your argument. No single structure works for every argument.

☐Open with a paragraph that focuses on the purpose and point of the comparison (rather than just announcing that you are comparing or stating that the fact of similarities and differences).

☐Develop each subject (or each point) in a separate paragraph (or in a series of carefully related and logically linked paragraphs).

☐Make certain that transitions between paragraphs and between sections of the paper show the connections – the comparisons and contrasts – you want to make.

☐Develop a conclusion that offers and analysis, evaluates the evidence the body of your paper provides, or in some other ways shows the significance of the comparison you have made.

Assignment 3: Evaluative Paper

The Assignment:

Consider what you believe to be the values and beliefs suggested by the texts you’ve read thus far. Choose one of these texts and explain those values and beliefs as well as your evaluation of them. Are there different, conflicting values and beliefs? Does the text appear to “side” with one set more than another? How does the style of writing affect your sense of this? Do you agree with them completely? Question them? Explain.

The Basics:

☐No less than 5 pages, double-spaced, typed.

First draft due: Monday, November 10th by midnight as a PDF file attached to an e-mail addressed to scolas@umich.edu. Don’t forget to include your last name in the PDF filename. 5 % of overall course grade.

Revised second draft due: Monday, November 24th by midnight as a PDF file attached to an e-mail addressed to scolas@umich.edu. Don’t forget to include your last name in the PDF filename. 10 % of overall course grade.

What is an evaluative paper?

A literary work can be judged in many ways. For instance, a reader may evaluate a work by asking questions such as “Is this poem beautiful?”, “Are the motives of the characters convincing?”, or “What are the values supported by this work and do I subscribe to those values?” In this particular assignment you are to focus on and consider the values or beliefs supported by a particular work and to evaluate these for yourself. Whenever we judge, we rely upon some sort of criteria or standard. Each of you must develop your own standards for evaluation, but these criteria will come from what you have experienced, observed, and heard, whether at home, in school, among friends, in religious institutions, or elsewhere. It is important in this paper not only to be convincing that the text does indeed support (at least in part) the values or beliefs you attribute to it, but also that you explicitly identify the criteria you are using in evaluating the beliefs. Be open to the possibility that in the process of reading and writing this paper your criteria (and so you judgment) may change or be suspended entirely.

Step by step checklist:

☐Identify the beliefs and values expressed in the work, making note of specific details that demonstrate these beliefs and values.

☐Think about the criteria you will use to evaluate those beliefs and values.

☐Consider what questions might be raised concerning those beliefs and values. (If you share values with the text, imagine the response of someone who does not.)

☐To expand your thinking, consider interviewing others who might be particularly interested in the values and beliefs expressed in the work.

☐Decide whether your evaluation will support or question or both the values and beliefs expressed in the work.

☐List your reasons for supporting and questioning those values and beliefs. Be explicit. Spell it out.

☐Remember to reread the text or key passages frequently to make certain you are responding to values and beliefs actually expressed there.

☐Make certain the opening section of the paper makes clear both the values and beliefs expressed in the work and the approach or approaches you are taking toward those values and beliefs.

☐ Make sure the structure serves, and evolves along with, your argument. No single structure works for every argument.

☐Make certain the conclusion sums up the evaluation – the reason you support and subscribe to (and/or do not support and subscribe to) the beliefs and values expressed in the work.

Assignment 4: Research Paper

The Assignment:

Discover a question provoked by a passage, theme, or image you’ve encountered in one (or possibly more, but no more than three) of the texts you have read this semester. Do research to explore that question. In your paper, refer to at least three sources. At least one of the sources you cite must originally have been published in print form, offline (though you may cite the internet version). As one of your reference sources you may use Egan’s The Educated Mind or either of Elaine Pagels works. In other words, two of your reference sources must be discovered outside of class.

The Basics:

7-10 pages, double-spaced, typed, 20 % of course grade

Topic and Preliminary Reference list- Due Friday, December 5th by midnight as a PDF file attached to an e-mail addressed to scolas@umich.edu. Don’t forget to include your last name in the PDF filename. – 5 % of overall course grade.

Outline or rough draft – Due IN CLASS on Wednesday December 10th – 5 % of overall course grade.

Final – due on Wednesday December 17th by midnight as a PDF file attached to an e-mail addressed to scolas@umich.edu. Don’t forget to include your last name in the PDF filename. – 10 % of overall course grade.

What is a research paper?

The heart and soul of the research paper is your own uncertainty, curiosity, and wonder. As you have been reading all semester you may have encountered questions. A research paper entails actively identifying the questions that matter most to you, investigating and evaluating reliable sources that have addressed your question in the past, and then integrating the views of these sources with your own in order to formulate a convincing possible response to your question (or perhaps to arrive at a more profound reformulation of your original question). Consider a research paper to be your contribution to an ongoing discussion of a question you and others care about. You want your contribution to advance our understanding of the question, even while acknowledging that it is unlikely that your contribution will answer it definitively.

Step by step:

☐Think of the texts we have read, review your reading journals and marginal notes, the notes you took during lecture and discussion, perhaps even your previous papers and try to make a list of questions that outside reading might help you answer.

☐Become familiar with library resources (books, specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias, Humanities Index, MLA International Bibliography, newspaper indexes)

☐Skim the sources you discover to find which might help you to answer or to focus or reformulate your questions.

☐Decide on a preliminary thesis.

☐Take notes from sources that will help you to explore this thesis.

☐Organize your information and begin to draft.

☐ Make sure the structure serves, and evolves along with, your argument. No single structure works for every argument.

☐Remember to use quotations and paraphrases sparingly. Your ideas, not those of your sources, should dominate the paper.

☐Lead in to quotations and paraphrases smoothly, so that the reader knows why they are important.

☐Provide accurate documentation for quoted and paraphrased material and provide an accurate list of works cited.

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