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Certificate in Writing & Editing

Grand Forks, ND

Engl 415 Special Topics in Literature:
Law and Literature

Instructor:  Dr. Crystal Alberts
Office
:  Merrifield 1D
Office Hours: M 1:00-2:00, W 1:00-3:00 and by appt.
Phone: 7-2393/7-3321
E-mail:  crystal.alberts@und.edu

Required Texts:

Passing (1929), Nella Larsen
The Crucible (1953), Arthur Miller
Howl (1955), Allen Ginsberg
The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Margaret Atwood
A Frolic of His Own (1994), William Gaddis
The Round House (2012), Louise Erdrich

Grading:

Attendance/Participation 20%
Midterm Essay (Undergraduate: 8-10 pages; Graduate: 10-12 pages) 25%
Annotated Bibliography/Prospectus 25%
Final Paper (Undergraduate: 10-15 pages; Graduate: 20-25 pages) 30%

Objective of the Course:

America is famously (or infamously) litigious and, arguably, has been since its colonial beginnings. In seventeenth-century Puritan New England, 19 men and women were condemned to death during the Salem Witch Trials; by 1971, Satan himself was on trial in the US for violating a citizen’s Constitutional rights. From the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit to the Twinkie defense, we’ve been serving people up to the justice system for centuries. It is no surprise, then, that there is a rich tradition of American literature that focuses on the law from sensationalized true crimes to critiques of the justice system. But, literature also influences the law and can lead to new legislation. And, occasionally, literature itself is on trial.

Although primarily focused on the 20th century, this course will look at the intersection of law and literature at various points in American history. From the codification of race after Plessy v. Ferguson to the Salem-like trials of HUAC to George Carlin’s "Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV" (most of which you can now say on TV), we will not only read literature that incorporates the law, that has been banned by the law, or that has become the foundation for laws, but we will also study court cases and witness testimony as literature.

Students in this class will be expected to participate in detailed discussions about the readings, conduct research, and write thoughtful, argumentative essays (including a "seminar" paper at the end of the semester).

This course is an Essential Studies Capstone Course, and fulfills the goals of Thinking and Reasoning.

Course Requirements:

Completion of Work: PLEASE NOTE, ALL PAPERS AND ASSIGNMENTS FOR THIS COURSE MUST BE COMPLETED AND SUBMITTED ON TIME TO RECEIVE CREDIT.

Attendance, Participation, and Punctuality: Your attendance and participation in class discussion is essential for the success of the class. Please note that 4 or more unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade and that more than 6 unexcused absences constitute grounds for failure of the course. Note that three unexcused tardies is equivalent to an unexcused absence. Also, I will consider a tardiness of more than 20 minutes an absence. If you do miss a class, please see me during my office hours to find out what you missed, including important handouts, changes in the syllabus, etc.

Essay Format: Essays are due at the beginning of the class in which they are due. In other words, essays e-mailed to me later in the day will be considered late. Essays handed in after the class meeting will be deducted a 1/3 of the letter grade for each day that they are late. For instance, if you get a B+ on the essay, but you hand it in on Wednesday instead of Monday, your grade will drop to a B-. If there is some reason why you are unable to hand in the essay on time, you must discuss this with me before the due date. For this class, all essays must be written using the MLA format. I will distribute handouts from the MLA Handbook to help you with this. In addition, all essays must be typed using Times New Roman 12-point font. Also, please use a one to one and a quarter inch margin and title your essays. Everyone is strongly encouraged to meet with me at least a week before each essay is due to discuss your paper topic.

S-U Option (aka Pass/Fail): If you wish to take the course under the S-U option, please consult the registrar’s office for UND’s policies available at: http://www.und.edu/dept/registrar/catalogs/catalog/ugdept/more.htm.

Scholastic Dishonesty:

Plagiarism, or any other form of scholastic dishonesty, is a serious offense and will be subject to official university policy and punitive action as found in the "Code of Student Life" available at http://sos.und.edu/csl/index.php?main=1&pg=s3&subpg=3-3 and reproduced here:

3-3 SCHOLASTIC DISHONESTY
Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating on a test, plagiarism, and collusion. Cases of dishonesty may be handled as a scholastic matter or as a disciplinary matter at the discretion of the instructor. Instructors choosing to treat the case as a scholastic matter have the authority to decide how the incident of dishonesty will affect the student’s grade in the course. If the instructor has treated the case as a scholastic matter involving the grade in a course and the student has a grievance related to this action, that grievance would be processed as outlined in Section 3-2. Instructors choosing to treat the case as a disciplinary matter will refer the case to the Associate Dean of Student Life for possible resolution; if final resolution does not occur the Associate Dean of Student Life may refer the case to the Student Relations Committee which will handle the matter under Section 2.
A. Cheating on a test includes, but is not restricted to:
1. Copying from another student’s test.
2. Possessing or using material during a test not authorized by the person giving the test.
3. Collaborating with or seeking aid from another student during a test without permission from the instructor.
4. Knowingly using, buying, selling, stealing, transporting, or soliciting in whole or in part the contents of an unadministered test.
5. Substituting for another student or permitting another student to substitute for oneself to take a test.
6. Bribing another person to obtain an unadministered test or information about an unadministered test.
B. Plagiarism means the appropriation, buying, receiving as a gift, or obtaining by any means another person’s work and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of it in one’s own work.
C. Collusion means the unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing any academic work offered for credit.

Please remember that you must cite all quotations, summaries, paraphrases and ideas of others, or you will be subject to disciplinary action, such as failure for the course or worse. If you have even the slightest doubt about whether or not you should cite a source, err on the side of caution and cite it.

Class Schedule

(the large print giveth, the small print taketh away…schedule subject to change)

WEEK 1

1/14 Introduction/Syllabus
Writing and Research

1/16 Cultural Context:

  • "When all the Women Were White, and All the Blacks Were Men: Gender, Class, Race, and the Road to Plessy," Barbara Y. Welke, 13 Law & Hist. Rev. 261 (1995) [handout]
  • Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, available at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/163/537

WEEK 2

1/19 NO CLASS-MLK

1/21 Cultural Context:

  • "Miscegenation Law, Court Cases, and Ideologies of ‘Race’ in Twentieth-Century America," Peggy Pascoe, The Journal of American History. 83.1 (Jun., 1996) [handout]
  • The Rhinelander Case [handouts]

1/23 Passing, Larsen, Part I

WEEK 3

1/26 Finish Passing, Larsen

1/28 Critical Context:

  • "Racial Etiquette: Nella Larsen’s Passing and the Rhinelander Case," Miriam Thaggert [handout]

1/30 Critical Context:

  • "Racial Etiquette: Nella Larsen’s Passing and the Rhinelander Case," Miriam Thaggert [handout]

WEEK 4

2/2 Cultural Context:

2/4 Cultural Context:

  • House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) [handouts]
  • J. Edgar Hoover Testimony before HUAC [handout]
  • "The Black Silence of Fear," William O. Douglas [handout]

2/6 The Crucible, Miller, Acts I and II

WEEK 5

2/9 Finish The Crucible, Miller

2/11 Critical Context:

  • Article on The Crucible, TBA

2/13 Critical Context:

  • Article on The Crucible, TBA

WEEK 6

2/16 NO CLASS—President’s Day

2/18 Cultural Context:

2/20 "Howl," Ginsberg

WEEK 7

2/23 "Howl," Ginsberg

2/25 Cultural Context:

  • Howl on Trial, pp. 125-199

2/27 Critical Context:

  • "’Howl’ and Other Poems: Is There Old Left in These New Beats?," Ben Lee, American Literature 76.2 (2004) 367-389 [handout]

WEEK 8

3/2 Critical Context:

  • "’Howl’ and Other Poems: Is There Old Left in These New Beats?," Ben Lee, American Literature 76.2 (2004) 367-389 [handout]

MIDTERM ESSAY DUE

3/4 Cultural Context:

3/6 Cultural Context:

WEEK 9

3/9 The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood, ch. 1-16

3/11 The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood, ch. 17-31

3/13 Finish The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood

WEEK 10

3/16 NO CLASS—Spring Break

3/18 NO CLASS—Spring Break

3/20 NO CLASS—Spring Break

WEEK 11

3/23 Critical Context:

  • Article on The Handmaid’s Tale, TBA

3/25 NO CLASS—UND Writers Conference
3/27 NO CLASS—UND Writers Conference

WEEK 12

3/30 Cultural Context:

  • "'Historic' in a Bad Way: How the Tribal Law and Order Act Continues the American Tradition of Providing Inadequate Protection to American Indian and Alaska Native Rape Victims," Jasmine Owens, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 102.2 (2012) [handout]
  • Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, 435 U.S. 191 (1978) available at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/435/191

4/1 The Round House, Erdrich, ch. 1-4
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY & PROSPECTUS DUE

4/3 NO CLASS—EASTER BREAK

WEEK 13

4/6 NO CLASS—EASTER BREAK

4/8 The Round House, Erdrich, ch. 5-8

4/10 Finish The Round House, Erdrich

WEEK 14

4/13 Critical Context:

  • "Erdrich’s Crusade: Sexual Violence in The Round House," Julie Tharp, Studies in American Indian Literatures 26.3 (Fall 2014): 25-40. [handout]

4/15 Cultural Context:

4/17 Cultural Context:

WEEK 15

4/20 A Frolic of His Own, Gaddis, pp. 13-57

4/22 A Frolic of His Own, Gaddis, pp. 57-128

4/24 A Frolic of His Own, Gaddis, pp. 128-208
COMPLETE DRAFT OF FINAL PAPER DUE

WEEK 16

4/27 A Frolic of His Own, Gaddis, pp. 208-288

4/29 A Frolic of His Own, Gaddis, pp. 288-364

5/1 A Frolic of His Own, Gaddis, pp. 364-439

WEEK 16

5/4 Finish A Frolic of His Own, Gaddis

5/6 LAST DAY OF CLASS

FINAL PAPER DUE MAY 12, 2015 BY NOON VIA EMAIL

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