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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "CMS/CW 329"
COURSE NAME: "Writing Criticism"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Allison Grimaldi Donahue
EMAIL: ad[email protected]
HOURS: MW 10:00-11:15 AM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This course offers the student practical and theoretical experience in the field of cultural criticism and writing reviews for print and online publications. Topics will include looking at the history of criticism and the review, critical theory, analyzing a work of art, research, different forms of writing, pitching articles to publications and the craft of writing itself. Students are required to read critically and spend class time in lectures, discussions and workshops. Students will have the opportunity to develop straightforward review writing skills as well as more critical and nuanced essay/long form criticism skills. Students will develop a criticism project, pitch an idea to a publication and write short and long form essays.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

 

We will look at writing reviews and criticism about literature, art, music, performance, film, television and theater. This will take us from writers of the early 20th century to present day. Each student will work on research and reporting while also finding ways to express personal voice, taste and critical perspective. Each week will have both practical and theoretical components and students should be prepared to discuss challenging readings and to share their written work. We will move through diverse­ styles— write ups, opinion pieces, interviews, polyphonic writing, auto-theory, the critic as artist. This will then shift to focus on a longer form project where the student will write a piece of criticism on a chosen culture object or event such as a book, album, work of art, exhibition, concert, film, television show. This does not, however, mean that the research stops.

 

Class work will involve the discussion of readings, active research workshops, and activities that challenge what we perceive of as “good or bad” art. This class aims to look at writing through form and function, analyzing the text and how it works. Students must be prepared to actively learn and research, understanding culture is an ongoing and never-ending process. We will practice disagreeing while always remaining respectful and open to change. We will often be working with works of criticism that open us to new worlds, works of art and literature we may not have encountered before, this course will hopefully teach all of us about the wideness of the world of culture and how much we can learn from developing our critical capacities to understand it.

 

Weekly writing assignments and participation in class are required and will affect your grade.

LEARNING OUTCOMES:



At the end of this course you will be able to:

 

  • Write a short description of a cultural event for publication

  • Write a review of a work of art

  • Write a mid-length review of a work of art, book, concert, album, film, exhibit

  • Write and pitch a proposal to a publication

  • Write feature-length work of criticism (2500-3000 words)

  • Develop a personal writing style

  • Integrate various personal and academic interests into essay writing

Read critical essays with a writer’s eye
TEXTBOOK:
NONE
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Writing and presentingSee course schedule for descriptions and weighting of writing assignments. 100%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:
ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS AND EXAMINATION POLICY

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

Top of Form

 


JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY



COURSE CODE: CMS/CW 329-1

COURSE NAME: "Media Criticism"

SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

 

TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45

CREDITS: 3

PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110; COM 221 recommnended

OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

 

Prof. Allison Grimaldi-Donahue

[email protected]


COURSE DESCRIPTION:

 

This course offers the student practical and theoretical experience in the field of cultural criticism and writing reviews for print and online publications. Topics will include looking at the history of criticism and the review, critical theory, analyzing a work of art, research, different forms of writing, pitching articles to publications and the craft of writing itself. Students are required to read critically and spend class time in lectures, discussions and workshops. Students will have the opportunity to develop straightforward review writing skills as well as more critical and nuanced essay/long form criticism skills. Students will develop a criticism project, pitch an idea to a publication and write short and long form essays.

 

The course focuses on practical and theoretical approaches in the field of cultural criticism and in writing reviews of culture/cultural objects and events. It provides a firm introduction to the skills of review-writing and criticism: in different forms and styles, and for different media. The course considers the history and contemporary directions of criticism for an understanding of the context and scope of the field within culture, it discusses aspects related to the role of the critic and the curation of the piece, and it engages with the craft of writing from pitch to publication.

 

SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

 

We will look at writing reviews and criticism about literature, art, music, performance, film, television and theater. This will take us from writers of the early 20th century to present day. Each student will work on research and reporting while also finding ways to express personal voice, taste and critical perspective. Each week will have both practical and theoretical components and students should be prepared to discuss challenging readings and to share their written work. We will move through diverse­ styles— write ups, opinion pieces, interviews, polyphonic writing, auto-theory, the critic as artist. This will then shift to focus on a longer form project where the student will write a piece of criticism on a chosen culture object or event such as a book, album, work of art, exhibition, concert, film, television show. This does not, however, mean that the research stops.

 

Class work will involve the discussion of readings, active research workshops, and activities that challenge what we perceive of as “good or bad” art. This class aims to look at writing through form and function, analyzing the text and how it works. Students must be prepared to actively learn and research, understanding culture is an ongoing and never-ending process. We will practice disagreeing while always remaining respectful and open to change. We will often be working with works of criticism that open us to new worlds, works of art and literature we may not have encountered before, this course will hopefully teach all of us about the wideness of the world of culture and how much we can learn from developing our critical capacities to understand it.

 

Weekly writing assignments and participation in class are required and will affect your grade.

LEARNING OUTCOMES:



At the end of this course you will be able to:

 

·         Write a short description of a cultural event for publication

·         Write a review of a work of art

·         Write a mid-length review of a work of art, book, concert, album, film, exhibit

·         Write and pitch a proposal to a publication

·         Write feature-length work of criticism (2500-3000 words)

·         Develop a personal writing style

·         Integrate various personal and academic interests into essay writing

·         Read critical essays with a writer’s eye

TEXTBOOK:

 

Readings will be available with a course reader, online links and handouts. See course schedule for a list of readings.

GRADING POLICY

-ASSESSMENT METHODS:

Assignment

Guidelines

Weight

One short (300 word) review

You will choose all topics with approval of instructor

15 %

One medium-length review (900 words)

 

15 %

Pitch for feature article

 

10%

One long feature article (2500-3000)

On a topic of choice

25%

Short responses to readings on class blog (weekly)

Must be ready for each class

10%

Fifteen-minute presentation/lecture on your topic

 

15%

Participation

Participation means showing up, doing the reading, being willing to discuss, ask questions and be fully engaged on a daily level.

10%



-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:

A Work of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course



B This is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised. There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.



C This is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.



D This level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material. Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included. In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.



F This work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.



-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

This class is about ideas, feedback, listening and participating, which means the student is expected to attend every class and to be on time. More than four unjustified absences will make your maximum grade a B.

ACADEMIC HONESTY

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.

 

SCHEDULE

Session

 

 

Session Focus

Reading Assignment

Other Assignment

Meeting Place/Exam Dates

Week one

Introduction/ What is criticism? What is the role of criticism within culture?

Walter Benjamin: “The Author as Producer”

 

Susan Sontag: “Tuesday, And After” in The New Yorker

 

Response on class blog

 

Week Two

What is the critics role within culture?  (How) Can we criticize those in power?

Rachel Z. Arndt

“Searching for subjectivity on Amazon” in The Believer

 

Emily Nussbaum: “The TV That Created Donald Trump” in the New Yorker

 

 Response on class blog

 

Week Three

High v. Low: What makes a “good” work./ Writing a short form review (250 words)

CA Conrad: “From Whitman to Walmart”

 

Susan Sontag: “Against Interpretation ” and various online shorts in music, film and books.

  Response on class blog

 

Week Four

Subjectivity and objectivity: The construction of the “I” and Bias / Some theoretical framework for the “I” —Feminist theory and Queer theory

Roxanne Gay: “I was Once Miss America” from Bad Feminist on representation in the media

 

“Emo: Where the girls aren’t” Jennifer Hopper

  Response on class blog

 

Week Five

Mid-length reviews (1,000 words) and online reviewing

Hilton Als: “Springsteen On Broadway”

“The point of art” in The Believer

Jennifer KrasinskiWhat a New Show at the New Museum Gets Wrong About Gender” in Village Voice

 

Peter Orner: “The Lonely Voice #25: Winter in September, On Breece D’J Pancake” in The Rumpus

 Short form review DUE

 Response on class blog

 

Week Six

The construction of the “I” in a post-colonial world / Note taking and practical research skills

Zadie Smith: “Getting In and Out: Who owns Black Pain” in Harpers

Amiri Baraka: “The Changing Same, R&B and New Black Music”

  Response on class blog

 

Week Seven

Interview as criticism/ Writing a pitch

Interviews in BOMB, Paris Review and The Believer

Mid-length review DUE





 Response on class blog

 

Week Eight

Polyphonic writing and Art as art criticism/Blending genre

Barthes “The Death of the Author”

Ellen Willis: “Janis Joplin”

 

Develop story idea and research long feature article

 

 Response on class blog

 

Week Nine

The critic as artist/ Is criticism art?

Charlie Fox: “Self-Portrait as a Werewolf”

Lester Bangs: “Where were you when Elvis Died?”

Final topic of long form article due





 Response on class blog

 

Week Ten

Autotheory or when criticism is always personal.

Maggie Nelson: “In the pain cave”

Wayne Koestenbaum: “On Frank O’Hara’s Excitement”

 Response on class blog

 

Week Eleven

Curation as criticism

Rosalind Krauss: “The Originality of the Avant-Garde” Chris Kraus: “Where Art Belongs”

David Levi Strauss: Between Dog and Wolf”

  Response on class blog

 

Week Twelve

Class trip to art space/ talk with curator in class

Curator Marta Papini from the 2017 Venice Biennial Italian Pavilion (to be confirmed)

 Draft of final long form article due

 

Week Thirteen

Fiction v. Reality/ Revision and Editing Professionally

Lynne Tillman “Madame Realism”

 

Week Fourteen

Final Paper due and student lectures

 

 Final paper due and student presentations