Syllabus (2014)

English 243

Jay Clayton, Vanderbilt University

Week 1
(Jan 6-10)
Week 2
(Jan 13-17)
Week 3
(Jan 20-24)
Week 4
(Jan 27-31)
Week 5
(Feb 3-7)
Week 6
(Feb 10-14)
Week 7
(Feb 17-21)
Week 8
(Feb 24-28)
(Spring Break
Mar 1-9)
Week 9
(Mar 10-14)
Week 10
(Mar 17-21)
Week 11
(Mar 24-28)
Week 12
(Mar 31-Apr 4)
Week 13
(Apr 7-11)
Week 14
(Apr 14-18)
Conclusion
Apr 21

*

Week 1 (January 6-10)

  • Monday: SNOW DAY
  • Wednesday: View online: “Cracking the Code of Life” (2 hour PBS special, Nova [2002])
  • Friday: Francis Fukuyama, excerpt from Our Posthuman Future (OAK)
  • Sunday (6:00 p.m.) – Blog post due (entire class).  Write and upload a blog post about some aspect of the Nova special, “Cracking the Code of Life.”  It would be best to focus closely on one or two of the episodes rather than writing about the entire show, which might lead you into vague generalizations.
    • Instructions: All entries must be signed in the body of the text.  You may use your real name, your first name, or a pseudonym, but you should be sure that the name you use shows up in the posted entry
    • All entries should be tagged and given a category.  Choose categories from those listed in the right-hand column.  Create your own tags, but if an existing tag seems appropriate, please use it.  Entries may have as many tags and categories as you like.
    • Be sure to hit “Publish” in the right hand column when you have finished writing (“Save draft” will not post the entry to the blog).
  • Sunday: 7:00 p.m. Screening of Gattaca (Buttrick, 205)

*

Week 2 (January 13-17)

  • Monday: Gattaca (1997), Andrew Niccol, dir.
  • Wednesday: H. G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) – read the first half (free download at http://www.planetebook.com/ebooks/The-Island-of-Doctor-Moreau.pdf)
  • Friday: H. G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896)
  • Sunday: Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 1)
    • Blog topic: Choose one of the following topics or create one of your own:
      • Write about something in Gattaca or The Island of Dr. Moreau that we did not discuss in class.  For example, religion (in either work); violence; Irene, the Director of the space agency, the head janitor, Vincent’s parents, the lab tech who tests urine samples, or another of the other characters that we did not discuss in Gattaca; animal rights in Dr. Moreau; novelistic or cinematic style, point-of-view, or form; etc.  Be sure to relate your discussion to science, genetics, bioethics, or public policy in some way, however tenuous.
      • Discuss one of the deleted scenes from Gattaca (available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC9f9Rfawcg).  Be sure to include a link to the scene in your blog post.
      • The role of science fiction in helping us think about contemporary ethical issues.

*

Week 3 (January 20-24)

*

Week 4 (January 27-31)

  • Monday: Leon Kass, “The Wisdom of Repugnance” (OAK)
  • Wednesday: Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005)
  • Friday: Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005)
    • Topics for Paper 1 announced in class
  • Sunday: Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 3)

*

Week 5 (February 3-7)

  • Monday: Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005)
    • Monday, 7:00 p.m.: The Island (2005), Michael Bay, dir.  Buttrick 306
    • Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.: The Island (2005), Michael Bay, dir.  Buttrick 306
  • Wednesday: Andrea Barrett, Ship Fever (1996), “The Behavior of Hawkweeds,” pp. 11-33 and “Rare Bird,” pp. 59-79
  • Friday:
  • Sunday, 7:00 (Buttrick 306): Watch Master and Commander (2003)
    • Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 1)

*

Week 6 (February 10-14)

  • Monday:
    • Read excerpts from Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle (OAK).
    • Watch the first web video (only about 3-minutes long) from Darwin: A Naturalist’s Voyage around the World at:  http://www.cnrs.fr/cw/dossiers/dosdarwinE/darwin.html.  Browse the map and watch as many more of the web videos as you choose.
    • Discuss Master and Commander (2003)
  • Wednesday: Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the BeagleCh. 10
    • First paper due, 11:59 pm. Name the file you post to OAK: “Lastname , Firstname – paper 1.” Post through SafeAssign in the Assignments module.
  • Friday: John Dupré, “Human Nature,” from Darwin’s Legacy: What Evolution Means Today, pp. 78-98 (OAK)
  • Sunday: Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 2)

*

Week 7 (February 17-21)

  • Monday: Andrea Barrett, Ship Fever, “Soroche” (pp. 80-102) and “Birds with No Feet” (pp. 103-22)
  • Wednesday:
    • Darwin, Origin of Species, Ch. 14.  Read the last 14 paragraphs of the online text (the passage begins with the sentence: “I have now recapitulated the chief facts and considerations which have thoroughly convinced me that species have changed, and are still slowly changing by the preservation and accumulation of successive slight favourable variations.”
  • Friday: David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)
  • Sunday: Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 3)

*

Week 8 (February 24-28)

  • Monday:  David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)
  • Wednesday: David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)
  • Friday: David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)
  • Sunday: Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 1)

Spring Break (March 1-9)

*

Week 9 (March 10-14)

  • Monday: David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)
  • Wednesday: James D. Watson, The Double Helix (1968)
  • Friday: James D. Watson, The Double Helix (1968)
  • Sunday, 7:00: Screening of the movie, Cloud Atlas (Buttrick 206) 
    • Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 2)

*

Week 10 (March 17-21)

  • Monday: Cloud Atlas (film version, 2012), dir. Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachow
  • Wednesday: Ian McEwan, Saturday (2005)
  • Friday: Quiz
    • Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 3)

*

Week 11 (March 24-28)

  • Monday: Ian McEwan, Saturday (2005)
  • Wednesday: Ian McEwan, Saturday (2005)
  • Friday: (reading day)
    • Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 1)

*

Week 12 (March 31 – April 4)

  • Monday: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003)
  • Wednesday: Congressional Research Service, “Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues” (2010)
  • Friday: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003)
    • Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 2)

*

Week 13 (April 7-11)

  • Monday: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003)
  • Wednesday: Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (2010)
  • Friday: Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (2010).
    • Quiz 4
    • Blog post due, 11:30 p.m. (Group 3)

*

Week 14 (April 14-18)

  • Monday: Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (2010)
  • Wednesday: Presentations of digital media and research projects.
  • Friday: Presentations of digital media and research projects.
    • No blog post this week.

*

Conclusion (April 21)

  • Monday: Presentations of digital media and research projects.
    • Final version of project due, 11:30 p.m. Bring a CD to class or send me the link to the project by email.
    • Second paper due. 11:30 p.m.  Name the file you post to OAK: “Lastname , Firstname – paper 2”. Post through SafeAssign in the Assignments module.
    • Research paper due, 11:30 p.m.  Name the file you post to OAK: “Lastname , Firstname – research paper”. Post through SafeAssign in the Assignments module.

*

Procedures and Requirments

  • Option 1: Two 5-7 page papers. Each paper will count for 20% of the semester’s grade.
  • Option 2: Collaborative digital media project. The project will count for 40% of the semester’s grade.
  • Option 3: Research paper (15-20 pages) – 40% of the semester’s grade.
  • Regular reading quizzes will constitute 30% of the grade.
  • Five required blog posts will count for 20% of the grade.
  • Discussion: 10% of the grade

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