FYC, 2nd Semester, Retrospective

New Class, Again
Having moved to my university just last year, and having had to adjust to teaching totally different sources and works, I was not pleased to hear that the class was changing (again!—for me, but for the first time for everyone else). I was going to have to follow a common syllabus. I could not teach any introduction to literary analysis. The work on RAs (rhetorical analyses) that I spent so much time on last year was basically worthless.

Creative Commons image, by Equazcion
Creative Commons image, by Equazcion
I was not happy.

After a semester of working with the common syllabus, despite the fact that I am still upset about a common syllabus and am not allowed to add or change any major papers, I am less frustrated. The new coursework has definite advantages.

The Major Papers

PeopleResearch retrospective:
First, there is a research retrospective, a reflective essay, for the students. It requires them to think about and articulate what they have learned about research in previous classes. This is useful because it ties work they have already done in college (and perhaps in high school) into the work we are doing in this particular English course.

This is the only optional paper in the series and I talked to my students about what I had intended to do and how I had considered handling the paper. Then I allowed the class to vote on whether we would write the paper or not. (Research suggests/shows that giving students control over their coursework can improve outcomes.)

Both of my classes decided that they would take the research retrospective and make it an extra credit option. I like this idea because it still gets a lot of people to think and it gives me a low stakes introduction to the students’ abilities to write. I gave it four homework grades (content, development, organization, and grammar/mechanics) and students got ahead on their averages long before most homework assignments were even listed.

What I liked about the research retrospective was that it gave me an introduction to the better writers in my classes—since those are the ones who typically do the early extra credit assignments—and I could find out what experience those students had with research. I also liked the fact that the extra credit boosted their grades. (I assign a LOT of homework grades and make it a significant portion of the coursework. I think a writing class should be about writing and this allows me to keep them writing at a fairly steady rate.)

Ossian songs 1811 (Roman dreaming) by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres WC pdTwo texts analysis:
The next paper was a two texts analysis. Thankfully I have an amazingly gifted colleague, Dr. Mikee Delony, who shared her assignment for this paper. She came up with the idea of comparing the lyrics of a song with an official music video for the work.

I introduced the idea using Tata Young’s “Cinderella” and Randy Travis’ “I’m Going to Love You Forever.” An interesting aspect of these two sets of lyrics, which was serendipitous, was that they both have a “they say/I say” aspect—which is the name of our new text for the course and a focus for the class. “Cinderella” says “My momma used to read me stories…. I’m going to rescue myself.” Excellent way to begin this discussion! Then Travis’ song says “They say that I’m … I’m no longer one of those guys.” That allows us to talk about reputation and change, something that students in a residential college setting may well have to deal with.

The assignment was very successful. The students enjoyed it because they were allowed to pick any music and the videos, it turns out, were sometimes quite bizarre. I think some of the students went looking for really odd videos to start with!

steampunk_vampire_slaying_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d54eetjCasebook essay:
The second major assignment was a casebook essay. The department suggested doing these as a class, using topics in the They Say/I Say text and developing them from there. Since I wasn’t too excited about doing sports, I went looking for some good videos to suggest other topics. We watched a TED Talk “Your Brain on Video Games” and a medical video on zombie brains, among others.

I allowed students, again, to vote on the topics for the classes. One class decided to do the American Dream and sports, both of which are in our text, and neuroscience. The other class chose monsters and video games. This meant that even though multiple students were working on the same topic, I was not terribly bored by the 700th rendition of whatever.

For the casebook essay, I provided at least two sources (obviously the ones from the book were easy) and then each student had to provide one scholarly source and one video source. The class got links for all of these, as well as the citations for them. Students had to create an RA for these two and these were also shared with the class. That meant that the class had multiple sources for each topic and different ways of approaching the subject. All told, the students had to have two scholarly sources, two video sources, and one popular source for the casebook essay.

One thing I did which I thought would be very helpful was to have students do annotated bibliographies for these five sources. (The assignment after this one requires them.) I thought they would help the students get focused, because the reading would have to be done ahead of time and students would have to at least project an avenue of thought for their paper.

I still like this idea but I would change two things. First, I would make sure the unofficial annotated bibliographies matched exactly the format for the official ones. That way the students would simply be able to use them for the annotated bib OR would be drilled in how to do them correctly, even if we switched topics. Second, I would clarify very specifically that the paper was not supposed to be simply a summary of the sources. I received many (ten perhaps out of forty) papers that introduced the topic and then summarized each source in order. I do not want that to happen again.

male studying computerAnnotated bibliography:
After the casebook essay, which really went in different directions, we worked on the annotated bibliography. Students did peer reviews on their classmates’ casebook essays, so they had seen all their sources and how the students used them. This gave everyone an opportunity to see other sources that they might have missed.

For the annotated bibliography I only required eight sources. Three had to be scholarly articles. Two had to be videos. The rest could be either of those or popular sources.

This was a problem because the students had already written their casebook essay on the topic (which is not the normal procedure for the course) and then they went and found additional sources. However, they did not find sources which added significantly to their knowledge base. What that meant was that when they went to write the researched long essay, the next paper, they really did not have sufficient sources to “lengthen” their casebook essay.

typingResearched essay:
After having “completed” their research and annotated bibliography, students ended up having to go find other sources after this and do annotated bibs on the new sources, since a complete annotated bib for each source was required for the research paper.

I liked using the same topic for the casebook essay, the annotated bibliography, and the researched essay. It allowed students to learn a lot about a single area and really develop their thoughts.

In addition, students have a university-required course which created an annotated bibliography the previous semester and, if they desired, the students could write their researched essay on the topic of that annotated bibliography rather than over the topic of their casebook essay. Only one student took advantage of that option and the paper was not particularly well done. I am not sure if that was an artifact of the quality of the annotated bib required in Core or the student’s own abilities/work.

(It turns out that even though all Core students are required to do a twelve text annotated bibliography, the level of quality varied based on teachers of the course AND at least two professors did not require it—even though it is the major assignment for that class.)

The students were frustrated after they wrote their casebook essay and annotated bibliography to discover that they had already used all the information in their sources and needed to find other sources on tangential or related topics in order to expand their essays to the length required for the researched essay. This is definitely something that I will discuss/present next time I teach the course. While I know that, I am not sure how I will present it to ensure that students understand the importance and are able to adjust their research search appropriately.

CalendarDue Dates
The annotated bibs and research essays were due a week before the other professors’ deadlines. This was not a popular decision with the director of composition, but it gave me time to grade them before finals—which means unless I am ordered not to do that, I will have a similar deadline next year.

One thing that I think will be important, which I did not expect would be necessary, is having student conferences over their research papers. The quality of the research papers was significantly reduced from the casebook essays this semester. I want to avoid that next year.

With so much work already done for the researched essay ahead of time, the level of incompleteness in the researched essays came as a surprise. I did not—and will not—assign/allow time for revision of this essay, especially when it is the third in the sequence building on the same topic. However, I think I will have to introduce/include student conferences for this paper next semester.

I also had one week where we wrote practice finals on an old topic the week before the research papers were due. The director of composition was particularly critical of this and, while I don’t see why it should be a problem, I am willing to agree that it was a problem. Therefore, next year, I will not do that but will instead use that week for conferences.

video from roughly drafted dot comDigital Presentation
Since I required a digital presentation over the research topic (and these were generally very good in content), I may also require that they bring their videos to the conference for critique. Many of the students lost points for not including the URL list for the photography and music as well as for not having a title frame on the video. These are very basic aspects of the digital presentation which should not have been missed by students.

Last year something I did in fyc was to have students bring their videos and have a peer review of the digital presentations. This worked very well. I may want to incorporate that into this course as well. It will add a bit of difficulty to the schedule, but maybe I can figure it out….

Those last two will definitely change the time available in the course. (Especially at the end.) That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Best Things
The best things about the course as structured were:
the two-texts analysis using the video and song lyrics
having multiple topics for the casebook essay, ann bib, researched essay
assigning and spending the last week before the final preparation watching digital presentations, with goodies brought in.

CelebrationNote to remember: Students eat a lot less at these things than I expect. Maybe make my own sausage balls next time? And also maybe tell them there will be food.

Brainstorming: Don’t Use a Blank Slate

99U has a post on how folks should not brainstorm with a totally open-ended question/idea in mind. It doesn’t focus the brain enough, according to Turnage of “Technology First.”

So what should you do instead?

Embrace arbitrary constraints. These can be time, space, utensils, whatever. An example from the article was creating an ad with a box of colored pencils.

If we applied this to our field, I think it would make immediate sense. Instead of “How great was Beowulf?” you should ask “Given the epic conventions, how great was Beowulf?” We ask questions like the second all the time. The first, that is too broad. Students get lost in generalities.

So perhaps we get lost in generalities too and don’t even realize it. Just thinking.

Put emotional adjectives in front of specific technologies. (This is a tech company.) So what does a happy-go-lucky Tweet look like?

As I am working on a textbook for the iPad, the adjectives I am thinking are oral-formulaic or multimedia… What does an oral-formulaic iPad look like? What does a multimedia textbook look like?

Pick and everyday interaction and internet-enable it. Their example is a doorknob having a Tumblr account.

I’ve seen something like this applied to literature. Have the students choose a character and have them create a Facebook account for the character. The student must post for their character in character, share, and leave comments on other characters’ Fb pages. If I pushed the literature reading to the earlier part of the semester and had this as a final project, that might be interesting for a couple of days. I don’t want to string it out across the entire semester though.

Digital Presentation: Commercial Analysis

In my first year composition course, first semester, my students do a group project. This project is a digital presentation (video, new media, multimedia presentation). They are supposed to analyze a commercial rhetorically: audience, argument, appeals. They may also analyze the commercial using the conceptual elements (design, play, empathy, meaning, narrative, symphony [big picture], and innovation).

This has been a very successful assignment and students really like it.

Note: My university is very technology enhanced. That is part of the focus of the university. We have an entire learning studio with audio rooms, video rooms, cameras, video cameras, and computers with editing software that the students can use. We also have at least four full-time workers in those rooms available to help students with projects.

The assignment set up
To introduce this assignment, I use TCE’s Analyzing Videos post. This post was designed to look at non-professional videos or those which were not commercials, but some of the ideas are relevant. Some of them are not, however, so I may revise this idea next semester.

After we discuss the post, we watch a university-created video. I divide the class into three large groups to discuss the three “points” the video covers. Students are supposed to look for where each of the adjectives that describe our university are used and where examples of those adjectival meanings are presented in the video. They are also supposed to look for misleading, false, or inaccurate information. (The students’ experiences of the university are not monolithic. Some students find issues with the video that others vehemently disagree with.)

After we watch the video as a class, I give the students time in their groups to discuss it. Then the groups report to the class on their findings.

Usually each class has someone mention an aspect of the video which is clearly a public relations slant. (Videos taken in front of “the only flowers on campus” or some such.) We discuss that and talk about whether and to what degree that is appropriate/inappropriate for the venue of “university-created video on how wonderful university is”–so basically on a commercial for the university.

The whole-class practice
Then in class we watch several commercials. Among them have been: Dove Evolution
Dove Beauty Pressure
Chrysler’s Imported from Detroit
Budweiser’s 9/11 Commercial, though the 9/11/11 version is a better quality video.
Klondike’s Five Seconds to Glory

Since I’ve done this before, I am able to also show them several examples of student drafts of commercial analyses, but they don’t really need them. Last year’s videos were not significantly different in quality for the first draft from this year’s. (But this year I had drafts and last year the first draft was the final version.)

We talk about the target audience and how we can identify them as the target and about their expected response to the commercial and our reasons for thinking that.

These audiences can be identified by many different elements, which can include gender, social class, educational levels, professions, hobbies, geographic location, and political or religious ideology.

We talk about unintended audiences and how they might react to the commercial. (Some of these are positive and some are negative.)

We talk about the argument the commercial is making and how it makes it.

We talk about ethos, pathos, and logos in the commercial.

We talk about unexpected elements or surprises and how that impacts the video.

We talk about the images within the video and where they came from and what they are and the symbolism the commercial is creating/using with those images.

We talk about use of color, camera angles, and fashion.

Then the students begin their own commercial analysis, which culminates in a digital presentation.

I have evolved a very involved, but simple process, based on experience and conference presentations from other people on the same or similar ideas.

Choosing leaders
Ask students who has experience with technology.

I start by asking folks to self-identify if they have created a project with iMovie or Movie Maker (though we are an Apple-centric campus) or Final Cut Pro or some other video software. If I have six or more students who raise their hands, I stop and announce that they are the group leaders.

If I don’t have that many, I continue with other technology experience questions.

Next I ask who has created a Prezi or a PowerPoint or Keynote with sound.

Finally I ask about people who have worked with Photoshop or Lightroom.

Usually by this point I have the number of group leaders I need.

I tell the class that those folks (who raise their hands again at this point) are the group leaders and ask everyone to self-group.

Groups begin
I only allow groups of three to four students. This means that a class of twenty-five (the maximum for our fyc courses) will have six to eight groups.

All students choose three commercials to watch on YouTube or equivalent.

I get emails with the links for the individual’s commercials. The email includes a one paragraph per commercial discussion of the commercial’s content and why the student chose that one as one of their top three.

They then send links to “their” commercials to all others in their group.

By the end of that, each student has watched at least nine commercials and could have watched twelve. (Though many watch a lot more than that looking for “good” ones.)

I actually don’t tell them what kind of commercials to look for. They just pick ones they remember, most often. Some few, who don’t watch any commercials, probably Google “good commercials” to find the ones they choose.

Then, after everyone has watched the commercials, the group has to decide which one they will work on together. I have never been around when they chose these, so I assume that someone who is very verbal and/or bull-headed could get his/her choice picked by sheer dent of argument, but most people seem happy with their group’s commercial. I think this is because there are so many good commercials out there that the students can choose from.

Then I get a group email with the name of the group and a link to the commercial the group chose. (I teach email etiquette and I sometimes grade these.)

After that the groups begin work.

Parameters of the digital presentation assignment
I tell the students that they must have images, text, and audio in their digital presentations.

The presentations must be no shorter than three minutes and no longer than five.

Though they can use clips from the commercial, they may not include the entire commercial in their analysis. (We watch the commercial before we watch each presentation.)

They may also use clips from other commercials for the same product. (I have had students do this to show lack of gender and/or age bias, even if the particular commercial they are examining is focused on a very specific target audience.)

The time limit does NOT include any filler. So, for example, if they have a thirty-second sword fight in the video for no purpose other than to get to three minutes, I will not consider the video to be long enough. (They get the point.)

They must AT LEAST cover the target audience of the commercial, but they can cover just about any other thing they wish to.

The groups need a script. (This is because otherwise some groups will simply ad lib and the work is not as strong.)

The digital presentation quality rubric
Digital Presentation Rubric

On this rubric, I have very little about the topic. That is because we have been discussing it all the time. I also try to remember (sometimes I succeed) to give them the Digital Presentation Peer Review handout in email, so that they can see what might go into their work.

Digital Presentation Peer Review

Creation process
The groups get together outside of class to work on the project.

While the students are working on the group projects out of class, in class we are beginning the visual rhetoric essay. All the requirements for that assignment are done in class–except for choosing an artifact.

Many of the aspects we talk about for this essay also can be applied to the commercial analysis. Students may use any part of this information in their analyses as well.

We read a chapter from our textbook related to analyzing images. The students are given an extra credit option of creating good notes from the chapter. (Usually over half the students do that assignment, perhaps because it relates to over a quarter of their final grade.)

I use this handout as the note-taking outline for a lecture on the topic of examining art.
How to look at art

After two weeks on the group projects, I ask for individual emails telling me what the group has done as a whole and for a synopsis of how individuals have participated in the work.

This allows me to intervene in a group if needed and/or to substantiate a group’s need to “vote someone off the island.” (I do tell them at the beginning that if someone is not contributing, they can be ousted from the group. I have had one group do this. I have also had one person remove herself from a group. Each of those people created their own digital presentation.)

Peer reviews
In the third week, students bring a mobile device (computer or iPad) with their video uploaded. Then I rearrange the groups so that no two people from the same commercial analysis group are watching the same digital presentation and have three to four people peer review each video.

All the students who watch a video are supposed to fill out their own review sheet, so that the group has multiple perspectives on their work.

This is the peer review sheet the students use.
Digital Presentation Peer Review

This does several things:
1. Lets students see if they are on track or really off.
2. Lets students see good examples and ways they can improve their video.
3. Gets the groups several different perspectives on their video.
4. Gives students confidence that they know what they are doing.

Group conferences/Teacher review
Then I have group conferences for the next two class periods. The entire group comes by my office with their digital presentation and I do an on-spot critique.

These are during class so that all members of the group are able to attend my review of their work. I allot twenty minutes to these meetings.

Note: This has not been perfect. One group had done a decent job on part of the assignment but not the other. I could not think of any way to tell them to fix it besides “do it all over.” I just don’t think that fast. So next year, I will ask for a flash drive with their commercial analysis on it and watch each one BEFORE the conferences, so that I can have some time to determine what to tell them.

Making it a big deal
The first year, we simply watched the videos in class. They are very amazing and fun. But I realized I wanted to make a bigger “deal” out of the presentations, so I decided to create a premiere event.

Premiere Event
I reserve a room on campus (not a classroom) where more than one class can come and I can serve food. The room I reserve on our campus has space for multiple round tables, where folks can eat, and space for a “movie theater” type set up in front of the projection screen. It is not perfect, as the screen is centered on the wall, but the projector is not, so about 1/5 of the image is not on the screen. For space issues, though, it is the best.

Then I send an invitation to the Premiere Event to the students. We have Gmail on campus and the little icons dress up the invitations. I include BOTH classes invitations in one email, because I give extra credit to students who come to both events.

At the Premiere Event, I provide snacks.

Note: It is good to tell the students there will be food. Otherwise, they’ve already eaten and don’t want any. That is a pain when you have carried the stuff across campus!

Students eat and enjoy some time together around the tables.

Premiere peer reviews
Then I move everyone to the movie theater seating, where the Premiere Peer Review sheets are waiting.
Premiere peer review

I have asked students for different information at each premiere.

Usually I ask the students to label the commercial by title of the commercial and then take a few notes. These can include: whether the students’ names are included in the video, whether they have a Works Cited at the end, the audio and image quality of the video, and the strongest idea/point/section of the video. Sometimes I just ask them to put a star, minus, equal sign for (yes, no, and kind of).

Students rank presenations
After we have watched all the presentations, I ask the students to rate the top two commercial analyses–not including their own.

I have done different things with these ratings.

The first year, I graded the digital presentations on a 90 point scale. Then I gave each additional points based on what percentage of the class ranked their video in the top two.

This year I gave 10 points for each #1 and 5 points for each #2 and put the total scores in the homework average as a single extra credit slot. (I also–without telling them–gave all the presentations that were turned in 20 points. That way no one felt totally rejected.)

This was a little unfair as one class had 25 students, and six visiting students, and the other had 16 students, with four additional students. I haven’t really figured out a simple way to fix that problem.

My perspective on the assignment
Students do well with this assignment. They enjoy it.

I enjoy the results.

I don’t handle everything in this class. I don’t discuss group dynamics. I don’t teach them how to use the technology. (Though I do alert them to the resources available for that on campus.) I don’t teach them how to write scripts or edit videos. So far none of these lacks appears to have doomed anyone to a poor grade.

My colleagues sometimes think that digital presentations are outside our scope of practice. I explain that it is a composition and that students are supposed to be learning to write/create compositions that they can use in other classes. I think this counts.

My colleagues sometimes think that students are “automatically” great at visual rhetoric analysis and that none of the preparation work I do is necessary. None of those colleagues have taught a digital presentation, so I ignore that.

Potential issues with commercials
I do tell the students that they need to do research to make sure that the commercial they choose is a legitimate commercial and/or what the commercial’s background is. My first year’s groups had two problems.

One with Nolan’s Cheddar Cheese and another with Stop the Bullets; Kill the Gun.

The groups covering these two commercials did a good job of analyzing audience and pinpointing potential problems. HOWEVER, neither of them did any research on the commercial.

The Nolan Cheddar Cheese commercial is actually a résumé item for an animatronics creator. Oops.

And the Stop the Bullets commercial is, as they thought, British, but not really an ad to convince voting age people to pass anti-gun laws. The British have very strict anti-gun laws already in place. (Some information in very positive approach can be found here and a newspaper account here.)

Fast & Furious: Researching Academic Blogs

Analysing Blogs is Messy But That’s Ok:

In my opinion the research community does not talk about mess often enough, creating the perverse impression that research is effortless if only one has enough experience and talent.

Not true.

For that reason Pat and I are sharing our ‘warts and all’ experience of writing a paper together. Our paper is attempting to make a provisional taxonomy of blogging practices amongst academics. We don’t want to know everything about academic blogging; this analysis is a way for us to start asking some interesting research questions about it.

I have my own views, but my decision about how to proceed with the analysis was not informed by my epistemological world view; it was informed by how much time I had on my hands. Time routinely shapes how research is done, but it’s a bit of a dirty secret.

Yes, that is true. Time does shape how research is done. And not just time either. Energy. Money. Folks willing to participate and/or respond.

I think it’s not just that time shapes how research is done, though. Time also shapes how teaching is done. As does energy, money, and participation.

Maybe teaching and research are far more closely aligned (at least for some of us) than I had previously thought.

Since I work within the scholarship of pedagogy primarily, I look at what happened when and what worked with in terms of teaching.

Writing by Hand

Heather Sellers requires her students to turn in handwritten first drafts, because she can tell the difference between handwritten works and typed compositions, even within the same story.

I have been reading a lot about this.

I read an article in the last month about how Nietzche’s work got terser as his blindness forced him to type instead of handwriting his works.

So the technology we use to write impacts how we write. Interesting. And true from my own experience.

Related to an earlier post on the topic of the impact.

Blogging with Students

I’ve been told it’s so “old news” (i.e., We won’t talk about it at conferences because it’s been done to death.) That is clearly not true not for everyone. I’ve done a lot of conference presentations encouraging blogging with students who are from poverty, because I think it gives them an opportunity to learn to use technology in a way that a future employer will appreciate. I also like to do it with all my students because they can interact across classroom boundaries.

Have you considered blogging with your students? This post has some good reasons why you should. If you were waiting to be convinced, read through them.

My favorite reason is the last one:

I’ve enjoyed blogging with my students for the past four years. So far I’m not doing it this year on my classroom blog because my uni gives us blogs and wants them to be private. However, I really prefer an open forum where others can (and sometimes do) interact with my students.

Humanities Class: Syllabus, Etc.

Someone asked for a copy of my syllabus, but I couldn’t figure out how to send the links in an email without breaking the app that we were working in. So I am republishing it here.

I was thinking about this class today and wishing I would have the opportunity to teach it again. I think it would benefit my SLAC students just as much as it did my urban CC students.

There was a bibliography with picture sources, which I have not found yet. I recommend using relevant pictures and photographs to make the syllabus (especially online) look good. At least one of these was purchased from iStockphoto.com.


The Course

Text: Adventures in the Human Spirit (AHS) by Philip E. Bishop

Course description: Humanities provides an introduction to the arts and humanities. The course investigates the relationship between individual human lives and works of imagination and thought.

Course prerequisites: Must be placed into college-level reading (or take GUST 0342 as a co-requisite) and be placed into college-level writing (or take ENGL 0310/0349 as a co-requisite).

Course goal: To expand the student’s knowledge and understanding of how human culture has expressed itself via mythology, drama, poetry, philosophy, visual art, music, film, and various related modes.

Student learning outcomes: The student will be able to (1) describe representative themes and developments in the humanities; (2) interpret representative terms, works, figures and artists in philosophy, literature, and the visual and performing arts; (3) compare and contrast representative terms, works, figures and artists in philosophy, literature, and the visual and performing arts; and (4) evaluate cultural creations in the humanities.

HUMA 1301 is a Core Curriculum course.

Even though it is an introductory course, this class is READING INTENSIVE.
It is a survey course.
We will be reading a lot.
We will do lots of fun things and reading will be a large part of that.


Course Withdrawal

If you wish to drop a course, you must do so by the withdrawal date. After this date the course cannot be dropped, professors can no longer give a grade of “W” at the end of the semester. Instead, students must be given the grade earned, which is usually an “F” if the student stopped coming to class.


Texas State law requires 87.5% minimum attendance for college courses. You will be dropped if you miss more than 12.5% of instruction (a total of six hours). This can be combined absences or tardies.

Students who are sleeping, talking, or texting during class will be marked absent. Students who leave class repeatedly, come in late and leave early, or are doing other work/reading during the class will be marked absent.

If a student is present every day for class, two points will be added to their final average. If they are absent once, one point will be added. If they are absent three times before the drop date, they will be dropped. Four absences total after the drop date will result in the state-mandated failure of the course.

Late Work
Late work will not be accepted in this class. The homework is primarily reading and note-taking. There will be daily quizzes.

Scholastic Dishonesty
According to the Student Handbook for the Houston Community College System (27-28), “scholastic dishonesty” includes, but is not limited to, cheating on a test, plagiarism, and collusion.

The consequences for scholastic dishonesty range from a minimum of a 0 on the work through a 0 in the course to expulsion from the college.

A = 90-100
B = 80-89
C = 70-79
D = 60-69
F = 0-59

30% = Instructor’s choice: attendance, participation, quizzes
20% = Experience papers (2)
10% = First exam
20% = Historical/cultural paper and presentation
10% = Second exam
10% = Creative presentation

This image is by Jason Hogan of HCC.

This syllabus may be revised as the term progresses at the professor’s discretion.

“Thanks to art, instead of seeing a single world, our own, we see it multiply until we have before us as many worlds as there are artists.” –Marcel Proust

February 15
Initial Music: 10 min. Music of the Ancient World
Introduction to DavisEnglish.com and syllabus.
Introduction to teacher, class, and students.
Email etiquette.
Sculpture introduction.
Diagnostic writing.
1. Read AHS chapter 1, pages 16-26.
2. Find one sculpture online that you like. Send the URL to XXX. (You will not be able to see the comment until it is approved, but I will approve it.) Please see the homework post for more details on this assignment.

February 17
Initial Music: 3 min. Lyre and Pipes, Mesopotamia
Bring the wood piece.
Introduction to the Cultural Event experience paper.
Guennol Lioness, 5000 years old, most expensive sculpture ever
Art: Painting. ancient painting introduction (some sculpture)
Cave paintings Lascaux
Pyramids: 4500 years ago.
True/False discussion
Stonehenge: 2000+ years ago
Reconstructing Stonehenge
Photos at Wikipedia on Stonehenge
John Constable’s Stonehenge
Literature: Epic of Gilgamesh oldest. Oldest known love poem, 2030 BC. Iliad and Odyssey, written about 800 BC.
Art of the First Cities
Why Study Art?
Ancient Art Podcast 1, The Scarab in Ancient Egypt
A Dance Depicting Ancient Egyptian Art
1. Read AHS chapter 2, pages 27-41
2. Take photographs of three “cave painting” equivalents. If you do not have a cell phone with picture capability, you can find six online photographs and print them out. Please make sure the URL is included.

Note: These were AMAZING. In fact, I took some, too, and these were some of my favorite works the students shared during this class.

Students went to the zoo and took pictures of the painted primary color animals on the restrooms, trash cans, and signs.

Students went to their neighborhoods and took pictures of the beautiful graffiti.

I also did the assignment and took pictures of the local international airports terminal B, a place I have only been in once, right around the time I was teaching this class. I am adding some of the photographs I took there.



The above picture is on the wall of the terminal. It is amazingly beautiful. I am sure I would have missed much of its grandeur, if I had not been thinking of this class.


This was in the floor. Several randomly placed brass animals were cut into the floor or molded, or something. Absolutely amazing modern cave paintings.

There were assignments requiring the students to attend two cultural events they would not normally participate in. The idea was to get them out of their comfort zone and into a learning zone.

The overview of the two papers and detailed specifics for the second paper have been published here.

Because of the two papers (and presentations), I posted things that were going on in town that they might not have heard of. This made me look for them and I found several amazing opportunities.

Impressionists Opening:
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art
February 20-May 23, 2011

The National Gallery´s Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection ranks among the finest of any museum in the world and features some of the most famous artists active in France between the 1860s and the early 20th century. The MFAH presentation showcases masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others. An unrivaled loan in the National Gallery’s history, this exhibition offers a splendid overview of one of the greatest periods in European art and a survey of movements that changed the course of art history.

February 22
Quiz. You may use your notes.
Modern cave paintings.
Greek mythology. Greek Heroes, particularly Odysseus.
Aesop’s fables. “Tortoise and the Hair;” “The Ants and the Grasshopper;” others.
Why would these fables have been relevant to the people of that era and today?
Read another Aesop’s Fable that we did not read and find two pictures which illustrate it. Put the links in the comments of the  HUMA 1301 Homework blog post.

February 24
Initial Music: 4 min. Macedonian music
transliteration of names using Greek alphabet
Greek: not just monolithic cultures
Athens and Sparta: women
Alexander the Great, Part I
Alexander the Great, Part 2
Alexander the Great, Part 3
Oedipus Rex- riddle
Delphic Oracle
Read AHS chapter 3, pages 42-68.

Free concert:
Winter Concert
Friday, February 25, 8 pm
Free and open to the public
featuring full orchestra and chorus performing
Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church
8300 Katy Freeway

Second free concert:
The Northwest Choir, under the direction of Dr. Allyson Applebaum Wells, will present its Black History Month concert this Sunday, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Theater Two of the Performing Arts Center on the Spring Branch Campus. Entitled “Lessons from History,” the concert will feature music sung and written during the Civil War. There will also be music of the Cherokee people and twentieth-century Argentina. The concert includes a setting of Lincoln’s “With Malice Toward None” and will conclude with the stirring “Sound Over All Waters” which was composed in honor of Coretta Scott King. The concert is free and open to the public.

March 1
ancient Roman music 1:56
Introduction to the historical/cultural presentation due April 12 and 14. (Paper is due April 5.)
Paper includes:

  • Two pages of discussion about your presentation.
  • A Works Cited with four (4) sources following MLA (for electronic sources).
  • A paragraph for each source arguing for it being a good source. You may use any of these criteria.

Roman introduction: Roman army, schools, games
Modern building of a Roman house, Roman style
satire (Roman) Weird Al Yankovich: Amish Paradise, White and Nerdy, Pokemon, Cereal Girl
Study for exam.

March 3
Exam over class to date, especially ancient and Greek humanities topics.
There will be essay and short answer questions.
1. Read chapter 4 in AHS, pages 69-99.
2. Work on your cultural experience paper.

Andy Warhol and TV + Menil by Moonlight

Friday, March 4, 2011, 7:00 p.m. at the Menil

In collaboration with the Aurora Picture Show and the Andy Warhol Museum, this curated screening includes excerpts of TV works created by or featuring artist Andy Warhol: episodes from Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, a cable television series from the 1980s which featured celebrities interviewed by Warhol; clips from the Factory Diaries, home videos from the ’70s; and highlights from Warhol’s cameos on The Love Boat and Saturday Night Live.

The museum will be open till 9:00 p.m. in a special after-hours evening for new members, with all galleries open – and special incentives offered for joining the Menil (by moonlight!).

March 8
Quiz over chapter 4.
Roman history
Middle East Maps of War
Choose one of the introductions found here. You may not choose the introduction to your own religion. Read through the section, taking notes. The notes will be turned in before the documentary and will count as your quiz. Thoroughness counts. So does legibility. You may not just print the pages and turn them in.

March 10
We will be meeting in the theater for the documentary. Attendance will be taken.

Colores del Carnaval Dominicano
Thursday, March 10 at 7:30
Documentary film-makers Ruben Duran and Donna Pinnick premier their new work, Colores del Carnaval Domincano. For more than 500 years the Dominican Republic has reveled in the rambunctious traditions of carnaval: music, dancing, masks and mayhem – a party in the streets. Colores introduces us to the artists, dancers, musicians, the creative drive, behind this festival of the human spirit. Free, in the Heinen Theatre.

Finish up your cultural experience paper. It is due March 22, when we get back from spring break.

Free concert: March 11, at 7:o0 pm– “Music for Peace” at Rothko Chapel, which is at 3900 Yupon Street at the corner of Sul Ross Street.

March 15 and 17

NO CLASS. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s day safely.

First experience paper is due on Tuesday when you get back.

Remember for the cultural experience paper, you can also go tothe Menil or the Museum of Fine Arts or the Contemporary Arts Museum and write about that experience. Any museum will work. It does not have to be in Houston, either.

The Whole World Was Watching
at the Menil

The civil rights-era photographs in this exhibition – by Dan Budnik, Danny Lyon, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Bob Adelman, and Elliott Erwitt – were selected from the 230 images given to the museum by Edmund Carpenter and Adelaide de Menil, and document the profound changes that swept the United States in the 1960s. The exhibition’s title echoes a phrase chanted by protestors who used the presence of photographers and television cameras to remind perpetrators of racial or civil violence that their actions would not go unseen.

“Kara Walker Speaks About Her Art”
Kara Walker
Monday, March 14, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
Menil Foyer, 1515 Sul Ross

Born in 1969, Kara Walker received an MFA in painting and printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design. Winner of a MacArthur award, she represented the U.S. in the 2002 São Paulo Biennial. The Walker Art Center’s 2007 exhibition Kara Walker: My Complement, My Oppressor, My Enemy, My Love was her first full-scale U.S. museum survey. She is a professor of visual arts in the MFA program at Columbia University.

Image of the Black’s Fifty Years of Using Art to Counter Racism

Friday, March 18, 2011, 4:30 p.m. at the Menil

John Boles, moderator; speakers: Peter Wood; David Bindman, Professor Emeritus of Art History, and Editor, Image of the Black in Western Art, Harvard University; Rick Lowe; and Karen C. C. Dalton

In 1960 responding to the prevailing climate of racism, John and Dominique de Menil launched an ambitious project: a photo archive that sought to gather every depiction of people of African descent from ancient Egypt forward. Later a series of books called The Image of the Black in Western Art paired images from the archive with essays by eminent historians. In 1992 the project moved from Houston to Harvard’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute; this fall Harvard University Press will republish the original volumes, plus five additional books.

Central Art requests the pleasure of your company at the opening reception for a new exhibit, Scratch Off: A Collection of Work From the Itchy Acres Artist Community. Itchy Acres is a little artist’s enclave on the north side of Houston, where the only thing more abundant than poison ivy is creative energy. For 20 years, this wooded maze of studios, sculpture, houses and art cars has been home to some of Houston’s most extraordinary artists. This exhibit – their first as group – includes work by Carter Ernst, Tim Glover, Paul Kittelson, Lee Littlefield, Liza Littlefield, John Runnels, Charlie Sartwelle, Ed Wilson and Magda Wilson. The reception will be held Thursday, March 3, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., in the Fine Arts Center Gallery, 3517 Austin at Holman and the show will be on display through April 2. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information, call 713.718.6600.

You may visit this exhibit, taking a picture of yourself there, and write up a one page sheet about the experience or about some of the art you saw. This must be turned in by March 31. This could replace a quiz grade that you missed, or make up points for several. This exhibit can NOT take the place of the Experience Paper.

March 22
First experience paper due.
History of Major World Religions
Middle East Maps of War

Introduction to monotheism.
Go through the chapter carefully.
Famous stories from the Tanakh, the Torah, the New Testament, and the Koran.
Work on historical/cultural presentation and second paper.

March 24
What stories are present in more modern British and American literature?
Paradise Lost

It’s Alive!
History of Major World Religions
Middle East Maps of War

Work on the historical/cultural paper. This is due April 5.

Work on the historical/cultural presentation which is due April 26. You may attend the Bayou City Art Festival this weekend for your cultural experience paper.

March 29

early medieval- England
Norse mythology.
Vikings video
Angles and the missionaries to England and King Aethelbert, who takes them to Bertha’s church
Beowulf performed as a scop would, in Old English, with caption translation
Beowulf read aloud, with bubble translations
Beowulf introduction
http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2009/sep/24/heritage-archaeology?picture=353374324″>Guardian’s Anglo-Saxon Gold Hoard
Bayeux tapestry
If have time, cover Judith.
Work on historical/cultural paper and presentation. A possible topic would be a country in the Middle East and new news is being made there all the time. Look at the BBC coverage.

March 31
early medieval
drama- Second Shepherd’s Play, video, one of three
Everyman lecture
Everyman, five minute animation,
discussion of modern portrayal of Second Shepherd’s Play
another discussion
Coventry Carol
Read AHS chapter 6, pages 133-160
Finish your paper for your historical/cultural presentation.

FOR THE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE PAPER: The 2011 festival will be on Saturday, April 2, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. The event  is completely free and open to the public and remains the only one of its kind in the Houston and Austin areas, featuring a variety of nationally-distributed literary journals and small-press books alongside local booksellers, book and magazine publishers, small presses, literary organizations, and writers.
Here is the website with all the information: http://indiebookfest.org/

April 5
1. Roland: French hero of the 700s, possibly nephew of Charlemagne
Song of Roland written in 1000s
2. El Cid video. YouTube. Is there any irony in the mix of pictures and music?
El Cid (Spanish early middle ages 1043-1099)
discuss the video in terms of the story, history, and military battles
Language Changes in Spain area, 1000-2000
3. pilgrims, pilgrimages
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer “Chaunticleer”
pilgrim badges (collector’s items of the 15th C) What do we collect? What is cool to collect? Why? How are they “badges”? What are sayings that include badges? (“badges of honor,” “badges of shame”)
Historical/cultural presentation paper due Thursday.

April 7
Historical/cultural presentation paper due today.
review badges (How are badges used in language?)–because I skipped last time
discussion of Romanesque v. Gothic architecture, see Prof. Hudelson’s online study guide
examples from Dr. Jeffrey Howe’s page
Words you should know apse, vault, clerestory, flying buttress, and rose windows BEFORE the quiz.
“The Quick Trick: If it has flying buttresses, pointed arches, and rose windows, it’s Gothic.” from mentalfloss
late medieval introduction
1. Prepare for historical/cultural presentations.
2. Go through the Art Institute of Chicago’s Arms, Armor, Medieval, and Renaissance gallery. Choose one work and find a modern corollary. Put the URLs in the comments of today’s homework post on DavisEnglish.com.

EXTRA CREDIT: Attend and write up: Kay Ryan, US poet laureate from 2008-2010, reads on Monday, April 11th, at 11.30 a.m. in LHSB 100 in Central campus.

Two plays for cultural experience paper:
Little Shop of Horrors will run Thursday through Saturday April 7 through 9, Wednesday through Saturday, April 13 through 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 10 at 2:30 p.m. in Theatre One, 3517 Austin. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, $8 general admission. For reservations, call 713.718.6570.

God’s Trombones by James Weldon Johnson will be presented as a dramatization. This is a salute to the power of the black minister and his vision of Bible classics.
Encore Theatre located at 8616 Cullen Blvd. at Belfort
Adult tickets: $20
College student tickets (with ID): $15
Children under 14: $5
Performance dates and times:
Fridays: April 8, 22, 29 at 8 pm
Saturdays: April 9, 16, 23, 30 at 8 pm
Sundays: April 10, 17; May 1 at 5 pm
for tickets and group rates call: 832-578-1705

April 12
Historical/cultural Presentations

April 14
Historical/cultural Presentations
late medieval
Read AHS chapter 7, pages 162-190

Gallery opening:
Saturday April 16th at 5 pm attend the Poetry Pottery opening at Foelber Pottery Gallery.
This is poetry written by HCC students about pottery created at Foelber Pottery Gallery. You can get your work done and support your fellow students.

Trombone Choir Concert:
The Fine Arts Division of Houston Community College Northwest will present a special trombone choir concert Sunday, April 17 at 5:00 p.m. Low brass musicians from all over the Houston region will join in a tribute concert to the late David Waters, longtime bass trombonist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and trombone instructor at the Rice University Shepherd School of Music. David was also a frequent soloist, conductor and supporter of Houston Community College. Featured performers at the concert will be the Houston Symphony Orchestra Low Brass Section and the Shepherd School of Music Trombone Quartet. The trombone choir will present a variety of popular and classical music, closing the concert with Aubrey Tucker’s special arrangement for 20 trombones and percussion of Simon and Garfunkle’s Bride Over Troubled Waters. The concert will be presented at the Spring Branch Campus Performing Arts Center, 1060 W. Sam Houston Parkway, N. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, free for HCC students, faculty and staff with ID. For more information, please email [email protected] or call 713.718.5620.

April 19
Art History ppt:
Art in the Early Renaissance
High Renaissance Art
The Art of the Northern Renaissance
Northern and Late Renaissance
500 Years in 30 Minutes
Study for the exam, chapters 4-7.

April 21
Exam 2 will be a take-home exam.
Type your answers. Use spell check. Do not take other people’s words or ideas without the requisite citations. You do not need to create a works cited if you only use the book. Just give page numbers. I recommend simply using the book and your brain, together an incredible combination!

Grading will be on content—development, organization, clarity, and detail—and grammar and mechanics. The bulk of the grade will be content. Please use the MLA format: double spaced throughout, name/Dr. Davis/Huma 1301/due date on the top left of the first page, name/page number on pages 2ff.
Please do not repeat major aspects of information in more than one essay. Short mentions of previously discussed material is fine; complete re-use is not.
Each essay should be between one and three pages.
1. Discuss the use of art (music, architecture, drama, and art) to present a message. How has art been used throughout history to “say” something? Give specific examples from the Roman through late medieval (or Gothic) era. Discuss information from at least three chapters.
2. How has the approach to the human body in art changed through the ages? Give specific examples from the Roman through late medieval (or Gothic) era. Discuss information from at least three chapters.
3. Discuss the metamorphosis of architecture through history. How has architecture changed? How has it remained the same? Give specific examples from the Greek (chapter 3) through the late medieval era. Discuss information from at least three chapters.
The take-home exam will be in lieu of class.
It must be turned in to turnitin.com.

1. Go to turnitin.com
2. In the upper right hand corner there are boxes for email and password. Underneath the email, there is a blue link which says “Create Account.” Click that link.
3. Scroll the bottom of the page it takes you to. There is a list that says “Create a New Account.” Under that, click the blue “Student” link.
4. It will take you to a page that says “class ID information.”
5. for class id:
The class id is 3973402
The class password is davis7

1. Fill in the rest of that page. Then click “I agree- create profile.”
2. This should take you to the page to turn in your paper. It needs to be in a .doc file. Turn in the entire paper, except the Works Cited. You do not need a Works Cited if you just used our book.

Read AHS chapter 8, pages 191-226.

Cultural Experience possibilities:
Saturday, April 23 from 7:30pm until 11:30pm at El Rincon Social, 3210 Preston
Midtown Launch Party, Tuesday, April 26, at 4 pm, in the Rotunda of Theater One
any museum you haven’t already gone to (for the last paper), just write about something that is NOT available simply from the website
Final cultural experience paper will be due April 28.

April 26
Take home exam is due.
Teacher evaluation FIRST.
Quizzes: one on chapter 8, one on Romanesque v. Gothic, one on Early, High, and Northern Renaissance, esp. Breugel, Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Cranach, El Greco, Donatello, Boticelli, Raphael…
Final cultural experience paper is due April 28.

April 28
Final cultural experience paper is due.
Shakespeare play clips: Romeo and Juliet through the ages (?)
Prepare for your creative presentation. The creative presentation will act as the final exam.

May 3
Creative presentations

May 5
Creative presentations
Have a nice life!

These were the best finals ever.

HUMA Homework example.

Good job on the modern cave paintings! Most of you had excellent pictures of the modern equivalent of cave paintings. The chalk drawings were absolutely amazing, Ruben! And I liked the zoo art, too, ladies.

Please read the homework directions carefully.

Go to Aesop’s Fables and use their search engine to search for a fable we didn’t read. A list of these is available at UMass’ website. (They have versions as well, but they are not labeled as clearly.)

The version you choose should be labeled as “General Fable collection” underneath the title. (Don’t use an Ambrose Bierce or Hans Christian Andersen version for this homework. Although those can be very good, one is American and one is Danish. We’re still doing Greek.) Not all of these will be Aesop’s; we don’t really know which are his because he didn’t write any down. But as long as you choose one from the General Fable collection, it will count.

In your comment, copy and paste the text of the fable. Give the link for the story you read. Then add two links which show illustrations of this fable.

An example of what I am looking for is in the first comment.

(If you understand HTML markup, you can use it. I will explain it before next time and you will be required to use it in the homework.)

Historical/Cultural Paper

You need to choose some humanities topic, either historical (from chapters 9 through the end of the book) or related to a culture that you know through visiting or birth.

Quechua language–a people group from the Andes in South America
Edward Hopper’s art, focusing on the late period
Music from the Swiss Alps
Carnival in Barbados (or Rio de Janeiro or wherever)
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

This topic needs to be researchable. You have to write a paper using four sources (internet, paper, or interviews).

The historical/cultural paper should be at least three pages long, plus the Works Cited.

In the paper you should introduce your topic. This is where the research will be most helpful. Then:

Explain a) how a contemporary artist (whether painter, architect, writer, musician or other) creates works that draw on or comment on the culture and traditions of his/her society’s past or b)how a particular kind of art draws on or comments on the culture and traditions of the society’s past.
Explain how a work (narrative, poem, song, sculpture, building, etc.) from a society’s past can give a new understanding of what it is like to live in a particular culture or society to an outsider.
In addition, your purpose is to demonstrate how this particular cultural work explores the “human condition” within the context of its society. What questions about human life does this work attempt to deal with? What answers, if any, does it provide? How does it try to engage the senses and experience of its audience (viewer, reader, listener)?

Works Cited
For a formatting and style guide, see Purdue’s OWL. Use MLA in-text citations within your paper. For Works Cited of online sources see this page on MLA citations.

Evaluation of Sources
You also need a paragraph for each of your sources, articulating why they were appropriate and/or legitimate sources. For help in evaluating websites, this page offers lots of different perspectives.

You need to have a four to six minute presentation on your topic prepared. It needs to include at least three visuals. It should be interesting.

You may create a video, so that you do not actually have to talk for your presentation, but I need to know that it is your video. So it either needs to have you in it or it needs to be you speaking.

When you do your presentation, you need about a page saying what you are going to present (what information you are covering). It could be an outline, notes, or your “speech.” You also need the URLs for your visuals. You may email this to me or give me a copy when you get up to speak. It is part of the presentation grade.