English 1012: Going Viral: What Makes Popular Literature?

Tanya Pollard

 

3408 Boylan

TR 9:30-10:45

E-mail: Tpollard@brooklyn.cuny.edu

Web: http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/tpollard

Office: 3108 Boylan

Phone: 718-951-5000 x 6216

Hours: T 12:15-1:30, 3:15-4:30, Thurs 9-9:30, and by appt

 

Why do some books, plays, films, and songs explode onto the market, capturing the popular imagination far beyond the competition?  Why do some still haunt us decades or centuries later?  This class pursues the art of writing the research paper through exploring popularity and viral reach.  We will read texts that attained viral popularity in different historical moments, before shifting into an independent research practicum in which students will inquire into factors behind popular texts of their own choosing, and present these factors to the class while shaping their own final research papers on their topics.  Assignments will include regular short reading quizzes, four short close reading essays, and one final research paper, which will include a written proposal with annotated bibliography; a provisional draft for in-class editing; an interim draft for professors’ comments; and a final draft.

 

Week

Date

Assignment

Presenters

1

2-2

Introduction: What is popular literature?

 

 

2-4

Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine (1592), Act 1

 

2

2-9

No class (CUNY runs Friday schedule)

 

 

2-11

Tamburlaine, Acts 2-3

1

3

2-16

Tamburlaine, 4-5

2

 

2-18

Tamburlaine’s afterlife: Tom Rutter, from The Cambridge Introduction to Christopher Marlowe; Holger Scott Syme, “Marlowe in his Moment”

3

4

2-23

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice , Vol. 1

4

 

2-25

Pride and Prejudice Vol. 2

5

5

3-1

Pride and Prejudice Vol. 3

1

 

3-3

Rachel Brownstein, from Why Jane Austen; Marilyn Francus, “Austen Therapy: Pride and Prejudice and Popular Culture”

2

6

3-8

Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Speckled Band”

3

 

3-10

Doyle, “The Red-Headed League”

4

7

3-15

Research workshop - Library room 120

 

 

3-17

Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia”

5

8

3-22

Sherlock Holmes’ afterlife: Fic, 39-70

1

 

3-24

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), chapters 1-6

2

9

3-29

Harry Potter , chapters 7-12

3

 

3-31

Harry Potter , chapters 13-17

4

10

4-5

Harry Potter’s afterlife: Fic, 151-174

5

 

4-7

Proposals due; writing workshop

 

11

4-12

Presentations on materials

 

 

4-14

Presentations on materials

 

12

4-19

Presentations on materials

 

 

4-21

Research paper due; peer-editing workshop

 

 

 

spring break

 

13

5-3

Revised research paper due; presentations on papers

 

 

5-5

Presentations on papers

 

14

5-10

presentations on papers

 

 

5-12

presentations on papers

 

15

5-17

Revised research paper due

 

Course Requirements and Expectations:

 

Attendance

Because your contributions to class discussion are a central part of your work for this course, attendance is crucial.  If you miss more than three classes, your overall grade will drop; at six absences, you will fail the class. Arriving late, leaving early, or taking breaks during class session will count as a partial absence.

 

Texts

Some of our readings are books, available at the college bookstore; others will be PDFs available on Blackboard.  Please bring printed copies of readings with you to class so that we can cite textual evidence without distraction from electronic devices.

 

Participation

Learning is a collaborative process, which works best when each of you engages fully with the texts and with each other.  To this end, I will expect you to participate actively in class discussions, and you will be required to present ideas for class discussion on a rotating basis.  Your contributions will determine a significant portion of the semester’s grade. In order to build a classroom atmosphere of courtesy and concentration, please avoid behavior that is disrespectful and interferes with others’ learning, including rudeness, talking while others are speaking, and ringing from cell-phones, pagers, watches, etc.

 

Writing

Over the course of the semester you will write three short (2 page) papers accompanying in-class presentations; one paper proposal (including a 2-page project description and an annotated bibliography); and a longer (8-10 page) research paper, which we will draft and revise in stages.  All written work should have a central claim that is well argued, clearly written, and directly supported by close readings of textual passages; the research paper will also incorporate, and respond to, at least three secondary sources.  All papers should be stapled, typed, double-spaced, in a 12-point font, with one-inch margins on all sides.  Written work is due at the start of class, and lateness will result in lowering of the grade by one-third of a grade per day.  Any use of others’ ideas must be fully acknowledged in footnotes; speak to me if you are unsure about what this means.  Plagiarism is a serious offense, and will result in failing the class and being reported to the Dean’s Office.

 

Coursework and grading:

Regular brief quizzes

15%

Short essays

20%

Presentations and participation

20%

Final research project (10% proposal, 10% draft, 20% final)

45%

 

 

 

Selected Recommendations for Additional Readings:

 

Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Quirk Books, 2009)

 

Bronwen Thomas, “What is Fanfiction and why are People saying such Nice Things about It?,” Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies 3.1 (2011), 1-24.

 

Rachel Brownstein, Why Jane Austen? (Columbia University Press, 2011)

 

Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’ Diary (Picador, 1996)

 

Tad Friend, “The Mogul of the Middle,” New Yorker, Jan 11, 2016 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/01/11/the-mogul-of-the-middle

 

Andy Kesson and Emma Smith, “Introduction: Towards a Definition of Print Popularity,” in The Elizabethan Top Ten (Ashgate, 2014), 1-15.

 

David McNally, Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism (Brill, 2011)


Joseph Roach, It (Michigan, 2007)
 

“What Does It Mean to Go Viral Online?” http://webtrends.about.com/od/howtoguides/a/Viral-Online.htm

 

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