General Policies for
Minimal requisites for
I presume, as a member of the University, that you have the minimal
learning, analytical, and writing skills to function in this
course. Specifically, you should know how to listen carefully and
to take effective notes, how to engage in discussion with your
colleagues, how to disagree with respect, and how to write and speak
effectively in an engaged and intellectual manner.
If for any
reason you believe you are not performing up to these expectations,
please see me and we can address it.
If you believe my expectations of
your preparation exceed your actual experience, please see me and we
can discuss that as well.
Most of us are far better prepared than
we realize, we just forget what we’ve learned.
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Attendance is a mandatory element of any course; more than two
unexcused absences will result in a diminution of your course
mark. Examples of excused absences include your own illness or
injury, the illness or injury of someone for whom you are the primary
caregiver, jury duty, or events of a catastrophic nature, among
others. Work-related schedule conflicts are not normally
That said, the more effectively you prepare for class
engage with class materials (including the readings and in-class
discussions of those readings), the better you will do in this
class. I recommend you make arrangements to
share notes with another member of the class, so that if you do miss
class, you can catch up quickly and more effectively.
lecture and discussion outlines on my website. These should not
be confused with class notes; they are for reference only, and should
not be used to substitute for class attendance or your own
note-taking. These may be used
for exam prep, but I assure you that my exams are never limited to the
material covered by my outlines (or any lectures, for that matter).
The Department of English has published a statement on disruptive
"Generally, disruptive behavior is any behavior that disturbs the
educational process by interfering with the instructor's ability to
conduct the class or the ability of students to profit from class
attendance and participation. Such behavior may take various forms, and
can be dependent upon many factors including class size, subject
matter, and the relationship between faculty and students. Students
should pay careful attention to any additional information individual
instructors provide concerning conduct in the classroom." [adapted from
the statement of Kalamazoo]
Certain behaviors do not constitute good faith participation in my
course; these behaviors include multiple absences, tardiness, and rude
conduct, including ad hominem remarks. All cel phones, pagers,
and PDAs must be turned off (or to “vibrate” for emergency
purposes). All assignments (including readings) are due at the
start of class on the date indicated. Late assignments will not
be accepted without prior permission except under extraordinary
circumstances; if you experience some difficulty, please make every
effort to contact me as early as possible.
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Academic accommodations are available for those students with
disabilities who are registered with the Office of Disability Resource
Services. It is your responsibility to initiate any request for
accommodation. Their offices are located in MSR210. Call
667-3159 or visit their
website for more
info. Please schedule an appointment with me early in
the semester to discuss any accommodations for this course which have
been approved by the Director of Disability Resource Services.
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The Department of English has adopted a Policy on
"Academic honesty is an important principle to ensure that all authors,
including students, are acknowledged for their original expressions of
"Instructors have a responsibility to demonstrate to students in their
courses the difference in acceptable and unacceptable use of others’
work. Students have a responsibility to ask their instructor for
guidance whenever they are uncertain about fair use of someone else’s
Students, in submitting work, certify that the work is their own
original work except that all information garnered from others whether
quoted, summarized, or paraphrased has been appropriately cited.
Dishonesty by failing to acknowledge the work of others constitutes
plagiarism and is a serious offense. Normally, the penalty for
plagiarism is failure in the course. More serious penalties may also be
Please take care to familiarize yourself with University policies
regarding plagiarism and academic honesty. These policies may be
found in the Student
Handbook and in Appendix F (“Student Discipline”) of the University Catalog.
Any suspected case of plagiarism or academic dishonesty will be
investigated; the sanctions for plagiarism range from failure of the
assignment to dismissal from the University.
The following behaviors are well-known instances of plagiarism, are
easily discoverable, and will merit the infractor an immediate referral
to the Dean of Students (and an immediate failure of the assignment, at
copying material from any published or internet source (yes, even
Wikipedia), purchasing papers online, “borrowing” your room-mate’s
paper from another course (or an earlier version of this one), or
“forgetting” to attribute work you accessed in a published
If, in the composition of your written work, you are
tempted to make shortcuts, make an appointment with me instead.
There are well-established and relatively easy-to-learn conventions for
using, adapting, and attributing the work of others within your own
There are also well-established and easy-to-use plagiarism detectors
available online to instructors (like myself) (like Turnitin and
Dogpile). Caveat scriptor.
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For simple (especially administrative) questions, I prefer email at email@example.com. I check
this account regularly during business hours, but infrequently in the
evenings and weekends. I generally try to respond to all queries
within 24 hours, but exceptions must be made for evenings, weekends,
and holidays. For more complex questions (i.e., substantive
questions about a lecture, an exam, or your performance in the course),
I strongly recommend an office visit. Drop in during my posted
office hours, or call/email to arrange an alternative
Scheduled office hours are available specifically for this purpose,
and I consider these to be part of the credit hours of this
course. Don’t be shy about visiting. I am often in my
office, and there
are very few instances where I am genuinely too busy to speak with
you. I’ll let you know if that is the case, and we can schedule a
time more suitable for both of us.
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Letters of Recommendation
Under ordinary circumstances, I give letters of recommendation for
graduate school (including teaching credential programs) only to those
students who have completed at least two courses with me, and have
earned an A in at least one. Letters of reference for employment
are available as well, under much less stringent conditions.
Please email me indicating your interest, and we’ll schedule a brief
appointment to discuss your plans. If you have any questions
about furthering your career inside or outside the academy, please feel
absolutely free to contact me, the earlier the better.
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and Course Content
Learning to be critical and independent thinkers means that you have to
be able to weigh alternatives, and to weigh alternatives, you have to
accept those alternatives as possible, as actual. One of the
principal values of the study of literary and cultural expression is
that you will be forced to look at the world through the eyes of
someone very much unlike yourself, and those eyes will see things in
another way, voice things in another way, than do you. In this
way, we all are asked to consider different perspectives on various
issues. It does not mean that that perspective is value-free, nor
that that perspective is ultimately and universally true. It does
mean that you are responsible for acknowledging and respecting it.
You are likely to read and hear things in my course that conflict
with your personal beliefs, or with what your parents or other
influential people in your life hold to be true. Family authority is
very important to many of us, and shaking or undermining that authority
is something that some of us take to be anathematic: just never done.
To be an independent and critical thinker, you have to be able to work
through an issue and arrive at a decision for yourself, not just
because your parents told you so, or your pastor told you so, or your
teacher told you so, or any other authority told you so. It may
turn out that your feeling about an issue differs from that which your
authority holds to be true, and I think you need to respect that
difference. On the other hand, you may, as a result of the
process of critical examination, come to reaffirm the beliefs about
some things you already hold. That’s alright, but only so long as
you respect the process; foreclosing options cheats the process.
Respecting the process means that we all need to feel safe to voice an
opinion out loud. It may turn out that I or someone else
challenges your opinion. It’s important to be able to subject your
opinions to debate without feeling like the debate process is designed
simply to crush your spirit. So I ask that when we do take
exception to another’s opinions (and we will), that we do so
respectfully, keeping our discussions to the topics, and not to the
persons voicing them.
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Faculty and the Profession
There is a prevailing myth about University faculty of which you
immediately should be disabused. Students sometimes believe that
their “teachers” have it relatively easy; they teach a couple of
classes a semester and have summers off. This myth has been
perpetuated in various formats and venues, including the State
Legislature, which may lead students to believe that it is true.
I can assure you that it is not.
Our job as University “professors” requires training in excess of that
required for astronauts. While we were busy completing this
training, we were not earning a salary; many of us, in fact, went
deeply into debt during this time. We are nearly always required
to hold doctoral degrees in our speciality, and most of us accepted
post-doctoral assignments to further our study before teaching.
We are expected to contribute to the development of our discipline and
profession through an active research and publication program.
The workload of university professors is actually quite high.
Numerous national studies indicate that university faculty generally
work well in excess of a 40-hour week, with junior faculty (those
working toward tenure) working in excess of 60 hours a week.
Between Thanksgiving 2006 and
Valentine’s Day 2007, I took a grand total of eight days off, four of
were Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and their respective eves.
Weekends were workdays. Normal schedules are not quite that
typical routine during the semester (including the two weeks before and
after classes) is a 10 hour workday Monday through Thursday, with a 6
hour day Friday and Saturday or Sunday. During the summer, I
taper back to a 30-hour week.
The CSU as an institution has a significantly higher teaching load than
comparable institutions nationally. At the University of
California, faculty members start with a 2-1-1 load (two courses in one
trimester, one course each in the other two), and routinely teach less
than that with “released” time for research, University service, or
other tasks. Full time permanent faculty here teach 24 units;
generally, a 4-4 load (or a 3-1-4 if they accept a Winter term
assignment). Full time lecturers normally teach 5 courses each
semester. Preparation for classes is usually estimated at 3:1 the
amount of time in class, so if one teaches 12 hours a week, an
additional 36 hours is spent on class preparation, grading, etc.,
alone. All other activity – advising, service to the University,
research and publishing (not to mention the “life of the mind,” or "a
life," period) – is
done outside that 48-hour clock.
I expected that workload; I knew what I was getting into when I signed
my contract. At the same time, I did not expect to be
demonized by my neighbors who have heard that the main jobs of
University faculty are loafing on the tax-payer’s dime and destroying
the American way of life. Neither is true; please help us set the
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The effects of the furlough on this class
(and by extension, your education)
You may have read that the
California Faculty Association accepted a furlough agreement with the
California State University system over the summer to help defray the
costs of operation in the face of budget cut of $584 million (about 20%
of the budget that had already been cut). Along with this, we accepted
a cut in pay of ~9.23%, which is divided into 11 months, resulting in a
net monthly pay decrease of 10.75%. It is important to recognize that
these days off are not holidays. Instead, they are concrete examples of
how massive state budget cuts have consequences for you as students and
for me as a faculty member.
At our campus, faculty will observe
8 furlough days each in fall and spring, and 2 furlough days in winter.
A furlough is mandatory un-paid time off. This means that we are not
allowed to work on these days, though we do have some flexibility in
choosing the days on which we will not work, to avoid the full shut
down of campus, and to spread the net effects of faculty reduced time
over the entire school year.
I have made every effort to spread
the net result of this decreased workload across my entire schedule.
That means that every class will experience some effect both to my own
time on task and to the schedule for the course. While I will work very
hard to mitigate the negative consequences of these effects, you should
not presume that a cut of this nature would have no real effect on the
education you receive. What you make of that education, of course, is
entirely your own choice, and I do recommend that students and faculty
increase our sense of academic community as we struggle through this
In addition to faculty furloughs,
staff also accepted a furlough arrangement, scheduled on alternate
Fridays throughout the academic year. The immediate effect of this
arrangement for students is that many offices will be closed on those
days: department offices, enrollment, cashier, advising, health center,
psychological counseling services, etc. (the academic calendar showing
these furlough days can be found online). It also means that routine
tasks that used to be completed in a fairly timely manner may not be so
timely now, as there are fewer people to do them, and those fewer
people are forced to work fewer hours. The library will have shorter
hours. Many campus support services will be decreased or eliminated. It
will be more difficult to get signatures to meet deadlines.
It would be a profound mistake to
assume that people working under these conditions should just stop
complaining and work a little harder. Please do not abuse staff members
already working under tense and stressful conditions by insisting on
your right to immediate and undivided attention.
In yet another addition to these
cuts of labor time, the budget cuts to our campus necessitated removing
a great chunk of courses from our schedule. My own department lost over
twenty sections to fall between July and September. What this means is
several things: many of our colleagues do not have a job now (including
members of our own households), the rest of us are covering courses for
which we have minimal or non-existent experience (thankfully not true
in my own case), and you are having trouble finding the courses you
need and want to graduate. You should know that faculty and staff
members are acutely aware of this situation and in many cases have
already developed work-arounds to accommodate some known situations.
Check with your department; many departments can find or may be able to
establish substitutes for some requirements.
Finally, we know that students are
getting jacked. Your fees were raised 34% over the summer. Your classes
were cut by 20%. The faculty and staff you need to support your work
were laid off. Your support services were reduced or eliminated. At the
same time, this campus hired at least five brand-new administrators
over the summer.
If you would like to learn more,
contact the California Faculty Association on campus: 667-3629.
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NOTE: material on this page includes work originally authored by
Jeff Mantz, and Koni Stone.