Portland State University
University Studies Department
UNST 236 I: Interpreting the Past
Summer 2013, 4 credits
Web Based Course—Fully Online
Tiffany Timperman, Ph.D.
Office (by appointment only): CH 117
Required Reading (available in PSU Bookstore)
Schaffer, Talia. Literature and Culture at the Fin de Siècle. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007.
This course explores selected works of Victorian literature and introduces students to historical themes, genres, history, and culture of the Victorian Fin de Siècle. This course stresses coherence between reading, assignments, discussions, and mentoring sessions.
This new cluster offers students the chance to explore our complex and interwoven histories using the tools of the humanities and sciences. Concentrating on the Victorian Fin de Siècle, we investigate the diversity of our shared human past, giving students a necessary context for understanding the present.
Through the interrogation of primary sources and analysis of evidence—whether texts, images, or artifacts—students learn to set aside modern assumptions and biases and instead engage issues in their historical context, thus laying a foundation for the reasoned consideration of unfamiliar perspectives in other aspects of their lives. At the same time, by studying the past students will come to understand the historical foundations of our contemporary world, to perceive both the continuities and disruptions in our relationships to previous generations.
Our class will be recognized as a dynamic and creative learning environment focused on student success, guided by the values of academic excellence, integrity, civility, and engaged inquiry. Outcomes based objectives include:
- Explore a specific theme, issue or event (from the Victorian Fin de Siècle), and impart a clear sense of the process of interpreting the past as a mode of critical thought.
- Incorporate the content of disciplinary perspectives on the past (art history, literary studies, and musical/theater history).
- Identify pathways for further study (for example, possibilities for continuing to explore a particular world region at the upper division level).
- Collaborate with peers in focused discussion forums designed to foster dialogue and debate core ideas.
- Reflect on past themes, issues or events and draw connections to the present to show a conduit of thought.
- Show an appreciation of the artifacts, intellectual and artistic coterie and culture of the period.
- Compose a formal textual-analysis essay with an arguable thesis that incorporates primary and secondary evidence in support of your critical claims.
Inquiry and Critical Thinking:
- Students will be able to identify and apply basic methodologies in the study of literature, culture, and the arts
- Students will demonstrate ability to interpret texts and events in their historical contexts.
- Students will recognize the existence of multiple historiographic perspectives, such as contrasting theories of influence, causality, conflict, and change, and will examine history not as a predetermined story but as a collection of narratives that we are constantly revising and contesting.
- Students will identify and respond to interpretive questions appropriate to the study of past societies and cultures.
- Students will evaluate original sources from the past and construct evidence-based arguments in writing.
- Students will demonstrate the ability to assess these sources and deploy appropriate skills in research-based assignments.
- Students will be introduced to and therefore be able to identify texts that represent a diversity of perspectives. These perspectives will include different genders, social classes, religious, ethnic, age, ability, and racial groups, and sexual minorities.
- Students will learn to recognize these very categories as historically determined and culturally mediated.
Ethics and social responsibility:
- Students will recognize that interpreting the past can be an ethical, social or political act. They will identify and describe moments of conflict or contestation in history, and learn to enter into debates about the meanings or implications of these events or practices.
- Students will learn to identify and describe the concept that human actions have consequences that go beyond their immediate context.
I value engaged inquiry and academic excellence. Your written work should demonstrate a critical engagement with the materials. Participation in forum discussions should be thoughtful and uniform. My expectation is that your work will be error-free, clean, written in excellent English style, and grammatically correct. You are required to use MLA style guidelines. In addition to weekly participation in forum discussions, you are expected to submit a Topic Statement, Preliminary Bibliography, Half Draft, Final Letter of Reflection, and Final Research Paper. Peer Review is also a component of this course. The breakdown is as follows:
Participation in Discussion Forums: 20%
Participation in Mentored Inquiry Sessions: 20%
Topic Statement: 5%
Preliminary Bibliography: 5%
Half Draft (3-4 pages): 10%
Half Draft Peer Review: 5%
Final Letter of Reflection: 10%
Final Research Paper (5-7 pages): 20%
Final Research Paper Peer Review: 5%
Philosophy & Expectations:
My philosophy is that your learning is an intersection of reading the materials, actively participating in forum discussions, responding to peers, and attending to social, cultural, historical, and ethical issues that are relevant to the studies. I encourage participation and discussion based on knowledge you have gleaned attending class and reading materials. Independent inquiry is an essential component of online learning success. Meeting deadlines is essential.
Technological savvy is encouraged. D2L offers tutorials and I encourage you to view them and troubleshoot when necessary. I recommend using Mozilla Firefox as a browser. You can download it for free online: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/upgrade.html
Essay files need to be submitted in Word .doc or .docx files. I cannot open .pages or .wps files, and I cannot edit .pdf files.
Class discussions foster collaborative learning and we use an online discussion and mentored seminar approach in this class. Discussion Forums are organized in Weekly Folders and they are based upon that week’s readings. (See Discussion Forum Grading Guidelines in Course Content for details.)
Initial weekly Discussion Forum posts are due Sunday by midnight. Response Forum posts are due the following Tuesday by midnight; however, if you post earlier in the week you are more likely to receive rapid instructor and peer feedback. Professors differ in their approach to class attendance, so let me be clear: attendance and active participation are compulsory.
My expectation is that you are thoroughly engaged in class: that you enter each Discussion Forum prepared, enthusiastic, ready and open to learning and dialogue.
There will be a separate space for the mentored inquiry portion of the course, which will account for 20% of your total grade. The primary focus of this space is to offer additional support by way of group activities and facilitated discussions designed to assist in enhancing and further develop time management, critical thinking, and writing skills. Additionally, this space will provide links to campus resources, notice of upcoming campus and local events, and support materials.
Discussion Posts and formal writing assignments are due on the dates outlined in D2L Course Content. There is no provision for late papers.
You are encouraged to contact the professor and/or mentor via e-mailwhen you have questions or comments, but please note that e-mail is not an acceptable method for turning in papers for this class. All students are required to submit assignments on the dates required in the D2L Dropbox.
(In addition to the textbook readings listed below, you are responsible for all materials posted in D2L Course Content.)
Week One: Part I: Aestheticism
Read: Introduction, p. 1; The Art of Living: Introduction to Aestheticism, p. 7; Walter Pater’s Studies in the History of the Renaissance, p. 9; Alice Meynell’s “The Colour of Life,” p. 54.
Discussion Forum: Interpreting Pater’s Renaissance: What are your first impressions?
(See Discussion Forum for specific guidelines.)
Week Two: Part I: Aestheticism
Read: Oscar Wilde’s “The Decay of Lying,” p. 19; Arthur Symons’s “The Decadent Movement in Literature,” p. 71.
Discussion Forum: Examine “the doctrines of the new aesthetics” (pgs. 40-41) and draw an association with a contemporary art form (painting, music, film, et cetera).
Week Three: Incantatory Art: Aesthetic Poems
Read: Ernest Dowson, “Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae,” p. 73; Lionel Johnson’s “A Decadent’s Lyric,” p. 74; Oscar Wilde’s “The Harlot’s House,” p. 88; “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” p. 90; Michael Field “ I Love You With My Life,” p. 108; La Giaconda,” p. 109; Olive Custance’s “Doubts,” p. 123; “The White Witch,” p. 124.
Discussion: How is love expressed in the above selection of Aesthetic poems? Can you find any common themes, symbols, or motifs?
*Topic Statement: Due
Week Four: The Art of Conversation: Aesthetic Drama
Read: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, p. 149
View: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (You will need to find a version of the play (any version you choose) on Netflix or elsewhere.
Discussion: How does adaptation enhance, or deplete, the original context, setting, and historical significance of the play?
*Preliminary Bibliography: Due
Week Five: Part II: New Women
Read: The New Women: Introduction, p. 203; Sarah Grand’s “The New Aspect of the Woman Question,” p. 205; Quida’s “The New Woman,” p. 210; A.G.P. Sykes’s “The Evolution of the Sex,” p. 230
Discussion: Then and Now: What significant evolution of the sexes do you find most apparent? Compare/Contrast primary examples from the texts to your personal experience.
*Half Draft Peer Review: Due
*Half Draft: Due
Week Six: Part III: Mind and Body
Read: Mind and Body: Introduction, p. 299; Max Nordau’s “Degeneration,” p. 306; George Bernard Shaw’s “The Sanity of Art,” p. 324; Havelock Ellis’s “ Studies in the Psychology of Sex,” p. 328.
Discussion: Should art have a moral agenda? Are some artists still considered “degenerate” by current standards? Provide primary examples from the texts and from your personal experience.
Week Seven: Political Solutions: Philanthropy, Sociology, Socialism
Read: Charles Booth’s “Life and Labour of the People in London,” p. 376; W.T. Stead’s “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon,” p. 382.
Discussion: “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon” is Stead’s narrative account of the London sex trade. Upon publication (July 6, 1885) it shocked the Victorian reading public. Do you find it shocking today? Why? Do you think things have changed for the better or worse in 2013?
Week Eight: Mental Hopes: Psychology, Parapsychology, Fantasy
Read: William James’s “Principles of Psychology,” p. 412; Sigmund Freud’s “Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria,” p. 418.
Discussion: In James’s groundbreaking “Principles of Psychology” he claims: “Within each personal consciousness, thought is sensibly continuous.” Thereafter, “stream of consciousness” became a popular mode of writing. Interpret this passage: “A tune, an odor, a flavor sometimes carry this inarticulate feeling of their familiarity so deep into our consciousness that we are fairly shaken by its mysterious emotional power” (415).
*Final Research Paper Peer Review: Due
*Final Research Paper: Due
*Final Letter of Reflection: Due
The policy governing academic honesty is part of the Code of Student Conduct and Responsibility. Academic honesty is a cornerstone of any meaningful education and a reflection of each student’s maturity and integrity. The Code of Student Conduct and Responsibility, which applies to all students, prohibits all forms of academic cheating, fraud, and dishonesty. These acts include, but are not limited to: plagiarism, buying and selling of course assignments and research papers, performing academic assignments (including tests and examinations) for other persons, unauthorized disclosure and receipt of academic information, and other practices commonly understood to be academically dishonest.
Accommodations are collaborative efforts between students, faculty and the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Students with accommodations approved through the DRC are responsible for contacting the faculty member in charge of the course prior to or during the first week of the term to discuss accommodations. Students who believe they are eligible for accommodations but who have not yet obtained approval through the DRC should contact the DRC immediately at 503-725-4150.”
Disability Resource Center
Portland State University
116 Smith Memorial Student Union
1825 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97201
Phone: (503) 725-4150
Fax: (503) 725-4103
TTY or Relay: (503) 725-6504