Required Reading

Novels are listed in the order in which we will read them.

Note: For reasons that will become obvious as you read them, the two novels we are reading in this course are only available in print. You can find these books by clicking on the links above or by searching for the ISBN-13 numbers in Amazon or other online bookstores. These are also the editions I have ordered for the course from the campus bookstore. We will refer to and use all course texts extensively in class, and you are required to bring whatever texts we are reading to class every class meeting.

Required Work

The graded work for ENGL 4600/6600 will take several forms: (1) class participation; (2) reading responses; (3) a midterm paper; (4) a deformance project; (5) a final project. You must complete the midterm, the deformance project, and the final project to pass the class.

(1) Participation: Class discussion is an essential component of this course; discussion, not lecture, will be the primary way we investigate our course texts. The class is driven almost entirely by your ideas, and my job is to elicit those ideas and help you refine them. It is therefore crucial that you have carefully read and considered the day’s material, that you attend class, and that you speak up in class. I expect you to bring the day’s readings to class, every day. More than four absences will lower your participation grade by at least a letter grade. More than six absences will result in a zero for your course participation grade. See my attendance policy below for more specific information.

In addition to regular participation, you and a partner will act as discussion hosts two different times throughout the semester. You will sign up for your hosting dates and texts on the second day of class. As a discussion host, you will be responsible for kicking off class discussion. You might do so by focusing on provocative ideas, disagreements, or difficult concepts in the reading. Or you might lead a meaningful activity designed to engage the class with the day’s material. In any case, discussion hosts should aim to get discussion started, rather than simply reviewing concepts for the class. See the discussion host guidelines for more information on what I expect from you as a host and how your hosting will be graded.

ENGL 6600 graduate students: I am also asking you to meet with me individually during the first two full weeks of class so we can discuss your interests and come up with a strategy for making this course work for you. Please email me to set this appointment up.

(2) Reading Responses: You will write ten reading responses throughout the semester and post them on our course blog. For these posts, you will summarize and respond to one of the theoretical or scholarly texts we are reading. Each response is due by class time on the day we are discussing the text you are writing about. You may be asked to discuss your response as a start to the day’s discussion, so come to class prepared to talk about what you have written.

The first two responses you write will have specific due dates, but after that it will largely be up to you to set your own pace for completing these responses. You may not write more than two responses per week, and you may not make up missed reading responses. Your first 5 reading responses must be completed by Tuesday, October 6. The second set of 5 responses must be completed by Tuesday, November 24. See the reading response guidelines for more information on what I expect from these responses and how they will be graded.

(3) Midterm: There will be a take-home midterm paper, which will ask you both to revisit material covered in class and to apply the terms, theories, and concepts you have learned to new material. The midterm is due Friday, October 9 by 10 pm and you will have about a week to complete it.

(4) Deformance Project: You will complete a “deformance” of Gretchen Henderson’s novel Galerie de Difformité, accompanied by a critical reflection paper. Galerie de Difformité itself asks each new reader to deform it as he or she reads, and Henderson maintains an online gallery of the novel’s continued deformances. The deformance project is due Friday, November 6 by 10 pm.

ENGL 6600 graduate students: You will have the option of an alternative creative and/or digital project for this assignment. I will work individually with graduate students on the details of this assignment.

(5) Final Project: The final project is a collaborative research project that tells the story of some dead or forgotten writing technology. Each project will pay particular attention to the history, materiality and significance of the object of study. Your project will form part of an online Omeka exhibit that we will build together as a class. Your final project is due by the end of our scheduled final exam period, which is Thursday, December 10 at 10:30 am.

ENGL 6600 graduate students:  Final projects for graduate students will include an enhanced research component that consists of an annotated bibliography and a literature review that situates your object of study within the larger framework of media studies, the history of the book, and/or communication studies.


The grade breakdown is as follows:

  • Participation: 15%
  • Reading Responses: 20%
  • Midterm: 20%
  • Deformance Project: 20%
  • Final Project: 25%

Every assignment except for discussion hosting and your reading responses will be given a letter grade that has a percentage equivalent:

A = 95%

B = 85%

C = 75%

D = 65%

F = below 60%

Here’s what these letter grades generally mean:

A: Indicates outstanding work that is comprehensive and original. Analysis is nuanced and brings together class readings, discussions, and original insights. Writing is lucid, insightful, and well organized. A clear logical, conceptual, and/or thematic frame exists, and the writer engages consistently with complexity and demonstrates complexity of thought. Classroom participation is consistent and thoughtful, and the student is able to add new dimensions to class discussions.

B: The work is clear and accurate, and involves engagement with class readings and discussions. There is significant analysis and explanation of concepts. While the writer demonstrates clarity of thought, their arguments and/or analysis are less original or complex. The logical, conceptual, and/or thematic framing of a piece is less clear. Classroom participation is thoughtful, but is less consistent.

C: The work relies more on description or observation and lacks sufficient analysis. It does not provide specific examples, choosing instead to summarize or to speak very generally about texts. The writing is not clearly organized. Arguments and analysis remain under-developed. The writer does not demonstrate a clear understanding of the assignment, although the writing may be polished and/or accurate. Classroom participation needs improvement; participation at this level may consist of attending class, but not much more. It may also consist of distracting behaviors like doing other things unrelated to class while in class.

D: The work is incomplete and unorganized. It lacks adequate analysis and relies on sketchy or very general summaries. Classroom participation is inconsistent at best and generally distracting to others.

Late Work

All assignments should be submitted through Blackboard by the date and time indicated in the course calendar. Unless you make prior arrangements with me at least 24 hours in advance of an assignment’s due date, late papers will be penalized a full letter grade for each day that they are late, and I will not accept assignments that are more than 4 days late. Late final projects will not be accepted at all. If you find that you will need an extension on a particular assignment, please contact me as soon as possible to arrange an alternative due date (again, you must contact me at least 24 hours before the assignment is due, but the sooner the better). Assignment extensions will not be granted retroactively.

Late reading responses will not be accepted, and you cannot make up missed reading responses.

Because assignments for this course are submitted via Blackboard, assignments are due on the date listed in the syllabus even if class is cancelled due to inclement weather, a power outage, etc.

Technological Failures are Not Emergencies

Technological failures and mishaps – file corruption, computer crashes, wifi connection problems, uploading the wrong file to Blackboard – are predictable facts of twenty-first century life. They happen all of the time and are thus NOT emergencies. For this course, for all of your courses, for your career, for the rest of your life on this earth, you need to develop strategies that take such failures into account. Start your work early, save it often, and save backup copies of important documents off-site using services like Dropbox and Google Drive. Technological failure or mishap – including uploading the wrong file to Blackboard – is not an excuse for late work.

Attendance Policy

I generally do not distinguish between “excused” and “unexcused” absences. Doing so puts me in a position I don’t want to be in. You may miss four class meetings without penalty. You don’t have to tell me about why you miss these classes, even if you have “official” reasons for doing so; they are yours to miss as needed, for whatever reason. More than four absences will lower your participation grade by at least a letter grade. More than six absences will result in a zero for your course participation grade. There is no way to make up absences from class. Use your absences wisely (or not at all). If you are involved in official university activities like sports, music, etc. and you already know that you will be absent for more than 4 class periods, talk to me as soon as possible.

However, simply being present in class is not sufficient to earn an A for class participation. What really counts as far as your participation grade is concerned is the extent to which you actively participate in and contribute to our class discussions. If you speak up infrequently in class, you should not expect to earn more than a C for your participation grade. If you’re reluctant to speak up in class, please talk to me soon. We can work something out.

The reading for this class is difficult, and it will challenge you. You may feel confused, frustrated, or bored as you are completing it. This is normal. I nevertheless expect that you will complete each day’s reading assignment and come to class ready to discuss it. I reserve the right to dismiss you from class if you clearly have not done the reading or if you don’t bring the day’s reading with you.

If I am unexpectedly delayed arriving to class, please wait 15 minutes before leaving the classroom.


All students are required to check their official Clemson email accounts regularly. I will send course information and announcements through email. I endeavor to respond to all emails within 24 hours – usually less – but please do not send me urgent emails regarding your assignments on the night before they are due and expect an immediate reply.

If you have questions on course material, assignments, or policies, the best thing to do is to come to my office hours and talk to me. In fact, the best thing to do in almost any situation that affects your class work is simply to come and talk to me about it. I am happy to answer simple questions about the course via email, but more involved questions and conversations should be done in person. I am also happy to read and discuss advance drafts of your assignments with you in person, but I will not read and comment on drafts of assignments via email before they are due.

Inclusive Learning

I am committed to the principle of inclusive learning. This means that our classroom, our online spaces, our practices, and our interactions be as inclusive as possible. Mutual respect and the ability to listen, observe, and disagree with others carefully and respectfully – including me – are crucial to inclusive learning.

Clemson works to provide accommodations for you if you need additional resources in the classroom. These may include extra time on exams, note-taking services, and so on. If you need these resources or wish to consult a counselor about the available services, please make an appointment with Dr. Margaret Camp (656-6848), Director of Disability Services, to discuss specific needs within the first month of classes. . SDS, in consultation with you, determines what services you may need under an accommodation plan and provides you with a letter that outlines them, which you will then discuss with me. You are responsible for visiting SDS to arrange for a letter before talking to me about these accommodations. Accommodations are not retroactive and new Faculty Accommodation Letters must be presented each semesterYou can find complete information about SDS here:

Classroom Courtesy

This course embraces the digital world, but it also recognizes that digital tools and environments complicate personal interactions. Studies have shown that students who use laptops in class often receive lower grades than those who don’t. Even more worrisome are studies that show laptop users distract students around them. I permit laptops and tablets in class, but only when used for class activities like note-taking or class readings. Any other use is unacceptable, and any student who misuses their laptop, tablet, or phone will be responsible for starting the next day’s class discussion. I will occasionally ask students to turn all devices off so that we may devote our attention to other things.

Text messaging or other cell phone use during class is unacceptable. Any student who texts or uses their phone during class will be responsible for starting the next day’s class discussion.

Academic Integrity

The principle of academic integrity is taken very seriously and violations are treated gravely. In terms of this course, academic integrity means that when you are responsible for a task, you will perform that task. When you rely on someone else’s work in performing an aspect of that work, you will give full credit in the proper, accepted form. Clemson’s academic integrity policy is available here: Ignorance of what constitutes academic dishonesty is not an acceptable excuse for academic dishonesty. Turning in work for this class that you have previously completed for other courses constitutes a violation of academic integrity. Violations of academic integrity will be reported to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Another aspect of academic integrity is the free play of ideas. We all enter this classroom with preexisting political, ethical, philosophical, and intellectual commitments. Vigorous discussion and debate are encouraged in this course, with the firm expectation that all aspects of the class will be conducted with civility and respect for differing ideas, perspectives, and traditions.

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located at Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator. He also is the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorff Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).

Thanks to Ryan Cordell, Rachael KingJulia PankoRita Raley, and Mark Sample, whose courses inspired this one.