HUM 105: Reading and Research

Dr. Eva Thury

Office hours: M 11-1, R 10-11

Office Phone: 895-1711

and by appointment

Office: Macalister 5035



This is an honors course in reading and research, with an emphasis on literature. However, our focus is not to study the literature in itself. Rather, we will be trying to understand the complex processes of reading and writing. We will analyze various factors - historical, linguistic, and cultural - that contribute to the ways in which you read.

In studying how people respond to literary texts, we will address such issues as how the "meaning" of the same text can change over time, why different kinds of texts seem to demand different kinds of readers (i. e., do you read a poem differently from the way you read the novel?), whether the author of a work can be considered its final "authority," and perhaps most importantly, what the social and political implications are of becoming conscious of the factors influencing the ways you read and interpret .

This course gives priority to your reaction to texts, rather than to the texts themselves. In this class, we will regard meaning as something that readers create with a text rather than as something they find in texts. We will study reading as a culturally-acquired process, and we will examine, through writing assignments, the interaction of the processes of reading and writing.

We will also be concerned with how to read and use scholarly information, with how information is segmented into material for different fields and different audiences, and with what overlap there is between the work of scholars and researchers in different fields.

Although we will be considering literature, we will not be considering it to the exclusion of other perspectives on understanding (or don't you think that literature is a way of understanding??). This means that, if you like, you will be able to do your major research project on a nonliterary topic.

Computer Use:

To aid in exploring the reading of literature, we will perform a variety of activities and exercises on the computer. It is not necessary for you to have your own computer to participate in this class, or to have a high level of profiency in computer use. Training will be provided as we go through our weekly activities. However, this class does require you:


Plagiarism is using someone else's words or ideas as your own without acknowledging the source with proper documentation. See HH. pp. 279-286 for further discussion, as well as T & D, Chapter 3. Also helpful is the discussion of paraphrasing, HH, pp. 271-285.

Plagiarism will result in failure of the assignment and the course. As a major focus of this course is to help you use sources appropriately, we will work on and discuss plagiarism. If you have any questions at any time about proper use of sources, please speak to me.

Required Texts:

Callahan and Dobyns, Literary Conversation: Thinking, Talking, and Writing about Literature Morrison, Toni, Song of Solomon
Thury and Drott, Reaching Across the Curriculum (available from the Humanities Fileserver: abbreviated T&D below) This course will also require the reading of some electronic material, much of it on the WWW, as indicated in the course schedule below.








Short quizzes may be given to encourage completion of the reading assignments. Student Tools


Because class discussion constitutes an integral part of the course and has direct bearing on writing assignments, you are expected to attend class regularly. If you do not, you willl not be considered to have satisfied the course's requirements, even if you turn in acceptable work in the other assignments.


To help you address issues about reading and research, you are to keep a notebook. In the class schedule below, you are assigned topics for 2-3 notebook entries a week. (For more detail, see Notebook at the end of this syllabus.) Notebook entries are not formal essays; they can be written in a casual style (but they must make sense!).


All drafts of all papers will be worked on in in-class peer-review sessions. Failure to participate in peer review sessions (both as an author and as a discussant) will result in a lowered grade for the course. Your first draft must be handed in with your final version, and the comments of your group. Final drafts must be typed.

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Class Schedule


Month & Date

Reading Due That Day/Activity

Writing Due That Day (1 hour before class)


September 22

Introduction and discussion of general aims of the course
Counting the Mad
Other Poems


September 24

No class!

1) Read T & D, Chapter 1
2) Complete the exercise contained in this link and email me the results: Doctorow Story
(and yes, send me the Notebook entry!)

NB: Two separate responses to any 2 poems (200 words each)


September 29

Yes class: convocation doesn't affect us!

Callaghan and Dobyns, Chapter 1
Discussion of Doctorow, the story and the exercise

NB: Do Callaghan and Dobyns, Exercise 1.3 and compare your reactions to those in the book

October 1

Class moved to L-13 of Hagerty Library

  • bring your ID card to get in
  • this is not our library visit, just a class in a computer room
  • we'll be back in our regular classroom on Oct. 6

Callaghan and Dobyns, Chapter 2

In class: begin Girl Birth Water Death

NB: Callaghan & Dobyns, Exercise 2.3 (1-3)


October 6

Discussion of what literature is:

T & D, Chapter 4 (for background, you may want to skim T & D, Chapter 3)

NB: What topics are you considering for your research paper? What kinds of information do you expect to find in the library? Base your discussion on T & D readings for today

October 8

T & D, Humanities Intro
T & D, Science Intro

NB: Research log on today's readings


October 13

Bring draft of paper 1 to class for peer review

Callaghan and Dobyns, Chapters 3-4 Discussion topic: Exercise 4.5

NB: Standard Notebook Entry (SNB) on Oates story

October 15

Library Visit
  • Bring your student ID
  • Meet in L-34 (basement)

NB: Callaghan & Dobyns, Exercise 4.2, on Roethke

Paper 1 due


October 20

Wilkie Collins on Sensation Book reviews

in class work: Exercise on Oates

Library Familiarization Exercise due in class

NB: Research log on your sources

October 22

Callaghan and Dobyns, Chapter 6, pages 163-196

Morrison, Chapter 1-2

In class discussion: Analyze the characters/voices in Morrison Chapters 1-2 in the way suggested in Exercise 4.7 (Callaghan and Dobyns)

NB: Standard Notebook Entry (SNB) on Morrison reading


October 27

Callaghan and Dobyns, Chapter 6, p. 197-221 Morrison, Chapter 3-5

NB: Standard Notebook Entry (SNB) on Morrison reading

October 29

Teacher out sick

NB: Research log on your sources


November 3

Bring draft of summary to class for peer review

NB: SNB on Ginsberg's "Howl."

November 5

Required reading:

Ginsberg Assignment

Summary due: submit paper with photocopy of source

NB: Research log on your source(s)


November 10

In class exercise: the review of the literature

Morrison, Chapter 6-8

NB: Standard Notebook Entry (SNB) on Morrison reading

November 12

T & D, Chapter 6

Morrison, Chapter 9-10

NB: Research log on your source(s)


November 17

Callahan and Dobyns, Chapter 5

Morrison, Chapter 11-15

NB: Standard Notebook Entry (SNB) on Morrison reading

November 19

T & D, Chapter 2 Review: proper use of researched information

Bibliographic formats

Critics' Conversation on Morrison

NB: Research log on Morrison critics


November 24

reread Callahan and Dobyns, Chapter 6, pages 215-221 T & D, Chapter 5

NB: discuss the use of sources in the sample paper that starts on p. 215 of Callaghan and Dobyns.

No class: Thanksgiving holiday

NB: Research log on your source(s)


December 1

Bring draft of Review of the Literature to class for peer review

NB: Research log on your source(s)

December 3

Wrapping up, looking back.

mental map discussion

NB: review your research logs and analyze your resarch process for the review of the literature

exam week

December 8

Review of the Literature due


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View Assignment List

As a student in HUM 105, you will track your evolving reactions to literature in a reading notebook. Notebook entries are a way of helping you to become conscious of various factors influencing your responses to texts and to become accustomed to writing about those responses.

Notebook entries are to be kept on the computer. They are due an hour before each class meeting, and should be sent to me by email ( Your notebooks should be sent in the body of emil messages to me, not as attachments.

Each notebook entry is to consist of at least 400 words. You will be graded on notebook entries, but your grade will focus not on the rightness of your response but on the effort you have put into the entry. This may include the following factors: is the entry on time? is it too short (shorter than it needs to explain its points clearly)? is it complete? does the entry make sense? does it represent an attempt to deal with the text in question (or: are you always putting the same two ideas down in entry?)? Notebook entries should be informal writings, not complete essays. In looking at your notebook entries, I will feel no interest in your grammar or spelling. In evaluating your entries, I will be considering your thinking about the stories and the themes discussed in class. Entries which are too general or do not show thought and development of ideas will be considered less successful than those that show your ongoing, evolving understanding of what you are reading and how you react to it. You will be assigned a variety of different kinds of topics to write about in your notebook:

Exercises, as specified in the class schedule. Many of these are exercises from Callaghan and Dobyns.

Standard Notebook (SNB) Entries. The SNB has three parts:

a. Engage (described in your textbook, p. 19-21)

b. Reflect and Analyze (p. 47)

c. Establish Significance (p. 48)

The class schedule above will specify the subject you are to write about.

Research Logs. A research log is a narrative of your research process. In addition, you can use this log to develop ideas, propose theories, respond to, reject, revise your conception of the topic you're investigating. The components of a research log are a narrative and a response. These are explained below. Traditionally, a two-column format is used for such a log. For an extensive description, see T&D, Chapter 1. In your work for this class, you will keep your notebook on the computer, so you will use a modified version of this double column format. Instead of two columns, you will need to use sequential headings, as follows:

NARRATIVE: (your narrative) RESPONSE: (your response) NARRATIVE: (your narrative) etc.

A research log has two components:

  1. A narrative that describes a piece of information you found (briefly summarized), what you did to find it, and and where you found it.
  2. A response that explains your reaction to what you found, or to the process of looking. This section should not spend much time on venting frustration, but should rather be discussing the connections you are making between points, and how your idea/conception of the subject you are investigating is growing or changing as you do your research.

Free Notebook Entries. If there is no other assignment for a given date, you may write a free entry on a reading of your choice. The entry may have the characteristics of a standard notebook entry (a, b, and c, unless noted otherwise), or a research log.


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View Assignment List

Paper One: Response to Literature

Do Callaghan and Dobyns, Exercise 1, p. 51, and use it as the basis of a two-page response paper on "Girl, Birth, Water, Death." See p. 88 for a sample of a response paper. For this assignment, submit both the exercise and the paper.

Grade component: 20%

Paper Two: Summary

Write a two-page summary of one source obtained on your topic. The source needs to be an article from a journal, not a book or a chapter in a book. Turn in a photocopy of the source with the summary. Topics: Choices must be approved by me. Paper Two and Paper Four are to be done on the same topic. Paper Two should allow you to get a start on the work of Paper Four. That is, the source used for Paper Two should be incorporated into Paper Four.

Suggestions: The effect of violence in (one of the) the media, the nature of mental illness (this is too broad and needs to be limited, for instance, to psychopaths), suicide: its causes or effects, serial killers, etc.

Grade component: 15%

Paper Three: Review of the Literature

Write a four-page review of the literature explaining some of the categories of thought involved with your topic (see summary assignment). You need not be comprehensive, but you should discuss at least four sources. See T & D, Chapter 5 for examples.

Grade component: 20%