? Grade Value: 10% (Part I – Questions) + 20% (Part II – Response Paper)
? Task: Each student will lead a small group discussion of assigned course material (you will be assigned to groups and given time to break off together during class time) then submit a response paper on that same course material the following week
? Length: See details for each element of this assignment below
? Due: Seminars begin in Week 3 (September 22nd) and continue to week 7 (October 20th); there are 5 weeks in all, so deadlines will depend on which week you take your turn
? Important NOTE: Class size will dictate whether groups have 5 or 6 members. If you are in a group of 6 members, then there will be one week where two people share the seminar leader role. If this affects you, prepare your questions as though you were leading the seminar on your own, in order to demonstrate to me that you are familiar with all assigned course material for that week. However, in the seminar itself, it is unlikely you will each have enough time to discuss all of your questions. Coordinate with your co-leader to determine what is the best use of time for each of you
I will begin assigning groups on the first day of class and distribute group lists in week 2 (if you know anyone in the class that you would like to be in a group with, please let me know). Once groups have been assigned, it is each group’s responsibility to organize their presentation schedule by deciding who will go each week – class time will be set aside to allow you to meet together on September 15th It is extremely important that you commit to being present for all 5 seminar weeks (see syllabus for dates) as these seminars only work if everyone attends and participates. Consider the labour of your colleagues and do your best to respect it. If you are unavoidably absent, please ensure that you inform the seminar leader, and if possible, send along some of your thoughts about the reading(s) as a contribution to discussion.
Questions: Prepare a minimum of five questions about the reading(s) for your group discussion. You will have 30 minutes of class time for your small group discussion. Review the short piece, “The Work of Questions,” posted on Owl with this brief. Take time structuring your questions. Your goal is to open up an interesting conversation about the issues raised in the reading. Avoid “closed” constructions which promote singular or unelaborated answers –wording is important here – phrases like “do you think” are closed constructions as they promote yes/no answers. You will lose marks if your questions are not worded properly. Start each question with a few sentences to provide context and explain your thinking about what you are asking. Bring a copy of these thoughts and questions for each member of your group so they have it on hand during your discussion. Don’t forget to include a copy for me, which should be turned in for grading on the day of your seminar.
Response Paper: In the week following your seminar, write a 1200-1500 word essay addressing one or two of the key ideas in the reading. This shouldn’t be a summary of the reading, or a report on your seminar. Avoid lengthy descriptions of events or ideas. Consider the seminar discussion to be preparation for this short reflective paper. You may briefly describe instances from your discussion in order to illuminate your understanding of the issues explored in the reading, but these should serve as examples only. The main focus of your discussion should be on your critical analysis of the reading and the ideas it raises in the context of media,
representation, and identity. Try to make connections with contemporary examples. Upload this paper to Owl Assignments by 11:55pm on Friday, the week following your seminar (almost 10 days later). A hard copy is not required.
Here are some examples of student questions from last semester (these students received 9 or 10 out of 10 on this assignment as their questions were well-structured, insightful and clearly demonstrated familiarity with assigned content). Different texts were assigned – these questions are about Eden Robinson’s Son of a Trickster and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.
• Eden Robinson is an indigenous Canadian author who wrote the book Son of a Trickster, which is a coming-of-age novel that merges everyday teen existence with indigenous beliefs and crazy family dynamics. The book touches on some very important and heavy subject matter that is relatable to most teenagers, but there is also some material that is specific to the reception of First Nations. In that regard, do you think the book truly represents the way of life and culture of the characters and thereby of First Nations people overall?
• Magical realism is “an aesthetic style of genre or fiction in which fantastical elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere in order to access a deeper understanding of reality.” Robinson’s book incorporates many fantastical elements along with traditional indigenous myths, such as the raven shapeshifter (the Trickster) called Wee’git. How do you feel about the magical elements of the book? Which of these elements expanded on points that allowed you to access a better understanding of your own reality?
• Robinson’s book takes place in Kitamaat village British Columbia. The setting is incredibly important for the mythology and context of the book. However, where the characters live is not only influential to us as the readers, regarding how we interpret character meaning, but it is also important to how the actual characters see the world around them. As we already discussed, where someone lives can play an important role in their idea of national identity. How would Jared define his sense of national identity? Does his sense of national identity change towards the end of the book indicating a process of transformation? If so, what factors are the cause of this change?
• In Fun Home, the author recalls her father’s caring actions more than she remembers her mother’s: “although I’m good at enumerating my father’s flaws, it's hard for me to sustain much anger at him. I expect this is partly because he’s dead, and partly because the bar is lower for fathers than for mothers. My mother must have bathed me hundreds of times. But it's my father rinsing me off with the purple metal cup that I remember most clearly” (22). In which ways do double standards exist for men and women as parents? What early memories do you have of noticing them?
• When the author of Fun Home came out to her parents, she says her dad was “strangely pleased to think I was having some kind of orgy” and said, “everyone should experiment. It's healthy” (77). She also notes that her father puts a lot of work into seeming like a heterosexual family man while that is not his truth: “he appeared to be an ideal husband and father, for example, but would an ideal husband and father have sex with teenage boys?” Why do you think her father felt pressured to present himself this way, and why would his initial reaction to his daughter coming out be that it’s some sort of experiment? Why is heterosexuality seen as pure and wholesome while queerness is seen through a sexual lens and fetishized?
• In Fun Home, the author notes that she thought it was strange that her dad loved gardening, and even died doing the activity. She writes that she used to think “what kind of man but a sissy could possibly love flowers this ardently?” (90). What traits are seen as “feminine” or“masculine” and why do you think that is? In what ways are people pushed into boxed and binary stereotypes based See the next pages for two examples of student essays from last semester with feedback and grades included.
Content 10/10 - Your paper effectively analyses both assigned texts, making compelling connecting with both the theme of gender and the broader course themes of media, representation and identity.
Organization 5/10 - Structurally this paper could be improved with a stronger intro and conclusion - both the start are and finish are quite abrupt and the lack of a clear thesis statement makes the analysis feel very fragmented.
Style 10/10 - You write well and your examples are both relevant and well integrated.
Mechanics 10/10 No issues here.
TOTAL: 35/40 (88%)