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Humanities Semester One 2019-20 Power and Beauty

Humanities Syllabus 2019-20                                 Instructor:  Dr. Patti Lee-Muratori     


Humanities ECE Course (0350-01):  Seminar in Writing Through Literature (1011)


UConn’s ECE website for further information  (See “Quick Links”)


Course Overview:


           This Humanities course will focus on the careful reading and writing in a critical examination of literature through the varied lenses of history, philosophy, mathematics, natural and human sciences, music, theater, art, and film. Reading beyond the literary texts will be required to help students place and contextualize their understanding and to find some common vocabulary for our conversation. Examples of this reading will include novels and drama as well as nonfictional works such as (but not be limited to) sociolinguistic studies, treatises on the analysis of beauty throughout time, philosophical and psychological TED Talks, and the background on the development of intelligence testing.  Through this multidimensional approach, students will have the opportunity to identify, analyze, and write about the societal constructs that shape and define the individual in today’s world.  The class centers on essential questions for four key units:  Power, Beauty, Knowledge, and Truth.  Materials may also include various genres: drama, short story, novel, poetry, essays, letters, and journals where appropriate to teaching objectives and student interest.  We will organize most daily activities as a seminar with whole class and small group discussions, lectures, debates, student presentations, projects, and dramatizations.  We are here as fellow learners and questioners, and we hope to learn a great deal from each other.  This is only possible if we are willing to take some risks to trust and respect each member of the group.  The success of this class depends significantly on sharing questions, insights, observations, and examples of our writing as we help each other to find answers, no matter how tentative, to the profound topics we discuss and write about.

            Writing is of course an integral part of this course, as it was originally conceived to be a class to extend student study beyond AP Language and AP Literature and the AP examinations.  In relation to UConn’s course catalogue, “Writing Through Literature” (English 1011) is “to introduce students to the work of the university through cross-disciplinary reading and writing. Students engage in inquiry-driven cycles of reading, dialogue, drafting, and revision:” Each seminar has reflective writing, drafting, conferencing, revising and information on literacy components: “Because writing is emergent—its qualities arising from a process of trial and reflection—much of the most significant work happens in revision, once students have taken the first steps of drafting a specific writing project. Feedback includes the comments an instructor makes on each draft but includes, too, the various ways that student work circulates beyond the instructor-student dyad. Class time can be directed toward this reflection on the work that students have done as peer review, various forms of conferencing, the work shopping of specific examples, and so on. Students may also provide feedback as out-of-class assigned work” (ECE English Handbook).   As part of all writing assignments, the set of skills to recognize when information is needed and the ability locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information will be a necessary part of the class: “Information Literacy, an explicit component of UConn’s General Education requirements, addresses making, not just receiving, knowledge and includes direct instruction in some elements of library research” (ECE Handbook).  Because of the escalating complexity of our environment, individuals are faced with diverse, abundant information choices--in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives.  Through working with our district coordinator, UConn’s library and databases, and resource personnel, students will learn to make stronger choices about their sources.  Reflective writing, which includes “characterizing, reconsidering, or qualifying one’s work,” fosters awareness and metacognition about writing (and not just writing processes), is an ongoing activity that need not be graded. Reflective forms include: process notes, in-class reflections on (or presentations of) projects, other kinds of metatexts, including placing of one’s work within the context of others’ work, introductory texts, and more” (ECE Handbook).


Required Texts For Full Year (=two college semesters):


            Auburn, David.  Proof.

            Coetzee, J.M.  Disgrace

            Etcoff, Nancy.  Survival of the Prettiest

            Harrison, Katherine. Exposure

Joyce, James. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man  (or other bildungsroman            


            Mamet, David.  Oleanna                                                           

            Nabokov, Vladimir.   Lolita

            Russell, Bertrand. History of Western Philosophy (Selected Readings)

            Shakespeare, William. Richard III 

            Shakespeare, William.  Hamlet (or Choice assignment)

            Stoppard, Tom.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (or Choice assignment)


Grading Criteria:


Required Course Components:  Your grade this year will be based on the following components for each “quarter,” although this class features “quarterless grades” (formerly known as “rolling grades”).  Humanities is a full year course:


·       Formal Assessments (long writing:  full process, student-generated, inquiry-based papers count at least twice. Creative projects count once.                           70%

·       Performance Assessments:  presentations, oral participation via Common Core State Standards (see Class Participation Rubric), and group work                   30% 


Component Assignments


            The four papers (one for each quarter) are to be approached as a complete writing process.  That means each student must participate in various brainstorming activities, submitting a rough draft, participating in peer editing activities on and in class, conferencing with the teacher, writing a reflection on proposed revisions, and submitting a final draft. Students who neglect to fulfill any part of the writing process will receive a failing grade on that particular assessment.  Due dates for each of these components are given on the syllabus that follows. 

            As Humanities is an interdisciplinary subject, the best way to incorporate your personal interests is through the quarterly Creative Project.  For each unit you will use class discussions, independent reading, and your own talent, skill sets, and thinking processes to demonstrate your new learning through a discipline of your choice.  Students are expected to pursue projects that will extend their learning, not simply to demonstrate something you already do well.  Intellectual risk-taking is always appreciated, and we will be exploring this concept of academic risk taking and its value beyond school all year.  Please keep an hourly work log to demonstrate your investment of time.  This assignment is also accompanied by a written reflection with open-ended prompts (on class web site under “Creative Projects”) to help guide you in self-assessment of your learning.  Art, film making and film review, creative writing, poetry, dance choreography and performance, photography, acting, music composition, analysis, and performance, scientific experiments/demonstration, advertising analysis, and architecture are only some of the ways students have successfully used to demonstrate mastery of curriculum objectives.

            In-class writing assignments and “homework”/preparation for class assignments consist of note-taking, prompts for short writing exercises (1-2 pages) and journaling designed to free write and brainstorm and to organize and develop your thinking for the reading and discussions as we work toward the longer papers.  There is no final exam for ECE courses:  Your final grade is your final average.  Grading Scale:  Grades will be assigned to the following scale via UConn ECE rules.


A+ =    98-100                                     C+=      77-79                           F=        50-59  

A=       93-97                                       C=        73-76                           F-=       Below 50

A-=      90-92                                       C-=      70-72                           

B+=      87-89                                      D+=     67-69                                                  

B=        83-86                                      D=       63-66

B-=      80-82                                       D-=      60-62


Policies and Procedures:


Participation:  Participation is vital to this class because of its seminar organization.  Your registration for this class was predicated on your ability to work independently, to read at a high level of comprehension, to engage in analytical, creative, and original thinking and to discuss, question, and “play” with many ideas and theories simultaneously.  You will be teaching each other much of the time after doing individual reading and research.  It is expected that you will be able to ask significant questions from your reading, research, and your own thinking, and to explore ideas we raise in each unit with an open mind.  To do all this, you need to speak often and with substantiation and specificity.  Clearly, participation is a necessity.  For more specifics on how grades in class participation are assessed, please see the class web site at under Class Participation.”


Late Work:  I do not accept late work. As college professors rarely accept late work, and this is a class modeled on college expectations, it only makes sense to introduce you to some of the challenges you will be facing next year.  Time management is vital to your success in life.  Learn how to work with a yearlong syllabus and plan ahead to ensure your academic success. Please contact me by email, make an appointment, or talk to me after school if you are having trouble with an assignment well before that assignment’s due date.


Plagiarism:  All written assignments are submitted to the teacher via  All grading (both rough and final drafts) is also done on under the GradeMark feature.  As you all know, is also a plagiarism prevention site that will automatically run all your work through an originality check.  Students who plagiarize will receive failing grades on their work as well as being required to attend a meeting with your parents and an administrator.  Many colleges now have a zero tolerance plagiarism policy.  That being said, it is also true that academic writers are always engaged in the words of others.  Proper citations and MLA format will ensure your ability to engage in this dialogue without fear.


Disclaimer: The instructor reserves the right to make changes in the syllabus when necessary in order to meet learning objectives and to cover emergency schedule changes (like one year’s week of snow days and/or week-long power outages).  Students will be notified of these changes in class as well as through the school web site or email features.  Students are responsible for all material covered in class and for all classroom announcements.


Humanities Syllabus Semester One


Unit #1  “What is Power?” Essential Questions:

            1.  Who has power over your life? What physical, social, psychological, socioeconomic, or historical influences set up power polarities between/among people?

            2.  How much power can you give to the individual while still maintaining a cohesive collective? 

            3.  What is the role of language in creating and reinforcing social distinctions such as class, ethnicity, age, and gender?  Is there a hierarchy established through language?  Is there a "Power Language?"


Literature:        J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace

                        David Mamet, Oleanna

                        Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Part One)

                        William Shakespeare, Richard III  (Summer Work)

                        Nonfiction Articles and Lecture on Sociolinguistics


Date:                                                               Topics, Activities, and Homework:


8/28-30                                                 Orientation to Humanities: Summer Work Due

                                                                  Class Overview: registration

                                                                               Class Website

Syllabus and UConn Rules Discussion

                                                                               Class discussion of Power Hierarchies


9/3-6                                                    Richard III  “Controversial Dinner Party” Rehearsal and Performance

                                                            Richard  III  Group Dynamic Activity

                                                            Risk-taking Discussion in Academia


9/9-13                                                  Oleanna reading due                                                      

                                                            Power Language: Lecture on Sociolinguistics

                                                            Power Language Usage in Life


9/16-27                                                 Oleanna Viewing and Response writing/Discussion   

                                                              Power Paper Examples and “Writing Through Literature”


10/1-11                                                   Disgrace Reading Due with Discussion

Allegory Presentations (Parsing Practice)


*Enrichment:  South African History/Films


10/11                                                       Power Paper Assignment Link 

            Power Paper Rough Draft Due on


10/15-18                                                 Writing Discussions and Feedback- Mini Lessons as

needed:  Theses, Grammar, MLA format, etc.

                                                                Peer Revision Due (on-line) 10/18


10/21-25                                                  Lolita Part One Reading Due and Discussion

                                                                       Nabokov Critical Analysis and Background History


10/28-11/11/1                                          Lolita Discussion Continues

                                                   Final Power Paper Due 10/30 on


11/4-8                                                      Creative Projects on Power Reflections Due 11/4


Creative Projects Presentations Continue until Quarter 1 ends for “Snap Shot” Grade


Recap:  Power Paper Writing Process (on (Mark them on your calendar!)


                                    Rough Draft Due  10/11/19

                                    Peer Revision Due by 10/18/19

                                    Final Paper Due  10/30/19


Unit #2: “What is Beauty?” Essential Questions:


            1.  Is beauty cultural/ personal/universal?

            2.  Does beauty have power?  If so, what kind?  From where is this power derived?  

            3.  In a progressively more industrial and technological world, is beauty necessary/relevant? 


Literature:      Nancy Etcoff, The Survival of the Prettiest 

                       Katherine Harrison, Exposure 

                       Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Part Two)

                       Bertrand Russell Readings:  Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus

                       Mini-lectures and readings on The Ladder of Love,” medieval beauty standards,

and Aesthetic Theory


Date:                                                               Topics, Activities, and Homework: 


11/18-22                                              Lolita (Part Two) Due  

                                                            Lolita Motif Presentations Link HERE

                                                            Malena Viewing/Discussion



11/25-26                                              Malena Viewing/Discussion    


12/2-6                                                  Exposure  Due Discussion:  Divergent Thinking and



12/9-13                                                Divergent Thinking Activity
                                                            Survival of the Prettiest Readings Due:  Choice

                                                            Classical Definitions of Beauty: Pythagoras, Plato, and  Plotinus (Russell excerpts)      


12/16-20                                              Beauty Standards through time and geography

                                                            Beauty Prompt HERE

                                                            Beauty Paper Rough Draft Due 12/16

12/18-22                                              Peer Editing Due 12/20

                                                             Beauty in mathematics:  “The Golden Ratio”


12/23-1/1                                             Holiday Vacation


1/2-3/2020                                           Final Drafts Beauty Paper Due on 1/2/2010 on                 


               Recap:  Beauty Writing Process (on  Write These in  your Calendars:


                                    Rough Draft Beauty 12/16/19


                                    Peer Editing Due 12/20/19                                                                           


                                    Final Draft Submission 1/2/2020


Date:                                                 Topics, Activities, and Homework: 


1/6-10                                                  Oral Presentations on Fashion /History Decade

Student Choice                                                                


1/13-17                                                Creative Project Reflections Due 1/13/18

                                                             Creative Projects Presentations all week


Tentative End of First Semester (Although technically there are no longer “quarters”): 

Grade Snapshot for Colleges goes in here upon official school calendar update.


Lose your syllabus?  Download On-line  (Humanities Syllabus Fall 2019-20.docx) and I won’t know.