EN 429 Office Hours for Dr. Rippy
MTh 3:30-5; Th 11-12:00 Butler G122
703/526-6805 or mrippy@marymount.edu

Academic Integrity
By accepting this syllabus, you pledge to uphold the principles of Academic Integrity expressed by the Marymount University Community. You agree to observe these principles yourself and to defend them against abuse by others.

Special Needs and Accommodations
Please advise the instructor of any special problems or needs at the beginning of the semester. If you seek accommodation based on disabilities, you should provide a Faculty Contact Sheet obtained through the Office of Student Access Services, located in Rowley Hall.

Access to Student Work
Copies of your work in this course including copies of any submitted papers and your portfolios may be kept on file for institutional research, assessment and accreditation purposes. All work used for these purposes will be submitted anonymously.

Student Copyright Authorization
For the benefit of current and future students, work in this course may be used for educational critique, demonstrations, samples, presentations, and verification. Outside of these uses, work shall not be sold, copied, broadcast, or distributed for profit without student consent.

University Policy on Snow Closings
Snow closings are generally announced on area radio stations. For bulletins concerning Marymount snow or weather closings, call (703) 526-6888. Unless otherwise advised by radio announcement or by official bulletins on the number listed above, students are expected to report for class as near normal time as possible on days when weather conditions are adverse. Decisions as to snow closing or delayed opening are not generally made before 5:00 AM of the working day. Students are expected to attend class if the University is not officially closed. Make up work will be assigned online for any cancelled class. Check Blackboard and this course site for assignments.

  1. BROAD PURPOSE OF COURSE (Include the catalog description)

A topics course in performance studies focusing on a major issue, theme, or development in theater and/or film. The course explores the relationships among text, medium, performance, and audience. Students will examine both the theoretical and cultural contexts that affect performance. Content varies, depending on instructor. Students may enroll in this course more than once under different topics. Prerequisite: EN 102 or permission of instructor. Liberal Arts Core/University Requirements Designation: INQ, LT-2, WI.

Zombies, the plague, AIDS and Ebola all scare people, sometimes to death. The course will focus on issues of illness, fear, and community as expressed in performance art. How has artistic expression recorded and transformed public and private reactions to illness? How do these works represent therapeutic catharsis, public education, or escapist sentimentalism?

We will look at contemporary drama, dance, and film in the context of historical preoccupations with illness, and read texts ranging from Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death,” to Kushner’s Angels in America and the Pulitzer Prize winning play W;t. We will also look at mainstream Hollywood representations of illness, isolation and community, including The Fault in Our Stars, Warm Bodies, and the HBO movie And the Band Played On. As we study the performances, we will place them in social context by reading essays and articles that frame these works both in terms of aesthetic and public health movements to understand how art, illness and public perception intersect.

Note: This class deals with physical and emotional experiences of illness and its transmission, so materials include frank discussions of sexual practice, drug use, pain and profanity. Make sure you are open to discussing this kind of material respectfully and in depth before taking the course.


Liberal Arts Core Outcomes (Advanced Literature)
Students will

  • Respond to literary/performance texts in ways that reflect an awareness of aesthetic values, historical context, ideological orientation and critical approach
  • Examine the aesthetic principles that inform literary production & apply them to the study and analysis of literary texts
  • Apply knowledge and experience in literary analysis to better understand performance techniques
  • Practice analytical discourse, critical reasoning and problem solving by analyzing a variety of interpretations of texts through the lens of contemporary performance theory
  • Synthesize concepts from a variety of schools of performance theory and demonstrate mastery of theoretical terms and techniques when applied to a specific performan

University Requirement Outcomes (Writing-Intensive, INQ)Students will …

  • Produce written work appropriate to the discipline through a process that involves drafting and revision based on feedback. (WI)
  • Produce focused and coherent texts that address a specific audience, move effectively between generalizations and details, make honest use of sources, and engage complex ideas without distortion. (WI)
  • Produce texts that show careful attention to fluent sentence structure, grammatical correctness, and proper documentation. (WI)
  • Identify a suitable subject for scholarly inquiry in the discipline, analyze appropriate primary and secondary source materials, and support a focused thesis or argument in a clear and coherent product. (WI)
  • Devise appropriate research techniques that employ primary and secondary source materials in order to conduct original, independent, meaningful research into a topic regarding performance (INQ)
  • Synthesize their own original findings with those advanced by literary critics and other scholars (INQ)

  Course-Specific Outcomes
Students will…

  • Use creative problem solving and research skills to locate research materials, summarize their content and evaluate materials
  • Write concise, analytical reviews of performance as an art form, using all stages of the writing process—drafting, revision, and editing based on feedback—and reflecting on structure, style & theme
  • Explore the aesthetic and ideological contexts that shape specific performances
  • Demonstrate information and technological literacy in research and competence in MLA documentation.

The course will be student centered, expecting significant discussion in class. Objectives will be met through the use of lectures, discussions, online discussion and research, presentations, exams, short reflection essays, an annotated bibliography, and a final project. Assigned students will present and facilitate discussion each week, helping us focus on specific aspects of the readings for each week and guiding our understanding of materials.

    A = 90-100% B = 80-89% C = 70-79% D = 60-69% F = 0-59% Plus and minus grades fall within a 3% range at either end of a particular grade scale.
  • Performance reading journal, participation (discussion on MUBlogs)                                                                    20%
  • Midterm and Final Exam                                             20%
  • Annotated bibliography and project proposal              15%
  • Final Project & Presentation                                         30%
  • Discussion Facilitation & response blog                       15%

Participation and attendance: This is a student-centered course, depending upon you for quality discussion and workshops. If you must be absent, make sure you let me know in advance if possible and ask how best to compensate for your absence. Tardiness of more than 10 minutes equals an absence. Each student may take 2 personal days with only a slight attendance penalty that can be compensated for with extra credit. After 2 absences, a 10% penalty will be taken off the total participation grade for each additional absence.

Written Assignments:  Keep all written assignments in a separate folder or digital file for this course.  Do not throw away or delete essays or drafts until after the completion of the course.  Bring a hard copy of all work to any conferences with the instructor.

Digital Copies of Work: If you encounter problems posting work to Blackboard, let me know as soon as possible, so we can arrange an alternate submission method. Work on Blackboard may be submitted to anti-plagiarism software like Turnitin.com and Safe Assign.

Develop a Reading Strategy: Look up words you don’t know, take notes, underline things, ask questions, and engage your reading assignments actively, critically, and closely. Print out or use annotation software like Notability for pdf articles in order to highlight them. Your success in the class is largely contingent upon your ability to discuss the readings effectively.

Wikipedia and the Web: If you don’t feel you have a basic grasp of readings, feel free to browse the web (or skim the resources in the Literature Resource Center, the Dictionary of Literary Biography or other general library reference sources). However, anything that you find on the web in this way is a starting point, rather than an end point. Cite any source you use from the web—even in a Blackboard posting–and carefully consider its credibility. Wikipedia is just a random set of people, like those you’d meet on the metro or the grocery store. Their answers to questions are those of a general crowd, not an expert, and they are often wrong. Follow up on ideas you locate on the web by checking them against sources pulled from library databases and peer-reviewed (expertly edited) sources. Unless stipulated, reading responses do NOT require outside research. You are probably better off focusing your attention on reading the text closely and interpreting it meaningfully as a reader.

Essay Format: Since this is an English course, written work determines the bulk of your grade.  Since this is not a course in grammar, you should use a writing handbook or website like Purdue OWL to review use of clear sentences and words as well as format. Make sure you know how to cite sources correctly whenever you refer to them in any project.

Although each written assignment has its own format, all should have a cover sheet attached with the following information in the upper left hand corner, 1” from top of page:
Your Name / Instructor’s name EN 429
Format: • 8 1/2” x 11” (standard letter) paper
• Typed on computer
• Stapled in top left corner (or bound on the left-hand side)
• 1” margins
This format applies to work submitted in hard copy final papers (not to Blackboard postings).

Quizzes: In-class quizzes will be given to ensure you are completing and understanding reading assignments.

Digital Communication and Blackboard: Write all your digital correspondence with care and thought—after all, this is a form of writing, and this class is concerned with teaching writing and critical analysis. In all your online postings, respond honestly and concisely to your peers, and cite any sources used.  Digital communication models courtesy, civic behavior, and personal responsibility.

Plagiarism: Any written work with your name on it signifies that you are the author–that the wording and the major ideas are yours, with exceptions indicated by quotation marks and citations. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of others’ materials (words and ideas). Evidence of plagiarism will result in a report filed with Academic Integrity Committee and the possibility of a failing grade for the assignment and/ or an F in the course.

Late Work: Papers are due at the beginning of class on the day they are due. They will lose 10 points for each class session they are late. If you become ill or the victim of an emergency situation, contact me as soon as possible to make alternate arrangements. Absence is not an excuse for failing either to turn in an assignment or to get instructions for a new assignment. Plan ahead or make arrangements with a fellow student whom you trust. Printer lines or computer problems explain, but do not excuse, late work.

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