ENGLISH 317 - Literature and Culture
Section: 102
Term: SP 2009
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

This class is for people who like to write, like to think, and are interested in doing a community project with high school students.

This writing-centered class will focus on the realities and dreams that surround going to college in America. We will zero in on the labor of applying to college in America, and above all on that peculiarly American document, the college application essay. Why do colleges emphasize identity? What can we learn about American identities, American education, American culture, and ourselves as writers through an examination of this process?

Who is college for? How have people philosophized about and experimented with different models of learning in schools and universities? What are the strengths and weaknesses of traditions of democratic education and strategies for ‘writing without teachers’? What are the rituals of “getting in” and what do they mean for individuals, families, and schools? How is applying to college negotiated through acts of writing?

These questions will lead to an exploration of the tension between the two main demands of college application essays: "tell your own story and find your own voice," on the one hand, and "locate yourself in the larger society and world," on the other. Why do colleges ask these questions? Can writing about them be a creative process?

The seminar is divided into three units:

  1. Intensive reading and discussion will establish a cultural and social framework for our work. Readings are drawn from American Studies, Education, Composition Studies, Anthropology, and Cultural Studies. At the same time, students will be asked to reflect on their own college application essay. While we are linking analytical reading and reflective writing, several visitors to the class will focus on special topics: the views of Michigan citizens on “who is college for?” nonprofit organizations that focus on writing; how going to college works in other countries; and what it’s like to work in the U-M admissions office.

  2. The second unit of the course will involve a short, intensive participatory action research (PAR) project with high school writers. Working collaboratively, we will focus on the role of words — reading, writing, and talking--throughout the college application experience.

  3. In the third unit, students will work together to evaluate what they learned from the diverse forms of inquiry and writing pursued in the course. These reflections will lead to the final paper.

If you are interested in having this class fulfill the humanities distribution, please contact the Program in American Culture main office at (734) 763-1460, email the Undergraduate Program Assistant at bposler@umich.edu, or visit 3700 Haven Hall.

ENGLISH 317 - Literature and Culture
Schedule Listing
101 (LEC)
Note: Only students admitted to NELP can register for this section.
102 (LEC)
TuTh 9:00AM - 12:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Most course readings will be digitized and posted on CTools/Resources/Required Readings, in subfolders sequenced by date. Watch this space for possible additions of one or two more required books.
ISBN: 9780195120165
Writing without teachers, Author: Elbow, Peter., Publisher: Oxford University Press 1998
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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