A study of the use of "crime situations" as the central plot device in various types of narrative: novels, short stories, films, and television series.
Rebecca McLaughlin ()
Dates: June 17 - July 12, 2013
NOTE: This is my "Crime Story: Agatha Christie" course (formerly taught as ENGS 095) and NOT my full "Crime Story" course. Known world-wide as the ?Queen of Crime,? Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. Her name, as well as that of Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, has become a part of our cultural imagination through the novels as well as numerous film and television adaptations. This course examines Christie?s life, the form of the classic detective novel, the breadth of themes within her work, and her creation of a female detective. Students will read 6 novels during the 4 week course in addition to shorter contextual pieces. (Note: I do not reveal novel titles until a few weeks prior to the class start, which ensures more honest responses to a first reading and no spoiling of the ending for others.) Daily writing assignments include a reading journal and blog postings. Quizzes on each of the novels and a final written assignment are also required. Using Blackboard, this completely online course gives you the flexibility of completing the class requirements while also living your life. As an asynchronous course, we never meet at a specific time, so you are free to do your coursework at any time of the day or night as long as you meet the due dates as stated in the Course Schedule. Written assignments predominantly take the form of responses using the following Blackboard tools: Blogs and Journals. Since academic thinking is rooted in questioning, exploring, and imagining, these written responses enable you to interact with the course material while also expressing your individuality as a reader. Additionally, they allow for ALL voices to be heard; there is no back of the room in an online course! A typical day's assignments will include reading/viewing of contextual material if applicable; reading approximately 80-90 pages in a Christie novel; and two short written responses, one in a private journal and another in the course blog. Each morning, I log on and read the previous day?s blog posts, write up a new post with that day?s writing prompt, and place an announcement on the Home page reminding you of your daily assignment. Once each module has been completed, you will take a quiz on the material covered within that module only (i.e. no cumulative mid-term or final exam). Additionally, at the end of the course, you will submit a final written assignment.
This class will cover in 4 weeks what typically gets covered in 15 weeks during a regular semester. As such, you should realize that this class will take up a great deal of your time if you wish to succeed. A 3-credit course at UVM that meets face-to-face requires 37.5-45 contact hours in the classroom. Thus in a 4-week, 3-credit course, we must meet for about 10 hours per week in virtual space. Notably, these hours do not include the amount of study time outside of class each week that students need in order to complete readings and assignments. Depending upon your skills and goals, you can expect to spend about 2 hours to prepare for every 1 hour of class time. As such, preparation time, at a minimum, will likely be about 20 hours a week. Doing the math, expect to spend approximately 30 hours a week working on the requirements for this class; basically, this course is like a full-time job during the 4 weeks we spend together! So, discipline and organization are absolutely necessary to your success in this online course.
Participation/Posting (400 points or 40% of Final Grade) As an online course, your active participation is expressed through your postings to the discussion boards, blogs, journals, and/or wikis as assigned. I expect everyone to post responses to the readings and to their classmates? responses in a thoughtful, constructive, and timely manner. Since responding to one another is the only way to generate an online conversation, your active participation makes a difference to the success of other students in the course as well as your own. Your posts are not graded individually. Everyone has an "off day," so I consider each student's overall contribution to the class and assign a holistic grade. Quizzes (300 points or 30% of Final Grade) After completing each novel, you will take an online quiz, which will test your reading comprehension of the primary texts as well as understanding of any correlating secondary reading or information given through text, video, etc. These quizzes may consist of questions in a combination of the following formats: matching, multiple choice, and short answer. No quizzes can be taken late, so keep up with the reading and keep an eye on deadlines! Final Written Assignment (300 points or 30% of Final Grade) You will have options for your final written assignment on Christie, but each option will basically equal to 5-pages of double-spaced text and require an excellent understanding of Christie and her work. Everyone must choose and complete ONE of these options as per the specific directions given for each. If you wish to modify these options or have an idea of your own, you MUST speak to me first in order to gain permission. Options typically include a traditional Critical Essay, a creative option with rationale, and a Novel/Film Critical Essay.
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