Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mid-Term Draft: Copy-Editing Symbols

Follow this link for a legend of the standard copy-editing symbols, used in the marking of your essays.

More here. And here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Course Reading Scheduke

A reminder that our course reading schedule has been adapted to suit the class group project: Douglas Coupland's jPod will be read before Alan Moore's Watchmen. Ideally, you will be finishing off jPod this week in your reading....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Virginia Woolf & Servants

"Woolf's Servants get their Due" is the title of an interview, linked from Arts & Letters Daily, with author Alison Light on her new book Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury.
Q. How did you become interested in Woolf's servants?
A. By reading Woolf's diaries, which I love, but which contain appalling references to the servants: Lottie Hope or Nellie Boxall being compared to animals and vermin. Woolf's disgust riveted me. I also wondered why she and Boxall had such rows. Then the fact that my grandmother was in service and my mother's sisters started out in service before the Second World War.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Even More Office Hours

Look down under the course syllabus for the additional office hours that I have just scheduled: effectively seven days a week.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Class Art on "Mrs. Dalloway"

This illustration of the specific section of Mrs. Dalloway under attention was drawn by classfellows, in real-time.

The more art, the more useful responses, the better for us.
[Click on the image for a full-sized view.]

First Class Together

I enjoyed meeting with you all this week. I am going to really enjoy the Term together: reading great books, learnilng information about their finer aspects and their authorial and social backgrounds in order to increase our future memory of them and their significance for us, and discussing their merits and importance.

With the holiday this coming Monday, the expectation is that you will have read Mrs. Dalloway and most, if not all, of Atonement (I mean, of course, 'for the second time'; for, as students of English, you will all have read the course texts before the Term began, are now reading them a second time as we address ourselves to them, and again a third time in preparation for the Term Paper....) That is correct, is it not?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Course Syllabus

Reading Schedule

Course Wk. 1-2: Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness
Course Wk. 3-4: Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Course Wk. 5-6: Ian McEwan, Atonement
Course Wk. 7-8: Douglas Coupland, jPod
Course Wk. 9-10: Alan Moore, Watchmen
Course Wk. 11-12: Class Project & Review.


Schedule of Assignment Due Dates
(Assignments coded by colour. See separate assignment sections for details.)

October 20th, Mid-Term Essay Draft, due in lecture.
November 3rd, Mid-Term Essay Draft, returned graded in lecture.
November 10th, Proposal Outline for Class Project, due in lecture.
November 24th: Mid-Term Essay Revision, due in lecture.
December 1st, Class Project, due complete online by start of lecture.
December 12th, Final Essay due in Dept. Mailbox by three o'clock pm.

Mid-Term Essay
A one-thousand word take-home essay draft.

Mid-Term Essay
A substantial revision of the mid-term essay. The revision will be guided by the Instructor's comments on the draft version, and by explicit reference to a writing style guide or handbook, available from the Instructor's Office, or the W.A.C. Bennett Library.

Final Essay
Twenty-five hundred word essay on an open topic proving command of course material and lecture information, engaging and any three of the primary course texts.

Class Project
Our final course novel is Douglas Coupland's jPod. In Coupland has achieved a revolutionary melding of Gutenberg and post-Gutenberg textual forms, as we shall see detailed in lecture. For this project, the class is going to research, write, format and post a comprehensive and authoritative Wikipedia entry for the book, under the main entry for the author.

A portion of class time will be dedicated each week to the project: both for the proposal and for the actual work. How the proposal is conceived, organised, sub-divided, researched and executed will be the responsibility of the class; albeit under the expert, benevolent and elevated guidance of the Course Instructor.

Late Assignments.
There is a five percent per day late penalty for all assignments. An assignment is late if it is not handed in in class on the due date.

Documentation for a bereavement exemption requires a published notification and verifiable proof of relation. To document a claim for medical exemption, provide a formal letter on a Physician's or Surgeon's letterhead in which he or she declares his or her medical judgement that illness or injury prevented work on the assignment. The letter must cover the entire period over which the assignment was scheduled, and may be verified by telephone.

Class Absences.
10% of the course grade is for "productive participation." Productive participation assumes full attendance and punctuality.

Additional incentive to attendance is added in the form of a bonus: for full attendance beginning course week 4 the grade on the Final Essay will be bumped up to the next highest grade on the university scale.

Do not e-mail the Course Instructor to explain or announce absences. The attendance requirement may be waived only in cases of documented bereavement or illness and incapacity.
Documentation for a bereavement exemption for attendance requires a published notification and verifiable proof of relation. To document a claim for medical exemption, provide a formal letter on a Physician's or Surgeon's letterhead in which he or she declares his or her medical judgement that illness or injury prevented attendance. The letter must cover the entire period over which the assignment was scheduled, and may be verified by telephone.

Instructor Contact:
Office: AQ 6094, 778-782-5820, e-mail address is Casual, drop-in chat: look for me at Renaissance Coffee at the AQ Concourse (3rd floor) Level, North-East corner, Monday to Thursday, two thirty to three o'clock. Regular Office Hours on Monday two-thirty to four-thirty, Wednesday ten o'clock to noon, and Friday nine thirty to eleven o'clock. Also, on Tuesday & Thursday I am available from ten-thirty to three o'clock by appointment.

Douglas Coupland: JPod

Two useful links for our study of this course text are the following:

  1. The JPOD section on Douglas Coupland's homepage.
  2. The TV series 'JPOD' has its own page at the CBC online, with all episodes downloadable.
The book's Wikipedia entry that we will be working up to perfection is here, linked off the author's main entry.

Alan Moore: Watchmen

Alan Moore's Watchmen is legitimately referred to as 'the most celebrated' graphic novel. I myself respect & admire the novel, but I do have more favoured graphic novels (specifically, Neil Gaiman's Sandman series) --even more favoured works by Moore-- and was unsure for a time why this graphic novel was more widely considered the best of the genre over the alternatives.

I have since come to the conclusion--very pertinent for our course approach--that form in literature attracts readers more so than other elements. Watchmen is comprehensively formal (too overtly so for my own tastes), and our study of it will focus on how Moore uses this opportunity to give a tour de force of formal elements: visual as was a structural.

The trailer for the upcoming film version is online here.

Ian McEwan Homepage

Ian McEwan, the author of our third course text, Atonement, has his own website, (naturally), with useful information and good study support for the student.

Two controversies currently surround the author, one a plagiarism charge, the other a conflict with militant Islam (in which McEwan is joined by left-wing polemicist Christopher Hitchens and uncertain-wing novelist Martin Amis--not to mention Salman Rushdie.) For the first, see this succinct article in; for the second see the same at

Mrs. Dalloway

The W.A.C. Bennett Library has the DVD of the 2003 film version of Woolf's Mrs Dalloway listed at this hotlink.

The British term "costume drama" struck me sharply when I first heard it, and, with films such as this one, in never seems turn stale into cliché.

Course Grading

The assignment grading criteria used by the SFU English Department are available online here.
The relationship between the letter grades and the percentages is as follows:
A+ 96-100; A 90-95; A- 85-89; B+ 80-84; B 75-79; B- 70-74; C+ 65-69; C 60-64; C- 55-59; D 50-54; F 0-49; N Incomplete; DE Deferred

Course E-mail Netiquette

Here are the points of e-mail protocol for our course :
  1. Use only your SFU account for e-mail to the course Lecturer. All other e-mail is blocked by whitelist.
  2. E-mail (indeed, all communication) between Lecturer and student, and TA and student, is a formal and professional exchange. Accordingly, proper salutation and closing is essential.
  3. Business e-mail is courteous but, of professional necessity, concise and direct. It rejects roundabout or ornate language, informal diction, and any appearance of what is termed in the vernacular, 'chat.'
  4. Customary response time for e-mail to the Course Lecturer is two weekdays. E-mail on weekends will ordinarily be read the Monday following.

In general, course e-mail is for essential matters of Course business solely, and it avoids questions about lecture material, course reading, assignment criteria, or deadlines, which are all reserved for tutorials and office hours. Missed classes and deadlines are not to be reported by e-mail: if a medical or bereavement exception is being claimed, the supporting documentation is handed in, along with the completed assignment, either in person or the Instructor's mailbox outside the Department Office.

Course Outline

Writing Intensive/Evening

ENGLISH 101W Evening
Instructor: Dr. Stephen Ogden
FALL 2008

In this revised course, we will read and reflect over with a scholarly eye a series of British and Canadian novels that span more than a century, from the turn of the 20th to today. We will use Plato's definition of literary art as that which instructs by delighting as our guiding principle. Each of the novels that we will read afford a different type of delight that allows us to see how fiction has evolved its form to stay vital in the ever-changing cultural climate. We will look at a paramount example of the graphic novel, for example; we will study Vancouver writer Douglas Coupland's experimental melding of digital and hard-copy forms in his popular jPod; and we will study the relationship between literature and film, using Atonement as an illustrative case. But most delightfully for those of us who are lovers of fiction, the adapations that we see in fiction has not decreased either the enjoyment of or benefit to be gained from the reading of a good novel. Because this is a writing intensive course, revision will be part of the writing assignments. We will study the works in the order listed here.

Conrad, Joseph Heart of Darkness
Woolf, Virginia Mrs. Dalloway
McEwan, Ian Atonement
Moore, Alan Watchmen
Coupland, Douglas jPod

10% Productive Participation
15% Draft of first essay, 1000 words
20% Revised first essay
25% Class Wikipedia Project
30% Final Essay 2500 words