The Department of English at Hillsdale College
Welcome to the Department of English at Hillsdale. Use this orientation handout as an introduction to what the department offers to you and expects from you during the first year. You will find basic information here about our policies concerning the quantity and quality of your reading and writing, grading criteria, plagiarism, research methods and documentation, as well as a list of department faculty. Hang onto this handout; you will find it useful during your entire stay at Hillsdale.
Introduction: English 101-102 and the Great Books
The English Department at Hillsdale College forms one of the pillars of the college’s Mission Statement with respect to the transmission to its students of “modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith and Greco-Roman culture, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law.” In an academic era in which traditional assumptions concerning the suitability of teaching these basic ideas by focusing on “Great Books” has been seriously questioned, Hillsdale strongly supports the idea of transmitting our cultural inheritance through close examination of certain key works. All incoming students must take English 101 and 102, a year-long sequence in which two goals are accomplished. First, English 101 and 102 provide a comprehensive survey of the masterworks of literature in the Western tradition from the Bible through the early twentieth century. This survey is the foundation on which further study of our Western tradition in literature rests. Second, English 101 and 102 provide a systematic introduction to and refinement of the techniques of sound, effective writing in English, library research methods and the means of presenting that research in writing to be employed in English classes and in other classes that require extensive writing: these are the basic tools that will enable students to continue educating themselves, first in conjunction with their professors at Hillsdale and then in their subsequent careers.
As the writing and thinking skills addressed in this course are of broad importance for success in other classes, the College requires English 101-102 in the freshman year. For this reason, students may not withdraw from English 101-102 because they find it difficult or do not have the instructor they prefer.
Although students frequently find themselves with different professors in English 102 than they had the previous semester in 101, all sections of English 101 and 102 will cover essentially the same literary material. As mentioned, the foundation developed in the 101-102 sequence forms the basis of knowledge that students will then take into the survey classes offered during the sophomore year. Each professor will assign a handbook and perhaps a rhetoric according to his or her own preference to provide specific help in teaching the principles of effective writing.
Following English 101-102, the department offers courses of increasing specialization in major periods and genres of the Western tradition in an effort to provide not just English majors, but students in all disciplines a sense of their literary heritage.
Most English courses at Hillsdale above the 101-102 level reflect a period-based approach, a genre-based approach, or an author-based approach, in ascending order of specialization. These upper level courses frequently presuppose a knowledge of the literary figures preceding and following the central figures under discussion in the course itself and so are not as appropriate for beginning students. Check with the College catalog, your adviser, or the professor offering the course for specific prerequisites for any course.
Although the volume of reading you will be assigned may be significantly greater than what you became accustomed to during your high school career, do not be tempted to skip assignments altogether, or (possibly worse) to skim assignments quickly merely to say (if only to yourself) that the reading is completed. Such a practice is fatal not only at exam time, but also to the ongoing nature of most course work. That is, most material in the latter part of the semester assumes that you have digested and understood the material presented in the former.
Read the assigned material before coming to class--twice if possible. This way the class will reinforce the impression you will have gained from the material yourself. Take the time to compare your own impressions with those presented in class.
You may be accustomed to answering questions primarily concerning the plot of literary texts; that is, telling your instructor “what happened.” When we are asked “What is the Iliad about?” we frequently respond with a plot answer such as “The fall of Troy.” This answer is but the first of a series of true yet increasingly complex answers to the same question concerning what the Iliad is about. As a general rule of the reading process, first ask yourself what happened to make certain you have all the facts of the story in place. Second, to give yourself some sense of the cause and effect system the author may have intended, ask how what happened happened. Third, ask yourself why what happened happened. This is the hardest of all, but the most rewarding, and the approach your professors will most often end up with in class.
Nothing is more effective than re-reading. The second time through a work of literature it becomes much easier to pay attention to details that were obscured by the headlong rush during the first reading toward discovering what happened. "How" and "why" questions are much easier to discover and answer the more familiarity you have with the work you are reading.
Solid, enjoyable writing begins with solid, enjoyable reading. That is, the more reading you can do, the better your writing can become. Writing is a disciplined process in which success results from hard work and practice, much like the acquisition of any other skill. However, learning to read the writing of other good writers carefully brings a double benefit: this writing is frequently enjoyable in and of itself, and this writing will begin to rub off on you.
Revision is an absolutely essential part of the writing process. Although it often feels this way, the words you have chosen in a given paragraph are not automatically the most logical or elegant words available. However, we all tend to think we’ve written what we mean beautifully when approaching deadlines make revisions impossible. Getting into the habit of writing papers the night before they are due is a sure way to produce mediocre thinking and writing, as well as a mediocre grade.
Keep a dictionary close to the place where you do your writing. Don’t be afraid to consult it often. Develop the habit of noting words that are unfamiliar for later research in the dictionary. Some word processing programs include spelling checkers; however, these are not substitutes for frequent and active use of a dictionary. Proofread your papers several times before handing them in.
At the end of the English 101-102 sequence, students should have accomplished the following goals: development of a strong, coherent thesis statement for any writing; logical and coherent organization of essays; unified, coherent, and complete paragraphs; correct and complete documentation of research sources; correct syntax and mechanics; and the beginnings of an effective individual style. You are expected to recognize and to have eliminated mechanical problems involving (but not limited to) sentence fragments, comma splices, spelling and punctuation errors, subject/verb agreement, incorrect use of modifiers, pronoun agreement, wordiness. With hard work and attention to your instructors, these somewhat daunting goals will have become attainable skills whose acquisition will help your performance in all aspects of your career at Hillsdale.
In general, the following criteria will be applied to students’ work in English:
A: Flawless presentation, absence of grammatical or stylistic errors, above average documentation, evidence of original thinking, exemplary grasp of texts and implications.
B: Excellent presentation, presence of some grammatical or stylistic errors, proper documentation, evidence of some original thinking, solid grasp of texts.
C: Average presentation, significant presence of errors in grammar, stylistics, or documentation, average grasp of texts and implications.
D: Below average presentation, serious errors in grammar, stylistics, or documentation, below average grasp of material.
F: Unacceptable work for any of the reasons outlined positively above, or for cases of plagiarism.
Individual professors may from time to time tighten or loosen these criteria as the situation warrants.
Students are reminded that the Hillsdale College Code of Conduct is strictly observed in the English Department with respect to the following:
Dishonesty, such as cheating, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the College;
Forgery, alteration, or misuse of official documents, records, or identification.
The English Department policy on cheating is identical to the College Academic Cheating Policy. A first offense will be reported to the Registrar’s office. A second offense in any class shall result in dismissal from the College. The Student Planner contains a synopsis of the policy.
The English Department stresses that cheating on a minor assignment is as serious as cheating on a major one and that student classification (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) has no bearing on whether the penalty will be invoked.
What constitutes most forms of cheating is obvious, but students often have questions about plagiarism and how to avoid it. It is plagiarism:
a. to turn in a paper written by another person (including reproduction of such papers). There is a legitimate area in which the student may seek help. A proofreading by another person may help locate mechanical errors, awkward constructions, etc. But “help” DOES NOT mean having another person MAKE the corrections or revisions. In any case, the instructor is available to aid the student and will probably give more reliable assistance than can be obtained elsewhere;
b. to copy from another source without proper acknowledgement of indebtedness.
c. to submit as an original work an essay previously submitted for another class or assignment. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 2.7.1 states: "If you must complete a research project to earn a grade in a course, handing in a paper you already earned credit for in another course is deceitful." Thus, you may not hand in previously submitted work without the express consent of your current professor. If you attempt to recycle your work, it will be treated as plagiarism and therefore as a violation of the academic honesty policy.
In general, submitting any work as one’s own when in fact it is not is plagiarism. Furthermore, as MLA Handbook 2.4 indicates, unintentional plagiarism (due to ignorance or carelessness) is nonetheless plagiarism.
“Proper acknowledgment” means giving credit for EVERY idea, sentence, and phrase by documenting with parenthetical references throughout the paper, followed by a Works Cited page (see Research Methods and Documentation below); a Works Cited page alone is insufficient. A direct quotation -- a word-for-word rendition -- from another source must be enclosed within quotation marks, followed by the appropriate parenthetical reference. A paraphrase is not enclosed within quotation marks, but the procedure is otherwise the same. This is also true of borrowed ideas.
Paraphrasing is not merely changing a word or two; it is putting in one’s own words the essence of what somebody else has said. The paraphrase usually contains fewer words than the original source. Changing a few words in order to avoid using quotation marks is another form of plagiarism, even though the source is otherwise properly acknowledged. Usually direct quotation is not as economical as paraphrase, and the writer should use the latter whenever possible.
The following examples will exemplify the foregoing principles. The “model” source is from Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer.
a. Once the stage is set, the presence of an outstanding leader
b. is indispensable. Without him there will be no movement.
c. The ripeness of the times does not automatically produce
d. a mass movement, nor can elections, laws and administrative
e. bureaus hatch one. It was Lenin who forced the flow of
f. events into the channels of the Bolshevik revolution. Had
g. he died in Switzerland, or on his way to Russia in 1917, it
h. is almost certain that the other prominent Bolsheviks would
i. have joined a coalition government. The result might have
j. been a more or less liberal republic run chiefly by the bour-
k. geoisie. In the case of Mussolini and Hitler the evidence
l. is even more decisive; without them there would have been
m. neither a Fascist nor a Nazi movement.
A. Once the stage is set, the presence of a leader is of utmost importance, for without him, there can be no movement. The ripeness of the times does not insure a mass movement any more than elections, laws, and administrative bureaus. Lenin, for example, forced the flow of events into the channels of the 1917 revolution, and the roles of Mussolini and Hitler were even more decisive; without them, there would have been neither a Fascist nor a Nazi movement (Hoffer 104-105).
The above is an example of changing two or three words in each sentence: it is nearly a direct quotation of the entire paragraph, with lines “g-j” omitted. Moreover, the plagiarized passage misconstrues the meaning of line “k,” for Hoffer’s emphasis is on the evidence, not on the roles of the men.
A Legitimate Paraphrase:
B. A mass movement depends as much upon a capable leader as upon the times; social political, and governmental events need a sure hand to manipulate them for purposes of revolution (Hoffer 104-105).
The above paraphrase renders the essence of the entire paragraph. If the writer wishes to elaborate, even to use Hoffer’s examples, he might continue:
C. The movements we associate with Lenin, Mussolini, and Hitler, for example, simply would not have existed had these men been politically inept (Hoffer 104-105).
Paragraph C logically follows B: since they both refer to the same passage in Hoffer’s book, the writer would omit the parenthetical reference after “revolution” in B.
Plagiarism (a “borrowed idea” in need of documentation):
D. Had it not been for Lenin, it is entirely possible that, instead of Communism, Russia would have a bourgeois-directed republic similar to that of the United States.
Students will be taught proper research methods and means of documenting sources in the English 101-102 sequence. Adherence to the appropriate guidelines for presenting documentation of those research materials is expected. Documentation of sources used in the preparation of written work serves a dual function: first, it indicates the thoroughness of the research underlying the work, and second, it provides a guide for readers wishing to know more about the topic under discussion. Students in English 101-102 will be expected to conform to the new Modern Language Association (MLA) style of parenthetical documentation, as explained most fully in the MLA Handbook (most recent edition 2009). A useful reference, "MLA Formatting and Style Guide," appears on the OWL (Online Writing Lab) website maintained by Purdue University, from which the examples cited below are quoted:
(URL = http://www.owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01 . Be sure to survey the other helpful writing advice and handouts available at the OWL site when you consult this documentation guide.)
The source information required in a parenthetical citation depends (1.) upon the source medium (e.g. Print, Web, DVD) and (2.) upon the source’s entry on the Works Cited (bibliography) page.
Any source information that you provide in-text must correspond to the source information on the Works Cited page. More specifically, whatever signal word or phrase you provide to your readers in the text, must be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of the corresponding entry in the Works Cited List (Russell, Brizee and Angeli).
This in-text citation must be accompanied by a Works Cited entry that gives the complete bibliographical information according to the following template and specific example:
Contributors' names. "Title of Resource." The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, Last edited date. Web. Date of access.
Russell, Tony, Allen Brizee, and Elizabeth Angeli. "MLA Formatting and Style Guide." The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 4 Apr. 2010. Web. 20 July 2010.
Russell, Brizee, and Angeli also suggest that "for Print sources like books, magazines, scholarly journal articles, and newspapers," writers
provide a signal word or phrase (usually the author’s last name) and a page number. If you provide the signal word/phrase in the sentence, you do not need to include it in the parenthetical citation (emphasis added).Human beings have been described by Kenneth Burke as "symbol-using animals" (3).ORHuman beings have been described as "symbol-using animals" (Burke 3).
These examples must correspond to an entry that begins with Burke, which will be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of an entry in the Works Cited:
Burke, Kenneth. Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method. Berkeley: U of California P, 1966. Print.
Notice these important characteristics of the MLA style as highlighted by OWL:
A. Although each of the ways of citing Burke above is acceptable, students must realize first the necessity of citing such a source. See the discussion of plagiarism in the preceding section.
B. Notice that indented quotations ARE NOT included in quotation marks and that they should be double spaced.
C. Notice that the sentence’s final punctuation (in this case, a period) follows the page numbers and/or author’s name and the final parenthesis in the parenthetical citation.
D. Note that MLA parenthetical style eliminates the need for footnotes. However, footnotes or endnotes may be added in an explanatory capacity. See OWL or the MLA Handbook for more information.
E. Indicate the title of a work by italicizing it (as above). DO NOT italicize the author, place of publication, or the publisher.
For a more complete discussion of documentation, consult an MLA handbook, a handbook assigned by your instructor, or the OWL site quoted above. (URL = http://www.owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01 . Be sure to survey the other helpful writing advice and handouts available at the OWL site when you consult this documentation guide.)
Students should be aware that while the MLA style is most frequently used in preparation of papers in humanities at Hillsdale College, the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Chemical Society, and the Chicago style used in our history department have different set of style requirements to be used for submission of written work.
Dr. Patricia R. Bart, Assistant Professor (B.A. University of Pittsburgh; M.A., Ph.D. University of Virginia)
Dr. Debi Belt, Associate Professor (B.A. Agnes Scott College; M.A. Vanderbilt University; M.A., Ph.D. The Johns Hopkins University)
Dr. Christopher Busch, Professor (B.A., M.A. University of San Diego; Ph.D. University of Notre Dame)
Dr. Lorraine Eadie, Assistant Professor (B.A. Davidson College; M.A., Ph.D. Loyola University of Chicago)
Dr. John Freeh, Associate Professor (B.A., M.A. Georgetown University; M.S.J. Northwestern University; M.Phil., D.Phil. St. Catherine's College, Oxford University)
Dr. Justin Jackson, Associate Professor (B.A., M.A. California State University; Ph.D. Purdue University)
Dr. Michael Jordan, Professor and Department Chair (B.A. Bryan College; M.A. International College; Ph.D. University of Georgia)
Dr. Dutton Kearney, Assistant Professor (B.A. University of Texas at Austin; M.T.S., M.A., Ph.D. University of Dallas)
Dr. Dwight Lindley, Visiting Assistant Professor (B.A. Hillsdale College; M.A., Ph.D. University of Dallas)
Dr. Stephen Smith, Associate Professor (B.A. University of Notre Dame; M.A., Ph.D. University of Dallas)
Dr. John Somerville, Professor (B.A. Covenant College; M.A. Appalachian State University; Ph.D. University of North Carolina)
Dr. Daniel J. Sundahl, Professor (B.A. Gustavus Adolphus College and Northern Arizona University; M.A., Ph.D. University of Utah)
Ms. Melinda von Sydow, Lecturer (B.A. Hillsdale College)
Dr. David Whalen, Provost and Professor (B.A., M.A., Ph.D. University of Kansas)
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