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International Studies 3111-001: Politics & Culture in Literature (W)

Fall 2015

WF 11:00 am - 12:15 pm

Instructor: Robert Arnold

Phone (cell): 980-307-8986

Classroom: Denny 203

Office Hours:
MW 9:30 am-10:45 am
Cone Center 369

Do you know why the hunter always beats the lions in stories? Its because its the hunter who tells the stories. If the lion told the
stories, he would occasionally win. Its valuable for you. Think of it and be confident in the future. Always remember that its an old
world and that the future emerges from the past.
-From the film Keita: The Heritage of the Griot

Course Objectives: In this course, we will study and write about literature and film produced within a variety
of political systems and cultures from around the globe. Particular attention will be paid to how literature
and narratives shape, reflect or otherwise interact with politics and culture. The issues of identity, race,
gender roles, war, equality, freedom, and education are a few that are sure to arise. By the end of the course,
you will have developed an awareness and understanding of how different societies attempt to make sense
of the issues raised by the division of power and the values within those cultures.
Required Materials & Texts:
Online Resources:
Daily access to a computer and a reliable, high-speed internet connection.
A media player for online video clips
Access to Moodle2
for class discussions and assignments
Netflix or Amazon account (not required, but recommended for viewing films)
Written Texts:
Eggers, Dave. The Circle.
A collection of short stories (available online through Moodle2).
Assignments and Grading: You can accumulate up to 350 points on the following assignments:
Microtheme Blog (150 points total): At least once a week, you will be required to write a short
microtheme essay in which you reflect on, respond to and analyze your readings for the course. Each
microtheme should be double-spaced, a minimum of 300 words in length, and must be typed. I will usually
ask you to focus on a specific issue related to our class discussions. Other times, you may choose your own
focus, by writing about a pattern of repetition you notice (i.e. a theme or image that appears repeatedly in a
text), some aspect of a character you note, how you see the influence of politics and culture manifest
themselves in a text, or something you found intriguing or confusing. Although these microthemes are not
meant to be as formal as a research paper assignment, you should still have a main idea and rely on textual
evidence to make your points. In other words, you should not simply state your unsubstantiated opinion
without pointing to specific parts of the text to illustrate or support the point you are trying to make.
Politics & Culture Essay (80 points total): This researched essay should be centered on an
analysis of a dystopian film of your choosing, and it should focus on an issue or concept you have observed
arising from the works and films we covered in class. The thesis of your essay should make an assertion
about the work(s) that is not blatantly obvious and that revolves around an issue on which you can imagine
others disagreeing with you. It should also arrive at some sort of a final statement about an issue raised by
the division of power and cultural values within a given society or societies. Class time will be set aside for
peer review and other exercises directly related to the revision of this essay.
Presentation (20 points): In order to facilitate our discussions of the works we will be reading, and in order
to gain a deeper understanding of the cultures and issues we are studying, each of you will give an informal

and brief 5-10 minute presentation on one of the works/authors/time periods we cover in the class readings.
Ultimately, the goal of these presentations is to: 1) introduce the author and the political and culture context
surrounding his/her life and 2) reveal how one or several of the issues we discuss in class is dealt with in the
work you have chosen. You should bring a handout for the class that summarizes the information you are
presenting, or you can also use PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.
Participation & In-Class Writing Exercises (40 points): This portion of your grade includes
quizzes, participation in group work, your contributions to class discussion, and in-class writing.
Politics & Culture Essay Proposal (10 points): A 300-word essay that covers the dystopian film you will
examine and the theoretical framework you intend to use in your Politics & Culture essay.
Electronic Portfolio (50 points): You will create an ePortfolio website for this course, where you will
compile and select certain microthemes and other written work of a similar theme or focus. The portfolio
should have an overarching theme that notes connections between the themes and issues you focused on in
your writing, as well as a reflective cover letter. The final version of your Politics & Culture essay will be
included in your ePortfolio, and its content should guide the design of your website and the selection of your
other written work.
Final Grades:
315 350
280 314
245 279
210 244
0 209


Handing in assignments:
Type and double-space all microthemes and papers using 12-point font (Times New Roman, Arial, or
Garamond are recommended) and 1 margins all around.
Handwritten drafts and papers will not be accepted (ask me if you need help locating a computer lab).
I will not accept the final Politics & Culture paper without having read a draft beforehand.
An assignment or paper is late if turned in after class on the date it is due (a letter grade will be deducted for
each day an assignment is late).
General Policies:
Participation: Discussion and group work play an important role in this class and your participation is
essential. Participation means coming to class prepared (having completed the readings or watched the
films), being ready to critically analyze and construct arguments through in-class discussions, taking an
active part in class discussions, interacting with other class members during group work, offering wellthought out comments to your classmates writing and ideas, and turning in assigned work on time.
Attendance: Regular attendance is necessary and expected. Any absence can affect you in a variety of
ways: you will miss instruction, in-class writing, group work, discussion, schedule changes, etc. You may
miss three classes without any effect on your grade, and any absences over this freebie will negatively
impact the participation portion of your grade. If you miss six or more classes, you will automatically fail
the course. Repeated tardiness could also affect your grade. If you are tardy, please see me after class to
make sure I mark you present. If you are absent, you are responsible for turning in your work on time and
getting any missed assignments, handouts, or notes from your fellow classmates (you can also check
Moodle for assignment sheets). Additionally, you have two days per academic year that can be used for
religious observance without penalty. If you must be absent for a religious observance, you are required to
file a Request for Religious Observance form, and notify me at least a week before the absence.
Multicultural & Academic Integrity Policies: Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated, and if you
plagiarize you will fail this course. Please see the document attached to this syllabus in order to familiarize

yourself with UNC Charlottes policies on academic integrity and multiculturalism (also available at or in the UNCC catalog).
Electronic devices: Part of adequate class participation is being completely engaged with the class
throughout the entire time period. For that reason, cell phone usage, texting, or inappropriate Internet surfing
in class is not permitted. I reserve the right to ask you to leave class and be counted absent for the day if you
are texting, working on other materials, or socializing on your computers during class time. Please turn off
all electronic devices before the beginning of class. Cell phones may only be left on in the event of an
emergency and you should receive prior approval from me.
Office of Disability Services: If you have a disability that qualifies you for academic accommodations,
please provide a letter of accommodation from the Office of Disability Services in the beginning of the
summer session. For more information regarding accommodations, please contact the Office of Disability
Services at 704-687-4355 or stop by their office in 230 Fretwell.

Schedule for the 1st Two Weeks


In class

Homework for next class

W Aug. 26

Introductions and syllabus.

Read Reading and Writing as a Social

Act and Liam O-Flahertys Sniper
available on Moodle2. Be prepared to
write about and discuss the essay in class.

F Aug. 28

Discuss readings & introduce microtheme


Read Tim OBriens The Things they

Carried (available on Moodle2).

W Sept. 2

Discuss Tim OBriens The Things they


Print out, read, and annotate Warring

Memories and Silence. Write
microtheme blog #1 on any of the works
read so far.

F Sept. 4

Discuss annotations of readings. Return

first-day writing prompts.
Due: microtheme blog #1