English 669: Methods and the Profession


Dr. John Morillo

M, W 4:30-5:45 in Tompkins G123

Office: Tompkins 270

Office hours: Tuesdays 10:30-12:30; Wednesdays 3-4

Email: morillo@ncsu.edu

Course Description:

This course introduces you to the world of research; the current profession; your department and faculty, and our research and writing expectations for you. Class lectures and discussions will include expanding domains of current research materials available in both print and electronic media; the variety of methods in current English studies, including literary criticism, theory, global perspectives, rhetoric and composition, film studies, and digital humanities. You will become familiar with some of the intellectual endeavors that make up modern research in the humanities, begin your own research, practice bibliographic skills, and refine the formal, professional oral and written presentation of your information.

Besides MA standing, there are no prerequisites for this course.

Learning Outcomes:

·         write MLA citation and bibliographic form correctly

·         formulate useful research questions in cogent writing

·         become conversant in some current methodologies and fields of research

·         prepare skills for a successful MA career and capstone project

·         allow you to come in contact with many of the fields of study (and NC State faculty members who pursue them) as a way of finding your intellectual interests

·         develop practical skills about research and writing, including an introduction to examples of many professional genres, including the “call for papers,” conference proposal/abstract, course paper, public lecture, and scholarly article


Required print text: MLA Handbook, 8th edition. You may find it helpful to consult the online supplement here: https://style.mla.org


Required online texts: volume 131, number 1 of Publications of the Modern Language Association (PMLA), January 2016


Chapters on “Rhetoric” and “Composition” in Introduction to the Study of Modern Languages and Literatures, MLA Press, 2007, on electronic reserve through D. H. Hill Library

Course Requirements:

·          Attendance:  since the class meets twice a week, consistent attendance is critical. If you miss more than 3 classes without a suitably mature and serious excuse, you will not pass.
for excused absence defined, see University Attendance Policy

·         written assignments: assignments are due either in class, printed out on paper, or emailed as files by specified times. See below for which submission rules apply for each assignment*

·         oral presentation of abstract

·         participation: always come to class on time, with the appropriate texts, having read and thought about them enough to have something specific and intelligent to say or write about them.

*Late assignments are accepted only one class late, and with penalty. Any assignments arriving later than that will not be accepted.

How I Figure Your Grades

·        You must earn passing grades on 6 of 10 written assignments to pass the course.

·        You must complete all the required work to pass the class. No opting out of assigned work. 

·        Each assignment is graded s/u (pass/fail), and so is the course.

You must complete all the required work to pass the class

Plagiarism: Anyone convicted will receive an F for the paper, or the course at my discretion.
And yes, I have caught people in the past.

Late Papers: Papers received ONE class session late will be accepted but docked a full grade.
No late papers will be accepted after one class session late.

Disabilities: Reasonable accommodations will be made for students with verifiable disabilities. In order to take advantage of available accommodations, students must register with Disability Services for Students at 1900 Student Health Center, Campus Box 7509, 515-7653.  For more information on NC State's policy on working with students with disabilities, please see the Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Regulation (REG 02.20.01)." and here http://www.ncsu.edu/dso/


N.C. State University Polices, Regulations, and Rules (PRR): "Students are responsible for reviewing the PRRs which pertain to their course rights and responsibilities. These include: http://policies.ncsu.edu/policy/pol-04-25-05 (Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy Statement), http://oied.ncsu.edu/oied/policies.php (Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity), http://policies.ncsu.edu/policy/pol-11-35-01 (Code of Student Conduct), and http://policies.ncsu.edu/regulation/reg-02-50-03 (Grades and Grade Point Average)."

Academic Integrity Assumption
Universities are unique communities committed to creating and transmitting knowledge. They depend on freedom - individuals' freedom to explore ideas and to explore and further their own capabilities. Those freedoms depend on the good will and responsible behavior of all the members of the community, who must treat each other with tolerance and respect. They must allow each other to develop the full range of their capabilities and take full advantage of the institution's resources.

Career Guidance: Wondering how that English degree might get you a job?

CHASS CAREER SERVICES: Career Development Center, 2100 Pullen Hall. careers.ncsu.edu

Online materials have made syllabi dynamic works in progress. If useful additional material comes to our attention they can be added into the final column of the grid below.

Readings listed for a given week shall be completed before you attend class that week; assignments are due in class unless otherwise stated.


W        8/17                 Introduction


M        8/22                 The State of Humanities in Twenty-First Century Academia

Rethinking the Master’s Degree for the 21st Century (2011)


William Chace, “The Decline of the English Department” (2009)

Michael Bérubé, “The Humanities Unraveled” (2009) and “The Humanities, Declining? Not According to the Numbers” (2013)


W        8/24                 MLA Makes Big Changes in Format for 8th Edition of Handbook


M        8/29                 MLA Citation

                                    Assignment 1 Due, MLA Works Cited format

                                    Assignment 1 Key


W        8/31                 A New Wave of Scholarship: Digital Humanities



Matthew Kirschenbaum, “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” (2012)

Matthew Gold, “The Digital Humanities Moment” (2012)

Lisa Spiro, “Getting Started in Digital Humanities” (2011)

On Close and Distant Reading. Leipzig U


Also examine Virtual Paul’s Cross (a digital project by NC State English Prof. John Wall) and Victoria’s Lost Pavilion (a digital project undertaken by NC State English faculty Paul Fyfe, Sharon Joffe, Antony Harrison, David Hill, Sharon Setzer).


M        9/5                   No Class, Labor Day


W        9/7                   About Digital Humanities

Guest: Dr. Timothy Stinson

The Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities at NC State

Notes on Using Digital Media for First-Year Graduate Students (Andrew Goldstone)


M        9/12                 Understanding Abstracts

Read these abstracts in PMLA, vol. 131, no. 1, 2016

Hyde “Flat Style: Things Fall Apart and Its Illustrations”

McArthur “Monotony, the Churches of Poetry Reading, and Sound Studies”

Grey “Aurality in Print: Revisiting Roger Williams’s A Key into the Language of America”

Pizzo “Atmospheric Exceptionalism in Jane Eyre: Charlotte Brontë’s Weather Wisdom”

                                    Kreisel “The Madwoman on the Third Story: Jane Eyre in Space”


                                    Successful MA student abstracts


                                    Abstracts better and worse


                                    Assignment 2 Due, critique of abstract


W        9/14                 About Rhetoric and Composition Guest:

Dr. David Rieder

                                    Readings: Jarratt “Rhetoric” on library e-reserve for English 669

                                    Bartholomae  “Composition” on e-reserve on library e-reserve for English 669


M        9/19                 Writing Abstracts

                                    Online info

                                    Assignment 3 Due, 300-wd Abstract of Your Work


W        9/21                 About Film Studies

Guest: Dr. Franklin Cason

More Practice with MLA 8 Works Cited form


M        9/26                 In-Class Peer Review of Your Abstracts               


W        9/28                 Reading Jane Eyre now: Theory and Method in Academic Articles:

PMLA, vol. 131, no. 1, 2016


                                    Readings: Pizzo “Atmospheric Exceptionalism”

                                    Kreisel “The Madwoman on the Third Story”


                                    Assignment 4 Responses to Pizzo or Kreisel                                  


M        10/3                 Following Up Pizzo’s and Kreisel’s Sources


Yeazell, “More True than Real: Jane Eyre’s ‘Mysterious Summons’”

                                    Culler, “Omniscience”

Menely, “’The Present Obfuscation’: Cowper’s Task and the Time of Climate Change”


Assignment 5 Due, more citation practice


W        10/5                 no class


M        10/10               Reading Things Fall Apart now: Theory and Method in Academic


                                    Readings: PMLA, vol. 131, no. 1, 2016


                                    Hyde “Flat Style: Things Fall Apart and its Illustrations”


W        10/12               Following Up Hyde’s Sources

                                    Appiah “Is the Post-in Postmodernism the Post-in Postcolonial?”

                                    Gikandi “Realism, Romance, and the Problem of African History”                                                 

                                    Gikandi “Looking Back on the Black Aesthetic”


                                    Assignment 6 Due, Proposal Draft 1


M        10/17               Reading and Hearing Poetry now: Theory and Method in Academic


                                    PMLA, vol. 131, no. 1, 2016


                                    MacArthur “Monotony, the Churches of Poetry, and Sound Studies”


W        10/19               Following Up MacArthur’s Sources

                                    Vander Ven “Robert Frost’s Dramatic Principle of ‘Oversound’.”

                                    Gross and Simmons “The Religiosity of . . .Professors”

                                    Grobe  “The Breath of the Poem

                                    Farrington “I Improvised behind Him . . . ahead of Time’                            


M        10/24               Reading Roger Williams now:

                                    Theory and Method in Academic Articles

                                    PMLA, vol. 131, no. 1, 2016


                                    Gray, “Aurality in Print                                 




W        10/26               Following Up Gray’s Sources


                                    Benjamin “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”

                                    About Walter Benjamin

                                    Murray “Joining Signs with Words”

                                    Cesnari “The Ambivalent Uses of Roger Williams’s Key”

                                       Assignment 7 Due, Research Proposal draft 2


M        10/31               Our Changing Profession: New Southern Studies

                                    PMLA, vol. 131, no. 1, 2016


                                    Readings: Bibler, Watson, Burnett, Holland, Heath

                                    Cartwright, Fielder, Holloway, Nunn, Davis


W        11/2                 Following up Southern Studies sources


                                    Clukey “Plantation Modernity”

                                    McKee and Trefzer “Preface: Global Contexts, Local Literatures”

                                    Knowles Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)                             

                                    Saraiya, “The Duck Dynasty American Dream”


M        11/7                 Creating a Curriculum Vitae and Professional Presence    / Proposals Workshop          


                                    Assignment 8 Due: Your CVs. Compose a CV. Bring a copy of it on paper to class today.

                                    Writing the Curriculum Vitae (Purdue OWL)

                                    Bring a paper copy of the latest version of your research proposal to class. You will exchange it with a peer

                                    reader and work on revisions just as you did with your first abstract drafts.


W        11/9                 All About Conferences        

                                    Sano-Franchini, “Writing the Academic Conference Proposal”                                                         (2011)

                                    Oden, “Preparing for Conferences” (2015)

                                    Wampole, “The Conference Manifesto” (2015)

                                    Perry, “Save the Academic Conference” (2015)

                                    Looser, “Why I love Academic Conferences” (2015)

                                    Fox, Tange, and Walsh,

                                    “A Conference Manifesto for the Rest of Us” (2015)



M        11/14               Microconference of Abstracts, day 1 (moderated by the other group)


W        11/16               Visit from Dr. Matthew Mullins (MA NC State, PhD UNC Greensboro), Assistant Professor of English and History of Ideas at Southeastern,

                                    and author of Postmodernism in Pieces: Materializing the Social in U. S. Fiction , Oxford UP, 2016.

                                    Readings:  your chosen article in your field


                                 Ryan Cordell, “How to Start Tweeting and Why You Might Want To”         (2010)

                                 Brian Croxall, “Ten Tips for Tweeting at Conferences” (2014)

                                 Anastasia Salter, “Re-Evaluating the Risks of Public Scholarship” (2015)     

                                 Lesley McCollum, “A Beginner’s Guide to Establishing a Professional          Online Presence” (2014)



M        11/21              Microconference of Abstracts, day 2 (moderated by the other group)



                                    Assignment 9 Due, Critical Review of Method in an Article


W        11/23               no class


M        11.28               About Academic Publishing


W        11/30               What to Do with an MA Degree


                                    Assignment 10 Due, Final Research Proposal

                                   Due Exam week: Wednesday, December 7 by NOON. As emailed file.


Please fill out a course evalution here: