American culture has an enduring obsession with the quest for personal success. From the Puritan agonizing over salvation to the American Idol contestant yearning for celebrity, images of aspiration and stories of failed hopes dominate the nation’s literature. How has success been envisioned? How does one get it? What is the cost (individually, socially, environmentally) of personal triumph? What is the recipe for failure? How glorious can success be, and how abject can failure be? What is the pathology of the quest? English 285 will explore these issues.
English 285 combines lectures with small group discussion. Professor Shields and occasional guest speakers will perform the syllabus of lectures. Your assigned Discussion Group Leader will superintend your further inquiry into the issues raised in the course, assign papers, exercises, and quizzes, and will assess your performance. There will be mid-term and final examinations conducted in the Swearingen lecture hall. Your Discussion Group Leader will have absolute determination of your grade. Prof. Shields will not over-ride a Group Leader’s decision or act as a court of appeals. All communications in this course will be conducted through USC’s Blackboard system. This requires you to have an active e-mail account. Each Discussion Group Leader will post a supplementary syllabus on 285’s blackboard site laying out the graded course assignments, other than the mid term and final, for the semester.