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Course Description and Credit Hours
This core writing course analyzes retellings of ancient tales within contemporary popular culture, investigating versions of two specific stories, the Ramayana and Journey to the West, to address issues surrounding myths and cultural identity and the ways people adapt stories for various ideological purposes, including the politics of translation, adaptation, and classification. Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. A student who does not write with the skill normally required of an upper-division student will not earn a passing grade, no matter how well the student performs in other areas of the course.
In addition to counting for the Religious Studies major and minor, this course counts towards the Writing core requirements and the Asian Studies minor.
Required Texts from UA Supply Store:
- YANG (RENTAL) / (RENTAL) AMERICAN BORN CHINESE (RENTAL)
- YANG / AMERICAN BORN CHINESE (Required)
- YU(VP) (RENTAL) / (RENTAL) MONKEY & THE MONK (RENTAL)
- YU(VP) / MONKEY & THE MONK (Required)
- NARAYAN / RAMAYANA (INTRO: MISHRA) (Required)
- NARAYAN (RENTAL) / (RENTAL) RAMAYANA (INTRO: MISHRA) (RENTAL)
This course will
Introduce religions of India and China
Present and apply various modes of analysis relevant to studying Tales of Asia
Analyze presentations and adaptations of the Ramayana
Analyze presentations and adaptations of Journey to the West
Student Learning Outcomes
Students in REL 322 will be able to
1) Analyze representations of tales from Asia and their ideological interests.
2) Apply critical analysis and theory to examples in popular culture and media.
3) Present in writing a comparative analysis of versions of a story of their choosing.
4) Develop effective written communication skills for public writing.
5) Develop effective written communication skills for academic writing
Other Course Materials
Additional Readings (marked with * in the Outline of Topics) will be available on Blackboard.
Outline of Topics
The following schedule of topics, readings, and assignments is tentative and subject to change. Any changes will be announced in class and/or via email as early as possible, allowing sufficient time for students to adjust.
* Barthes "Myth Today" pp. 109-117
* Lincoln "Pandits and Mr. Jones"
* Hinduism online reading
Diversity in Tales from India
* Ramanujan "300 Ramayanas"
* Erndl "Mutilation of Surpanakha"
Ramayana pre-TOC page, Introduction, Prologue
Ramayana thru chapter 3
Meet at Hoole Library at 3:30
Ramayana thru chapter 6
Comic Book Analysis due
Ramayana thru chapter 12
Blog 1 due (using Comic Book Analysis)
* Richman "Ramasami's Reading"
* Lai "From Protean Ape to Handsome Saint"
Journey chapters 1-2
Journey chapters 4-5, 7
Proposal and Reading List due
Journey chapters 8, 12, 14, 19
Blog 2 due
Journey chapters 20-22, 26-27
Journey chapters 29-31
* Cozad "Reeling the Demon"
Adaptation of Journey
Yang American Born Chinese
Complete draft due to group by 5:00 pm 16 April
Blog 3 due (drawing on Analysis Paper)
Final Analysis Paper
due by 7:00 pm, along with all steps
Exams and Assignments
Before the start of class each week, each student should post on the Blackboard discussion board a comment or questions related to the reading (about 1 paragraph worth). These comments may address a specific passage or an issue across the entire reading. They may involve an observation about the representation of a particular issue (power dynamics, social relations, gender, religious identification, etc.) or observations about specific characters or events in the assigned readings. Each response is worth 10 points, with credit for a maximum of 10 responses out of the 12 weeks with assigned readings.
Comic Book Analysis
Each scholar will compose a 4 page formal academic paper that analyzes one or two comic books that present narratives from Asia. This paper is due at the start of class on 6 February, the week after the visit to the Hoole Special Collections Library (30 January) that houses a collection of comics from Asia. The analysis in the paper should address some issue in the ways the narratives are presented. Possibilities include comparing two tellings of the same narrative, the way one or two comics addresses a particular issue (e.g., gender, morality, nationalism, social hierarchy, etc.), or the overall impression that a particular comic makes based on its selected wording and images. Accurate citations/references are required for any academic paper.
Each scholar will compose 3 blog essays (20 February, 20 March, 24 April), geared towards an educated but general public audience, that uses analytical approaches discussed in class to analyze examples in the media or popular culture. The first blog post should develop the work presented in the Comic Book Analysis for a broader audience. The final blog essay should convey one component of the analysis presented in the final paper.
In 700 words or less, each essay should present a coherent and logical argument in well-edited prose. Each essay must also include the appropriate image, links, title, and tags for a successful blog post. These essays will be graded based on a list of blog components that will be distributed before the first due date. Exceptional examples of these blogs will be published, with the author’s permission and revision, to the departmental blog. Blog entries should be submitted via email by the beginning of the assigned class sessions, and each scholar should be prepared to discuss their example in the seminar on that day.
Analysis Paper - 3 Steps
Each scholar must prepare and write a 12-14 page analysis paper on version(s) of an Asian tale of his / her own choosing that will be graded according to the grading rubric presented in class early in the semester. The selection of the tale and the mode of analysis must take place in consultation with the professor prior to submitting the formal proposal and initial reading list, which is one paragraph describing the topic, the anticipated analysis and, most importantly, the argument that the scholar anticipates making. This proposal is due on 6 March. The second step in the process is to prepare an outline of the paper, which is due 10 April.
Scholars will be assigned a peer review writing group. Each scholar must submit a complete draft to the group through Blackboard by 5:00 pm on 16 April. Each group member should review and comment on the other drafts in the group before class on 17 April. Class that day will involve group discussion of those drafts, comments, and rubrics.
The final analysis paper must be a formal academic paper that demonstrates analytical and critical thinking skills, presents a coherent argument, and reflects careful editing. The paper will serve as the final exam and is due at the time set by the university for the final exam (2 May, 7:00 pm). I expect quality academic research making use of primary sources, peer-reviewed journals and books in Gorgas Library as appropriate, and the approaches discussed in class. Accurate citations/references are required for any academic paper. When submitting the final paper, scholars must include each component of the paper (proposal and reading list, outline, draft and peer review comments) along with the final draft.
Points (Total 1000 possible)
Attendance / Participation
Reading Responses (10 each)
Comic Book Analysis
3 Blog Essays (50 points each)
Proposal and Reading List
Peer Review Exercise
Final Analysis Paper
Final grades will be based on the following ranges: 970-1000 = A+; 920-969 = A; 900-919 = A-; 870-899 = B+; 820-869 = B; 800-819 = B-; 770-799 = C+; 720-769 = C; 700-719= C-; 600-699 = D; 0-599 = F
Policy on Missed Exams and Coursework
Due to the progressive and cooperative nature of the course, late submissions of written work are problematic. Late submissions will be penalized significantly, and a late draft prohibits proper peer review. Final papers must be submitted by the due date because of the necessity of submitting final grades.
The success of this course requires the contribution of all scholars. When you are absent, you miss an opportunity to learn from the other scholars, and they miss an opportunity to learn from you. As a once-a-week course, more than 1 absence will significantly impact your attendance/participation grade. If the absences are beyond your control due to health or family reasons, let me know promptly. The impact of such absences may be reduced. If you are late, please join the class as soon as possible without disrupting the seminar. Habitual tardiness, however, is unacceptable and can be counted as an absence. You remain responsible for anything that you miss.
Your preparation for class and participation in it is vital. Participation goes beyond the number of words someone speaks to include both the relevance of comments and their attentiveness. I expect everyone to do all of the readings and to speak up during classes. Be prepared to ask questions about the readings and/or contribute your own ideas. I will call on people to comment on their own reading responses frequently.
The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility. The UAct website (www.ua.edu/uact) provides a list of reporting channels that can be used to report incidences of illegal discrimination, harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, retaliation, threat assessment or fraud. During class, laptops, iPads, cellphones, etc., should only be used for specifically class related activities. Other uses distract the user and those around that person.
Notification of Changes
The instructor will make every effort to follow the guidelines of this syllabus as listed; however, the instructor reserves the right to amend this document as the need arises. In such instances, the instructor will notify students in class and/or via email and will endeavor to provide reasonable time for students to adjust to any changes.
Statement on Academic Misconduct
Students are expected to be familiar with and adhere to the official Academic Misconduct Policy provided in the Online Catalog.
Statement On Disability Accommodations
Contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) as detailed in the Online Catalog.
Severe Weather Protocol
Please see the latest Severe Weather Guidelines in the Online Catalog.
Pregnant Student Accommodations
Title IX protects against discrimination related to pregnancy or parental status. If you are pregnant and will need accommodations for this class, please review the University’s FAQs on the UAct website.
Under the Guidelines for Religious Holiday Observances, students should notify the instructor in writing or via email during the first two weeks of the semester of their intention to be absent from class for religious observance. The instructor will work to provide reasonable opportunity to complete academic responsibilities as long as that does not interfere with the academic integrity of the course. See full guidelines at Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines.
The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility. The UAct website (www.ua.edu/uact) provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, hate or bias incidents, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.