ENGL 105:  Freshman Honors English:
Ways of Knowing

Professor Kathryn Conrad
Spring 2017
TR 1-2:15 pm, 4021 Wescoe
Office hours:  W 2-4, 3043 Wescoe

Page last updated 4-14-17

Jump to [schedule]


This course explores literature that asks, explicitly or implicitly, how do we know what we think we know?  What is the "reality" we think we are accessing?  What limits our capacity for knowledge? We will examine a variety of texts, including poetry, essays, and novels, in order to begin to probe those questions and more, with a special focus on the relationship between humans and their tools for knowing.  Topics we will consider will include metaphor, time perception, language, technology, the nature of the human, and the concept of the "noosphere." Authors will include William Blake, Oliver Sacks, Sherry Turkle, Jaron Lanier, Bram Stoker, Brooke Gladstone, Alan Lightman, and Daniel Suarez.


All KU students must take two Core 2.1 courses.  Students pursuing a BA in the College are required to take either ENGL 101 and 102, or ENGL 102/105 and a second Goal 2.1 course.  All 200-level English courses satisfy the second Goal 2.1 requirement. This course fulfills the second KU Core Goal 2.1 (written communication) requirement.  It will also count as one of the two required written communication courses for the BA in the College.

As a KU Core Goal 2.1 course, this course is intended to help you develop your writing, from idea and research through revision and final product, for multiple genres and communication situations.  Writing will be the supermajority of your grade in the course, in keeping with Goal 2.1 standards.

This course also serves as one of the Honors Course Requirements for the KU Honors Program.


Students will be expected to write in a variety of genres: a literary analysis, an analysis of visual rhetoric, a research paper, and blog postings focused on several kinds of genres and evaluative tasks.


--complete assigned readings
--participate in classroom discussion and discussion groups

Grading details:

    1. 10%:  Attendance and participation in discussion (in class and/or online, if absent or shy), group work, and short assignments.  You will be expected to access materials online and participate in Blackboard discussion blogs. You must participate in the Blake blog, any blog discussions that replace days cancelled by the University or by Prof. Conrad, any days that you miss class (excused OR unexcused), and at least four other prompts (see Blogging FAQ below). This means responding to five blog prompts for certain, and more if class is cancelled or if you miss class.  All readings and blog postings should be completed before class on the date listed on the syllabus (unless I say otherwise in class). The only exception to this is if you miss class; in that case, you may make up participation for that day after the fact by posting on a prompt for the text we discussed while you were absent.

    You are expected to attend every class and have with you any paper texts (i.e., books) we are scheduled to discuss; contact me by e-mail (kconrad @ ku.edu) before or as soon as possible after your absence if you must miss class.  Please do not attend class if you are ill with a virus. Documentation will assure an excused absence, but is not required for me to excuse an absence.  Do not abuse this. My 25 years of experience teaching suggest strongly that you will not succeed if you do not attend regularly.

    Electronic devices:  You are welcome to use laptops, notebooks, and tablets in class for reading of assigned material, notetaking, and other tasks directly related to the course material we are discussing during the class session.  Social media use, emailing, and other activities not related to the class discussion are strictly prohibited. If you are discovered partaking in activities not directly related to the course during class time, your participation grade will suffer, and you will be asked to leave, with the attendant impact on your participation grade.

     2.  20%: 5 required blog posts. See below, Blogging FAQ.

     3.  70%: Three papers. Each assignment will have a specific word count range, from 800 (low end of visual analysis paper range) to 1700 (high end of research paper range), but these will be guides, since quality is more important than absolute word count.  Be concise and precise but also be sure to take the space needed to make your argument. Paper topics will be available online two weeks prior to the due date on Blackboard website. You should read the grading guidelines, available on Blackboard, and review the plagiarism policy below before handing in your papers (including the rough drafts).


In addition to several texts available online, I have ordered the following texts:

RESOURCES, POLICIES, & CONTACTS (Adapted from statements and policies from the KU Registrar, CLAS, the Writing Center, the KU Faculty Council, and the English Department)

 Grading:  In this course we will be using the +/- grading scale, approved by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to describe intermediate levels of performance between a maximum of A and a minimum of F.  Intermediate grades represented by plus or minus shall be calculated as .3 units above or below the corresponding letter grade.

 Plagiarism:  Plagiarism is stealing and passing off someone else's ideas or words as one's own or using information from another's work without crediting the source. Any detected cheating offense--including but not limited to plagiarism; the unauthorized use of crib sheets, texts, or other materials during an examination or quiz; the copying of another student's work (even with the permission or aid of that student, who is thereby culpable); the use of prewritten essays (the student's own or someone else's); the uncredited adoption of another writer's interpretation of a work; or the unauthorized use of work written for another assignment or class--will be reported to the University. A record of each verified offense will be kept throughout the student's association with the University.     
        Plagiarism is not a game, nor is it simply a "shortcut" when time presses. It is a very serious form of academic misconduct and will be treated as such in this class. When you consult outside sources for ideas--through published or unpublished essays, interviews, the Internet, conversation, etc.--you must cite those sources in your work. I understand that academic work can be daunting: if you are struggling with an assignment, are unclear about my expectations, or are behind on your work, please consult me. There is always a better path than plagiarism; I can work with you to help you find your own voice while incorporating others' ideas appropriately. If after reading the statement above, you are still unclear about what constitutes plagiarism, ask me BEFORE turning in an assignment.  
        A plagiarized assignment will result in failure of the assignment (no credit given); it also impacts your larger course grade more than a paper that merely receives an F, and will usually result in failure of the course. The Department of English has a zero-tolerance policy on plagiarism. Formal records are currently kept by the Department of English and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I may also send a copy of the plagiarism form to the home department or school of any student who is found to have plagiarized.

KU Statement on Diversity and Inclusion: As a premier international research university, the University of Kansas is committed to an open, diverse and inclusive learning and working environment that nurtures the growth and development of all. KU holds steadfast in the belief that an array of values, interests, experiences, and intellectual and cultural viewpoints enrich learning and our workplace. The promotion of and support for a diverse and inclusive community of mutual respect require the engagement of the entire university.

Recording of Classes:  At KU, course materials prepared by the instructor, together with the content of lectures, are the property of the instructor. Video and audio recording of lectures and review sessions without the consent of the instructor is prohibited. On request, the instructor will usually grant permission for students to audio tape lectures, on the condition that these audio tapes are only used as a study aid by the individual making the recording. Unless explicit permission is obtained from the instructor, recordings of lectures and review sessions may not be modified and must not be transferred or transmitted to any other person, whether or not that individual is enrolled in the course.

 Attendance and Termination of Enrollment:Students may neither add nor change sections in any English course after Monday January 23 without departmental permission. The last day to petition to add classes is Monday, February 13.

The Department of English reserves the right to terminate administratively the enrollment of any student who misses two consecutive class meetings during the first two weeks of the semester.* Should an emergency situation cause the student to miss two consecutive class meetings, the student should contact the instructor(s) or the English Department, 864-4520, immediately.

Students who decide to drop English classes should do so promptly so that other students may enroll in the class.  The last day to withdraw from classes under any circumstances is Monday April 17.

     Accessibility:  The Student Access Center (Academic Achievement and Access Center) coordinates accommodations and services for all KU students who are eligible. If you have a disability for which you wish to request accommodations and have not contacted the AAAC, please do so as soon as possible. Their office is located in 22 Strong Hall; their phone number is785-864-4064. Their email address is achieve@ku.edu. Information about their services can be found at http://access.ku.edu . Beginning Spring 2017, students will submit their requests for testing in the AAAC Testing Center through AAAC Access Online. I also encourage you to contact me privately in regard to your needs in this course.

Drop policy: If you are having trouble succeeding in the course, it is especially important that you consult with me so that we can develop a plan of action that may enable you to complete the course.  If you decide to drop this class, please refer to the Website below:


From  Monday February 6 to Monday April 17 , you will be assigned a grade of W.  You may not drop or withdraw after April 17. 

Policy on Student Academic Creations: Since one of the aims of this course is to teach students to write for specific audiences, ungraded student-authored work may be shared with other class members during the semester in which you are enrolled in the class.  Please do not submit materials on sensitive subjects that you would not want your classmates to see or read, unless you inform the instructor in advance that you do not want your work shared with others. 

Other uses of student-authored work are subject to the University's Policy on Intellectual Property and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  If your instructor desires to use your work outside of this class (e.g. as a sample for another class or future classes), you will be asked to fill out and sign a written form authorizing such use.

 Writing Resources:  For help with your writing, I strongly encourage you to contact the KU Writing Center.  At the Writing Center you can talk about your writing with trained tutors or consult reference materials in a comfortable working environment.  You may ask for feedback on your papers, advice and tips on writing (for all your courses), or for guidance on special writing tasks.   Please check the website at http://www.writing.ku.edu/students/ for current locations and hours. The Writing Center welcomes both drop-ins and appointments, and there is no charge for their services. For more information, please call (785) 864-2399 or send an e-mail to <writing@ku.edu>. The website is loaded with helpful information about writing of all sorts, so even if you consider yourself a good writer, I encourage you to visit.

   Weather cancellations: Call 864-SNOW to discover whether classes have been cancelled by the University due to inclement weather. Cancelled classes will be made up via online assignments; see Blackboard for details.  Be sure that Blackboard has your correct contact information, since I will use it to send e-mail in case of a cancellation.

Religious observances: According to university regulations, in cases of conflicts between regularly scheduled class activities and mandated religious observances, the student is responsible for initiating discussion with the instructor to reach a mutually acceptable solution. Please speak with me privately if scheduled examinations/activities conflict with religious observances, so that a make-up examination/activity may be scheduled for you at a mutually acceptable time.

       Sexual harassment and violence. Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are Civil Rights offenses subject to the same kinds of accountability and support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, and you wish to speak in confidence to a trained counselor, contact the Sexual Trauma and Abuse Center (785-843-8985 or support@stacarecenter.org). You may also wish to contact Lawrence Memorial Hospital Emergency Room (785-505-6162). If you want to pursue disciplinary action or criminal charges against the perpetrator, you may contact the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access (785-864-6414; instructions on how to file a complaint can be found at http://ioa.ku.edu/file-complaint); and the KU Police (785-864-5900) or the Lawrence Police (785-832-7509). For the protection of students who experience harassment or violence, instructors are mandated reporters; if you report harassment or violence to an instructor, the instructor must report it to both a supervisor and the police.

Academic Advising: Academic advising and planning can help students learn how to successfully and purposefully navigate the opportunities available to them throughout their time as a Jayhawk. Academic advising sets up an active, teaching-learning partnership between advisors and advisees that will enable students to graduate in a timely manner, identify educational and career options, as well as gain the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish their life goals. During advising appointments, students will be able to establish short- and long-term goals for their college career (ex: graduating with Honors, participating in Study Abroad trips, getting an internship), create a semester-by-semester graduation plan, discuss course selection for upcoming semesters and navigate the policies surrounding their choices (e.g., add/drop/change schedule, late withdraw, academic standing/probation).
    In addition to mentors, project advisors, and instructors who provide informal mentoring, there are three members of the English Department available for formal academic advising. See below for names and contact information.

Darren Canady, Undergraduate Director
3138 Wescoe Hall

Mary Klayder, Associate Undergraduate Director  and Honors Faculty Fellow
3019 Wescoe Hall

Amy Schmidt, CLAS Academic Advisor
3001P Wescoe Hall


*How many blog postings are required?
You should post 5 times, including any required posts listed on the syllabus. These must be completed before class time on the date on which we discuss the text or topic.

If you miss a class for any reason, you should post on the text or topic for which you missed discussion (AKA, an 'absence post').  This will help mitigate the loss of participation.  Any 'absence posts' do not count toward the 5 required posts, although you may post on a text as a required post and then post again on the same text as an 'absence post.'  'Absence posts' may be completed after the date on which the text or topic was discussed; required posts may not.

If you are inclined to shyness in the classroom, you may also use the blog as an opportunity for participation--again, in addition to the 5 required posts and any absence posts.

  *Why a blog?
We'll be using a course blog much the same way other courses use discussion boards. The benefit of the blog format is that it is easy to follow the thread of the discussion visually. Blogging allows you to share your ideas on the material, starting from a prompt provided by the instructor. Unlike classroom discussion, which is spontaneous and sometimes fast-paced, blogging offers an opportunity for you to provide a thoughtful, articulate response.

  *What's a "substantial blog posting"?
A substantial blog posting is a short paragraph response either to the instructor prompt or to another student's posting on the topic. A substantial posting also takes into consideration the entire conversation, even if it is directed primarily toward one comment. In other words, read other people's posts before posting.

Blog discussions, like any discussions, can get off topic; that's fine, but the blog postings that count toward your requirement are those that are on-topic.

  *Do all of my postings have to be "substantial"?
Not at all. You are welcome to use the blog informally, just as in any discussion. Only substantial posts, however, will count toward the required number.

  *Can I start a new thread?
Yes, you can start a new thread. Please do so only if you feel it is a significantly different issue than that raised by the initial thread(s), just to ensure you get a good audience that isn't divided between threads.  There may be days where there is no prompt; you are welcome to start a thread on those days as well.

   *Will you tell me how many posts I have completed or that I have left to complete?
No.  *You are responsible for keeping track of your required and absence posts over the course of the semester.* I will tally them all at the end of the semester.

Schedule of readings:

1/17/17 Introduction; Romantic approaches to knowing. 
              William Blake, "Introduction" (to Songs of Innocence), "Introduction" (to Songs of Experience).
1/19/17  Blake:  "The Little Black Boy" (SOI), "The Chimney Sweeper" (SOI and SOE); "The Lamb" (SOI), "The Tyger" (SOE).

The poems (text only, without images) are available in the Erdman edition here:
--look for I. The Works in Illuminated Printing [v to open menu] Songs of Innocence and Experience
The illuminated poems (with images) are here:
To compare images, pick a 'copy' from the gallery, pick a poem from the gallery, and then choose 'Objects from the Same Matrix'.

1/24/17 Blake, "The Lamb" (SOI), "The Tyger" (SOE). See links above.
1/26/17 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Eolian Harp" http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/183957
            Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" http://www.bartleby.com/101/549.html

1/31/17 Coleridge, "Kubla Khan" with preface (poem begins with "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan" http://www.victorianweb.org/previctorian/stc/kktext.html
2/2/17   [Writing literary essays (lecture/discussion, in class)] 

2/7/17 Bram Stoker, Dracula, through Ch. VII.
2/9/17 Dracula, through Ch. XII. First draft of literary analysis due.

2/14/17 Dracula, through Ch. XX.
2/16/17 Dracula, to end.

2/21/17 Dracula, finish discussion. Visual ways of knowing. [Dracula, politics, "science," and physiognomy: slideshow in class]
2/23/17 John Szarkowski, "The Photographer's Eye." http://pages.ramapo.edu/~jlipkin/206/readings/2.the.photographers.eye.pdf Read the introduction to "The Photographer's Eye" here (you needn't answer the questions at the beginning, but we may discuss them). http://www.cabrillo.edu/~vmay/AP46a_john_szarkowski.pdf

2/28/17 Brooke Gladstone, The Influencing Machine, through p. 34  [Writing visual rhetorical analyses.]
3/2/17 Gladstone, The Influencing Machine, through p. 127. Take the Implicit association test, Harvard.

3/7/17 Gladstone, The Influencing Machine, finish.
3/9/17 Oliver Sacks, "What the Blind See." http://powers.media.mit.edu/wiki/upload/MindsEye.pdf
Visual rhetorical analysis drafts due.

3/14/17 Metaphor and mind. Lakoff & Johnson, selections from "Concepts We Live By" at  http://theliterarylink.com/metaphors.html
3/16/17 lan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams, through p. 60 ("15 May"). [Writing research papers]

3/21/17 NO CLASS; SPRING BREAK. Finish Einstein's Dreams, and if you get done, get started on Kill Decision.

3/28/17 Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams, through end.
3/30/17 [Writing day; class does not meet]

4/4/17 Technology, epistemology, ethics. Daniel Suarez, Kill Decision, through ch. 18.
4/6/17 Suarez, Kill Decision, through ch. 24.

4/11/17  Kill Decision, finish.
4/13/17 The Hive Mind: http://io9.com/how-much-longer-until-humanity-becomes-a-hive-mind-453848055
AI: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/03/elon-musk-billion-dollar-crusade-to-stop-ai-space-x
Research paper drafts due.

4/18/17 Sherri Turkle, Alone Together, Intro + Chs. 1-2. Available online through KU libraries as an ebook. (You can search through KU's catalog or try just going straight there:)
4/20/17 Sherri Turkle, Alone Together, Chs  4-6.  

4/25/17 [Movie in class: The Matrix.]
4/27/17 [Movie in class: The Matrix.]

5/2/17  [The Matrix], finish; discuss essays.
Essays. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_hypothesis
5/4/17 Finish discussion of The Matrix and essays.  Evaluations of instructor. Last day of classes.  Finish any absence posts by midnight tonight

5/9/17 (Thursday): Portfolio of writing (ALL first drafts with comments & original self-evaluation forms + final drafts) due by 4 pm in 3043 Wescoe Hall.  I will be in my office from 2-4 pm.  You may turn essays in under the door prior to that point.