Rumors fly fast around any department, and if you're enrolled (or thinking about enrolling) in one of my classes, I presume that you've gotten whatever scuttlebutt there might be on me. So let me give you some of my expectations and presuppositions for you to triangulate against that scuttlebutt.
- If you take a class from me, you will almost undoubtedly be reading in Middle English. If it is explicitly a Middle English course (an ENGL 42xx), you will be reading it outloud in class. (For lower division courses, it will be a small percentage of the class readings, but for upper division courses, it may be 100%.) We'll spend plenty of class time on reading, pronunciation, and comprehension -- and everyone will be muddling it out along with you -- but do be forewarned.
- Mine are not blow-off courses. We cover a lot of ground in my courses -- much of it arcane and/or noncanonical and/or conceptually challenging. Middle English is not amenable to being skimmed (at least, not until you've been reading it for several years). The reading tools you bring in from modern literature courses often don't work as well for medieval literature. Therefore, if you don't do the readings -- carefully, thoroughly -- and don't come to class, you'll find yourself in dire straits when it comes to understanding course material and being able to perform well on exams and essays.
- If you take one of my manuscript courses, it will probably be the most intense course you've taken. But also the most rewarding, because you'll be doing ground-level research on an ancient item that has been little studied before. Because of the course's intensity, I grade as much on effort and learning as I do on outputs. That is, I've balanced the assignments to give you credit for having worked intently with the materials, even when you run into problems and dead ends.
- I don't consider myself to be an easy grader on formal essays, but I do try to be transparent about my expectations (which you can find here) and to give constructive feedback to help strengthen your writing and your argumentation.
- To balance out the essay (and exam) grades, I also assign a fair percentage of low-stakes writing on the literature. This is an easy way to gain points and boost your grade in my classes; it's also an easy way to lose points, if you simply don't do the writing. (Ask around; you'll find it true.)
- I have no patience or sympathy for plagarism or academic fraud, intended or accidental. Most of you have been through FYC; you've all signed the UGA Honesty Code. If you plagiarize, you can expect to be caught and to be (at best) failing the class. If you fear you're crossing the line in your use of sources, ask me or another professor for help.