Here at CSUB we have two types of English majors: those who want to teach high school, and those who don't. We recognize this, and so as an English major at CSUB, you have to decide between the two paths we offer. The choices are cleverly called The Regular Bachelor's Degree Path (choose your catalog year from the list), which would prepare you for just about any career except teaching English in high school, and the English Teacher Preparation Program, or ETPP.
Both paths require completion of the same general education requirements, and both require successful completion of a minor. Although each path has its own set of English requirements (and you can view thereby clicking the pretty blue links above), you MUST complete the requirements for the Regular Degree in order to graduate. Most students who are on the ETPP track complete the Regular Degree without even trying, but you should keep track of your progress in BOTH sets of requirements.
Think of it this way: the Evaluator’s office reviews your progress according to the Regular Degree Path, but the School of Education requires additional classes that are offered in the ETPP if you want teenier the single-subject credential program immediately. Please let me reiterate that only the ETPP, and not The Regular Bachelor's Degree path, will qualify you to enter the teaching credential program without having to take any more classes in the English Department. But you must complete the Regular Degree requirements in order to graduate. Got it?
Please note that the ETPP is the new name for the "single-subject program," "the waiver program," or any other name you might have call edit before. The old single-subject program has been phased out by the California Commission on Teaching Credentials since the end of the fall quarter, 1998.
All English majors who have chosen the English Teacher Preparation Program should be aware that three options within the ETPP-- Linguistics, Journalism, and Theater -- may not provide an adequate number of classes in literature with which to complete the major requirements for the Bachelor's degree. If you choose any other option within the ETPP, such as Literature or World Literature, you will probably complete the requisite number of classes for the major requirements. If you have chosen the Linguistics, Journalism, or Theater option and are unsure whether you've enough literature classes, see your advisor in the English Department. If you want to receive your B.A. before you complete the ETPP, the Department Chair can sign your concentration outline when you have completed the ten ETPP core requirement classes (Part I).
Many classes that are not listed on the Concentration Outline (whatever your catalog year) can substitute for those that are listed. You should check with your advisor or the chair of the department if you want to substitute something. The Department will make every effort to provide substitutions when required, but be aware that certain required classes have a purpose and can't be replaced by unrelated classes. So, for example, don't get your hopes up about substituting a survey of British Literature with a class in American short stories. If you do get permission, be sure that you get a note (that's in writing) placed in your file. Then, when you get ready to graduate, the Department will have a record of your substitution, and you won't have to remind your advisor, “You know, we talked about this the day I came in wearing my favorite Korn T-shirt. ..”
The Portfolio Requirement
CSUB requires that every senior enrolled in Senior Seminar complete a composite, written presentation of what the student learned as an English major. It's called "the portfolio." The portfolio is not difficult, but there is a particular procedure for this requirement. First, go to the English Department's "Portfolio Page" and print the Mission Statement and the Portfolio Requirements. Then go to our Handbook's Handy Dandy Portfolio Guide which further explains this process, which is not bewildering and mystifying.
Because recent changes in technology have made new skills
necessary, CSUB has instituted an “information competency” requirement
that is specific to each department. Watch this space for the English Department’s
definition of information competence.
Your Faculty Advisor and You
So, you've declared yourself an English major and probably decided on a path. What do you do now? The first thing you should do is to contact your faculty advisor. If you were not assigned to a faculty advisor when you submitted your Declaration of Major form, go to the English Office (FT 202), and ask the secretary to assign you to an advisor. Make an appointment with the advisor (probably by phone) and meet as soon as possible.
When you see your advisor for the first time, bring your copy of the Cal State University Bakersfield Catalog and the current Schedule of Classes, both on sale in the Runner Bookstore. On-line versions of both exist, but you should buy your own. The schedule is less than a buck, and the catalog is $7. Because these materials are also required for English 200, I am sure you won't try to get by without owning a big catalog. You will need to refer to the course descriptions someday (for example, when you try to explain to the graduate school of your dreams that you've already taken American history, and they want to know WHICH American history, and you say, "You know. The one where the Colonists won the Revolutionary War"). Buy the current Catalog, but also make sure you have the Catalog under which you have "catalog rights:" that is the catalog which was in effect at the time you started your university work (even if you attended another Cal State school or a California Community College), provided you have not had a gap in your continuous enrollment (either one of two semesters or two of three quarters). Your requirements will be those that were in effect when you began. If you have any questions regarding which catalog determines your catalog rights, contact the Admissions Office.
Your advisor can help explain to you the general education requirements for CSUB and advise you of the general requirements for a minor, but of course, your advisor's greatest strength will be his or her knowledge of the English Department. Your advisor will NOT fill out your schedule for you, but will help you choose from among our course offerings, both upper division and lower division, the classes which may best suit your goals. (You can also check out a faculty member's particular interests and areas of expertise at the faculty homepage, which may further help you decide which courses you may be interested in taking.) After your initial meeting with your advisor, you should plan to meet again with your advisor during the pre-registration period for each term.
Success Strategies from Those Who Know
Of course, each student has particular strategies for succeeding at his or her own classes, but, let's face it, some methods are much more successful than others, and some students just seem to do better than others. Do you want to know what they know? Read and learn.
to Write an Effective Essay
First and foremost, learn to write a good essay. In every class, the professor may have certain criteria for each assignment, but a good essay is a good essay. Read the following essay, "How to Write a Successful Paper," and learn how to get started in the right direction.
To succeed as an English major, you read not only the texts assigned in each class, but you also need to consult reference books that have to do with good writing, with English, American, and world literature, the history of words, and the history of criticism and theory. Reference books should not be consulted only when you have a paper to write. They can be very helpful to you as you prepare for class as well. The most important reference book is, of course, a desk-size dictionary. If your only dictionary can fit easily into your backpack, it's too small. The Oxford Concise Dictionary is a good choice for a desk-size dictionary. Here's a short list of reference books that will be useful to you. They are almost all available in the library, and many of them are affordable in paperback editions. When you can, add these to your own personal library so you can consult them frequently.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Ed. R.E. Allen.Eighth ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990.
When you want the definitive definition of a word and you want to know how the definition may have changed over time, you should look at the multi-volume, full-sized Oxford English Dictionary.
The Oxford English Dictionary. Ed. J.A. Simpsonet al. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989- 20 vol.
Glossaries and Handbooks to literary terms:
A glossary provides a short entry or essay on key terms, such as "allegory," "sonnet," or "realism." There may be entries on periods of literature, but you won't find information here on particular authors or texts. Glossaries are organized alphabetically but sometimes group the entries by category, so consult an index at the back to understand the structure. A "handbook" usually offers somewhat more comprehensive definitions than a glossary, but it's organized on the same principles as a glossary.
The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms.Ed. Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997.
A Contemporary Guide to Literary Terms. Ed. Edwin J. Barton and Glenda A. Hudson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.
A Glossary of Literary Terms. Ed. M.H. Abrams.6th edition. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1993.
A Handbook to Literature. Ed. William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996.
Companions to Literature and Dictionaries on special
This type of reference book gives brief entries about texts, their authors, particular periods, themes, etc. It's useful if you want a quick overview. These are sometimes called "dictionaries," but the nature of the title will make it clear that they're not regular dictionaries because they give information on a particular topic, such as A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature (see below). What is listed below is merely a small sample of what is available on many, many topics.
The Oxford Companion to American Literature. Ed.James D. Hart and Phillip Leiniger. 6th ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1995.
The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Ed.Margaret Drabble. 5th ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1985.
The Blackwell Companion to the Enlightenment. John W. Yolton et al. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1991.
A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature.Ed. David Lyle Jeffrey. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992.
The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Pierre Grimal.Trans. A.R. Maxwel-Hyslop. London: Penguin Books, 1990.
The Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century World History.Ed. Jeremy Black and Roy Porter. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1994.
Encyclopedias and Guides:
These reference books are similar to companions and dictionaries on particular topics, but encyclopedias and guides give more extensive and sophisticated information.
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.Ed. Alex Preminger and T.V.F. Brogan. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1993.
Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory: Approaches,Scholars, Terms. Ed. Irena R. Makaryk. Toronto: University of TorontoPress, 1993.
The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism.Ed. Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth. Baltimore: The Johns HopkinsUniversity Press, 1994.
the Library to Your Best Advantage
As English students, you should expect to discover and use all the resources of our library. The Walter W. Stiern Library has a very helpful homepage. The page explains many of the library's resources for research available on the internet. Here you can learn about how to use the Lexis/Nexis index which provides full-text articles from major newspapers and magazines. This index is particularly helpful in researching popular topics. Accessible from the WebSpirs link is the MLA International Bibliography, an indispensable research tool for English majors. This index is easy to use (by a simple keyword search) and provides bibliographical information on articles published in scholarly journals since 1963. These are just a few of the resources available.
Using the Library to Your Best Advantage
Before you get too far on the Web, however, you should
have a look at the section below on Research Materials via
Books and Periodicals:
No matter how great the on-line resources may be, you will still need to get your hands on an actual book or journal (yes, they still make the paper kind). No matter how well-connected you are, this will require a physical trip to the actual library (it's that big building right at the front of the campus. You can't miss it). The general lay of the land can be found on the library's Resources and Services Locations site. Generally, literature books and books about literature are on the fourth floor (also the floor with the best view). All the journals are on the second floor, including those on microfilm. Our library has many journals and periodicals, a list of which can be found on the second floor of the library near the help desk, but our collection may not hold what you are seeking. In that case, you will need to have library materials delivered to CSUB from another library via the Document Delivery service.
After you know what resources you need that are not owned by CSUB, request specific materials from Document Delivery either by filling out the appropriate form at the walk-up window next to the circulation desk in the library, or by using their handy request form function of their website. Once at their site, follow the instructions to submit the form. Whether you make your request in person or on-line, periodicals and books require different forms, so choose wisely. If you have not submitted your form to a live human, you should follow up in person a day or two later to make sure your request was understood and to get an approximate response time and fee for your request.
The best resource any library has to offer is real live librarians, and we've got those, too. You can find a reference librarian on the first floor near the computers. He or she can help you with research questions.
Few Words About Connecting From Home
The library's online resources are accessible from your home computer with a little configuring. The Student Help Desk offers assistance in this regard, as well as advice on email and all things technical. Check them out at the link above or see them live and in person in the basement of the library.
Your Free E-mail Account
For this class, internet access is a must. Obviously, you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't a "connected individual," but you will need to know how to do more than read. You will need to use e-mail to contact the instructor, comment on class discussions and do some of the assignments.
Recently, CSUB has instituted its own free web-based e-mailsystem called "RunnerMail." Unlike the previous Academic VAX accounts which were difficult to get and use, RunnerMail is a piece of cake -- and you already have an account. The greatest thing about the new system is that you can access your account from any computer with an internet connection (just like Hotmail). Simply type in the URL "runner.csubak.edu" and press return. You'll be looking at the login page for RunnerMail. Your user name is the first initial and your last name, all lowercase and run together like this: jsmith. Your password is your social security number; all numbers without spaces or dashes. Press "login" and you're in! Your address is your user name followed by "@runner.csub.edu." You can check your messages or write new ones from the computers on campus, your desk at work, or your home. You can even check your Runner account from your grandma's house (Grandma! What a big monitor you have!) They have an information site which can help you with your login. From there you can visit their help site which explains the various features of RunnerMail. The only drawback to this system is that faculty are not currently provided with accounts. Most instructors use FirstClass addresses (firstname.lastname @firstclass1.csubak.edu),CSU addresses (first initial lastname.@csubak.edu) or some other form of e-mail. Some, as you may have discovered, are not e-mail friendly at all. Talk to them directly.
Research Materials via the Internet
Why go to the library at all since there’s all this great stuff on the Internet? Sure, it’s tempting to believe that you can sit at home in your favorite bathrobe, cruising the Internet to find whatever research materials you might need for a school assignment. Let’s think about that fantasy for a moment.
The nature of the Internet:
Communication “networks” are as old as human civilization. Every culture has found ways of keeping its various locations linked, whether it be with fire signals, postal stations, relayed bangs on a series of drums, taps on a telegraph system, etc. The Internet is phenomenal for the rapidity with which it can link geographically separated portions of the world and for the range of materials offered in various web sites. It gives us the appearance of being in constant and instantaneous touch with each other. An astonishing number of web pages are added everyday through a series of links. No one really knows the extent of this yet because the Internet is simply growing too fast to watch its growth accurately. Wow!
The Internet gives the appearance of having everything we might need, especially when it comes to research materials. But does it? How do we find information on the Internet, and what should happen when we do? We should perform three actions when we use the web: retrieve information, evaluate it, and apply it to your research-based analysis.
"Search engines" are software programs that analyze the contents of millions and millions of sites and bring you their URL addresses when you type in a key word, such as “Jane Austen” or “grammar” or “snowboard. ”Not all search engines are equally powerful or accurate. To explain why, we would have to get into technical stuff like how a web page is marked by its creator for access and how it’s analyzed by a search program. Just keep in mind that there are many ways to search, and the information you want may be accessed in several different ways. Often the biggest problem in a search is that you retrieve all kinds of links to sites you don’t want, and you have to sort out which ones really interest you. One search engine that is usually powerful and easy to direct with key words is www.google.com.
Have you noticed that when you go anywhere on the Internet, advertising pops up on almost every page? Keep in mind that lots of companies are paying to get that “information” onto your screen. What’s even more important is the source of the information posted on the site. Who put it there? What motivated the creation of this site? Anyone can put anything on the web for any reason. And sometimes people make sites look pretty attractive that are in fact quite untrustworthy. By contrast, materials in the library are there because a librarian, after getting a B.A. or B.S., went for several years to Library School, where he or she learned to recognize useful and trustworthy information. After all that training, your librarian decided that a particular book or journal belonged in our collections. Think of what would happen if the Library invited anyone who had anything “interesting” to bring it into the Library and put it anywhere on the shelves. What a tumble!
Evaluation of dangerous sites:
These sites don’t bite or crash your computer, but they could mislead you into accepting the information they offer as reliable. There are several kinds of such sites. “Malicious counterfeit sites” intentionally try to mislead you by accepting their information as true. “Parody or spoof sites” make jokes at the expense of established companies or well known sites; these are pretty easy to spot. Advertising sites may masquerade as “straight” informative sites, but they are devoted to selling you a product (and information, especially medical or legal, can be considered a product here). Modified sites, also called “hacked sites,” may have started out as legitimate, but hackers got in there and changed information around or substituted information for what was originally intended. (Piper 1-2)
Evaluate what sites you’ve found by using common sense (which is, after all, uncommon, especially when you’re on the Internet looking for materials the night before your paper is due). Read carefully. Is the information biased? What is the purpose of the site? What is the source of the information: does the address indicate that a government agency or an institution such as a university maintains the site? Even this can be misleading, so think about what you find.
One useful site, “Virtual Salt: Evaluating Internet Research Sources,” suggests you use the CARS checklist: think about Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support. Check out this useful discussion at http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm.You could also have a look at the very helpful “Evaluating Web Sites: Tools and Criteria” on the Cornell University Library site: http://www.library.cornell.edu/okureg/webreview.htm.
Consult a guide to using the internet for more suggestions on evaluation. If you have a question about the information you find, ask your professor or your librarian. There are sites to help you evaluate sites. (It just never ends, does it?) For example, The Resource Discover Network, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee, maintains a site of virtual training resources. You can quickly work through a tutorial on researching a particular subject on the Internet. Go ahead, try the tutorial for researching in English at http://www.vts.rdn.ac.uk.
Have a look at sites like “The Voice of the Shuttle, WebPage for Humanities Research,” found at http://www.qub.ac.uk/english/humanities_home.html.You’ll get lots of good suggestions, and there’s even an introduction to the web.
Here are a few examples of misleading or fake sites that should amuse you (now that you know their nature), but check out how easy it would be to tumble into these sites and to accept them as useful or completely reliable (Piper 1-5).
This looks helpful when it first comes up, and you know that if you search on “Martin Luther King,” you will probably get links to this site. But as you get move around in the site, some of the “facts ”should make you think the site is highly biased. In fact, this site was created by the white supremacist, racist group Storm Front, and it is designed to discredit King and the Civil Rights movement.
Here is “politically alternative information to the mission and accomplishments of the World Bank” (Piper 3). It’s an amusing parody site, and you can figure that out quickly.
This site “is an example of information that represents an extreme minority view but is not necessarily malicious” (Piper 4). This group, which may be well meaning, claims that there is no connection between the HIV virus and AIDS, and that people are dying, not from AIDS, but from the anti-viral drugs given to them for a non-existent illness. Almost all of the evidence about this world-wide health crisis contradicts the claims of this group. They are entitled, of course, to have their say, but what if you were researching this topic and you accepted this position as the majority view?
It’s easy to think that you’ve found all this great information, and it’s now just a matter of dropping it into the paper or report you’re writing. But quality counts more than quantity. Using the Internet is not a scavenger hunt although it can feel like that as you are happily following links from site to site. Instead, ask yourself what exactly have you found? Is it enough for your argument? Is the information overwhelming your interpretation?
I know it’s bad news, but not all the information currently in the world is available on the Internet. You may still have to go to the library, or at least link into various reference sources, some of which may not be complete through the web.
Check out the Homepage of our library for some great reference materials on all kinds of subjects: http://www.lib.csub.edu/ref/refsources.html.These will help you get started in an intelligent search.
Treat any information found anywhere, the Internet, the library, or wherever, as the intellectual property it is. You must cite your sources, or you will be guilty of plagiarism. Many current guides to research papers give you guidelines on how to cite web pages. It’s not hard to learn.
Keating, Anne B. and Joseph Hargitai. The Wired Professor:A
Guide to Incorporating
the WorldWideWeb in College Instruction. New York:
New York University Press, 1999.
Piper, Paul S. “Better Read That Again: Web Hoaxes &
Dialogue: A Forum for the Discusson of Teaching, Learning, and
Assessment 7 (2001): 1-6.
|Return to Homepage||Return to Top||Next Page|