VUSM 160:001 Franciscan Values & Tradition (PDF Version)
“Shaking Words: Examining Franciscan Virtues through Young Adult Literature”
Fall 2011—T Th 12:30–1:50 p.m., FAC 204
S Y L L A B U S
Grant T. Smith, Ph. D.
Office Hours: MF 2-3:00 p.m.; TTh 9–11:00 a.m. or by appointment
In this seminar on Franciscan Values and Traditions, we will examine five Franciscan virtues through the lens of contemporary Young Adult Literature and the narratives of Saint Francis. I will pair the Franciscan narratives and Young Adult Literature with five Franciscan values. The award-winning books and the St. Francis narratives address the questions, challenges, and truths embedded in Viterbo University’s goal to teach hospitality, integrity, contemplation, stewardship, and service.
Course Objectives and Student Learning Outcomes
- The students will engage in critical thinking when they explicate or “close read” literary texts; when they identify formal elements such as point of view, literary language, symbolism, imagery; when they consider texts and authors in relation to historical, cultural, ideological, and theoretical contexts; when they compare what they are reading with what they have read previously; when they relate what they are reading to the wider world and to universal issues of human life.
- The students will communicate in class and in assigned writing assignments their interpretations, insights, analyses, and evaluations of the assigned literature. The students will compose original and valid written arguments, support them with sufficient evidence, organize them to convince a specific audience, and use stylistically and grammatically appropriate language to convey those ideas.
- The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their understanding of the elements of different genres of literature and how those elements function to produce meanings. The students will evaluate the lasting quality of literature from the formal and contextual elements embedded in the literature.
- The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their responses to the ethical questions and dilemmas posed in the assigned readings. Students will demonstrate the responsibility of becoming a member of a learning community by engaging constructively in class activities. Students will compare, contrast and consider applications of Franciscan core values, Viterbo core values and personal core values.
- The students will read various texts by diverse authors. The students will articulate in class and in assigned writing assignments their understanding of life values represented in different texts in relation to their own. Individual projects are designed to give the students an opportunity to move outside of their own culture and to study and interact with a new culture.
In this seminar we shall ask the following questions:
- How do I contribute to others’ care?
- How can I establish and maintain an authentic self?
- How do I recognize and emulate ethical leadership?
- How can I learn from and contribute to diverse communities?
- How can I recognize goodness?
- One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
- Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork
- Godless by Pete Hautman
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- The Lessons of St. Francis: How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality into Your Daily Life by John Michael Talbot with Steve Rabey
Easy Writer: A Pocket Reference by Andrea A. Lunsford
Students who have three or fewer absences during the semester will receive 100 points. Students who have four to six absences will receive 60 points. Any student who has more than six absences will be asked to withdraw from the course.
Students will be allowed to revise the journal entries.
Course Work Requirements:
- Writing Requirements
- Semi-weekly journal responses to readings, discussions, activities
- Two formal essays (midterm and final)
- Class Participation and Attendance
- The students’ comprehension of the texts we read through their participation in class and their journal responses.
- The students’ writing communication skills will be evaluated through their journal responses and their formal essays. Rubrics will be provided as guides for appropriate journal responses and formal essays.
- The students’ class participation will be evaluated through their oral presentations at the end of the semester. A rubric will be provided as a guide for an appropriate presentation.
I have only four requirements of you this semester. If you do all of them, you will receive an A, if you don’t, then you will receive something less than an A. The first requirement is steady attendance. If you have three or fewer unexcused absences during the semester, then you will satisfy the “A” component for attendance. If you have four or five unexcused absences, then you will satisfy the “B” component and will not receive a grade higher than AB. If you have six or more unexcused absences, then you will satisfy the “D” component and you will not receive a grade higher than C. The second requirement is an electronic journal. Please submit three responses (three-to-five typed pages) to the literature we read. Send the entry as a MICROSOFT WORD attachment to email@example.com. The responses should reflect a thoughtful and analytic reading of one or more of the texts we have read. One response should be early in the semester. The second response should be at the mid-term, and the third essay should be near the conclusion of the semester. Please submit during the final exam week an extended essay (five-to-seven pages) that includes an explication of a common theme we have discussed this semester. You should include at least two works in the analysis. You may use research in this extended essay. If you don’t keep the journal entries current, thoughtful, and clear then you may have to be satisfied with something less than an A. If the entry isn’t acceptable, I will ask you specific questions and give you a deadline for the response; and, I will direct you to descriptions of good college writing. The last requirement is to read the assigned texts. Of course you will have to read in order to write. Occasionally you will be asked to read material not on the course text list. This may seem like a lot of reading, but you are college students and you are expected to be well read! Also, you should leave Viterbo with a liberal arts education, and you can’t do that if you don’t read—a lot! And remember, you don’t have any exams or quizzes for this class!
Students in the Franciscan Traditions and Values Seminar are strongly encouraged to attend events and speakers directly related to the course.
To make this assignment experiment work, all of you will have to keep up with the syllabus because it may change from day to day. The syllabus is a narrative. I am talking to you through the syllabus, and so I want you to talk back to me and your peers.
Click here for a site on how to get an A on a formal essay. Look at this site often, especially when you are asked to write a formal essay for a journal assignment. We shall go over this rubric and others in class.
Students with Disabilities
It is the policy of Viterbo University to comply with the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act and regulations issued there in to the extent applicable to Viterbo University.
Any student who has a documented, diagnosed disability and requires specific accommodations should:
- Contact and meet with Jane Eddy, ADA Coordinator, Murphy Center 332, or call 608-796-3194
- Request a copy of the Viterbo University guidelines applying to non-discrimination on the basis of disability and the application form.
- Complete the appropriate application for accommodations.
The learning center provides services to students who have indicated that they have a disability. Special arrangements or accommodations are only provided to those students who have documentation on file that describes and certifies the disability and indicates services needed.
- Weeks One and Two: August 29, September 5 (Labor Day)
September 8: Dinner at Assisi Courtyard
What Will I Learn?
Introduction: Defining Terms
Meeting St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Rose of Viterbo
Critical Thinking Exercises
- Weeks Three and Four: September 12, 19
Unit One: Hospitality—welcoming everyone we encounter as an honored guest
Read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief Discussion Questions
Read “Hospitality in the Franciscan Tradition: A Distinctive Ethical Vision and Practice” by Rick Kyte, Ph. D.
What does it mean to be a part of a relationship? What is my role in a friendship, in a family, in a class, in a university, in a neighborhood, in a religion?
Guest Speaker: Rick Kyte, Ph. D., September 20
- Weeks Five and Six: September 26, October (Feast Day of St. Francis, October 4)
Unit Two: Integrity—striving for honesty in everything we say and do
How do I create and demonstrate trust and respect for myself and for others?
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork
Marcelo in the Real World Discussion Questions
- Weeks Seven and Eight: October 10, 17
Unit Three: Contemplation—reflecting upon the presence of God in our lives and work
What is my relationship with God? How does my perception of God define my “self”?
October 17: Gerda Weissman Klein
Read Godless by Pete Hautman
Godless Discussion Questions
- Weeks Nine and Ten: October 24, 31
Unit Four: Stewardship—practicing responsible use of all resources in our trust
What do I learn about myself and others as I move from one community to another? How do I serve other communities?
Thursday, October 27: Jean Francois Godet-Calogeras, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. FAC
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian Discussion Questions
- Weeks Eleven and Twelve: November 7, 14
Unit Five: Service—working for the common good in the spirit of humility and joy
What are my responsibilities in a world community?
Read One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
One Crazy Summer Discussion Questions
- Weeks Thirteen and Fourteen: November 21, 28 (Thanksgiving, November 23–25)
Read Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
Discussion Questions for Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Read Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Student Presentations of Final Papers
Final Exam: December 12
Friday, December 16 – 12:50–2:50 p.m., FAC 204