Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Newspapers: class description

Newspapers course -- guide for students

Official name of the course: «Основы реферирования текстов СМИ»
Instructors: Johan and Judy Maurer


In this course, you will encounter texts in Russian and English, in written and audio and video form. You will learn to summarize and analyze these texts. Specifically, you will learn these competencies:

  1. Communicate in your own words the substance (“gist”) of the whole text, and of its individual paragraphs or major subdivisions, at a level of English that can be readily understood by a consumer of such texts in an English-speaking country
  2. Analyze the text for the following characteristics:
    1. Intended audience
    2. Intended benefit, service, or effect (e.g., informational, journalistic, analytic, persuasive, entertaining, educational)
    3. Viewpoint and voice (in whose name is the text published? is it personal, organizational, academic/objective? does it represent a specific rhetorical or interpretive tradition?)
    4. Register (official, formal, professional/operational, literary, informal, conversational, cryptic)
  3. Assess the adequacy of the text in meeting its own evident goals
  4. Apply relevant skills from your other Institute coursework to the text.

Class structure:

(subject to change, especially for guest presenters and other unusual events):

  1. Discussions of reading diaries (bring your summaries and recommendations to class, or use the online diary form)
  2. Student presentations based on homework and Reading Diaries
    1. Name of the assigned text, source, author if known
    2. Substance of the contents
    3. Structure of the text (is it stand-alone or part of a package? are there subheads, pull-quotes, photographs, captions, sidebars, links to related resources?)
    4. Paragraph-by-paragraph (or subdivision-by-subdivision) summaries (not translation but “perceptive paraphrase”)
    5. Your personal commentary
    6. Questions from the instructors based on the list of competencies above.
  3. Texts provided during the class, followed by presentations and class comments
  4. Open discussions of emerging themes from homework and class texts
  5. Teacher’s choice: additional material in a lighter vein
  6. Assignment of new homework.

Class expectations:

    1. Please be sure your  English-language Reading Diary is up to date (two items each week, varying the topics from week to week -- songs, articles, videos, films, books, individual chapters of books, etc.)
    2. Complete your homework
    1. The class is conducted in English
    2. All mobile phones and similar devices MUST NOT RING or disturb the class, and must not be used for chatting (but students may access dictionaries)
    3. Remember these cardinal rules: BE KIND and TRY
    4. Of course, the general rules and regulations of the Institute all apply here, too
  3. IN GENERAL: Never represent someone else’s work as your own. Plagiarism is prohibited by New Humanities Institute’s policies and by the rules of journalistic ethics. Use the rules and conventions of attributing others’ work. Please check with the instructor in any case of uncertainty.

This course depends for much of its content on the Internet, which is a major source for texts -- both for student reading and exploration, and for homework assignments. The Internet is used for these purposes:

  1. Delivery of course content, via e-mail and the blog (use this link to find items specifically for this course:
  2. Consultation between students and instructor between class sessions
  3. Information bulletins in case of unexpected events (emergencies, class cancellations, special events)

If Internet access is difficult for you, please notify the instructors so that any necessary arrangements can be made.

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