Rules and Norms

These are the rules for Scott’s classes.

• Attendance. Attendance is expected at all class meetings. I will not take attendance, you can bet that I will notice if you don’t come, or if you routinely show up late. If I do notice, I will not look upon it kindly. Failing to come to class is a surefire way to attract the annoyance and ire of your professors. As with a great many aspects of in life in school (and “in the real world”), you get no credit for showing up. And while you aren’t explicitly penalized for failing to show up, the penalty sure comes. tl;dr: come to every class, on time.

• Intensity. We will be dealing with some very difficult material this semester. I don’t mean conceptually difficult (that’s the next point), but violent, including sexually violent. The Sluts includes, among other things, graphic descriptions of gay snuff pornography. I will offer what we have come to know “trigger warnings” when material will be especially difficult or violent. (I think of it as simple common courtesy.) That said, you are responsible for all course material, no matter how difficult it is. You are also responsible for dealing with the material—and your and other students’ reactions to it—in a reasonably adult manner when talking and writing about it. We will have process discussions about such difficult material when it arises.

• Collegiality. We will be dealing with conceptually challenging material this semester. It will come to some of you more easily than others. Some of you have more preparation in “theory” than others, and I understand that. Please treat your colleagues, and their opinions, experiences, and even (especially) their ignorance, with the care and respect they deserve. We are all here to learn, so please also be considerate of the project of learning: do not shame other students, and before you offer an argument or opinion or (especially) your personal reaction, ask yourself what you would like to teach the class with, about, or by it. (It will never go amiss if you actually tell us what you’d like to teach the class when you share a reaction.) Also: it’s really okay to be oppositional and argumentative, but please be sure that your opposition and argument are pedagogical.

• Questions (and stupidity). Contrary to popular cliché, there are such things as stupid questions. But we all do ask them, sometimes. And that’s OK! I aim for an atmosphere where even stupid questions—and stupid statements—are treated with respect, and where everybody feels licensed to say anything. If somebody (including me!) says something obviously wrong, or airheaded, or clumsy, or whatever—it is right and appropriate to say something non-judgmentally corrective. That’s actually the hard thing: correcting or disagreeing with somebody in a manner that is both intellectually rigorous and not judgmental. It’s hard, but necessary, and expected, and generalizable.

• Meetings with faculty. I want to stress this as emphatically as I know how: your faculty are a resource to you not only during class time but also during office hours. In this case, if you can’t make my regular office hours, email me to make an appointment to meet sometime when you can. If, outside of class time, it is onerous to you to make it to campus, I will consider arranging phone or Skype meetings (this is why I have regular Skype office hours). I am requiring you all to meet with me at least once, but I promise you that meeting with me outside of class will improve your performance in and enjoyment of the course.

• Formalities. Please call me Scott. If it makes you more comfortable, you may address me as Professor or Dr. Richmond. In no circumstance am I Mr. Richmond (“I didn’t spend six years in evil graduate school to be called Mr. Evil!”) or, simply, Professor. If you address me only as professor, I will respond in kind, calling you “Student.” Please also write emails to me in polite form, with a salutation, complete English sentences, etc. These do not have to be especially formal, but they do have to meet basic professional standards. I will helpfully (and hopefully in a non-shaming way) point out when your email etiquette goes awry.

• Email. As a general rule, I try to respond to emails that I deem response-worthy within 24 hours; you have the right to one within 48 hours. (Unlike some professors, however, I occasionally take weekends, so if you email me on Friday afternoon, you may not get a response until the end of the day on Monday. The same goes for when I’m away at conferences.)

The bar for response-worthy emails is fairly high with me; e.g. I will not respond to emails telling me that you will miss class, unless you ask more or less pointed questions. Pointed questions do not include “what did I miss, and how can I make it up?” The answer to that question always this: make sure you did the reading carefully and closely; make sure you have read all the blog posts and comments; make sure you contact your fellow students asking them to tell you what happened; then, if you still have questions or would like to talk about the material, come see me in office hours.

Generally speaking, and especially if it’s a time-sensitive matter, if I take longer than I outline here, you are well within polite expectation—are even encouraged—to send a nudging email reminding me I owe you something after the usual window.

• Plagiarism and academic dishonesty. There’s a section on this below, but this is important stuff: I do not tolerate plagiarism or academic dishonesty. Not even a little bit, of any kind. I should not have to say this, and you should not have to hear me say this. But: no matter how seemingly insignificant, any plagiarism (or other academic dishonesty) of any kind at any point in the course will result in the following: (a) a failing grade for the course, and (b) I will report you to the department. This is serious business. Even—especially—given that most of our writing will be bloggy. The rules may seem a bit different given the more casual style of writing on blogs, although I assure you the principle is the same: do not represent somebody else’s thought or writing as your own, under any circumstances. Links often take the place of proper citations, but you’ll also write regular citations. Please email me if you have any questions at all about any of this. Embarrassment really is the lesser of two evils here.