albeit 1.2: Failure: Syllabus

Natalie Leppard

Week 1: An Introduction to Failure

Reading:

Writing:

  • Most of our focus is on “successes.” Why focus on failure? Why celebrate failure? Could we count a failure as a success?

 

 

Week 2: Personal Connections

Reading:

Viewing:

Writing:

  • Consider a time when you have failed. Tell the story and if you learned anything from the failure.

 

 

Week 3: Defining Failure

Reading:

  • Have students find definitions of failure from dictionaries, essays, self-help gurus, random people on the street, etc. Compare and contrast in class.

Viewing:

Writing:

  • What is failure? How do we define failure as a society? On a personal level? How do people try to alter definitions of failure to suit their goals?

 

 

Week 4: Intentional Failures

Reading:

Viewing:

  • Dune (1984)
  • Eraserhead (1977)
  • [Note: The Room and Pink Flamingos may e too graphic for classroom viewing.]

Writing:

  • Compare and contrast an “intentional failure” movie with either an “unintentional failure” movie or a successful movie.

 

 

Week 5: Failures of Translation

Reading:

Listening:

Writing:

  • Consider Nightwood as a text. Is it difficult to understand? Do you consider the text a failure or a success (or somewhere in the middle)? Back up your opinions with textual evidence and critical reviews.

 

 

Week 6: Failure of Historical Context

Reading:

 Viewing:

 Writing:

  • Choose one scene from Knightriders that you consider problematic and “fix” it. You might rewrite lines, ad dialogue, recast characters, change the setting, etc. Explain what you changed, why you changed it, and how the changes make the scene better.

 

 

Week 7: Philosophy of Failure

Reading:

Viewing:

Writing:

  • Choose another philosophical tradition, or a specific philosopher, and summarize the position on failure.

 

 

Week 8: Dystopias

 Reading:

Viewing:

Writing:

  • Are dystopias failed societies?

 

 

Week 9: Dystopias

Reading:

Viewing:

  • Film adaptation(s) of the novel(s) chosen

Writing:

  • Create your own dystopia.

 

 

Week 10: Quick Dismissals

Reading:

Writing:

  • Write two brief introductions to your favorite book or movie. One should praise the text unequivocally. The other should consider the text a failure. Write a brief exploration of the benefits and consequences of each approach and then write a more balanced introduction that considers both the successes and the failures of the text.

 

 

Week 11: “Guilty Pleasures”

Reading:

Viewing & Listening:

  • Films and music from the reading

Writing:

  • What are your “guilty pleasure” books, film, or music? What makes something a guilty pleasure? Do the texts actually make you feel guilty? Should we feel guilty?

 

 

Week 12: Famous Failures

Reading:

Writing:

  • How do our definitions of failure change over time? What made these authors “failures” during their lives but successes after death?

 

 

Week 13: Famous Failures

Reading:

 Writing:

  • We have considered failure all term. Now consider success. Is it the opposite of failure? What is required for something to be a success?

 

Week 14: Failure Playlist

Reading:

Writing:

  • Compose your own “failure playlist.” Consider carefully what a “failure playlist” includes for you. Is it failed music? Music that is so bad it’s good? Music that gets you through a failure? Music about failure?

 

Week 15: Writing Classroom Failures

Reading:

Writing:

  • Consider and rewrite your essay from week 1. Also consider what you’ve learned about failure this term.