Course Overview (Syllabus):

RLC 111 - Spring, 1996-97

Kenneth Dowst 953-8922 (home)
email: kdowst (

Class Web page:

Class times:

Section 19253 - T,Th 1:30-2:45 - Auerbach 425
Section 19256 - T,Th 2:55-4:10 - Auerbach 426

Office hours:

204B Auerbach: Tue 12:45-1:30; Thu 4:10-4:45; and by appointment

Primary texts:

Photocopied writing, including your own. Some of these handouts will be given out by me, some made and distributed by you, some put on reserve in the library. (Make a photocopy of the last, so you can keep and mark up a copy.)

Required supplementary text and supplies:

Writing requirements:

Format requirements for all papers:

Other requirements:


Occasionally you may be required to revise a paper after you have submitted it to me and I have returned it. If you wish voluntarily to rewrite a paper you're not satisfied with, ask me: I'll allow that in many cases.


All written work will be assigned a grade of some sort. Final grades will be based on your short papers (30%), three long papers (40%), and class participation, including quizzes and participation in small-group activities (30%).

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Course overview:

RLC 111 is a course in doing scholarly research. In addition to covering the predictable areas (e.g., the library's resources), it will explore such interesting areas as interviewing, using the Internet, and working collaboratively. A significant part of your work will be done on the Internet.

All sections of 111 have three main parts:

  1. "Shared Experiences and Texts"
  2. "Community and Library Research"
  3. "The Big Picture"

Each instructor is required to choose a single major subject for students to investigate throughout the semester. The subject I have chosen is guns.

Within this large subject, you have quite a bit of freedom to choose the specific topics you will explore: gun control laws, guns and crime, the depiction of guns and shooting on TV or in the movies, gun design, crime involving guns, the marketing of guns, the causes and possible cures of "gun violence," the meaning of the Second Amendment, and the propaganda techniques used by the pro- and anti-gun forces--to suggest only the first 9 topics to pop into my head.

There is no "Party line," in this course, no particular attitude towards guns I wish you to adopt. What I care about--what the course is really about--is your scholarly pursuit of truth(s), your ability to respond sympathetically and intelligently to differing perspectives, your practice of sound and creative research techniques, and your success in composing written language that makes good and persuasive sense out of your experiences.

Who should not be here?

If you have very strong personal feelings about firearms or a passionate commitment to either side of the "gun control" debate, then you should transfer to a different section of RLC 111. Truth is complex, and success in this course depends on your willingness to adopt multiple perspectives and to move beyond simple certainties.

You should also transfer if you find the general subject of firearms irredeemably uninteresting, as you'll be investigating this subject all semester.

If you have no problems with the subject but you dislike using computers and the Internet, you might as well stay and resign yourself to learning some new skills that will serve you well for at least the next three and a half years.

[Last revised: 1-16-97]

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