ASHA 321 | Representation | Fall 2012

Arts & Science Honours Academy  ::  Faculty of Arts  ::  University of Calgary
Instructor: Dr Michael Ullyot
Office: Social Sciences 1106
Email: ullyot[at]ucalgary[dot]ca
Google+: my profile
Twitter: @ullyot (i.e.
Office hours: By appointment (e-mail)

~ Course blog ~

Description and Goals

To recognize an object as a representation is to see it as more than itself; we connect it to other objects in some system that gives it meaning. But do meaningful systems come from the objects themselves, from the observer, or from some agent who precedes them both?

One answer might be that it depends on whether the object is natural or artificial. There are representations throughout the observable world — or in “all objects of all thought,” as the Romantic poet William Wordsworth writes. His account of how we sense these objects blurs this distinction between natural and artificial. Wordsworth describes his sense perceptions of nature as “half creat[ing]” and half perceiving their natural objects, writing as

A lover of … all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, — both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, …

In ASHA 321 we will first consider how “the language of the sense” influences our perceptions, and how half-seeing and half-creating gives meaning to various representations. Time is the common theme of the representations we will examine — or how time manifests in natural history, cosmic history, and human history.


  • Darwin, On the Origin of Species, ed. Bynum (Penguin: 2009)
  • Byatt, Possession: A Romance (Vintage: 1991)

You must use these particular editions of both books. They should be available at the UofC Bookstore, but try to find used copies, or order the same editions with free shipping from [No, I derive no financial benefit from sending you to either site.]

Reading Schedule

Click here.


Presentation: Proposal 10%

Presentation: Delivery 10%

Participation 15%

Unessay 30%

Research Paper 35%

All components are compulsory. No student can achieve a passing grade in the course without completing and submitting both the Unessay and the Research Paper.

Each component is graded out of 10 or 100 marks. Here are the percentage equivalents in the university’s official grading system.

0 + % A+ 4.0
85 ““ 89 % A 4.0
80 ““ 84 % A”“ 3.7
77 ““ 79 % B+ 3.3
74 ““ 76 % B 3.0
70 ““ 73 % B”“ 2.7
67 ““ 69 % C+ 2.3
64 ““ 66 % C 2.0
60 ““ 63 % C”“ 1.7
55 ““ 59 % D+ 1.3
50 ““ 54 % D 1.0
0 ““ 49 % F 0

Presentation (10 + 10%)

The aim of your presentations is to interpret the readings and other resources. Your interpretation should focus on any of the core concepts of ASHA 321: representations of time; sense perceptions; Wordsworth’s dichotomy of seeing and creating; the interplay of art and science, imagination and materiality, and so on.

Your presentation can take one of two forms: either a PetchaKucha (6 minutes, 40 seconds) or a more traditional 10-minute presentation without any visual slides. (So if you plan to use visual images, you must opt for the PetchaKulcha format.) Both will pertain to one of the written texts we are reading in the course. I will circulate a sign-up sheet in advance.

  • For the PetchaKucha, you will use 20 images to make a compelling argument. Your images should be, in the words of this format’s inventors, “a box of chocolates.” The images will advance automatically after 20 seconds (thus you have just 6 minutes and 40 seconds).
    • If you opt to present it live, in class, I strongly advise you to rehearse your talk a few times.
    • If you’d prefer to record your presentation in advance (a narrated slideshow), that’s fine. We’ll play it in class.
  • For the 10-minute presentation, you will deliver a thoughtful and well-prepared presentation. Do not simply tell a story: develop an argument about any aspect of the prescribed topic. Think of it as an undergraduate lecture; each presentation subject focuses on the text’s relation to other texts or to its culture, which would be appropriate topics for an introductory lecture.

Two days before your presentation, post a written summary (750-word maximum) to the course blog for your fellow students to read in advance. It is worth 10% of your grade in the course.

This document is not a contract, but it should frame some of the key ideas you’ll cover in your presentation, and serve as a frame for discussion. The summary should tell us a few things:

  • the core concepts (see above) on which you’ll focus, and how they arise in your text/resource;
  • the format (PechaKucha or traditional) you’ll follow;
  • any outside resources you’ll use to make your argument;
  • one or more provocative discussion questions you’ll raise.

After your presentation, lead a class discussion and address your colleagues’ questions. (I will not speak first.) You may find it helpful to conclude your presentation with a few topics for this discussion.

Two students will also serve as Respondents to your presentation. Each will offer substantive feedback on your presentation and your written summary, and ask a question or two.

Your 10% for the presentation will reflect your performance in the delivery, and your moderation of the following discussion. I will circulate a rubric in advance.

Participation (15%)

Your participation grade depends on three things: (1) your active and regular attendance in our seminars; (2) your informed and engaged participation in discussions in those seminars. That means you come to the seminar regularly, always prepared to discuss the day’s reading(s) with your peers. You have impressions and questions about the texts. When you serve as a (formal) Respondent to a presentation, you are prepared to engage with it substantively. Finally: At various points in the course, you also (3) post at least 10 comments to the course blog on your colleagues’ presentation summaries. See the bottom of this page for my grading rubric for blog comments.

Persistently silent students are often highly intelligent and perceptive, but simply prefer not to speak in class. To avoid my presuming any less of you, you have a few alternate means of communication:

  1. Post entries and comments on the course blog (i.e. beyond the required minimum). These can be about anything related to the course, or topics we discuss in class.
  2. Post readings/resources and write comments on our Google+ circle.
  3. E-mail me directly with your thoughts and questions about anything course-related.

Don’t wait for the final week of the course, when panic about your participation grade sets in. (Of course, you can contact me about anything to do with the course no matter how often you speak in class or tutorial.)

Unessay (30%)

See here for details.

Research Paper (35%)

See here for details.


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Academic Integrity & Principles of Conduct

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See here for a detailed list.