English 1900f: Introduction to English Language and Literature (Fall 2013)

This is a preliminary syllabus. It is subject to change before the last day of the Add/Drop period.

About this course

English 1900 is the introductory course in our department. It is a prerequisite for all higher level courses.

The purpose of English 1900 is to introduce students to the study of literature and to provide opportunity to practice analytical reading, thinking, and writing about texts.

This section of English 1900 will focus particularly on discovery and communication: uncovering our (often unrealised) critical responses to texts and developing these into compelling and interesting arguments.

Times and location

  • Time: Tues/Thurs, 16:30-17:45
  • Location: W561

Office and Office Hours (Subject to change)

My office is room B810B. My telephone numbers, a map, and other contact information are available on my Contact page.

Mon 13:30-14:30
Tues [By appointment 1900f Appointment
Wed 11:00-12:00
Thur 12:05-13:30
Fri 14:30-15:30

Detailed description

English 1900 is the required introductory course in the department. The calendar description is as follows:

An introduction to the study of English language and literature, involving an exploration of various genres of literature and non-literary texts and requiring a series of critical assignments designed to encourage analytical reading, thinking and writing.

Within this broad rubric instructors are free to set their own themes and texts. In this section, our focus will be on discovery and communication: uncovering our (often unrealised) critical responses to texts and developing these into compelling and interesting conversations with others. These are essential skills in literary studies and the humanities more generally. Their acquisition is the principal goal of a humanities education.

We will be taking a constructivist approach to practising these skills. Students will be largely responsible for the direction of class content, within the framework sketched out in the class schedule below. The class will consist almost entirely of in-class discussion, with our topics for discussion being determined for the most part by student interests as reflected in weekly blogging assignments.

The section will also expose students to a variety of different communication contexts. In addition to their weekly blogs, students will also write two “unessays” (free-form writing in which the only requirement is that you develop and communicate your ideas in a compelling fashion), one formal essay (an essay in which you will be graded on both the quality of your ideas and ability to communicate and more formal aspects of style, citation format, and the like), blog responses, reviews, and a final exam.

Learning goals

By the end of the course students should have an understanding of the conventions, processes, and skills required for University-level literary research. This involves the ability to

  • recognise and develop appropriate and original literary topics and arguments
  • identify and marshal appropriate supporting evidence from primary and secondary sources
  • accommodate, modify, or refute arguments and evidence of others in students’ own work
  • present research and arguments in a variety of standard formats including essays and class discussion
  • help themselves and others improve their work through the revision process.

Texts

  • Auburn, David. Proof. Dramatist’s Play Service (January 2002) 978-0822217824
  • Carson, Anne. The Beauty of the Husband. Vintage. 978-0375707575
  • Homer. The Odyssey. Lattimore transl. ISBN 0374525749
  • Sawai, Gloria. “The Day I Sat with Jesus on the Sundeck and a Wind Came Up and Blew My Kimono Open and He Saw My Breasts.” 277-296. A Song for Nettie Johnson. Regina: Coteau (handout).
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (O’Donoghue transl.). ISBN 0140424539
  • Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. ISBN 0679785892
  • Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. ISBN 0156907399

Notes:

  1. all texts are required;
  2. to assist you in finding the specific copies we will be using, I have provided ISBN information for the books you are required to purchase. The format used in this list is not the same as that required for the works cited list for your formal essay.

Assessment (Subject to change)

The evaluation scheme presented here should be considered tentative and open to change until the beginning of the last class before the Add/Drop deadline.

Assignment Value
Attendance 5%
Quizzes and participation 5%
Essay/unessay drafts 5%
Responses on student drafts 5%
Blogs 15%
Best essay/unessay 20%
Other two essays/unessays 20% (10% each)
Final exam 25%

Grade scale

In my classes, I use two grading scales: one for formative work, the other for summative.

Formative grade scale

Formative work is usually graded on a pass/fail (100/0) basis. I may also supply a letter grade to give you a finer sense of how you did, but this grade generally does not contribute to your grade. I reserve the right to award a bonus to work that significantly exceeds expectations.

Summative grade scale

  Excellent Good Satisfactory Poor Minimal pass Failing
Letter A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D F
Percent range 100-94 93-90 89-86 85-82 81-78 77-74 73-70 69-66 65-62 61-58 57-50 49-0
Conventional value 100 92 88 84 80 76 72 68 64 60 56 49-0
Grade point 4.0 3.7 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.3 1.0 0

I use this table in different ways depending on the nature of the work.

  • For tests of specific skills or knowledge (such as identification questions in literature classes, or fact-oriented tests in grammar and language classes), I usually assign a numeric score, which is easily converted to a percentage.
  • For essays, presentations, and other qualitatively evaluated work, I usually grade by letter. This is then converted to a percentage using the third row (“Conventional value”). Thus a letter grade of “A,” for example, will be converted to 92% for purposes of calculation. A letter grade of “D+” will be converted to 60%. A grade of “F” is assigned an arbitrary percentage based on my sense of your performance. Usually this is a common fraction (e.g. 40%, 33.4%, 25%, 10%).

In marking work I try to keep the University’s official description of these grades in mind (a description can be found in the University Calendar, Part IV.3.a). If you get an A it means I think your work is excellent; a B means I think your work is good; a C means I think it is satisfactory; a D that I think it is barely acceptable (minimal pass); and an F that I think it is failing to meet University-level standards.

Submitting Work

Tests, Exams, and Quizzes

Tests and Exams will be written in the University’s Testing Centre on Moodle. Quizzes may be presented in class on Moodle.

Essays and Reports

Essays and reports will normally be collected using Turnitin. Information on our account (URL, ID number, and Password) will be made available in our class space on Moodle: http://moodle.uleth.ca/

Class schedule (Subject to change)

Week Date Topic Assignment
1 Tue. 3/9 No class
Thur. 5/9 Introduction and syllabus
Blogs and unessays
 
2 Tue. 10/9 Sign in to Moodle, update your profile page, and try a test blog
Create an account using your uleth email address at http://www.turnitin.com/
Sawai, “The day I sat with Jesus…” Blog: All students (due midnight before class)
Last day to add/drop
Thur. 12/9 O’Connor, “A good man is hard to find” Blog: All students (due midnight before class)
3 Tue. 17/9 Blog audit Read all class blogs before class, commenting where appropriate
Thur. 19/9 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Blog: Last names A-K (due midnight before class)
4 Tue. 24/9 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Blog: Last names L-Z (due midnight before class)
Thur. 26/9 Blog Audit and Unessay Q&A Read all class blogs before class, commenting where appropriate
5 Sunday 29/9 Unessay 1 draft due (midnight)
Tue. 1/10 Unessay Audit Read assigned essays before class
Wed. 2/10 Unessay responses due (before midnight)
Thur. 3/10 Unessay revision discussion  
6 Sunday 6/10 Unessay 1 due (before midnight)
Tue. 8/10 Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Blog: Last names L-Z (due midnight before class)
Thur. 10/10 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Blog: Last Names A-K (due midnight before class)
7 Tue. 15/10 Woolf, To the Lighthouse Blog: Last Names A-K (due midnight before class)
Thur.17/10 To the Lighthouse Blog: Last Names L-Z (due midnight before class)
8 Tue. 22/10 To the Lighthouse Blog: Last Names L-Z (due midnight before class)
Thur. 24/10 Instructor absence
9 Sunday 27/10 Unessay 2 due (before midnight)
Tue. 29/10 Carson, The Beauty of the Husband Blog: Last Names A-K (due midnight before class)
Thur. 31/10 Carson, The Beauty of the Husband Blog: Last Names L-Z (due midnight before class)
10 Tue. 5/11 Homer, The Odyssey. Introduction and Books 1-8 Blog: Last Names L-Z (due midnight before class)
Thur. 7/11 Homer, The Odyssey. Books 9-16. Blog: Last Names A-K (due midnight before class)
11 Tue. 12/11 Homer, The Odyssey. Books 17-end. Blog: Last Names A-K (due midnight before class)
Thur. 14/11 Unessay review/essay discussion  
12 Tue. 19/11 Auburn, Proof Blog: Last Names L-Z (due midnight before class)
Thur. 21/11 Proof Blog: Last Names A-K (due midnight before class)
13 Sunday 24/11 Formal essay draft due (midnight)
Tue. 26/11 Formal essay style and citation Q&A session Read assigned essays before class
Wed. 27/11 Responses due (before midnight)
Thur. 28/11 Formal essay discussion  
14 Tue. 3/12 Editing discussion Blog: All students (due midnight before class)
Thur. 5/12 Conclusion and catchup
Sunday 8/12 Formal essay due (midnight)
Exam Exam Period Final Exam (Moodle)

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