Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2018/2019

ENGL 220: Writing About Literature

Back to Top

  Course Description

An introduction to the formal academic study of English literature.

Prerequisite: ENGL 112

Proctored Exams: Final



  • Chekhov, Anton. Anton Chekhov’s Selected Plays: A Norton Critical Edition. Trans. Laurence Senelick. Norton, 2005.  
    • ISBN-978-0-393-92465-7
  • Gardner, Janet. Reading and Writing About Literature. 4th. Bedford/St. Martins, 2016.  
    • ISBN-978-1-319-03536-5
  • Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis and Other Stories. Penguin, 2008.  
    • ISBN-978-0-14-310524-4
  • Rich, Adrienne, Gelpi, Barbara Charlesworth, ed., Gelpi, Albert, ed. Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose: A Norton Critical Edition. Norton, 1993.  
    • ISBN-978-0-393-96147-8
  • Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. Penguin, 2006.  
    • ISBN-978-0-14-310491-9

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

English 220 is a “gateway” course designed for English majors as a comprehensive introduction to the discipline of English study. You will encounter specific tasks that will be required of you in your course of study, and you will learn how to complete these tasks effectively. You will read a selection of important texts in multiple genres—stories, novels, poetry, and essays—using close reading techniques, historical and cultural contexts, and terminology essential to the discipline. Furthermore, you will read professional literary criticism on a number of primary texts and will practice understanding and incorporating that criticism. You will write short analytical essays, take two exams featuring a range of question types, and write a substantial research essay. At the end of ENGL 220, you should have a clear sense of what it means to be an English major,

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Construct critical arguments in response to literary texts.
  2. Critically evaluate and revise one's own argumentative writing over the course of essay assignments.
  3. Employ terminology essential to literary analysis.
  4. Explain a range of secondary literary criticism.
  5. Perform research to support an original argument about one or more primary texts.
  6. Demonstrate knowledge of a literary text’s historical and cultural contexts.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 1080-1200 90-100%
B 960-1079 80-89%
C 840-959 70-79%
D 720-839 60-69%
F 0-719 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (17) 255 21%
Essays (dropbox) (5) 645 54%
Midterm (1) 150 12%
Final Exam (proctored) (1) 150 12%
Total 1200 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 1 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 2 15 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 3 15 Friday/Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 5 15 Thursday/Sunday
Analysis Assignment 1 150 Friday
Proctor Information N/A Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 7 15 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 8 15 Friday/Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Analysis Assignment 2 175 Thursday
Midterm Exam 150 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 10 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 11 15 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 12 15 Friday/Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Reseach Essay Proposal 20 Thursday
Annotated Bibliography 25 Sunday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 14 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 15 15 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 16 15 Friday/Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Research essay 275 Tuesday
Discussion 17 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Final Exam 150 Saturday
Total Points: 1200

  Assignment Overview

Note that all assignments in the course are due on the day indicated at 11:59pm Central Standard Time.


Each week you will discuss questions that pertain to reading assignments. You are expected to respond directly to the initial question by the due date for each discussion. You are also expected to respond to two or more of your classmates’ posts for each discussion prior to the end of the week in which the discussion takes place (11:59pm on Sunday, except for week 8). In your answers to initial questions, use evidence from the texts (quotation or paraphrase) to clarify and illustrate your responses. Your follow-up responses to your peers will be aided by the use of evidence from the texts and must be respectful and helpful to the discussions. You are expected to use appropriate Standard American English in your postings.

Dropbox Assignments

You will write two literary analysis essays and a research essay with two contributing components for this class. All papers must follow MLA format and must be submitted in MS Word (preferred) or Open Office (no wps files), double-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font with default (1-inch) margins. All papers must be written newly and specifically for this class.

Literary Analysis Essays
You will write a two short papers that analyze passages within a longer literary text: Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and The Seagull by Anton Chekhov. I will provide you with specific assignment sheets for these essays. Each essay should be approximately 3 pages in length.

Research Essay
You will select a topic and write a research paper on one or more poems by Adrienne Rich or Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. In Week 6, you will prepare and submit a written proposal and annotated bibliography for the essay.

This paper should be five to eight pages in length and should cite three or more secondary sources. You will find a more detailed description of the expectations in the Content area of the course.

The final paper is due on Tuesday of Week 8.

Midterm Exam

The Midterm Exam will consist of a series of passage identification and short answer questions measuring your knowledge of writing about literature at the midpoint of the semester. Access the exam from the Quizzes tab of your course. This is an “open book” exam, it will be available from Monday morning through 11:59 pm Sunday. You will have 2 hours to complete it.

Final Exam

The Final Exam will consist of identification, short answer, and essay questions. It is not “open book,” and you must take it in a proctored setting. You will have 2 hours to complete it. Access the exam from the Quizzes tab of your course. It must be completed by 11:59 pm Saturday.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

1) Edmundson, Mark. "The Ideal English Major." The Chronicle of Higher Education (2013) (link provided within course)
2) Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis (in Metamorphosis and Other Stories, pages 85-146)
3) Reading and Writing About Literature:
• Chapter 1: “Introduction to Reading and Writing about Literature”
• Chapter 2: “The Role of Good Reading”
• Chapter 3: “The Writing Process”
Discussion 1
Introduce yourself to the class. Discuss your view of Mark Edmundson’s essay “The Ideal English Major” and your feelings about the ideals upon which he elaborates.
Discussion 2
When you are planning to write argumentatively about a piece of literature, what are the most important considerations? Support your answer with references to Reading and Writing About Literature, and make use of some of the terms to understand listed above.
Discussion 3
In Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa’s change into an insect (“vermin”) seems to be a metaphor for emotions that the character is experiencing. Discuss.

1) Introduction to Metamorphosis and Other Stories (vii-xvi)
2) Kafka, “A Country Doctor” (in Metamorphosis and Other Stories, 185-191)
3) Kafka, “A Hunger Artist” (in Metamorphosis and Other Stories, 252-263)
4) Reading and Writing About Literature:
• Chapter 4: “Common Writing Assignments”
• Chapter 5: “Writing About Stories,” pp76-79 and 96-99.

Discussion 4
How might watching the concise Kafka biography help readers to understand the themes of the short story “A Country Doctor?” Use one or more of the terms to understand.
Discussion 5
“A Hunger Artist” and Metamorphosis both contain themes of suffering. Compare and contrast these themes.
Analysis Assignment 1
You will write an approximately 3-page close reading (“explication”) of a 100-250-word paragraph or passage from Metamorphosis. Refer to Reading and Writing About Literature (56-9) for details on such an assignment. Note that you are writing about prose, not poetry. Refer to the assignment page and sample close-reading essay for more guidance. Due Friday.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.

1) Introduction to The Seagull (in Anton Chekhov’s Selected Plays, pages 129-35)
2) Chekhov, Anton. The Seagull. You may choose to follow along in the text as you watch the film version linked below. Keep in mind that the translations in the text and film are often different, and that the director of the film has adapted the play, meaning that he has given it his own interpretation, which may include cuts or decisions that seem to contradict Chekhov’s directions for production.
3) Reading and Writing About Literature: Chapter 7: Writing About Plays, pp. 115-118 and 131-134

The Seagull. Films on Demand. Films Media Group, 1975. (link provided within course)

Discussion 6
Discuss the symbolism of the seagull in the play. Use one or more of the terms to understand listed above.
Discussion 7
In adapting the play for film, director John J. Desmond makes choices that reveal his distinct interpretation of The Seagull. What are some of these choices?
Discussion 8
Chekhov is a master of dramatic subtext (defined on Reading and Writing About Literature, page 202). Choose a passage in The Seagull in which a character says one thing and seems to mean another. Discuss.
1) Pavice, Patrice. “The Originality of The Seagull and Its Contexts” (in Anton Chekhov’s Selected Plays, pages 537-545)
2) Stanislavsky, Konstantin. “Second Thoughts on The Seagull” (in Anton Chekhov’s Selected Plays, pages 585-98)
3) Reading and Writing About Literature: Chapter 9: Literary Criticism and Literary Theory

Chekhov. Films on Demand. Films Media Group, 1993. (link provided within course)

You may watch the entire movie, or you may choose to focus only on section 6, “Chekhov’s Obsession with Writing,” in which the characters (Chekhov’s friends) discuss the failure of The Seagull.
Discussion 9
In many ways, The Seagull as a text cannot be separated from the story of its first performance, and its later success as a smash hit with major effects on the history of drama. Discuss how the historical contexts of the play’s first performance and its eventual success impact your interpretation of the play.
Analysis Assignment 2
For this assignment, you will write a 3-to-4-page analysis of one of the four acts in The Seagull. In writing your analysis, answer this question: how does a theme or character emerge from the dialogue, plot, and/or symbolism in the act? In this essay, you are required to incorporate at least one quotation from either the Pavice or the Stanislavsky articles in this week’s reading. For guidance, reread the assignment description closely and consult Reading and Writing About Literature, pages 59-63 and 126-29. Due Thursday.
Midterm Exam
The midterm should be completed by 11:59 pm Sunday of this week and it will be available on Monday. You will have two hours to complete it. Access the exam through the Quizzes tab of your course. It is not proctored.

Questions will include passage identifications (in which you respond by giving the name of the author, name of the work, and a statement about the significance of the passage to the work) and short answer questions, which may cover any of the material required in the reading/viewing sections to this point.
1) Rich, Adrienne. “Twenty-One Love Poems” (in Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose, pages 77-86)
2) Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony, pages 1-174
3) Reading and Writing About Literature: Chapter 6: Writing About Poems


Leslie M. Silko. Films On Demand. Films Media Group, 1994 (link provided within course)
Discussion 10
In Ceremony, Tayo is seeking healing from traumatic events in his past. What trauma does he experience, and how does he go about seeking this healing?
Discussion 11
How does the Leslie Marmon Silko documentary help you to understand Ceremony?
Discussion 12
Discuss your experience of reading “Twenty-One Love Poems.” In your response, use two or more of the terms to understand listed in this week’s Content area.
1) Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony, pages 175-243
2) Adrian Oktenberg, “Disloyal to Civilization”: The Twenty-One Love Poems of Adrienne Rich” (in Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose, pages 329-42)
3) Reading and Writing About Literature: Chapter 8: Writing a Literary Research Paper
4) Examine the Sample MLA Annotated Bibliography (link provided within course)

• North Carolina State University. “Peer-Review in Three Minutes” (link provided in course)
• The Modern Language Association has produced a video series on searching the MLA International Bibliography. View their video playlist through the link provided in the course.
Discussion 13
To what critical school or movement does Adrian Oktenberg’s essay on “Twenty-One Love Poems belong? Why? (Look back at Reading and Writing About Literature pages 166-78 to help you answer). How does Oktenberg’s essay help you to understand Adrienne Rich’s poem?
Reseach Essay Proposal
You will choose either Ceremony or “Twenty-One Love Poems” as the subject of your 5-to-8-page research essay, due at the beginning of Week 8 of the course. For this assignment, due in the dropbox, write a paragraph about the topic that you have chosen for your research essay. State a tentative thesis statement (it may change later) and supporting that thesis. This paragraph should be approximately 1 page, double-spaced. For guidance in choosing a topic and writing the proposal, reread Reading and Writing About Literature, pages 21-28 (on “Drafting”) and 40-42 (“Tips for Writing About Literature”). To evaluate this assignment, I will examine how well you have articulated a manageable topic for a 5-to-8-page research essay and provide feedback on whether you should alter or refine your topic. Due Thursday.
Annotated Bibliography
You will write an annotated bibliography that includes three sources, at least one of which must be located through the MLA International Bibliography. The annotated bibliography should be formatted in MLA format and in the manner referenced in this week’s readings. Guidance on accessing the MLA International Bibliography and locating e-book sources is provided within your course.

Each annotation should include a paraphrase of the source and an interpretation of how the source relates to the other sources in your annotated bibliography. Each annotation should be five to ten sentences long. Be sure to use MLA format correctly in your citations. To find the correct formats for book and article sources, consult Reading and Writing About Literature, pages 149-155.

The purpose of the annotated bibliography assignment is to require you to do original research; therefore, you should not include the Sharon Holm article listed above or any article found in the collection Adrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose in your annotated bibliography. However, you may use them as sources in your final research essay, should you choose to do so. In this case, you may switch out the article for one of the sources on your annotated bibliography, or you may use more than three sources for your research essay.

To evaluate this assignment, I will examine how well you have met the requirements stated above. Due Sunday.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

1) Rich, Adrienne. “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” inAdrienne Rich’s Poetry and Prose, pages 203-224) [This is a primary source, not a secondary, peer-reviewed, critical source.]
2) Holm, Sharon. “The ‘Lie’ of the Land: Native Sovereignty, Indian Literary Nationalism, and Early Indigenism in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony.” American Indian Quarterly (locate this online through the MLA International Bibliography.


The Heart of Things. Films On Demand. Films Media Group, 1995 (link provided within course)

This is a playlist from The Heart of Things, focusing on the poet Adrienne Rich, created for the course.

Discussion 14
How are the arguments that Rich makes about “compulsory heterosexuality” and the lesbian fight against it (in “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”) related to her views about the important role of poetry in America (as she states them in “The Heart of Things” video)?
Discussion 15
What is the argument of Sharon Holm’s article “The ‘Lie’ of the Land: Native Sovereignty, Indian Literary Nationalism, and Early Indigenism in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony?” How is this argument related to Native American culture and history?
Discussion 16
Briefly discuss the topic for your literary research essay and your progress on the assignment.
There are no readings this week so that you can focus on completing your final research essay and prepare for the final exam.

Bu, Lisa. “How Books Can Open Your Mind” (link to this TED talk provided within course)
Research essay
Your final research essay is due on Tuesday this week. The essay must be an argumentative research essay of 5-8 pages that analyzes a primary text, either Ceremony or “Twenty-One Love Poems,” and makes use of at least three works of peer-reviewed literary criticism. You may use all of the sources discussed in your annotated bibliography, or you may decide that one or more of these sources does not work well for your purposes. In that case, you may switch out one or more of the sources that you annotated. If you are writing about “Twenty-One Love Poems,” you may use the Adrian Oktenberg article as one of your sources, should you wish. Similarly, if you are writing about Ceremony, you may use the Sharon Holm article, should you wish.

For guidance on how to complete this assignment, review the sections on “Using Quotations Effectively” (42-9) and “Manuscript Form” (49-50) and the entirety of Chapter 8 (130-165) in Reading and Writing About Literature. The research essay should be formatted in the manner shown on pages 161-5. Note, however, that a double-spaced page in 12-pt. Times New Roman font has only 23 lines per page on it, as opposed to the longer pages in the sample research paper.
Discussion 17
Lisa Bu makes a compelling argument for how books expand an individual’s experience. Discuss a way that a text that you read this semester may have had a similar effect on you.
Final Exam
The Final Exam will be proctored, and you will have two hours to complete it. Access it through the Quizzes tab of the course. The format of the exam will include identification, short answer, and essay questions. To prepare for the essay portion of the exam, reread pages 66-71 of Reading and Writing About Literature. The exam must be completed by 11:59 pm Saturday.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

You may not submit discussion posts or written assignments late unless you have a health or family emergency and have made an arrangement with me; I reserve the right to request documentation of such emergencies. Late assignments will normally not be accepted and will receive no credit.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.