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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Language and Communications Studies Department
Course Prefix and Number: ENGL 220
Course Title: Writing about Literature
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

An introduction to the formal academic study of English literature. Prerequisite ENGL 112. Offered Spring.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

ENGL 112

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Offered Spring

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Most current edition (currently 7th) of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

A textbook that addresses critically reading and writing about literature, for example:

Reading and Writing about literature: A Portable Guide
By Gardner, J. (Bedford)
Six college-level editions of texts by various authors (see topical outline)

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.
Major Topics/Skills to be Covered:
  • The course covers fiction, poetry, and drama, and may assign other genres in addition.
  • Students in this course read and discuss six different works of literature, which should include some mixture of full-length works (novels, plays, epics, etc.) and groupings of shorter works by single authors (lyric poetry, short stories, essays, etc.). The emphasis is on reading these works in depth, not on any specialized area of literary study.
  • Emphasis on generic conventions, thematic and character development, setting, style, form, plot, story, and more
  • Emphasis on techniques of close reading and terminology for the academic study of literature
  • As a class, students must read literary criticism on two or three of the primary texts. This criticism should be carefully selected so that it is accessible to beginning English majors.  
  • Analysis of types of evidence in criticism, including close reading and historical / biographical research, as well as discussion of where a critic is arguing in accordance with a certain theoretical movement or school, and why this might be desirable   
  • Assessment may include quizzes and must include a midterm and a final, both of which may contain essay questions and must ask objective short answer questions about the works studied, techniques learned, and terminology employed in the course. One or both of these exams should also include passage ID questions (requiring students to identify the author, work, and significance of given passages) in order to evaluate student learning and to familiarize students with this type of exam question.
  • The midterm exam must test students' knowledge of the conventions of literary criticism. The exam should contain a series of short answer questions, and may include essays and passage ID questions. Data from this midterm will be collected in order for the English program to assess students' knowledge of the conventions of literary criticism.
  • Writing about literature: argument, thesis, structure, incorporating primary text evidence and secondary criticism
  • At least three essays for a minimum of 3000 words (about 12 pages) of graded writing
  • Two of these essays should be argumentative textual analyses that require close reading. These essays should focus on different texts but should require that the same skills be demonstrated.  As an assessment measure for the English program, data from these two essay assignments will be collected in order to assess students' ability to critically evaluate and revise their own work.
  • The final essay for the course should be an argumentative research essay that incorporates at least two works of literary criticism. Data from this essay assignment will be collected in order for the English program to assess students' ability to make literary arguments.
  • Emphasis on how to perform academic research on literature, including library and database use
  • MLA format and how to use the MLA Style Guide

Recommended maximum class size for this course: 15

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at the Columbia College Stafford Library.  You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: Peter Monacell Date: April 11, 2015
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course learning outcomes and cover the subjects listed in the Major Topics/Skills to be Covered section. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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