Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

ENGL 350: Major Literary Figures

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  Course Description

Study of the works of one to three major writers.

Prerequisite: ENGL 112 and a previous 200 level or higher English literature course.

Proctored Exams: Final


As part of TruitionSM, students will receive their course materials automatically as described below.


  •  Dickinson, Emily. The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition. Belknap, 2005.  Physical Book
  •  Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass and Other Writings: A Norton Critical Edition. Norton, 2002.  Physical Book

Bookstore Information

Visit https://www.ccis.edu/bookstore.aspx for details.

eText Information

If a course uses an eText, (see Textbook information above) the book will be available directly in Desire2Learn (D2L) and through the VitalSource eText reader the Friday before the session begins, if registered for courses prior to that date.  Students will have a VitalSource account created for them using their CougarMail email address. Upon first login to VitalSource, students may need to verify their account and update their VitalSource password.  More information about how to use the VitalSource platform, including offline access to eTexts, can be found in D2L.  Students that would like to order an optional print-on-demand copy of eligible eTexts can do so through the VitalSource bookshelf at an additional cost.  Once orders are placed, it can take approximately five to seven business days for students to receive their print-on-demand books.

Physical Course Materials Information

Students enrolled in courses that require physical materials will receive these materials automatically at the address on file with Columbia College.  Delivery date of physical materials is dependent on registration date and shipping location.  Please refer to confirmation emails sent from Ed Map for more details on shipping status.

Returns: Students who drop a course with physical course materials will be responsible for returning those items to Ed Map within 30 days of receipt of the order.  More specific information on how to do so will be included in the package received from Ed Map.  See here for Ed Map's return policy. Failure to return physical items from a dropped course will result in a charge to the student account for all unreturned items.

Note: Students who opt-out of having their books provided as part of TruitionSM are responsible for purchasing their own course materials.

  Course Overview

ENGL 350: Whitman and Dickinson will examine the work of the United States’ most influential 19th century poets, Walt Whitman (1819-92) and Emily Dickinson (1830-86). We will read poetry (and some prose) by these figures, as well as a variety of critical discussions of their lives and writing. Questions that will motivate our studies include: Why are Whitman and Dickinson such distinctive writers? Why have they been considered so important?  How do they respond to history, and how does history appear in their work?  What correspondences do we observe between them? What differences?

  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. Analyze the work of one to three major authors.
  2. Describe the concerns of the major author(s), as those concerns appear in selected works.
  3. Identify historical and cultural contexts of the works of the major author(s).
  4. Describe the critical reception of the major author(s).
  5. Write argumentatively about the work of a major author.


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 (19) 285 24%
Essays (3) 565 47%
Midterm Exam 150 12%
Final Exam 200 17%
Total 1200 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introductions -- Wednesday
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
Close Reading Essay 150 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A

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
Discussion 10 15 Thursday/Sunday
Midterm Exam 150 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 12 15 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 13 15 Friday/Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 14 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 15 15 Thursday/Sunday
Critical Précis 150 Thursday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 16 15 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 17 15 Thursday/Sunday
Discussion 18 15 Friday/Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Research Essay 265 Wednesday
Discussion 19 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points: 1200

  Assignment Overview


Each discussion assignment requires one initial post and two peer responses. Initial posts should be 200-300 words and use evidence from the texts (quotation or paraphrase) to clarify and illustrate responses. Responses should be 50 words or more and will be aided by the use of evidence from the texts and must be respectful and helpful to the discussions. Use appropriate Standard American English in postings.

Initial posts are due at 11:59 pm CT by their assigned day of the week. (See Schedule of Due Dates.) Response discussion posts are due Sunday (Weeks 1-7) or Saturday (Week 8) at 11:59 pm CT.

Close Reading Essay

Choose a passage or section (minimum 10 lines) of “Song of Myself.” Write a close reading (sometimes called an “explication”) of the chosen passage in support of an argumentative thesis that concisely states your interpretation of the passage.

The paper should be 3-4 pages, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins and Times New Roman font. Proper MLA style is required. Due Sunday at 11:59 pm CT of Week 2.

See the Content area of the course for detailed information on this assignment.

Critical Précis

Read one article by a literary critic, and then summarize it in an analytical way. The article must come from an approved text, available as an ebook through the Stafford Library.

The paper should be 3-4 pages, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins and 12-pt Times New Roman font. Proper MLA style is required. Due Thursday at 11:59 pm CT of Week 6.

See the Content area of the course for detailed information on this assignment.

Research Essay

You will submit a research paper on the work of Emily Dickinson. A minimum of 3 secondary sources are required. Your paper should be in 12-pt Times New Roman font with standard (1-inch) margins. The paper should be 5-8 pages, double spaced. Proper MLA style is required. Due Wednesday at 11:59 pm CT of Week 8.

See the Content area of this course for more information on this assignment.

Midterm Exam

The midterm exam is not proctored. You are allowed to use books and notes. The exam will consist of identification questions, short answer, and long answer (essay). You will have two hours and one attempt to complete the exam. The exam is open from Monday at 12:01 am CT to Sunday at 11:59 pm CT of Week 4.

Final Exam

The final exam is proctored. You will have access to a list of poems beginning in Week 7 that will be used on the exam. The exam will consist of short answer and long answer (essay) questions. You will have two hours and one attempt to complete the exam. The exam is open from Monday at 12:01 am CT to Saturday at 11:59 pm CT of Week 8.

  Course Outline

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


Michael Moon, “Introduction” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings xxvii-lii)

James E. Miller, Jr., “Song of Myself” (link provided in Content area)

Mark Bauerlein, “Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking” (link provided in Content area)

“Song of Myself” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 26-78)

“Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 206-12)

“As I Ebb’d With the Ocean of Life” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 212-4)

Please introduce yourself to the class. 
Discussion 1
Drawing on “Introduction” and “Walt Whitman, A Concise Biography,” discuss why Whitman composed, through addition and revision, nine editions of Leaves of Grass. In your initial posting, do not repeat information that other students have already posted.  
Discussion 2
Whitman begins “Song of Myself” with a declaration: “I celebrate and sing myself.” Choose any section except section 1 from “Song of Myself,” or a passage of 10-20 lines. Analyze the section or passage with close attention to what Whitman is declaring about himself. 
Discussion 3

Answer ​one of the following prompts.

Critics generally view “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” as a dramatization of Whitman’s discovery of his “vocation”— that he was destined to write poetry. How does he come to this discovery?  


“As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life” arrives at a crisis [a seemingly unbeatable challenge] in the final three lines of section 2. What is the crisis, and how does the poet overcome it?  


James E. Miller, Jr., “Children of Adam” (link provided in Content area)

James E. Miller, Jr., “Calamus” (link provided in Content area)

Whitman, “Preface 1855—Leaves of Grass, First Edition” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 616-36)

 “Emerson to Whitman, 1855” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 637)

From Children of Adam
“From Pent-up Aching Rivers” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 79-80)
“Spontaneous Me” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 89-91) 

From Calamus
“Whoever You Are Holding me Now in Hand” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 99-100)
“Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 103)
“When I Heard at the Close of Day” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 105)
“Are You the Person Drawn toward Me?” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 105-6)
“Trickle Drops” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 106)
“I Saw in Louisiana a Live Oak Growing” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 108)
“We Two Boys Together Clinging” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 111)
“A Promise to California” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 111)
“Here the Frailest Leaves of Me” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 112)
“Among the Multitude” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 115)
Discussion 4
Whitman’s most controversial poems appeared in the “Children of Adam” section of Leaves of Grass. Choose either “From Pent-up Aching Rivers” or “Spontaneous Me” and discuss how that poem might have been thought controversial in the 1860s. 
Discussion 5
Minutes 37-42 (approximately) of “Voices and Visions: Walt Whitman” discuss Whitman’s sexuality. How does the poetic sequence Calamus both represent and conceal that sexuality? Answer with specific reference to one or more assigned poems from the sequence.
Close Reading Essay

Submit the final draft of your Close Reading Essay to the appropriate Dropbox. See the assignment overview in the syllabus and the Content area of the course for more information.

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.

Howard Nelson, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (link provided in Content area)

Huck Gutman, “Drum-Taps”

R.W. French, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”

Walt Whitman, from Specimen Days (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 774-82)

“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 135-40)

From Drum Taps  
“Beat! Beat! Drums!” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 237-8)
“Cavalry Crossing a Ford” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 251-2)
“As Toilsome I Wander’d Virginia’s Woods” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 258)
“The Wound Dresser” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 259-61),

From Memories of President Lincoln  
“When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 276-83)

Discussion 6
Many contemporary readers still feel as though Whitman is speaking directly to them. This may be because, as Whitman explains in section 3 of “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” “It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not.” In the context of the poem, what do these lines mean? Draw on other portions of the poem to answer this question.
Discussion 7
Consult the transcription and manuscript of “Beat! Beat! Drums!” 
What do you notice about this handwritten manuscript version of the poem, in comparison with the published version?  
Discussion 8
An elegy is a poem of mourning. How does Whitman mourn Abraham Lincoln in his elegy “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d?” Does Whitman alleviate his grief?

Luke Mancuso, “Leaves of Grass 1871-72 Edition”

“Tips for Reading Dickinson’s Poetry” (link provided in Content area)

“Major Characteristics of Dickinson’s Poetry” (link provided in Content area)

Walt Whitman, “Passage to India” (Leaves of Grass and Other Writings 345-53)

Emily Dickinson [all numbers refer to the Franklin numbering system in The Poems of Emily Dickinson]: 39, 180, 207, 259, 475, 604, 760, 817, and 1489

Discussion 9
Describe the characteristics of Whitman’s late poetry as represented in “Passage to India.” 
Discussion 10
Choose one Emily Dickinson poem from the list of poems assigned for this week. Locate in that poem any of the “major characteristics” from the web article “Major Characteristics of Dickinson’s Poetry” and apply one or more of the tips from “Tips for Reading Dickinson’s Poetry” to the poem. 
Midterm Exam

This exam is not proctored. Books and notes are allowed. You will have two hours and one attempt to complete the exam. 


Robin Ekiss. “I Started Early – Took My Dog –” (link provided in the Content area)

Robin Ekiss, “It was not Death, for I stood up” (link provided in the Content area)

“Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886”

Poems explicated in Prose Readings [all numbers refer to the Franklin numbering system in The Poems of Emily Dickinson]
656, “I Started Early – Took My Dog –”
355, “It was not Death, for I stood up”

Poetry arranged by Thematic Clusters
Nature: 122, 123, 347, 359, 1096, and 1163
Wife: 185, 194, 225, 267, 292, 307, 330, and 857
Puritanism and God: 236, 353, 373, 1577, 1675, and 1715
Discussion 11
Choose one Emily Dickinson poem from one of the clusters, “Nature,” “Wife,” or “Puritanism and God.” Write an explication (close reading) of the poem in a similar manner to Robin Ekiss’s explications of Poems 656 and 355. Your own explication does not need to be as long as Ekiss’s but should meet the requirements of discussion posts for this course. 
Discussion 12
Discuss how information you learned from “The World of Emily Dickinson” helps you to understand one or more poems in one of the clusters of readings. You may not write about the same poem that you wrote about for Discussion 11.
Discussion 13

For this discussion, you are preparing to write your critical précis assignment due next week. Your task is to read the critical précis assignment and to locate an article on which to focus the assignment. Ideally, you would choose an article that you could use in the research essay assignment due in week 7. The article should come from one of the two following texts, available as ebooks through Stafford Library:

      The Emily Dickinson Handbook, ed. Grabher et. al.,

You may choose any article from any of these sections in the table of contents: “Historical Context,” “The Manuscripts,” “Dickinson’s Poetics,” and “New Directions in Dickinson Scholarship.” You may also choose any of the first four articles from the section “Reception and Influence” (do not choose “Dickinson Adaptations in the Arts and Theater” or “Dickinson’s Poetry in Translation). You may not choose any article other than the ones specified

       A Companion to Emily Dickinson, ed. Smith and Loeffelholz 

Choose any article from any of these sections in the table of contents: Part II: “The Civil War” or Part III: “Cultural Contexts.” You may also choose any article from Part IV: “Cultural Contexts” except for chapter 14: “Auntie Gus Felled It New,” chapter 21: “A Digital Regiving,” and Chapter 22: “Editing Dickinson in an Electronic Environment.”  You may not choose any article other than the ones specified here.

At the beginning of your post, cite the article in MLA format. Then, write a summary of the article that includes a paraphrase of the thesis of the article.

Dickinson’s Fascicle 16: 336, 337, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346

Poems arranged by thematic cluster:
Death: 409, 448, 479, 591, and 1773
Master: 387, 395, 697, 698, and 699

“Emily Dickinson’s Love Life” (link provided in the Content area)

Discussion 14
Why did Dickinson group the eleven poems of Fascicle 16 together? In your answer, make specific reference to at least two poems, as well to information that you gathered from the website “Emily Dickinson’s Fascicle 16: Eleven Poems.” 
Discussion 15
Write a paragraph proposing a topic for your research essay, due in week 8. This paragraph should include a tentative thesis (meaning that the argument may change) and should discuss how you plan to address the requirements of the research essay assignment. To do this, you should look ahead to the research essay assignment, included in the course materials for week 8. 
Critical Précis

Submit a final draft of your Critical Précis to the appropriate Dropbox. More information on this assignment can be found in the Assignment Overview of the syllabus and the Content area of the course. 

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.
Poems Arranged by Thematic Cluster:
The Civil War: 195, 243, 468, 524, 545, 616, 704, 747, 1212, and 1230
On Writing Poetry: 600 and 627 (both addressed to the 19th century English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning), 446, 466, 788, 1243
Discussion 16
Choose one or more of Dickinson’s poems about the Civil War and discuss how the poem or poems convey(s) the poet’s attitude towards the traumas of the War. 
Discussion 17
Go to the Emily Dickinson Electronic Archive and research one of the “Poems About Writing Poetry” in this week’s reading or one of the poems that you are writing about for your research essay. When you are ready to research, go back to the homepage of the site and in the “Search For Manuscript Images” window type “F” followed by the number of the poem from your syllabus (this indicates the Franklin number, for example “F 600”). When you receive results, you can examine the manuscripts of the poem (of which there may be several) by clicking on the first lines on the left side of the page. In your discussion post, report the following information to the class: the first line of the poem and any titles it has received, the year of composition, the fascicle in which the poem appears (if any) the Johnson and Franklin numbers, and a description of how the poem appears in its manuscript form(s).* What does the poem look like as the page or pages that Dickinson herself handwrote? Are there any variant words or lines indicated with a + sign? What else do you notice?
Discussion 18
In a paragraph or two, update the class on your progress on the research essay.

Dickinson’s letters to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1862-63 in The Letters of Emily Dickinson, ed. Mabel Loomis Todd, 1863 (300-310). (Provided in the Content area.)

Emily Dickinson’s Letters (Provided in the Content area.)

706: “I cannot live with You”
764: “My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun”

Research Essay

Submit a final draft of your Research Essay to the appropriate Dropbox. More information on this assignment can be found in the Assignment Overview of the syllabus and the Content area of the course.

Discussion 19
As a way of wrapping up our discussion of Emily Dickinson, reflect on the letters that she sent to her first editor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson. In particular, focus on whether you believe that Dickinson’s verses are in fact “alive.” How would you have responded to her initial letter? If this discussion posting, you may choose to make reference to one or both of Dickinson’s great lyrics, “I cannot live with You” and “My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun.” 
Final Exam

This exam is proctored. You will have access to the list of poems provided in Week 7 of the Content area. You will have two hours and one attempt to complete the exam.

  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.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a cumulative process that begins with the first college learning opportunity. Students are responsible for knowing the Academic Integrity policy and procedures and may not use ignorance of either as an excuse for academic misconduct. Columbia College recognizes that the vast majority of students at Columbia College maintain high ethical academic standards; however, failure to abide by the prohibitions listed herein is considered academic misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, a failing grade on the assignment, and/or a grade of "F" for the course.

Additionally, 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

Columbia College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning, communicate your concerns with the instructor. In addition to speaking with the instructor, the following resources are available to ensure an opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment that values mutual respect.

  • For students with disabilities/conditions who are experiencing barriers to learning or assessment, contact the Student Accessibility Resources office at (573) 875-7626 or sar@ccis.edu to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in the course, including accommodations.
  • For students who are experiencing conflict which is impacting their educational environment, contact the Office of Student Conduct at studentconduct@ccis.edu or (573) 875-7877.
  • For students who have concerns related to discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, please contact the Title IX Office at titleixcoordinator@ccis.edu. More information can be found at http://www.ccis.edu/policies/notice-of-non-discrimination-and-equal-opportunity.aspx

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 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 Technology Solutions Center, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. If you have technical problems with the VitalSource eText reader, please contact VitalSource. 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.