Introduction to Literary Studies (English 3000)

Spring 2015

Dr. Casal


PRELIMINARY INFORMATION (Details such as assignments and weights may change before the first day of class.)

Overview and Objectives:

This course is designed to introduce English majors and minors to the methods, practices and key concepts of literary study. A central objective of this course is to help students acquire the skills and vocabulary necessary for effective undergraduate study of English. In addition, the course seeks to familiarize students with a variety of contemporary critical approaches and strategies for reading and writing about literature. 

Some Topics that We Will Address in this Class:


The class is web-assisted, which means that you will need access to D2L. 

Required Texts:

A lot of the class material will be posted on D2L or on e-reserve to save you money. 

However,  the following are REQUIRED:

 And the most recent Norton Critical Edition of
The correct Norton Critical Edition is very important because we will be reading supportive material (essays, reviews, etc.) from these specific texts.  
You must be ready to bring the books to class, so if you get an electronic edition (all three are availabe in electronic editions) you will need to have an e-reader, computer or printout for class.

In addition, I expect you to have access to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th Edition, 2009)
ISBN-13: 860-1200663914

Reading Assignments:

The class will center on reading carefully and developing ideas from what you read.  As you enter the profession, you need to develop a

In addition to Wuthering Heights  (a novel) and The Importance of Being Earnest (a play) we will look closely at "Goblin Market" (a long poem) and several shorter works. The goal is to help you develop critical reading and research skills.

"Close reading" is a skill that can be applied to your reading regardless of the theoretical orientation that you are exploring.  We will begin the semester with close reading of short stories and poems to analyze content and form.

In this class, we will explore different approaches and techniques for reading, so be ready to look at texts from a variety of different perspectives.

We will use Culler's Literary Theory to give you an overview of the key theoretical issues for literary studies in the early 21st century.   We will also consult various sources online and at the library to help you develop a vocabulary of key terms and concepts necessary for English studies.   The research project will require reading and understanding what you read.

All reading assignments will be listed on the Schedule of Assignments. (This will be linked to your D2L page and regularly updated.)

Writing Assignments:

Your major writing assignment will be an essay that will use documentation that reflects your understanding of secondary sources.    There will be two "partial" exams, each with both an objective" section and an essay component, and a final exam. The purpose of the exams is to help you focus on what you need to learn and also to give you practice in writing under pressure.

Other assignments will include a summary, annotation and several short reading-responses.  Occasional quizzes will help you review. (The lowest quiz grade drops.) A D2L message board will supplement class discussion.

I am interested in seeing how you respond to texts and in helping you use texts to rethink and develop your ideas.  Expect detailed comments on proposals and papers.  My usual turn-over for grading is 10 days to two weeks (less for exams, more for the final paper).   

Submission of Written Assignments and Late Work Policy:

All essays and most out-of-class assignments will be submitted to a D2L drop box.  Deadlines for all essays are Fridays at midnight.  

The penalty for all late graded assignments is one point off for the first 1-24 hours that it is late, 2 additional points for the next 1-24 hours, and 3 points off for each of the next three days. After five days, the penalty goes up to 10 points for each day.   This very lenient  late work policy is aimed at encouraging students to do their best work without encouraging them to delay submitting their work indefinitely.   Perfection is impossible.  A timely submission (no more than 24 hours late) is usually in a student's best interests. 

If your work is very late (more than 5 days),  my turn-around time for grading your work may be longer than my usual estimate. This is not intended as a punishment but is a side-effect of my having other things scheduled for the relevant period.

Short assignments will not receive a grade if they are more than a week late but they may still be required.   Quizzes may not be made up.  Exams may be made up with a satisfactory excuse, otherwise they will have a penalty of  5 points for each calendar day that the exam is delayed. (It is not fair to other students to give one student extra time without good reason.)

Attendance and Participation:

Attendance is important because class participation is important.  If you are not in class, you can not participate. 

I want students to think about and discuss the assigned reading material.  I make allowances for shyness, but I want to see signs of engagement (nodding, shaking head, smiling or frowning as appropriate to others' comments) in all students. There are no stupid comments, no stupid questions--only stupid silences.   The D2L message board discussion is a good place to speak up and "earn" participation credit, but it doesn't make up for lack of engagement in class or excessive absences.  

Courtesy towards others is important. Listen when others are speaking and avoid responses or comments that others may find painful or offensive. Note that texting, tweeting, e-mailing and reading or writing any material that is not part of the class is not allowed.  I do allow computers and e-readers in class, but I expect you to use them to support you through the discussion, not to take the place of classroom interaction.   Because eating in class can distract other students, no food is allowed, though you may bring coffee, sodas etc. to keep you going.

For each absence over 4,  regardless of reason, you will lose 5 points off the class participation grade. There may also be a grade penalty off the final grade if you are absent more than 9 times unless all nine absences are justified and you do additional work.  (You must contact me about justifying absences and make up work as soon as is possible in relation to the excessive absences.)

Grades and Weights:

I will average grades on the following scale:

 93 - 100   A

83 -  87    B

 73 - 77   C

63 - 67  D

 88 -  92    B+

78 - 82     C+

 68 - 72   D+

0 - 62  F

This grade scale presupposed that an A+ would be 98-102.  (My exams and some other assignments add up to 103 or have extra credit possible.) The university does not have an "A+" grade, so anything over a 92 is an A.  I do not normally give "minus" grades, but in cases where a student has worked hard and is on the borderline, I may give a B- instead of a C+ or a C- instead of a D+.

To get a good grade in this class you must fulfill all course requirements in a timely fashion according to the standards for this course. Planning ahead and coming to me for help when you need it is your best guarantee of success. If you are not comfortable with the grading scale, the attendance policy, and/or other course requirements, please do not enroll in this class.

Weights (Tentative):

How to Contact Your Teacher:


The best way is e-mail (

You may also phone my office at  X 2659. Messages left on my office voice mail are usually handled after I deal with e-mail, so if you really want to get hold of me, e-mail.

Feel free to visit me in my office (PH 323).


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