|Research / Respond
The bulk of the work for this course concerns your reading and writing. Each of these activities is two-fold, making the 4Rs: read, research, respond, and report. These requirements will be on-going throughout the semester, will require regular contributions, and may be comprised of various assignments. Since this is an online course, regular and consistent participation is paramount.
Each lesson’s major focus will be reading primary texts (the literature) and secondary texts (critical response to the literature). Reading quizzes will test your knowledge of the materials, focusing on factual details like plot points, rather than interpretative readings. Students should take thorough notes as they read—like character names, plot points, and other details—that will help them on quizzes and later analysis of the texts in their writing.
In the classroom, research is often mitigated by lecture. In online courses, much of that responsibility falls on the students. While this might seem daunting at first, it allows you to investigate aspects of the primary texts that interest you. Research allows you to learn about the primary text by finding books and essays written about them; these secondary texts are also called literary criticism. Research is integral and thus required to respond and report below.
In lieu of classroom discussion, students will respond to the assigned reading and research on
r/LitWiki ( ). In this forum, students will discuss the primary texts, including research that they have found about the texts. The idea is to share insights, observations, and interpretations in order to glean a more nuanced and critical understanding of the material. Various critical approaches will be emphasized throughout the semester.
The previous three requirements lead up to four reports: four (4) interpretative essays that will both address a work of literature we have read for and discussed in class and apply a critical approach and secondary support to interpreting that piece of literature. These reports should be 3–5 pages and formatted correctly in MLA style.
- textual summary;
- character overview;
- theme explanation;
- symbol/metaphor analysis;
- historical context/timeline;
- critical reaction;
- content expansion and revision;
- or propose another project.
This essay will be a reader-response on any of the short stories we have read for class. Students should select a work and interpret it according to their own informed view of the piece. Research for this essay is not required, but encouraged.
This research essay applies a Feminist, Cultural, or Ethical interpretation of the text. Like essay 1, you should choose a short story or poem that we have read up until this point (excluding your choice for essay 1) Write the essay correctly citing your articles and indicate somewhere on your paper the interpretative method your essay employs.
This research essay compares any two short stories we have read this semester using any interpretive method we have studied thus far. Indicate somewhere on your paper the interpretative method you employ.
The final research essay will apply any interpretative method we have discussed this semester to August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom—either the play itself or the performance. For example, you could investigate just why a play written in the early 1980s is relevant today. Indicate somewhere on your paper the interpretative method you employ.
Rewrites are integral to the writing process, and I encourage everyone to do them—especially before; submitting them for evaluation. However, I want to give the opportunity for you to write after evaluation, too. That said, rewrites are optional, but if you scored lower than a 70, you really should rewrite to improve your grade. You may not rewrite if you did not submit an essay to begin with. If you want to rewrite, please follow these directions:
- You may submit a rewrite at any time before the next essay is due.
- You must take the essay to the writing center for assistance on rewriting. List the top three areas that need improvement based on my feedback, and tell the tutor you want to work on those areas. If you have time after your appointment, revise and rewrite and make another appointment.
- You must actually rewrite the essay. It should be significantly different than the original, showing more than just minor grammatical and mechanical fixes.
- You must use two strong secondary sources for support (see above), even if (especially if) your original essay did not.
- You should upload your rewrite to the original assignment on D2L, marking it clearly as your rewrite.
That’s it. Your final grade for the report will be an average of your original grade and your rewrite grade, so be sure to make your rewrite as strong as you can. Failure to follow any of the instructions above will render your rewrite invalid.
Our introduction to college literary studies this semester will have two required texts:
- Sipiora, Phillip (January 1, 1994). Reading and Writing About Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Wilson, August (2020) . Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. New York: Plume. ISBN 9780593184967.
Your course book(s) and readings are an important part of the class and should be purchased (or downloaded) immediately. Lessons are built from specific readings and assignments will depend on those readings. If available, you may use an ebook, but be warned that page numbers referred to in lessons may not be the same in an electronic text. Book rentals are also acceptable, if necessary.
Even though this is an online course, I recommend old-fashioned, analog note taking. In other words: use an ink interface of some sort, as well as dead trees to take notes. Notes should not only reflect essential aspects of the readings, but individual interest in every topic researched for class.
- This is the general percentage breakdown for these requirements. As I use a point system for evaluation, the percentages are just an estimate.
- The School of Arts and Letters requires an engagement requirement that will fall under research. In order to promote student engagement and success, each ENGL 1102 student must attend at least one cultural, recreational, or educational event or activity on campus, online, or in their communities during the semester. Students should logon to the ENGL 1102 Engagement Portal in D2L to learn more about eligible events and activities and to learn how participation is logged and tracked.
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