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California State University, Dominguez Hills

English 305-02_21859: Critical Reading of Literature
TuTh 5:30-6:45 pm in South Academic Complex (SAC) 3165

Instructor’s Name: Dr. Erika Johnson Instructor’s Office: LCH B340

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 - 4 pm and by appointment
Instructor’s Phone: Email: erjohnson@csudh.edu

“Thus, however you might have come to it, whatever the opinions you might have
professed, literature throws you into battle. Writing is a certain way of wanting
freedom; once you have begun, you are committed, [. . .].” – Jean-Paul Sartre

Course Description
A writing-intensive course in which students undertake an in-depth study of
selected short stories, poems, plays, and/or novels, with focus on analytical and
evaluative techniques of interpretation. Within the context of various critical
frameworks, students gain practice in employing precise literary terms,
understanding genre conventions, situating work in historical, biographic,
cultural, and theoretical contexts, and conducting research.

Course Objectives
The overall goal of the course is to enable students to produce informed discourse
that facilitates and enriches an audience’s understanding of texts. Students will
learn methods of describing, interpreting, and evaluating texts, and will be
introduced to theoretical issues in the interpretation of culture.

 name and define the formal elements of literature in terms of genre, form,
and narrative
 identify patterns in a literary work and explain how these work together to
convey meaning
 name, explain, and apply common concepts of conventional practices in
literary analysis and in criticism of works of poetry, drama, and prose
 understand and discuss a variety of major theoretical perspectives and
their assumptions and methodologies
 express themselves effectively orally and in writing about literary works,
their cultural and historical contexts as well as genre considerations
 research, compose, and document using MLA

Grading Scale:
100 = A+ 89-87=B+ 79-77=C+ 69-67=D+
95-99=A 86-84=B 76-74=C 66-64=D
90-94=A- 83-80=B 73-70=C- 63-60=D-


Course Requirements and Grade Distribution

 Short Analysis Essay (30%): Three (3) one-page, single-spaced thesis
driven essays.
o One (1) per month: one in February, one in March, and one in April
(total of 3). One paragraph (4 to 6 sentences) is a précis (558 in
Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory) and the remaining
information must be analysis and argument.
o The one-page, single-space requirement is not a suggestion; it is
required. If a works cited page is needed, then that should be the only
information on a second page.

 Reading Journal (15%):

o Two (2) per month: one in February, one in March, and one in April
(total of 6) write one full paragraph in your Blackboard journal about
the reading of the week and also reference class discussion. Discuss
what you thought about the reading and class discussion. Discuss
characters or plot or themes or motifs that perplexed you or enraged
you and explain why. What you write about is up to you, but make sure
it is at least one full paragraph.
o These journals should help you hone your literary analysis and writing
skills. Sometimes I will give you specific prompts to complete your
journals. When I give you a specific prompt, adhere to that prompt.
The prompt will count for both journal entries for that specific month.

 Attendance & Participation (30%): In-class writing/workshops, class

discussions, and quizzes
o Attend class regularly. Attendance will be taken every class period.
Your success depends a great deal on whether you show up and
o Contribute in class. The best learning is collaborative learning.
Contribution doesn’t involve merely showing up to class. Pay attention
to the work being done in class, take assignments seriously, provide
support and feedback to others in class, and contribute meaningfully to
class discussion.

 Digital Literary Project (15%)

o A digital project on how to teach some elements of literature. I will
provide a prompt during the week of midterms with more detailed
guidelines and instructions. This is due on the day of the final exam
with a one-page reflection.

 Midterm (10%)
o An exam to demonstrate your ability to critically read literature.

Required textbooks:
Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory. Penguin Reference Library. 5th
ed. ISBN: 9780141047157

Lewis, John, et al. March (Trilogy Slipcase Edition). Top Shelf Productions.
ISBN: 978-1-60309-395-8

Suggested textbooks (not required purchases):

Wolfe, Joanna and Laura Wilder. Digging into Literature: Strategies for
Reading, Analysis, and Writing. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
2016. ISBN: 9781457631306

Yagoda, Ben. How Not to Write Bad: The Most Common Writing Problems and
the Best Ways to Avoid Them. Riverhead Books/Penguin. ISBN:


Read the syllabus. This document is the most important success tool that you
will receive all semester. It provides information on course expectations, how
grades are tabulated, and advice on coping with issues that may arise. When in
doubt about an assignment deadline or course policy, check the syllabus first.

Pay attention to any possible syllabus changes. This document is subject

to change. It may be necessary to modify portions of this syllabus (particularly
the calendar of assignments) to adjust to issues in the classroom, learning needs
of students, availability of resources, changes in university or department policy,
or other teaching reasons. When changes occur they will be announced on the
class Blackboard site and an amended version of the syllabus will be made
available on Blackboard. Handouts and assignment prompts distributed during
the term, physically or virtually, are considered extensions of this syllabus.
Always refer to the most recent version of the syllabus.

Purchase your textbooks. The course textbooks were carefully chosen to

provide you with resources to develop your writing skills over the semester. If you
can’t do the required reading, you are placing yourself at an immediate
disadvantage in the classroom.

Pay attention to the schedule. The schedule is done in advance to give you an
opportunity to be prepared for class each day. Pay careful attention to assignment
due dates as well as your homework each day.

Attend class regularly. Student success in this program depends a great deal
on whether a student shows up and participates. If you miss a class, you need to
understand that you will probably not be able to make up the missed experience,
and there will probably be consequences in terms of your understanding or
performance later. Disruptive behavior that makes teaching or learning difficult
or a pattern of non-participation or lack of preparation can lead to you being
marked absent even if you are here physically. If you miss the equivalent of two
weeks of classes (4 class sessions) you may likely fail this course.

I want everyone to succeed. If you know in advance that you have to miss a class,
talk to me ahead of time and we can try to minimize the side effects. I can be
reached by email at erjohnson@csudh.edu

Contribute in class. The best learning is collaborative learning. The classroom

is a space where we can all learn from one another. To achieve that optimal
learning environment, contribute to the class. Contribution doesn’t involve
merely showing up to class. Pay attention to the work being done in class, take
assignments seriously, provide support and feedback to others in class, and
contribute meaningfully to class discussion.

Complete course assignments. This syllabus provides a list of assignments

for this class, along with their respective weights. Pay attention to the
percentages of each assignment. If you fail to complete any assignment or earn a
poor grade on those assignments, it is unlikely that you can succeed in the class.

Turn your assignments in on time. Life happens. I may accept a late

assignment, but every day an assignment is late, the grade drops a half letter
grade. After four (4) days, I will not accept the assignment.

Keep a professional attitude. This comes down to respecting your classmates

and your instructor. When you do work that is unrelated to the course, you are
potentially infringing on the educational opportunities for others in class.
Professionalism also means that when you communicate with your professor by
email that you use professional standards, which includes using email from your
CSUDH account with a subject line reflecting the main purpose of your message,
uses appropriate language, and sign your first and last name to the email as well
as your class section day and time. I do not answer emails on weekends.

For group assignments, consider other students your professional colleagues: do

them the courtesy of addressing them respectfully when you communicate with
them, and honor any promises to meet or complete work.

Communicate with me. To get the most from the classroom experience, you
should communicate to me any issues that you may be having. Attend my office
hours or make an appointment if those hours do not work for you. I cannot
always know you are having trouble understanding something if you don’t
communicate it – keep me informed!

Writing is public. Even when writing is in draft form, professional writers

circulate copies of what they are working on for feedback. Even when writing is
meant to be private, it leaks into the public realm with startling regularity. For
this reason, writers need to become comfortable sharing their writing with others
and hearing, seeing, or reading reactions to it. In this class, you can expect to
share your work with your peers, face-to-face, one-on-one, or, at times, with the
entire class at once. Sharing is intended to provide you with models of effective
writing, feedback to improve your writing, and give you experience offering

feedback. It is imperative we all respect this process and come to class prepared
to share writing and comment constructively.

Follow the assignment directions. Every assignment has a specific set of

instructions. Be sure to check the assignment sheet when you receive it, before
you begin working, and before an assignment is due to ensure you are meeting
the criteria for the assignment. Use MLA guidelines for margins, heading, and
page numbering.

Additional University/Program Information

Academic Integrity Statement: Honesty in completing assignments is

essential to the mission of the University and to the development of the personal
integrity of students. Cheating, plagiarism, fabrication or other kinds of academic
dishonesty will not be tolerated and will result in appropriate sanctions. I will
uphold the University’s policy on Academic Integrity. The University policy on
plagiarism and academic dishonesty, which appears in the current and past
catalogs, reads:
At the heart of any university are its efforts to encourage critical reading
skills, effective communication and, above all, intellectual honesty among its
students. Thus, all academic work submitted by a student as his or her own
should be in his or her own unique style, words and form. When a student
submits work that purports to be his/her original work, but actually is not,
the student has committed plagiarism.

Plagiarism is considered a gross violation of the University's academic

and disciplinary standards. Plagiarism includes the following: copying of
one person's work by another and claiming it as his or her own, false
presentation of one's self as the author or creator of a work, falsely taking
credit for another person's unique method of treatment or expression, falsely
representing one's self as the source of ideas or expression, or the presentation
of someone else’s language, ideas or works without giving that person due
credit. [Plagiarism] is not limited to written works.

The Department of English wishes to expand and clarify this description of

academic dishonesty to include cheating on examinations, allowing someone else
to research the topic, and having someone else write a paper submitted for
academic credit. Substantial portions of the same work must not be submitted for
credit in more than one course without the express written permission of all
instructors involved. Either plagiarism or academic dishonesty is justification for
an instructor to assign a lower grade or a failing grade in the course in which the
plagiarism or academic dishonesty is committed. In addition, the university may
impose its own disciplinary measures.

 Turnitin: Turnitin is not just a plagiarism detector. I use it to comment

on essays and for grading. However, Turnitin reports a percentage of
similarity and provides links to those specific sources. The tool itself does
not determine whether a paper has been plagiarized, instead that
judgment will be made by me.

 Disabled Students Services Center: If you require reasonable

accommodations to meet the requirements of this course, you must
register with the Disabled Students Services Center to obtain the required
official notification of your accommodation needs. Please meet with me by
appointment or during office hours to discuss approved accommodations
and how I may best make reasonable accommodations for you.

 Dropping this Course: You may drop yourself during the first three
weeks of class with no signatures. After the third week, you’ll need both
my signature and the chair’s signature. I understand if you need to drop
the class or simply just want to, but be aware that I will not do that for you.
Not coming to class does not mean I will drop you.

What follows is a skeletal outline of reading and writing assignments for the
semester. This calendar is subject to change.

Tentative Schedule
Week 1: January 22-26
Tuesday, January 23
 Course introduction: student introductions, discuss syllabus, and
introduction to the OED.
 What is genre? Page 298 in Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary
Theory (DLTLT)
 What is literature? Page 404 in Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary
Theory (DLTLT)
 Introduction to poetry
o how to read poems
o conflating authors with their works

Thursday, January 25
 Discuss Close Reading and Analysis Short Essays and Reading Journals.
 Poem (542 in DLTLT)
o stanza (680 in DLTLT)
o verse (757 in DLTLT)
o meter (434 in DLTLT)
o quatrain (579 in DLTLT)
o rhyme scheme (611 in DLTLT)
o sonnet (668 in DLTLT)
 Shakespearean sonnet (651 in DLTLT)
 Spenserian sonnet (672 in DLTLT)

 Suggested reading: introduction and all of part I (pgs. 1-24) in How to Not
Write Bad and pages 7-10 and chapter 1 and 7 and pages 172-189 in
Digging into Literature: Strategies for Reading, Analysis, and Writing.

Week 2: January 29 - February 2 (Two (2) journals due in February)

Tuesday, January 30
 Poetry analysis (poems will be posted on Blackboard before class).
o literary devices
 metaphors, similes, tropes, personification, imagery, diction,
foreshadowing, alliteration, repetition, etc. (definitions are in
 Suggested reading: chapter 2, pages 143-153 and 199-203 in Digging into
Literature: Strategies for Reading, Analysis, and Writing.

Thursday, February 1
 No class this day.
 I encourage all of you to attend the 2018 Patricia Eliet Memorial Lecture
Featuring Junot Díaz.

Week 3: February 5-9

Tuesday, February 6
 Poetry analysis (poems will be posted on Blackboard before class).
 Suggested reading: chapters 6 and 14 in Digging into Literature:
Strategies for Reading, Analysis, and Writing.

Thursday, February 8
 Poetry analysis (poems will be posted on Blackboard before class).
 Suggested reading: chapter 13 in Digging into Literature: Strategies for
Reading, Analysis, and Writing and pgs. 25-58 in How to Not Write Bad.

Week 4: February 12-16
Tuesday, February 13
 Introduction to graphic novels
 Suggested reading: all of chapter 11 in Digging into Literature: Strategies
for Reading, Analysis, and Writing.
 Suggested reading: pgs. 59-102 in How to Not Write Bad.
 Short Analysis Essay #1 due to Turnitin on Blackboard by 11:59 pm (this
is a “soft” submission)

Thursday, February 15
 Literary terms
 Suggested reading: pgs. 103-135 in How to Not Write Bad.

Week 5: February 19-23 (Feb. 19 is Presidents’ Day-Campus Open, No

Classes) (No class this week, but you have work due on the Discussion
Tuesday, February 20: DISCUSSION BOARD
 Read pgs. 5-55 in March: Book One

Thursday, February 22: DISCUSSION BOARD

 Read pgs. 56-109 in March: Book One
 in March: Book One

Week 6: February 26-March 2 (2 journal entries due in March)

Tuesday, February 27
 Read pgs. 110-121 in March: Book One
 Suggested reading: pgs. 135-154 in How to Not Write Bad

Thursday, March 1
 Read pgs. 5-45 in March: Book Two (Revisit March: Book One)
 Suggested reading: pgs. 155-173 in How to Not Write Bad

Week 7: March 5-9

Tuesday, March 6
 Read pgs. 5-75 in March: Book Two

Thursday, March 8
 Read pgs. 76-108 in March: Book Two

Week 8: March 12-16

Tuesday, March 13
 Read pgs. 109-145 in March: Book Two

Thursday, March 15
 Read pgs. 146-179 in March: Book Two
 Short Analysis Essay #2 due to Turnitin on Blackboard by 11:59 pm

Week 9: March 19-23
Tuesday, March 20
 Midterm

Thursday, March 22
 John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi

Week 10: March 26-31 Spring Recess = No Classes

Week 11: April 2-6 (2 journal entries due in April)

Tuesday, April 3

 No class.

Thursday, April 5
 John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi

Week 12: April 9-13

Tuesday, April 10
 John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi

Thursday, April 12
 John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi

Week 13: April 16-20
Tuesday, April 17
 “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker
 “Barbie-Q” by Sandra Cisneros

Thursday, April 19
 “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes
 “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara

Week 14: April 23-27

Tuesday, April 24
 “Passing” by Langston Hughes
 “On Being Crazy” by W.E.B. DuBois

Thursday, April 26
 “Elethia” by Alice Walker
 Short Analysis Essay #3 due to Turnitin on Blackboard by 11:59 pm

Week 15: April 30-May 4

Tuesday, May 1
 “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldúa

Thursday, May 3
 “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldúa

Week 16: May 7-11

Tuesday, May 8
 “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldúa

Thursday, May 10
 “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldúa

Final Exam: Thursday, May 17, 2018, 5:30 – 7:30 pm