College Writing 2 (CW2) is a methods course in a discipline. In this particular CW2, ENGL 130: Writing About Literature, you will learn how to engage in scholarly conversations about literature by using close reading of primary and secondary sources; conducting original research, and developing analytical arguments about literary texts in different genres. In this course, you’ll build on the interdisciplinary work you did in ENGL 110 by learning to write well in the discipline of English Studies. My aim is to teach you to write about literary texts in ways that connect with the practices, methods and conventions of the discipline, but that are also shaped by the questions and interpretations that are meaningful to you. Using methods of reading, writing and research that are common to English Studies and other literary fields, you’ll identify the questions that interest you most about the texts you read. You’ll pursue answers to those questions as you learn how to contribute meaningfully to a scholarly conversation that precedes you, or perhaps better: you will pursue possible responses to your questions as you shape those responses in relation to what your colleagues say in class discussions and what other literary interpreters say in their published work about the texts.
You will learn that writing is a means of discovery, a process of continual refinement of ideas and their expression. Rather than approaching writing as an innate talent, this course will teach writing as a unique, learned skill that can be practiced and developed. Over the course of the semester, you will read and discuss texts, complete regular informal reading and writing exercises, write several longer essays, and prepare a brief retrospective, all while exploring works of literature.
The primary goal of English 130 is to help students transfer the knowledge they gain about interdisciplinary writing in English 110 to succeed in the English major. To accomplish this, we will:
- Learn how to engage with other scholars in meaningful conversations about literature.
- Obtain overall fluency in the elements of academic writing: including thesis, evidence, analysis, format, revision, critical reading, quoting, summarization, and paraphrasing.
- Attain reasonable fluency in modes of thinking and writing about literature, including analyzing and interpreting texts through close reading, evaluating and arguing textual analysis, and making inferences.
- Make use of prewriting and invention techniques: including freewriting, notetaking, brainstorming, developing ideas and language through a process of planning, drafting, revising, and editing.
- Analyze one’s own and other students’ writing for clarity, focus, and rhetorical effectiveness and understand oneself as a writer developing a voice.
- Employ standard usage of English grammar and mechanics: including spelling, capitalization, sentence structure, and punctuation.
REQUIRED COURSE TEXTS
- Jonathan Culler’s Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN: 978-0199691340.
- Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street. Vintage, 1991. ISBN: 978-0679734772.
All additional readings will be provided to you on the class blog.
To receive a passing grade in this course, students must at minimum:
- Submit a final draft for each of the assigned essays, each accompanied by at least one formal draft. Students must submit all essays in order to pass the class.
- Attend and participate in all classes and conferences.
- Prepare reading and writing exercises as assigned.
Since this course is as much about thinking as it is about writing, rich, consistent, and ethical participation is crucial to the successful completion of the course. You must strive to be actively and intellectually engaged, not simply present. Hence, “participation” in this course includes but is not limited to:
- completing all homework i.e. reading and writing activities
- volunteering to respond when questions are posed to the class
- responding thoughtfully and respectfully to classmates’ ideas
- asking questions that advance and contribute to the discussion at hand
- volunteering to read when text is to be read aloud
- contributing meaningfully during small group activities
- engaging in focused work and dialogue during peer workshops
- freewriting diligently when required
- using gender-inclusive pronouns e.g. “he or she” instead of the typical “he” when referring to a general, non-specific situation
- sharing your point of view, feedback, perspective while respecting the diversity of opinions, ethnic backgrounds, gender expressions and sexual orientations, social classes, religious beliefs, and ethnicities within the class and larger society
- presenting research to the class professionally in the spirit of increasing collective knowledge and understanding
- seeking out, carefully considering, and incorporating feedback during your revision process
Attendance & Lateness
The discussion and workshop elements that are at the center of this course cannot be made up, so attendance is vital. Lateness is disruptive to the entire class. If you have to miss class, please write me a brief, formal email to notify me; you do not need to explain the reason for your absence. It is your responsibility to catch yourself up with the learning you missed; I suggest contacting peers and reviewing posted materials as a first step. If you want to further discuss class materials or topics covered, you are welcome to visit me during office hours. Please do not write me requesting that I summarize a missed class for you over email.
If you miss more than 3 classes by the middle of the semester, I will ask you to meet with me to discuss your capacity to successfully complete the course.
I am open to all contact and I encourage you to send me an email if you have any questions or concerns. I only ask that your emails are respectful; in other words, please don’t email me in the same way that you would text a friend. Please understand that I may not be able to respond right away, so if your question is very important, do not wait until it is too late to ask it. Additionally, if you have a question or concern about an assignment, please do not contact me about it five minutes before the assignment is due.