Required Graded Work

Class Participation (incl. performance and public folder posts)--20%

Weekly Quizzes--20%

N.B.: I drop the lowest two (out of an anticipated 12) and I curve the class norm so that it corresponds to Goucher's numerical definitions of the number ranges [0-59 F; 60-62 D-; 63-66 D; 67-69 D+; 70-72 C-; 73-76 C; 77-79 C+; 80-82 B-; 83-86 B; 87-89 B+; 90-92 A-; and 93-100 A].  I also follow these definition of "C" as "Fair" rather than "Average" performance, so the class arithmetical average may well be above a C, indicating that you all are performing at better than a "Fair" level.

Midterm Exam--10%

First Paper--10%

Second Paper--20%

Final Exam--20%

In-Class Performances and Analyses (one per student-sign up by 9/9/05)

Modern literary analysis generally agrees that every time a  reader reads a text, the reader "performs" the text, much like a musician performs the notes on a piece paper to make the music come alive.  Because almost all the literature of this era was meant to be performed aloud, each day's class will begin with one member of the class reading a passage or short complete work which s/he thinks is important, excellent, puzzling, or otherwise a useful way to begin discussion. The reading will be followed by a brief explanation of why it was chosen, and the whole will be evaluated for appropriateness to the study of the work in question, original insight, and helpful connections made to other works/authors we already have read. This will form part of the "Class Participation" portion of the course grade. See me if you want advice about picking, performing, or explaining a passage or work. Passages can be claimed in advance during the first week of classes, and readers may trade dates/passages among themselves as long as the day's readings always are covered.  Click here for the criteria I will use for evaluation of performances and interpretations, and some important advice about how to prepare your passage and your analysis..

Public Folder Posts

Some students find it difficult to participate in class discussion, and in a large class countless good ideas and questions must be left by the wayside during ordinary classroom discussion. The public folder (Academic Dep't.s-->English 211) offers each of you an opportunity to ask questions and to make comments you did have time for or didn't think of in class. I will monitor and respond to these postings, and I occasionally will post helpful information before or after class (including, occasionally, quiz questions!). this of this as your space to consider class discussion after class, a chance to raise the issues which concern you most, or to get clarification of concepts or technical jargon which you didn't understand in class. I will base up to 1/2 the class participation grade on the quantity and quality of your posts to the folder. I am especially interested in students who respond helpfully to other students' posts.   For examples of previous student-generated public folder conversations which have produced extra credit (as well as several insights which resulted in good to excellent papers), see the "Controversies"


Quizzes will be unannounced, at least once each week, and no make-ups will be allowed. Their sheer number will make it likely that everyone will miss at least one, and designing makeup quizzes for such a large class would be impossible. If you miss class for an authorized absence (see Student Handbook), I will not count that quiz in your final average. Also, your lowest two quiz grades will be dropped and quizzes will be graded on a curve so your average will be scored relative to the class's average.


The First Paper must be primarily concerned with a single text we've read before 10/13, its body (not including Works Cited) .must be no longer than three pages.  You need use only the primary source (the work of literature) but you must cite it using MLA style. An experienced college-level student of English literature normally would use secondary sources, but there is no requirement that you use them if you are unsure how to do so.  (For advice, see this web page.)  If you do use secondary sources, they must be scholarly (peer-reviewed) and they must be cited using MLA style.  I would prefer to give no extensions on the deadline in order to keep my obligations to students in my other classes, but I am willing to listen to reasonable arguments for short delays.  If you submit the paper by email as an attached file, it is your responsibility   to insure that the file arrives properly formatted to print using MS-Word.  You must send it with the email option checked that will notify you when I have opened the email. and you must include in the email the specific request that I reply with news about whether the file printed properly.  If you do not do those two things, you are entirely responsible if anything goes wrong.  The same is true if you ask a friend to deliver a paper copy to me. 

        Now that all that authoritarian stuff is out of the way, some advice--please take a while deciding on a topic.  Make a list of possible texts about which you have something important to say.  Think about focus, where you'll find the most important insight-density per word or per sentence.  Let that direct your attention at first.   Then narrow your focus within that text to the single most important, non-obvious observation you can report to help a reader better understand how the text works and/or what the author intended it to mean.  For clues to develop insights, research sources, and theoretical/critical method, click here.   For the evaluation criteria, click here.   If anything about these guides is unclear, please ask and give me a chance to teach you something important to the way English majors do business in writing.

The Second Paper must be concerned with at least two works of literature we will have read by the end of the course, and the primary focus may not be on a text read before 10/13.  You also can write on two parts of one major work from the second half of the course (e.g., Volpone, Paradise Lost, Oroonoko, The Way of the World).  There is no page length minimum, and no page length maximum.  As long as the papers sincerely engage at least two texts (or parts of a major text, see above), I will evaluate them on the quality of their argument, not on the quantity of their verbiage.  Because this paper serves as an instrument to measure Writing Proficiency in the Major for some English Majors, in addition to your primary sources, I require you to refer to at least some scholarly secondary sources. That means sources most come from scholarly journals (including peer-reviewed online journals) and books published by university presses, including essay collections. Wise students will use scholarship in the paper's introduction to establish the current issues relevant to their authors or primary texts, and to solve problems in demonstrating their theses. Sometimes they will develop the paper as a productive debate with a critic whose views they dispute, seek to extend, or hope to modify. They also will not use sources only for the sake of a requirement, and they will use sources that are recent, or at least still of lasting quality. They will not neglect article-length sources because articles are more likely to deal with issues of the same intellectual weight as a student's paper.   For more detailed assistance in using scholarly sources as scholars use them, see this page.  Writing Center tutors can help you learn to use the MLA Bibliography  and other CPM resources, and you also talk to Randy Smith the other reference desk librarians specially trained in bibliographic search strategies (x6365), if you need help finding, selecting, and evaluating leads.  The policy on emailed and hand-delivered papers, as well as deadline extensions, is the same as it is for the midterm paper.

        Please talk with me or send an email message describing your thesis before you start writing. I may be able to help you focus your thesis, and I also may be able to save you from errors which could damage the paper. Once you have your thesis, feel free to see me, call or email me for advice on developing it. Remember that many Writing Center tutors have taken this course and can help you.  Talk to your Writing Center tutor when you are first brainstorming your ideas, again after your first draft, and one more time while you are editing the paper for coherence and strengthening its logic.  If you have trouble proof-reading, that's a good reason to go a fourth time, but do not neglect the tutors while you are struggling to start and create the paper.

For a checklist to keep you from missing obvious things just before you turn in the paper, click here.

Requirements for the English Major at Goucher College

Note that the courses required for the major may be taken out of sequence, but that some are offered only in one semester every year. We recommend that students take English 211, 212, and 215 early in their careers (ideally sophomore year) in order to provide the contextual background for more specialized study of individual authors, eras, and works. This strategy also provides training in critical methods and writing the literature paper early enough to allow students to take advantage of that instruction in all upper-division courses, where it is usually taken for granted by the teachers.

English Major, Literature Option-- 

English 211 (Fall)

English 212 (Spring)

English 215 (Spring)

A Medieval or Ren. course (240/this Spring, 243/Spring, 246/Fall but rarely)

A Romantic (257/Spring) or Victorian (259/Spring) course

A Modernism or Postmodernism course (270/Fall, 273/Spring, 276/Spring)

An Am.Lit. course (250/Spring, 254/Spring, 261/Fall)

and enough other courses to add up to 33 credits at 200 or 300 level including at least 3 seminars (300 level).

English Major, Writing Option--

at least 33 credits including 211, 212, 215, 232 (Shakespeare), and at least two other lit courses, one at 300 level, plus at least three from this group (202, 203, 205, 206, 208, 221, 226) and at least one from 305, 306, or 307, "and an internship involving writing or an independent project in writing."

English Major, All Options--

College Writing Proficiency (105, 201, or portfolio to WP director)

Writing Proficiency in the Major (C or better on papers for 211 and 212)

Computing Proficiency in the Major (see description and instructions in this web page).