Course Syllabus

M W F  11:00-11:50AM   A409
Contact Information:
  • 403 St. Joseph (Box 461)
  • My last name,  at the domain.
  • 724-830-1909

Office Hours:
  • Monday, 4-5
  • Tuesday, 10-11
  • Wednesday, 1-2
  • Thursday, 3:30-4:30 (though I will often have a meeting at 4)

From the Catalog:

Introduction to reading, research, grammar, and writing in the study of literature. Emphasis on literary forms, research tools, and the vocabulary of literary study. Practice in writing the literary essay. English majors take this course during their freshman or sophomore year.

At the end of this course, you should be able to

  1. Deeply and critically read complex literary and academic texts
  2. Write college-level essays on personal and professional topics, building on the foundation of standard English grammar and usage that you developed in Basic Comp and/or Seminar in Thinking and Writing.
  3. Use textual evidence to support your own original claims about issues raised in the readings, without dismissing or oversimplifying views which differ from yours
  4. Demonstrate the ability to engage intellectually with peers in both formal and informal environments
  5. Write a college-level research paper that appropriately uses primary and secondary sources
The class format will be mostly discussion, with some lecture.

Critical thinking is a skill; like most things of value, it is not easy to learn (or teach), and meaningful progress comes only with practice. One of the benefits of the small class sizes we have at Seton Hill is that all students can participate meaningfully in every class discussion..

Please keep copies of rough drafts; that is, instead of saving overtop of your old files, save each new version with a new name ("Exercise 1.1" "Exercise 1.2").  I may want to talk with you about your rough drafts before recording a grade.

I will often send out bulk e-mails to the address on file for you in the J-Web system. If you check a different address more regularly, please use SHU's e-mail forwarding service so that you don't miss important updates.

According to the catalog, "Students are expected to attend every class." (See Seton Hill University Catalog, p. 28-29, "Class Attendance" and "Excused Absences".) 

Repeated late arrivals and early departures will begin to count as absences.

A student's final grade may be lowered by the proportion of unexcused absences. Thus, a student with a final grade of 90% with a record of 10% unexcused absences may get a final grade of 81%. (If you have only a few absences and your class participation is good, I will probably waive the penalty.)

Seton Hill University recognizes that extra-curricular activities of all sorts are important components of a liberal arts education. Nevertheless:
  • Students who miss deadlines for any reason are still responsible for the material covered that day.

  • An excused absence does not automatically grant an extension for any work collected, assigned, or discussed that day.

According to Seton Hill policy, you must complete 80% of the course material before you qualify for an incomplete, and you must clear the request with the registrar before the last day of classes.

5.1.1. Emergency Absences

Those who miss deadlines due to an unplanned emergency should submit an "Absence Form," with proper documentation, as soon as possible.

For each class that you miss, print out and complete an "Absence Form" (available at After you initiate this contact, we can discuss when or whether it will be possible for you to make up the work that you missed.

Before you contact me about material that you missed, please consult the online syllabus and/or a classmate's notes to determine exactly what you need to make up. (If you ask me to e-mail you a summary of what you missed in class, I will refer you to this document.)

For some classroom activities, such as offering timely feedback on a peer draft, there may be no appropriate make-up assignment. (See 5.2 Participation.)

5.1.2. Scheduled Absences

Those who miss deadlines due to a scheduled activity must plan to complete all assignments beforehand. Coming up with a plan to accommodate your needs may involve extra work on my end, so please submit an acceptable "Absence Form" (see above) as soon as possible.

Students who are attentive, prepared, involved, respectful, and contribute positively to the classroom environment stand to benefit if their final grade falls near a borderline. Participation is a key factor that determines whether and to what degree I will adjust a final grade up or down.

Students who dislike public speaking may wish to invest more effort in their online writing, and vice-versa.

This course expects you to use the internet regularly -- mostly and  Just as students in generations past learned to carry spare quills, a pen knife, an extra inkhorn, and spare lamp wicks, there are certain common-sense strategies that will make your use of the internet less risky. Print out a copy of the course syllabus, and print out online readings in advance, so that you can work on the readings if the internet happens to be down.

Most work will be submitted online.

Most online due dates will be set for 15 minutes before class begins (in order to discourage students from missing the first few minutes of class because they were uploading the homework).  In general, late submissions go to the bottom of my grading stack. If you are a few minutes late submitting your online work, I probably won't even notice (as long as you're ready when it's time to start class).

Unless I agree to another arrangement in advance, assignments listed as Exercises or components of the research papers lose one letter grade per day they are late. (Any day when SHU classes are in session, including Saturday, counts as one day.)

Some assignments that are designed to give you specific preparation for a particular class (e.g. worksheets or reading responses) will be collected only at the beginning of the class when they are due.

If given a good reason, I am generally willing to be flexible. Nevertheless, some work (such as group projects and peer workshops) can't be made up.

If you are late submitting any part of a multi-step assignment, you might not get feedback from me before the next part of the assignment is due.  (I can try to plan ahead for this sort of thing if you let me know in advance.)


Items designated as "workbooks" or "worksheets" are brief assignments designed to help you focus on some area of knowledge, or give you practice on some skill that is about to feed into an upcoming assignment. I might ask you to correct a grammatical error in a sample sentence, or demonstrate the ability to write a thesis statement.

Possible workbook grades are A, B, REDO, and zero.

If the workbook has a J-Web component, I will reset it so you can do it over. To REDO an essay or worksheet assignment, re-submit all your previous attempts (with my comments, if any) when you submit your latest attempt.

  • The highest grade you can earn for a REDO is B.
  • You may REDO multiple times if necessary.
  • The opportunity to REDO ends a week after the original due date, at which point the REDO becomes a zero.

I won't generally correct your mistakes in a workbook; rather, I will give general feedback to the whole class. I would be happy to meet with you during my office hours, if you would like some one-on-one help. Exercises

Via, submit the assignments designed as Exercises. (I will send out an e-mail with instructions for setting up your account.)

Getting Credit for Late Work

J-Web assignments close automatically when the deadline passes. I won't be so rigid about the exercises and project components that you upload to, or the online discussion that you carry on through your blogs.  But if your assignment has not appeared in its proper place by the time I finish marking all the work that was submitted on time, I may record a zero for a late assignment.

In order to remove that zero, you will need to tell me exactly assignment you have recently submitted. (Just send me an e-mail with the name of the assignment.)

If you would like to purchase your texts online, here is a page with links to for Intro to Literary Study. (You don't have to buy them from Amazon -- you may choose any bookseller, and the items are also in the SHU bookstore.)

  • Card, Ender's Game
  • Edson, Wit
  • Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed
  • Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor
  • Hamilton, Essential Literary Terms
  • Lemire, I'm an English Major, Now What?
  • O'Connor, A Good Man Is Hard To Find and Other Stories
  • Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Disability Statement
If you have a disability that requires instructor consideration please contact the Director of Disability Services at 724-838-4295. It is recommended that this be accomplished by the second week of class.

If you need accommodations for successful participation in class activities prior to your appointment at the Disability Services Office, you should offer information in writing that includes suggestions for assistance in participating in and completing class assignments. It is not necessary to disclose the nature of your disability.

Academic Honesty and Ethical Conduct

Seton Hill University expects that all its students will practice academic honesty and ethical conduct.

The University regards plagiarism, cheating on examinations, falsification of papers, non-sanctioned collaboration, and misuse of library material, computer material, or any other material, published or unpublished, as violations of academic honesty. Violators of the code may expect disciplinary sanctions, which are discussed in the Seton Hill University Catalog, page 30, Code of Academic Conduct.

Many of your college assignments will involve quoting from or responding to other people's words and ideas. However, using those words or ideas without properly citing them, or resubmitting your own work for a different class without the instructor's permission, constitutes plagiarism.

Paraphrasing the thoughts or written work of another without reference -- even with permission from the source -- is also plagiarism.

Helpful information is available at What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It.

Any plagiarism on a draft will result in a zero as the final grade on that assignment. Any plagiarism or cheating on an informal essay, paragraph, or grammar exercise will also result in a zero.

There are 1000 points of work in the class.

  • Workbooks (150 points)
  • Participation Portfolios (300 points)
  • Exercises (400) points)
  • Final Presentation (150)

There is no final exam.

I will grade on a four-point scale. If an assignment, such as an exercise, is worth 50 points, and you earn 40, that's a high B.  If you earn a 25, that's a C.

If, at the end of the class, you have earned about 750 points, then your base grade will be a B. (I might bump that grade up or down a little, based on your participation.)

Brief skill-checks, which earn grades of A, B, REDO, and zero.
The portfolio assignments asks you to compile your contributions to the most productive online conversations, as well as selected thoughtful expansions of contributions that you made earlier. The portfolios are your opportunity to demonstrate your developing understanding of key concepts and issues that we have been discussing.

The participation portfolios are your chance to call to my attention the online contributions that you feel are the most valuable. The most important component of the portfolio is your reflection on your online participation. I'll post more details about the portfolios after everyone has had some time to get comfortable in the online environment. If you keep up with your online postings, the portfolio assignment will be easy.

  1. Portfolio 1 (100)
  2. Portfolio 2 (100)
  3. Portfolio 3 (100)

Short essays, more formal than an in-class response paper, but not as formal as a research paper.

You are welcome to use "I" and refer informally to things we have discussed in class, but

  • choose a specific thesis to defend
  • quote assigned readings directly and usefully
  • follow MLA style (including a Works Cited list)

Generally 3-4 pages long, sometimes broken up into several shorter parts.

Upload these to

Check the course outline page for the due dates and assigned subjects. I will provide more information about each exercise as the due dates approaches.
Near the end of term, sign up for a topic related to English studies. Possible topics might include fanfic, cinema studies, DRM and file-sharing, the graphic novel, censorship, or bilingualism. Clear your topic with me so that the final presentations don't overlap too much.

Recent Comments

mark emmanuel madelo on Sonnet -- Shakespeare: can u give me some picture in each sonnets? sonnet
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Kayley Dardano on Portfolio 3: This you will want to read
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Dennis G. Jerz on Ex 2-3: Researched Essay: Yes, that's right -- submit the final draft to Tur
Lauren Miller on Portfolio 3: "You say goodbye And I say hello... Hello, hello I
Juliana Cox on Portfolio 3: It's done!
Ally Hall on Portfolio 3: My farewell portfolio... http://blogs.setonhill.e
A Freshman One Resea on Ex 2-3: Researched Essay: I believe at the beginning of the semester you sai
Jeanine O'Neal on Portfolio 3: The Final Episode of the "Blog Entry" Trilogy http
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