Office: Arts and Sciences (COAS) 203
As indicated in the MGA Catalog, English 2121 is "survey of important works of British literature from the Old English period through the neoclassical age." This course presents a selective survey of prominent writers and works in British literature from its beginnings through the eighteenth century, with specific emphasis on Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Jonathan Swift, among others. My essential aim is to lead you through close exploration of selected masterpieces in British literature to improve your abilities in critical thinking, analytical reading, and effective writing. Additionally, I hope to foster your understanding of literature as not merely "matter for scholastic study," or a hoop to negotiate along the way to a college diploma, but as truly significant beyond the classroom because literature speaks directly to and about us all in the most fundamental ways as human beings, offering intelligent and thinking people a valuable and inexhaustible life resource throughout their lives.
Texts and Materials
The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors, 9th Edition, Vol. 1, ISBN 978-0-393-91964-6
Henry V, by William Shakespeare, Bantam Classics edition. Ed. David Bevington, ISBN 978-0-553-21295-2
Recommended but not required: The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, Penguin Classics edition or any other college-level modern translation
Attendance: Each class is important, so it is crucial that you be in class on time every day. I record attendance, and absences do affect your grade. Students with more than four absences fail the class, regardless of the reasons for any of the absences—I make no distinction between "excused" and "unexcused" absences. I understand that "stuff happens," and not every student will be able to attend every class meeting. I will try to work with you on any assignments you happen to miss other than reading quizzes, especially when you let me know about the absence missing class: email me anytime you must miss class.
Textbooks: The texts ordered for this class, in the editions specified, are mandatory.
Late work: Late work is penalized one letter grade for each class day the assignment is late. Work turned in more than three class days late will receive no higher grade than F, and I accept no work more than two weeks late.
Bare minimum course requirements: Regardless of your overall grade average, to be eligible to pass the course you must turn in both formal papers, submit five critical responses, complete corrections assignments for both the formal papers and your first two critical responses, and take the midterm and final exams.
Plagiarism: Except for assignments expressly calling for collaborative effort, all written work must be your own. Any unacknowledged borrowing from the writings of others will be considered plagiarism, a serious breach of academic integrity. I will submit cases of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty for review by the Student Conduct Officer. The penalty for plagiarism in this class is an "F" for the entire course, not just the assignment in question. See the more specific definition of plagiarism in the English 21XX syllabus supplement; also see "On Plagiarism."
Cell phones/personal electronics: The use of cell phones, smart-phones, PDA's, ipods, smart-watches and other personal electronics devices is forbidden during classtime. All such hand-held devices must be kept out of sight for the duration of class—off of desks and out of laps. I will count absent any student texting or viewing a personal electronic device, and if the problem persists I will ask students not abiding by this policy to leave the classroom. Students who wish to take notes on laptops may do so, but only if they sit in the back row or on a side wall.
Content advisory: This is a college class, in a State University, and even though some students may legally be minors, I will treat all students as adults. We may read and discuss material that makes you uncomfortable or that some deem offensive or counter to their personal beliefs, including matters relating to religion, race, sex, and sexuality. If you are uncomfortable with any of the material we cover in this course, I encourage you to let me know about it. If you want to avoid the possibility of exposure to ideas and writings that make you uncomfortable, you may want to take a different course in place of this one.
Class discussion: Most class periods involve open discussion of reading assignments with little lecture, so your participation in discussion is essential. I will call on reticent or "quiet" students. To participate, obviously you must be present in class; to score higher than B- in participation you will need to contribute in discussion spontaneously and appropriately several times each class meeting.
Reading quizzes: unannounced quizzes testing your close attention to the readings.
Critical response writings: typed informal writings of at least 200 words responding to the readings before we discuss them in class. Note that each critical response assignment is valid for one class period only, and that critical responses are accepted only by the beginning of the period for which they are assigned. I will post critical response topics on the web and announce them in class the meeting before each reading assignment is due. Grades are recorded for only five critical responses, meaning that you do not have to address every assigned topic, only a total of five over the course of the semester. You may do up to two extra critical responses to replace the lowest two grades among the first five responses you submit.
The Writing Matters test covers a variety of rules, conventions, and matters of mechanics outlined in several web pages from my site: the Golden Rules are important rules of grammar and style; the Nuggets cover a variety of conventions and problems, especially in the handling of quotations; a number of common problems in spelling and diction are described in Word Problems; the Quotations page presents basic conventions in MLA-style citation and documentation of sources.
Terminology test: a test assessing your mastery of literary terminology which we will cover early in the semester.
Exams: Both the midterm and the final will consist of two parts: 1) "short answers," or brief paragraph-length commentary on the significance of specific passages from our readings, and 2) essays on central themes and literary features of the works we cover. There will be one essay on the midterm and two on the final. You will have some choice in the short answer and essay portions of each exam: you might on one exam, for instance, select 7 of 10 short answer questions and 1 of 3 essay options.
Papers: In two essays of 4-6 typed pages (1200-1250 word minimum), you will explore in some depth a subject you choose from a list of paper topics I will post on the web at the appropriate time. You will turn in a topic sentence outline, or paper proposal, before each paper is due as indicated on the schedule of readings and assignments. Both formal papers will be submitted printed on paper in "hard copy" and also in digital form uploaded to Brightspace (D2L).
Corrections: For the first two critical responses you submit and the formal papers, after your work is graded you will hand in corrected drafts with all changes highlighted. For specifics, see corrections instructions.
Conferences: I strongly recommend one-on-one conferences in my office if you struggle with any aspect of the readings and at any stage of the paper-writing processexploring topics, drafting, revising, or editing. My typical aim in paper conferences is to head off potential problems in your essays and to offer helpful, critical response to your work before you submit it for grading.Paper "Rewrites": You may rewrite and resubmit the two graded formal papers for re-grading. Rewrite grades replace original grades completely. Note that rewriting involves far more substantial revision than correcting grammatical errors (which you do in corrections): rewrites should also address larger problems in focus, structure, content, and style. The starting point for revision is my typed comments on your graded papers; rewrites should also address comments and questions written in the margins of the original graded papers.
Most handouts and assignments will be posted on my website rather than distributed as hard copy in classyou are responsible for printing and reading web-page "handouts" before we discuss them in class. Most handouts are indicated as linked pages on the online schedule of readings and assignments. I may occasionally contact you through email also, and I encourage you to email me with questions on course matters large or small.
Final grade breakdown
Tracking grades: You should check your grades periodically in Brightspace (D2L). Let me know if you have concerns about your class average or grades on specific assignments before you consider withdrawing from the course.
A note on note-taking: Although this course involves comparatively little lecture, you should take notes every class period. "A" students typically take extensive notes. Even in class periods where your classmates do more "discussing" than the professor, you should make note of any significant points made by anyone in the discussion. You would also do well to underline, highlight, or otherwise note all passages from the readings that we take special notice of in class, as I usually select short-answer quotations for exams mainly from those we've read or examined in discussion.
For those intent on doing their absolute best: Tutoring is available free of charge in the Writing Center and in Student Success Centers (SSC) on all campuses. The Macon campus Writing Center is in TEB 226 and the SSC is in the lower level of the Library building.
To check the schedules for subjects tutored and tutor availability, visit the SSC website at http://www.mga.edu/student-success-center/. On the Macon campus you can book tutoring sessions by visiting mga.mywconline.com/. The SSC website also posts tutoring schedules for other centers across the five campuses, including the Writing Center (in Macon, TEB 226: 478-471-3542). All tutoring centers across the five campuses are free of charge. Other services at the SSC include online academic workshops and a robust website with resources for academic assistance. The centers also have computer workstations, free printing, and Internet access.
The Bottom Line: I hope every member of this class gets an A, and I will do all I can to make this happen. Don't get me wrongthe standards for "A" work are high, and I make no exceptions in course policies on absences, missed assignments, plagiarism, or late work. The number-one key to succeeding in this class is that you take responsibility for your own success, meaning that you attend to all assignments with careful, earnest diligence, that you respond positively to any setbacks and heed my feedback on all assignments, and that you seek my help as much and as often as you need it. I guarantee you have one of the most accessible professors at Middle Georgia State: ask for help outside of class, and I'll do my level best to deliver.