Group Discussion Post Assignment
English 120F and G: World Literature 1
Dr. Brooke A. Stafford Office: CA 304C
firstname.lastname@example.org Office Hours: Tu/Th 11am – 12pm & by appointment
Phone: 280-3828 Course Website: http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/english/Stafford
This semester we will read works written in a wide variety of cultural traditions from antiquity through the Renaissance. We will consider these works within their own historic and cultural contexts; we will also look at their relationship to other works from different time periods and cultures. In order to foster this sort of work, our readings will be organized according to shifting ideals about heroes and heroism. Within the broader categories, we will also read and think about how our texts deal with the relationship between the individual and society, the representation of the commoner, and challenges made to accepted societal norms. Further, as we read, we will examine what each work tells us about its genre (epic, drama, lyric, novel, etc.), its culture, and issues such as gender, class, and cross-cultural contact. Be prepared to discover and discuss both differences and commonalities between the texts we read. Finally, we will also consider why these works remain important – and relevant – today, hundreds of years after their composition.
Key questions that we will address this semester include (but are certainly not limited to): What is a hero? How do we know? Are the protagonists always “heroes” or can they be anti-heroes? Can a minor character be a hero? Can women be heroes? What are the key characteristics of various genres? How does understanding these characteristics affect the way we understand a particular text? What work does – or can – literature do? Why might literature be a particularly effective mode for accomplishing these sorts of tasks? What are some of the benefits and risks of reading literature across times and cultures? How can we deal with both responsibly and effectively?
The primary goals of this course are as follows:
1. To foster a greater sense of familiarity and comfort with reading and understanding texts from a wide variety of
cultures and time periods.
2. To gain an understanding of various literary genres.
3. To read texts figuratively – to go beyond “what it says” in order to think about “what it means” by developing skills in
literary analysis, especially close reading.
4. To engage in conversations about these texts that will lead to the development of arguments that address larger
5. To work on skills for writing about literature that will enable you to develop and support arguments about the texts,
arguments, and conversations we engage with; to develop your own argument about texts that is well thought out and
to be able to articulate, support, and defend it both verbally and in writing.
6. To create a learning environment in which all participants take a responsible and active role in the creation of
To achieve these goals, all of us will have to arrive in class prepared and ready to go. It will be essential that reading is done on time and that it is done thoughtfully.
Texts and Materials
The following required text is available at the bookstore:
• The Norton Anthology of World Literature, 2nd Edition. Volumes A, B, & C.
You must also have access to the following:
• A good college-level dictionary
• A good writer’s handbook. I like the following: The Everyday Writer, Andrea Lunsford; A Writer’s Reference, Diana Hacker; MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th Edition.
• Your CU email account. I will occasionally email the class using the group email function on Blackboard. These go to
your CU email and I will expect that you check it regularly.
Course RequirementsGroup Discussion Posts
You will each be part of a small group that will serve as your writing community for the semester. You will be required to post 250 to 300 words to your group discussion board before most classes. In addition to the posts marked on the course schedule, you will also be required to turn in two (2) posts in response to the two required outside activities you attend (one post per event). Post responses to your events within 3 days of attending them. More details on this assignment are provided in the Group Discussion Post handout. Group discussion board posts will be evaluated based on completeness, but I also expect thoughtful engagement and thorough textual support of claims. The percentage of posts you complete will determine the highest participation grade for which you are eligible. You may miss up to two posts (not outside event posts) without penalty. Thus, if you complete only 85% of the posts, your participation grade will be calculated on the basis of a possible 128 points rather than the full 150.
You will write two papers this semester. The first, 3 full to 5 pages in length, will be worth 150 points. The second, 4 full to 6 pages in length, will be worth 200 points. Each of these papers will provide an opportunity for you to develop, articulate, and thoroughly support an original argument about one or more of the assigned texts. For each paper, you will write an abstract detailing your tentative thesis and the approach you intend to take in supporting that thesis. I will provide feedback on your abstract well in advance of the paper’s due date. You are welcome – and encouraged – to consult with me about your paper at any stage in the writing process. I’m happy to read drafts, but will need them well in advance of the paper’s due date in order to have sufficient time to read and comment on them and to give you time to make revisions. I will distribute more detailed descriptions of the assignments for each paper well before their due dates. In general, however, I require that papers conform to MLA format, are typed using a standard 11 or 12 point font (such as Times New Roman), are stapled, and consist at least of the full minimum number of pages (i.e. a 4-6 page paper must be at least 4 full pages long).
You will also take two exams this semester – each worth 200 points. Both exams will be in-class and will require you to respond to objective, short answer, and essay questions. They will evaluate your familiarity with the texts and concepts assigned for the course and that we discuss in class.
Late in the semester you will turn in a project that asks you to deal creatively with the texts and information we’ve covered. This project requires that you put two or more of the authors we’ve read literally into conversation with each other around a topic of your choosing. Using the materials we’ve read, lecture notes, and class discussion notes, be sure to remark on various influences and connections and to note dates. You should also use specific examples from the texts. I encourage you to be creative with these projects. You may have your chosen authors write letters to each other, write a play with the three authors conversing, create a comic book, or do whatever makes the most sense to you in order to effectively convey how your chosen authors deal with your topic. As this project approaches, we will generate a list of possible topics and brainstorm together about which authors might converse well with each other. You must get my okay before beginning your project. On the day your project is due, you will briefly present it to the class. These projects will form the basis for your second paper; thus, your abstract for that paper will be part of what you turn in with your project. The project will be worth 100 points.
Preparation and Participation
This course will be conducted primarily as a seminar and will thus depend on thorough preparation and active participation by all members of the class for its success. Preparation will include various homework assignments, thoughtful reading, and careful completion of all other assignments. Participation in class – largely through discussion – will also be a key part of this component of the course requirements. Participation is worth 150 points and will be evaluated as follows:
A Level: These students are visible and obvious class leaders. Such a student contributes consistently, regularly and enthusiastically to class discussion, but such a student also does not dominate discussion. Talking a lot doesn't guarantee an A. Rather, talking in a way that develops the conversation, builds on the comments of others, and is thoroughly grounded in the text under discussion will lead to an A. A-level participants don't ramble. Perhaps the most noteworthy characteristics of the A participant is that s/he always has very clear evidence from the text (being able to point to relevant passages and concrete details). Moreover, s/he doesn't just talk to the instructor. S/he engages everyone in the class, asks questions or builds on the comments of others, and addresses others' remarks as well as promoting his or her own position. These students are excellent and exceptional in their performance in every class.
B Level: These students contribute regularly to each class meeting. The B-level student has much in common with the A student; what differentiates the two is the degree of consistency of performance. The B student is sometimes a class leader, but not always. The B student is reliable in giving concrete evidence and details, but less specific than the A student. S/he always does good work, usually engages others, but may not do so every class meeting. These students are above average in their contributions in terms of both content and delivery.
C Level: These students give useful and relevant ideas and opinions ; however, they may not support their ideas with evidence from the text or they may not contribute very frequently. The C student only rarely engages others in the class by asking questions or furthering points. These students are very obviously not the class leaders, although they come prepared to all class meetings and are productive members of the class. They are average in their work, doing what is required but no more.
D Level: These students are physically present and actively listen, but do not contribute with any regularity, or if they do, their contributions are vague and not carefully articulated. Their preparation and participation is never reliable and they do not make an effort to engage with others in the class.
F Level: These students are often absent. If they attend regularly, they are obviously and frequently unprepared and inattentive. An F-level student may also be one who makes insulting and unproductive comments, talks while others are speaking, or engages in other disruptive or disrespectful behavior. Numerous absences or flagrant rudeness should guarantee a failing grade.
At a three points during the semester, you will be asked to do a self-evaluation of your participation. I will read the first two self-evaluations and assign a provisional grade which will not be entered in the grade-book (or factored into your grade) but will be for informational purposes only and will form the basis of any discussion of how to improve your participation. At the end of the semester, your work over the course of the term will be holistically evaluated and the grade will be counted toward your final course grade.
If you are uncomfortable speaking in class, come talk to me in office hours and we can work on strategies for making class participation less intimidating.
Your course grade will be a composite of the previously mentioned elements:
Group Discussion Posts (determine possible participation points)
Paper 1: 150 points
Paper 2: 200 points
Mid-term Exam: 200 points
Project: 100 points
Preparation and Participation: 150 points
Final Exam: 200 points
Total possible = 1000 points
You must complete all assignments on time and in response to the requirements; failure to do so will result in a failing grade for the course. In other words, you may not “skip” an assignment and still pass the class.
Grades will be determined as follows:
A: 900-1000 B: 800-869 C: 700-769 D: 600-669
B+: 870-899 C+: 770-799 D+: 670-699 F: 0-599
Late and Missing Work
Much of the work we do in this course depends upon each member of our academic community coming to class fully prepared to participate. The failure to arrive prepared hurts your own development as a reader and writer and also hampers our efforts as a class; further, it demonstrates a lack of respect for your classmates and our common goals. Additionally, assignment due dates serve to determine your ability to deal with the course material at a specific point in time and, in the interest of fairness, it is important that everyone have the same amount of time to complete an assignment. For these reasons, I do not accept homework or in-class writing assignments late for credit and I will deduct a full letter grade from your paper or project grade for each day (including weekends) that it is late. If you miss a class meeting, it is your responsibility to get any assignments from one of your classmates as well as to complete and submit them on time. If you are having problems with an assignment, come talk to me! Do not wait until the day before the assignment is due. Early communication can help you avoid the problems of late homework and papers. Special considerations may be made in extreme circumstances.
Class attendance is required. What is discussed and presented in class cannot be replicated outside of it, so absences will negatively affect your grade. If you must be absent, please contact me in advance. If, in an emergency, this is impossible, please contact me as soon as possible to let me know what is going on. After more than six (6) absences, you do risk automatic failure of the course.
In the case of a weather emergency, I will notify you via the course blackboard website if class is cancelled. Even if class is not cancelled, please do not come to class if you feel that doing so would put you (or others!) in danger.
Communication and Office Hours
You are strongly encouraged to speak to me about your reading and writing throughout the semester. Please feel free to stop by my office to discuss class concerns with me – or just to say hello! Other modes of communication include email and the course blackboard site. I encourage you to use e-mail to contact me with any questions and concerns. I have also set up our class blackboard site (you can access this by logging in to Blackboard at courses.creighton.edu and clicking on the link for our class). I will use this site to distribute various announcements and instructions or to notify you of changes in our class schedule, so please check it regularly. Approved events that you may go to in order to fulfill the course requirement of attending two out of class activities will be posted on this site. The discussion board area of the site will serve as a place for you to ask questions of one another, follow up on threads of discussion or initiate new ones, and to work through paper ideas with one another as well. Substantive posts to the class-wide board will count toward your participation grade.
A note concerning email: While you can generally assume that I will check my email regularly during business hours (9-5, M-F), and that I will try to answer emails within 24 hours, please remember that it is impossible for me to guarantee that I will be able to get back to you immediately. If you have a question or concern, please get in touch with me as soon as possible – don’t wait until the last minute.
Please let me know if you need accommodation of any sort. I can work in conjunction with the appropriate offices to provide what you need. I’m also very willing to take suggestions specific to this course. This syllabus is available in large print– please ask.
Academic Honesty and Integrity
In this class, we will work together as an academic community of readers, writers, and thinkers. This said, it is also important that each of you experience the course as an individual, creating work that is your own and giving credit where credit is due (using the MLA format) when you use others’ ideas/words in your work. Additionally, all work submitted in this course must be original work that you have done for this course and this course alone. If you do not know how to properly cite a source you are referencing, I will be happy to help you figure it out. The essence of plagiarism is claiming someone else’s work (ideas and/or words) as your own. Plagiarism will result in a zero for the assignment in question and possible failure of the course. This holds for all assignments completed for this class.
Remember, plagiarism is never a good choice. If you are feeling confused, overwhelmed, or unsure about any of our assignments at any time during the semester, please talk with me during my office hours, before or after class, or via e-mail.
Tentative Semester ScheduleThis schedule provides you with a sense of what we’ll be doing this semester and when we’ll be doing it. Please remember that all schedules are subject to change. You must attend class in order to remain informed.
Th 1/13 Introductions Discussion Post [DP]: Introductions due by Friday at 5 pm
Week 2 Epic Heroes
Tu 1/18 The Odyssey DP on text due
Th 1/20 The Odyssey DP response to peers due
Tu 1/25 The Odyssey DP on text due
Th 1/27 The Odyssey DP response to peers due
Tu 2/1 The Odyssey DP response to text or peers due
Th 2/3 The Epic of Gilgamesh DP on text due
Tu 2/8 The Pillow Book and The Tale of the Heike DP on texts due
Th 2/10 The Tale of the Heike Paper #1 Abstract Due via email before class
Tu 2/15 The Inferno DP on text due
Th 2/17 The Inferno DP response to peers or text due
Week 7 Chivalric Romances – a Changing Heroic Ideal
Tu 2/22 Marie de France Paper #1 Due
Th 2/24 The Decameron DP on text due
Tu 3/1 Sappho and Florentine Codex DP on text due
Th 3/3 Midterm Exam
3/5-13 Spring Break
Tu 3/15 Mirabai and Bhagavad-Gita DP on text due
Th 3/17 Class Cancelled – Stafford is at a conference. Outside event assignment / reading day.
Tu 3/22 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight DP on text due
Th 3/24 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight DP response to peers due
Tu 3/29 Don Quixote DP on text due
Th 3/31 Don Quixote DP response to peers due
Tu 4/5 Presentation of Projects
Th 4/7 Presentation of Projects; Paper #2 Abstracts Due
Week 14 Tragic Heroes
Tu 4/12 Oedipus DP on text due
Th 4/14 Oedipus DP response to peers due
Tu 4/19 Othello DP on text due
Th 4/21 Othello DP response to peers due
Tu 4/26 Othello; Paper #2 Due
Th 4/28 Wrapping Up / Final Review
Section F Final Exam: Thursday, May 5, 10:00 am – 11:40 am
Section G Final Exam: Thursday, May 5, 1:00 pm - 2:40 pm