Professor Jessica Yood
Lehman College, CUNY Spring 2015

Course Description from Bulletin: 
English 300 M 9-10 40am in Carman 310: 4 hours, 4 credits
Intensive reading and writing about works of literature in the several genres of poetry, fiction, drama, and creative nonfiction. Focused study of major issues in criticism and interpretation. Advanced exposition, with emphasis on the development of the reading, writing, and research skills essential to literary studies. Individual conferences. 

Introduction to Course
Welcome to this course, to literary genres, and to this community of writers. And, most importantly, welcome to this new community of English majors/minors. I look forward to working with you to make it a serious, honest, rigorous, supportive, and intellectually stimulating semester.

In a way, you need no official introduction. If you made it this far as an English major/minor then you know something, intuitively, experientially, viscerally, intelligently, about reading and writing and the place of literature in your life, and in the world. So we will begin this class right in the middle. With what you already know:  your own writing and reading. And what your relationship is, broadly speaking, to contemporary culture. By “contemporary culture” I mean the immediate world that surrounds you and the broader, global world that connects to your daily interactions with people, with entertainment, with business and nature.

We will move out and back from the personal to the cultural. We will do so by reading contemporary literature and pairing that with many perspectives on literature offered by critics and theorists. The purpose of reading these various takes on literature is not only to understand the “approaches” to literary study (this is how this course is described in the bulletin) but to acknowledge why and how literature matters to persons, politics, and culture, and how different “approaches” to reading literature matter. The way to make this matter is through writing. So a key purpose of this course is to work on communication of ideas concisely and clearly through academic writing and writing in the digital world. 

Please be aware that this course meets only once a week, but that the weekly assignment counts as a class, as this is a hybrid course. Missing an assignment is equivalent to missing a course. Please see the attached contract to determine if a hybrid class would work for you and your work habits.

Course Goals and Creation of Course Community
Every reading activity is connected to a writing activity. That activity’s primary purpose is to help you correspond with (connect to) others about what you’re reading and how that reading links to contemporary concerns that others can be interested in. 

Course Outcomes and Expectations
The primary outcome for all students is this: the ability to talk and write with clarity, fluency, authority, and with critical source material about the relationship between literature and philosophical, epistemological and political issues of contemporary culture. This outcome will be measured through SIX assignments:

  1. Weekly writing assignments that will vary in length and purpose, but usually will be up to one page, single spaced. The audience for these posts is each other—your fellow students. Some weeks your post will be responding to others’ posts. Most posts will be based on the reading and discussion from class. Some will be writing exercises that enhance the ability to read critically, to write conversationally, and to use digital media to publish your writing for both a scholarly and a general audience. All weekly assignments are posted to the Discussion Board site by the Tuesday morning following class (11am) and are due by Friday evening 11pm, posted to Discussion Board. All posts should be composed in a word processing program, saved, and then put on DB so you have a copy should things go wrong with Blackboard.
  2. A three page critical study of three theorists, written with a distinct argument. This is written for a scholarly audience--a well-read audience and professors. This will be due in class. Two paper copies must be submitted.
  3. A two-minute close reading of a poem done orally. The definition for poem is quite open but a close reading involves reading with attention to the way language works. We will discuss this in person and over Blackboard (BB). This is a chance to introduce the class to something that speaks to you.
  4. A three-fourths of the way exam (a little past the usual “midterm” time). This will be an open book, open notes essay exam that asks you to put together the major themes and genres studies in the course. Themes and genres are outlined in the syllabus and in the “Course Notes” section of Blackboard.
  5. A three-four page book review written for an online media outlet (you will have three to choose from). The goal is to show interpretive ability, the ability to synthesize two genres of literature with two critical sources, and the ability to use comparative rhetorical strategies to bring together these sources. This will be due in class. Two paper copies must be submitted. When this is revised, it will be posted to BB.
  6. An end of semester revision project. By the last day of the semester, you will choose one page of one assignment to revise and post to Discussion Board. This revision will include one extra component: something to make the piece viable in a digital environment (posted to a blog, a website, an online media outlet). This means that you will include a video, picture, sound component. This will be submitted on via Blackboard (BB).

Please find the English department Outcomes Map posted on our BB site. This provides expectations for students in a 300 level course.

Course Texts
All texts are available at the Lehman College bookstore and online. Please buy the paper copies of these texts. 

  1. Richter, David H. Editor. Falling Into Theory. 2nd ed. Bedford St Martin's, 1999. 0312201567
  2. Alexie, Sherman. Reservation Blues. Reprint. Grove Press, 2005.978-0802141903
  3. Alarcon, Daniel. War By Candlelight. Harper Perennial, 2006. 0060594802
  4. Bechdel, Alison. Are You My Mother? Mariner Books, 2013. 9780544002234

Course Requirements and Assignments/Use of Technology
To receive an A or an A- students will stay on top of the following key features of the course:

  1. Attendance/Tardiness: attendance at every class session, coming to class prepared, with the material read and written about. Please note that more than three absences or coming late more than four times for any reason lowers your grade (from an A to an A-). If you are absent, please be in touch with a classmate as all information and handouts are posted to BB. Class begins with some in class writing that serves as my way of knowing if there are any particular questions or problems with the reading and to see if everyone is on track.
  2. Participation: listening, engaging through talking, writing, and referring to texts in class, and asking questions relevant to discussion; fully present in the material of class; being honest and forthright about keeping up with course material.
  3. Assignments: turning in all assignments on time, acknowledging early the strengths and weaknesses of your reading and writing; writing and revising so that the essays are engaging to the reader, argue a critical point, and use the literature assigned. No papers are accepted by email. Even if you are absent from class, you still must turn in a paper copy. No papers are accepted past the due date.
  4. Digital Community: Announcements and some course documents are posted to our blackboard sites. Writing assignments are posted on blackboard via the discussion board so you need to check in our site in advance of every class to stay posted.  Here is a guide to where to find things:
    • Announcements: up to date postings and reminders about class work
    • Course Documents: readings and links due for class
    • Assignments: where to find detailed instruction on writing assignments and rubrics for grading these
    • Weekly Writing: discussion board link for posting weekly writing
  5. Class Community: respecting each other and the professor, listening to and responding to comments in class, being honest about your preparedness for class, being willing to work hard.

Assignments and Grades
Attendance, participation in the digital and class community: 25%
Three quarters of the way through exam: 15%
Writing assignments 1 and 2: 50%
Final project: 10%

Accommodating Disabilities
Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may require any special considerations should register with the Office of Student Disability Services in order to submit official paperwork to instructor.

For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238, 718-960-8441. For detailed information on services and resources visit:, or email:  

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Policy
“Academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York.  Penalties for academic dishonesty include academic sanctions, such as failing or otherwise reduced grades, and/or disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or expulsion.”

For detailed information on definitions and examples of Academic Dishonesty, including Cheating, Plagiarism, Obtaining Unfair Advantage and Falsification of Records and Documents, please refer to the student handbook or visit:

All violations are reported to the Department of English and college’s Academic Integrity Officer.

Technology and Blackboard Information 
You are required to sign into your Lehman student email account for course messages—and check it.  Blackboard will only allow me to send individual and mass messages to Lehman accounts. For Information Technology: 

Tutoring Services
Lehman College’s Instructional Support Services Program (ISSP) is home of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) and Science Learning Center (SLC). Both offer students an array of activities and services designed to support classroom learning. Open to students at any level, there are individual, small group, and/or workshop sessions designed to improve “proficiency in writing, reading, research, and particular academic subject areas. Computer-assisted writing/language tutorial programs are also available,” as well as individual tutors, workshops and tutors.

To obtain more information about the ACE and the SLC, please visit Old Gym, Room 205 or or call ACE at 718-960-8175, and SLC at 718-960-7707.

Regular tutoring hours for fall & spring semesters are: M—T 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 

Library Tutors are also available in the Library.  These tutors offer help with Library resources and computers.

Writing-Intensive Course Requirements
Lehman Students must complete four writing-intensive courses.  In a WI Course, “students should be expected to write approximately 15-20 pages of proofread, typed work that is turned in to the instructor for grading.”  Various courses stipulate various requirements designed to meet this requisite over the course of the semester.  WI courses focus on revision, short & long assignments, graded and ungraded writing, journals, etc, and each will have “a class-size limit of twenty-two.  Under no circumstances will more than twenty-five students be admitted to any writing-intensive section.”For more information, see:

Student Handbook
Students are strongly encouraged to download and become familiar with the Student Handbook:

Course Calendar
Note: all classes begin promptly at 9:00am with ten minutes of class writing. Below you will find “Reading due” and “Writing due” and the date of class. BUT all of that reading and writing must be done by the Friday evening (11pm) before class in order for you to post. Then, during our Monday class, we go over this writing and reading. All reading material can be found in the texts assigned unless indicated that it’s posted on blackboard (BB).

Theme I: Reading Literature’s Place: Critical, Theoretical Essay, Short Story
What are literary genres? What are the many ways of reading genres of literature? What is literature? What is literary criticism and theory? Why do genres and why does reading, criticism, or theory matter?

Reading due: from Lydia Davis and The New York Times (paper handouts, BB)

Reading due: from Richter, Barthes; from Alarcon, “War by Candlelight”
Writing due: Contract printed out, filled out, and turned in by class. Weekly writing 1: Letter 1

2/16 No class, Lehman College Closed

2/18 Today’s Wed but classes follow Mon schedule: we will hold class IN PERSON. Please come to class at 9am on this day. 
Reading due: from Richter, Fish; from Alarcon, “City of Clowns”
Writing due: Weekly writing 2

2/23 Workshop day
Reading due: from Richter, Eagleton; from Alarcon, “War by Candlelight”        

Reading due: from Richter, Eagleton and Fish; from Alarcon, “A Science for Being Alone”    
Writing due: Essay 1, first draft due in class, one paper copy
Posting due: two poems to post to Discussion Board due this week
Theme II: Close Reading/Distant Reading: Poetry
What is a poem?  How do I read poetry? How is poetry emblematic of “literariness”?

3/9 Poetry Presentation day
Reading due: three poems posted to Discussion Board, Fish, Moretti (on BB)
Writing due: Essay 2, second drat due in class, one paper copy
Weekly writing 3

3/16 Poetry Presentation day and exam review
Reading due: at least three poems posted to class
Writing due: Weekly writing 4

3/23 Exam: the open-notes and book three-quarters of the way exam

Theme III: Reading, Writing, Culture: The Novel
What is the relationship between literary genres and culture?

Reading due: Alexie, Reservation Blues (at least half)    
Writing due: Weekly writing 5: Letter 2

4/6 No Class, Spring Break, Lehman College Closed
Reading due: from Richter, Gates and Alexie, Reservation Blues (finished)

Reading due: Alexie, Reservation Blues        
Writing due: Essay 2, Book Review due in class, two paper copies 

Reading due: from Ricther
Writing due: Essay 2, revision due 

Theme IV: Reading, Writing, Culture, Criticism: The Graphic Novel

Reading due: from Richter, Robinson and Bechdel, Are You My Mother?
Writing due: Weekly writing 6

Reading due: from Richter, Dansenbrock and Bechdel, Are You My Mother?
Writing due: materials on hand ready for workshop on final revision project 

5/11 Last day of class
Writing due: final revision project. Letter 3

Contract and Letter Exchange between Professor and Student

Please fill this out and submit it by the second week of class. Please hand this on paper but feel free to type and print out. This is available for downloading on the BB site.

I, ______________________________________, understand that this is a hybrid, writing-intensive, workshop course. This means that I know, at the outset of the semester, that I am available to attend class on time, 9am, and attend mandatory conferences with the professor. I also understand that missing three classes, with an excuse or not, effects my grade (a drop from an A to A- for example). Attendance means coming no more than five minutes late and staying for the entire class. Missing four classes or more will result in needing to drop this class.

I also understand that because this is a hybrid course, missing one weekly assignment counts as missing one class. 

Please fill in the questionnaire below by answering these questions on the back of this page:

  1. My goals as a student for this class are:
  2. My goals as a reader are:
  3. My goals as a writer are:
  4. When I am assigned a reading I usually tackle that reading this way:
  5. When I am assigned a writing assignment, my approach is usually:

Please let me know anything else about you as a student and learner, any relevant experiences, talents, interests you bring to the class, and anything that would help me get to know you. Please email this to me with the headline “letter 1 Eng 300.